Four Seasons pisses me off.
Don’t get me wrong—this isn’t a bad tea. It’s actually quite tasty. But it’s just not that special. It tastes, to me, like an average Tie Guan Yin, but missing the delicious heaviness I associate with TGY. It’s delicious, but no more delicious than some of the other TGYs I’ve tried.
But here’s the biggest kicker for me—you have to use a lot of leaf, and it does not produce that many infusions—certainly not 10-15, unless you’re thinking 2 ounce cups in 2 tablespoons of leaf. This is kind of infuriating, since the whole selling point on the Samovar website is that it lasts forever, so you’re getting a good value even if it’s $25 for a small, half-filled tin. I don’t like being lied to or misled. And there sure as hell aren’t 40 servings in the tin I received. Hell, there aren’t more than 15 teaspoons in there. And this tea requires, at the very least, 1.5 teaspoons for 6 ounces of water.
The tasting note descriptions intrigue me…I’ve done a little research, and I’ve never heard of Four Seasons/Si Jie Chun being described as bread and milk. The description I’ve come upon most is flowers, fruit, honey and pineapple. Hm. I’m tasting less milk or lactose or bakey-bready-ness, and more gardenias and sweet floral perfumes. [And yes, I have tried this at a number of different temperatures, and have gotten mostly the same results. No increase in dairy/lactose/bread at a lower temperature, for me.] I wonder how much of the (omg milk! bread!) love for this can be attributed to the power of suggestion…makes me want to experiment by writing up a tasting note for a random tea that’s like “OMG THIS TASTES LIKE CHERRIES!” and then see if anyone else says the same thing :)
So what do I taste? Gardenias, mostly; honey, certainly; and butter from my cooled down second infusion. The proportions of the flavors changes slightly from infusion to infusion, but the leaves don’t last very long either. Something I’m noticing this time around—it’s pretty bitter. I’m not sure if it’s because my water is too hot, or if I’m oversteeping it. A warning: do not try to brew this with 8 ounces and 1 teaspoon. I’ve brewed other TGYs this way and it’s been fine, but Four Seasons is not like other TGYs :) I ended up with one okay-but-light first infusion, and then almost tasteless 2nd and 3rd infusions. It’s so difficult to rate this one…on the one hand, it’s yummy when you do everything right. On the other hand, it’s extremely expensive and you have to use a lot of it to make a decent cup of tea, plus all the reservations I mentioned above.
I know I’m blaspheming, writing a negative review for a Samovar creation…please don’t hurt me!