Beautiful 2013 spring samples courtesy of the preeminently generous Angel over at Teavivire. I was shocked at how many she sent me when I contacted her about the 2013 harvest. When I find a tea I like, I tend to buy significant quantity, so having this reference is truly appreciated. You rock Angel!
Well, let’s call this Part 1 of 3 in my Teavivre Long Jing Smackdown. All in all I was provided with samples of the Organic Long Jing, Premium and this Organic Nonpareil Ming Qian. I prepared them all in my variation of the Tall Glass Method, where I decant each infusion, leaving a root. Tasting notes on the other 2 teas can be found in my Tea Log:
I really wanted to be the first to post a review of this tea, but I didn’t want to rush, particularly because my findings were a little perplexing. Initially I sampled each of the teas separately, reserving some dry leaf to compare. I noticed that the leaf of all 3 teas was very well photographed on the website and representative of what I was sent. Kudos to Teavivre for providing great photo documentation that is not overly manipulated.
I was shocked that all three dry teas looked and smelled almost identical. I really expected to see something to differentiate them. I first tried the Premium, and without going into detail I again was surprised to find that there wasn’t a huge difference in the flavor profiles, aroma and color of the liquor in comparison to the Ming Qian and the Organic Long Jing. I thought I’d see vast differences, but either A) my palate isn’t refined enough to tell the difference, or B) these teas really aren’t significantly different.
To see if maybe my memory was failing me day to day, I decided to do a single sitting, side by side comparison. I’d spread the initial tastings out over 3 days as there was no way was I going to do 3 full servings in one day or I’d be bouncing off the walls. For my comparison I cut the tea by a 3rd the size of my usual servings and prepared them each the same way. For my finding on the other teas, see their respective tasting notes.
As for this tea, the highest price of the 3, I like it. It’s a good Long Jing. None of them were particularly chestnutty, as is often the descriptor for Long Jings, and this one I would say was the least. Most significant for me was that it had an overall more refined, smooth profile and a sweeter aroma. The mouthfeel was clean with a light, dry astringency on the periphery and a lingering subtle sweet aftertaste. I don’t have any food comparisons or vegetables that it reminds me of. No green beans here or spinach, just telltale Dragon Well. Sometimes you’ll see a mild smokiness or toasted element to Long Jings. Not so much for any of these. Though I DO get a little toasty note here, just more of a backdrop than center stage.
I got about 4 steeps out of each of these, steeps 2-4 with a root. The first about 1 min (30 swirled + 30 steeped), 2nd about 30 secs w/ the previous well-soaked root, the 3rd about 1-1.5 mins and the 4th I drank from the tall glass. The Ming Qian started falling apart, along with the Premium, tasting a bit vacant on the 4th steep, but remained quite drinkable. I could probably coax a 5th steep out of this but I’m not motivated. Yeah, motivated myself— 5th, not so much.
Is it worth paying premium for the Ming Qian? Maybe if you want to get stupid like me and go crazy with a comparison, really splitting hairs to see the minor differences between Teavivre’s offerings. But honestly, for my taste, I don’t see the need to spend the extra ducats.
Caffeine. After a side by side like this, all I can say is “Yes.” I’m pretty confident that I could depend on this tea to keep my inner fire burning late in the day and rub the cobwebs out of my eyes in the AM. As for now I’m certainly motivated to write all three tasting notes, one after the other while still fresh in my mind.