This is the first [and I believe only] Chinese green tea that Samovar carries [online, anyhow], so when it popped up I was intrigued and wanted to give it a try. I should note at this point that what I got is a sample, and that I steeped it through four cups.
Chinese greens are a strange thing. When I try to peg down what I get from Japanese green, I can see it rather clearly in my head and typically am able to identify flavors with relative ease. When I think about Chinese greens, it’s much more difficult for me because I’ve had such a varying range of flavors when it comes to them [and not all good], so one set group of flavors doesn’t really jump out at me when I think about Chinese greens.
I also don’t drink Chinese greens as much as I do Japanese because the Japanese tend to have more buttery notes, which my palate thanks me for drinking. I like to keep my palate happy lest it garotte me in my sleep.
This tea is helping me nail down some of the differences that I haven’t been able to solidify previously. For one, both greens tend to have vegetal qualities to me, but with Japanese greens it’s more of a spinach-y, even seaweed kind of taste and with the Chinese it’s more akin to the celery end of things. This tea in particular reminds me of both celery and bok choy – somewhere in between those two. And I hadn’t identified it until I read the description, but there’s definitely an asparagus note in there.
Japanese greens [the ones that I consider good, anyhow] are usually rich and deep tasting. There’s some heft in what they have to offer, and the taste is opaque. Chinese greens, even when they are strong in flavor like this one is, tend to be a bit lighter in their flavors, with some lightly salty qualities ebbing in and out of the sweeter tastes.
Lastly, while they both have sweet qualities to them, the Japanese greens have, again, that heaviness around it. Like when you walk outside to just-mowed grass, or if you’ve ever found yourself in a field of freshly cut hay. The smell is strong and sweet and almost gritty. Chinese greens are lighter, and perhaps leaning more towards the floral end of things. Like when you catch a hint of blossoms on a spring breeze. Or maybe smelling your neighbor’s just-mowed lawn a few houses down the street.
As for this tea specifically, it’s strong. The taste, the smell, all of it. At least in the beginning. And in the beginning, it smacks you with that vegetal bok choy/celery, asparagus quality. I found almost no sweetness in my cup until it had cooled substantially. It reminds me of when we went over to a family friend’s house one time and their grandma offered me a soda with Korean characters all over it. Turns out that soda was carbonated celery water or juice or urine and it didn’t really matter because it was HORRIBLY OFFENSIVE to an eight-year-old kid who had been expecting a sugar coma. The first leg of this tea reminded me of that, without the carbonation, so I can’t say that it was an extremely enjoyable experience.
Once it had cooled, and on subsequent infusions, the sweeter components of the tea began to make themselves known a bit more, and my palate decided that it would leave my death for another night. Overall, the tea tasted fresh, with lighter strains of that vegetal taste that shifted into more of a green bean/edamame type flavor and some floral, grassy notes.
So, if you’ve read all of this and those flavors sound appealing to you I think that you’re going to really like this tea. I’m beginning to acknowledge that I am harboring a great love for Japanese greens, so this won’t be hitting my tea shelf in the near future. If you’re looking to try a solid Chinese green tea, though, check this one out.