This was likely never intended to be brewed Western-style, but yet, owing to my gaiwan-less state, that’s how I made it. The strangest things happen when you put things through what they weren’t meant to be; this was the most confounding thing I’ve found in a cup.
The tea is pressed into a candy bar style brick, which gives easily along the score lines, and smells like dark molasses. The lily petals plump up as soon as water hits them. Another thing that happens as soon as water hits these leaves is the smell of fresh buttered popcorn immediately permeates the air. It caught me entirely off guard and I back stepped away from my teapot. With trepidation I took it upstairs to drink it, hoping the popcorn note would fade away, as I can’t say I was in the mood for it. Fortunately it left, and by the time my cup was cool enough to put to my lips the scent coming off of the water was molasses again, and brown sugar.
It tastes of that. It tastes of other things, too. Before the deep sweet flavor settled in something else hit me, something I still can’t quite place. Summer. Automobile, my memory put to me bluntly, and elaborated no more. It might be hot leather, or spilled gasoline on still-warm evening asphalt, or the vinyl interior of my mother’s long-gone El Camino. It swam in and out of the sugar alongside a simple and almost out of place tea note. It felt like it and I were meandering through a field of fog.
This tea leaves a syrupy residue on your lips and the rim of your cup. After long enough in the mouth, it produces a cooling sensation not uncommon to tea, but it changes to an anesthetic prickle. There is a hint of smoke in that crackle.
Disorienting. Memories of summer nights spent sitting by the roadside, trips to the dentist for molar sealant, baking brownies and visits to movie theatres vied for dominance in my mind. Disorienting. Time felt lax.
At the same time, invigorating. While mentally dislodged, corporeally I was keen.
All in all, a strange tea with evocative effects, and likely all because I brewed it wrong. It sounds much more straightforwards served as it’s meant to be, and is reusable then too. Unfortunately, a second steep my way yielded a toast-and-molasses brew that lacked the fireworks of the first. This tea is thus on my list of things to retry when I get a gaiwan, but I think I will do it the ‘wrong’ way at least once more. There’s something about the wild, walloping strike against the senses Western steeping brings out of some aged teas I find myself helplessly addicted to.
Flavors: Ash, Brown Sugar, Brown Toast, Leather, Mint, Molasses, Pepper, Popcorn, Smoke, Tea