The other day I was drinking my Elderflower Champagne Oolong from Bluebird Tea Co. which I usually like to steep gong fu. Both of my gaiwans were in storage though, so I drank it western style and sorely missed the gong fu brew. Well, today I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I went through my garage for almost an hour before I came across them, and I’m going to have a lovely gong fu session with this tea this afternoon.
Since I really just want to immerse myself in the tea and the gongfu process, I’m not going to be timing precisely or testing the temperature of the water. I have only drank this tea once before and am not a huge fan of greens so it’s really more about the experience than the end result today. I’m using 7g of leaf and my larger gaiwan which holds 125ml of water.
The dry leaf has a strong scent, which is promising as I was worried the tea would be losing flavour. It has a grassy, seaweed-like scent with green vegetable, floral and almost buttery notes. I think I can detect a hint of smoke, too.
First steep, ~5 seconds: The vegetal note in the scent is enhanced in the wet leaf, and it definitely comes through in the flavour of the tea, which is mild and has a distinct green bean or pea note, and some very slight buttery and sweet notes. The smokiness comes through very lightly in a roasty kind of way.
Second steep, ~5 seconds: My mam came into the room while I was pouring this, and she said it smelled like broccoli (lol). I don’t disagree! I was surprised by how sweet this steep is! The green veg flavour is present, and enhanced with the sweetness, which is delicious. This is a very buttery steep. There are some light kelp notes this time around and some grassiness. The main note is of fresh peas, and is actually very reminiscent of freshly popped sugar snap peas. This was quite a dry steep.
Third steep, ~7 seconds: Less sweet this time. The scent is still of peas or green beans, but with more of the seaweed note being prominent. This is noticeable at the end of the sip. The flavour is slightly milder and less vegetal. I’m getting more steamed green beans than fresh sugar snap pea. The aftertaste is very buttery and slightly floral, but the dryness of the tea is starting to coat my tongue. This is probably something I have done rather than the tea itself, but I don’t know how to rectify it. There is a slight spiciness to the tea which I was not expecting.
Fourth steep, ~10 seconds: Scent is more seaweed-like, I can detect floral notes and some earthiness which was not present before. The smokiness is slightly present in the scent of the tea itself, which has been absent for the last couple of steeps. The fourth steep tastes more like the first, only milder and with more smoke. The vegetal note is more reminiscent of spinach now, and the sweetness is more present than the third.
Fifth steep, ~15 seconds: The scent is completely different this time! I know the notes all sound the same but something about how prominent they are changes so much about the steep. This steep was far more kelpy and smoky. I expected the flavour to be deeper, like the scent, but it’s actually very sweet and buttery with only a light smokiness. It’s similar to the second steep – it’s almost like the tea is repeating itself. I got a surprise hint of apple at the end of the steep, which I didn’t expect.
Sixth steep, ~20 seconds: The leaf has taken on a distinct hemp scent now, but the tea is much sweeter even than the last steep, and more delicate. There is still a hint of smoke and green veg at the end of the sip. The apple taste is still lingering but not as prominent as the last steep.
Seventh steep, ~35 seconds: The apple is present in the scent of the leaf now, I’m definitely not imagining it! Liquor is sweet and lightly buttery with not much complexity. Slight grassy notes at the end of the sip. I think I will steep this one more time and then give it a rest.
Eighth steep: ~1 minute: I was going to steep for 50 seconds this time but after the lightness of the last cup decided to steep it for longer and make this the final steep. Scent is mainly kelp-like this time. Tea is lightly grassy, lightly vegetal. No notes are particularly pronounced.
It has been so enjoyable to dig out my gaiwan and just spend the afternoon quietly drinking tea with no distractions, really focusing on it. Green tea will never be my favourite, but this session did exactly what I wanted it to and I enjoyed the tea immensely, despite not being too knowledgeable in the area. The tea itself was very lovely, and much better than many greens I have tried in the past. I know that this is partly due to the method of brewing and in general my overall satisfaction with the experience, but it is mainly down to the quality of tea that Butiki sold. The leaf was truly beautiful, and I pulled out several of the whole, long green leaves from the spent leaf just to admire. Even though it wasn’t my favourite tea ever I am feeling ridiculously happy right now. I’m on a tea high.
[Disclaimer: I am not at all well-versed in green teas, and could be talking complete nonsense. My rating probably does this tea a disservice based on my lack of knowledge and general wariness of green teas. I truly did enjoy drinking it, though.]