Lately I’ve been drinking a bunch of tea that is seriously outside my budget. Most is $1 per gram or more with 25g being the typical minimum I can buy. I just did two comparative tastings of Long Jings with the highest quality I can find for lineups of six, all brand new fresh crop (first tasting was one week after harvest) and all superbly crafted from the same general locality.
Today I decided to give another taste to the Long Jing sold at the coffee shop I work at to bring me back to reality. We have terrific coffee, but pretty much all the tea is the very antithesis of our coffees’ freshness and quality. Gah, I regret my choice.
I used about 5g with 200ml water in an infuser basket set inside a small latte mug. Our water dispenses at 88 degrees C so I hit it with cold water to buffer the tea first.
Leaves are dried moss color. Muted green with brownish tinge. Smells like spent autumn leaves raked off the front lawn and tossed in a heap. Underlying aroma suggests it was stored next to something peach-scented about a year ago. Not much aroma – pretty good example of stale tea. Wet aroma has toasted rice sweet note I associate with under-assertive puerh mao cha that may not age too well. I happen to really like young mao cha, so this is a pleasant characteristic for me… when it isn’t a green tea. Most of the aroma is quick to leave the cup and never return. Liquor is pale yellow and a little hazy.
Sigh, yeah, I actually tasted this the same day I finished off one of the great WuYi YanChas I was holding onto. I’m sorry, mouth.
Flavor… where is the flavor… oh, wait, I didn’t eat yet today, that’s not the taste of indigestion, that’s the feeble aftertaste of the tea. But where’s the foreflavor? sip guh, there it is. Old hay. Some clay-heavy wet soil. Sort of a musty hint. Strange how much this makes me think of the smell of a cow pasture on a drizzly day. Like I kneeled over and drank some of the rainwater collected in a hoofprint. Hmm, what else? Old uncooked green beans wrapped in a wet paper bag…
There is a pleasant old leather note in the nose and a mineral sweetness, but these are – again – positive attributes I like in puerh, not a green tea.
On the real plus side, the tea is way too stale for any of these characteristics to actually be overtly noticeable.
All in all, I reeeeeeally hope we change our Long Jing soon. We buy from this vendor because it’s all organic and fair trade – doesn’t mean fresh or good by any stretch of the imagination. Sungarden doesn’t make their list of teas available to the public unless you request a catalog and I say don’t bother. Their Jasmine Pearls (and supposedly their second flush Darjeeling too) are worlds better, and at least acceptable as a tea I’d want to drink.
To be clear on the rating – this is still better than a lot of bags in the supermarket, so I can’t justify below a 5.