There is an awesome tradition that my sweetheart started, taking me out for a special meal before any medical procedure. A nice reward for something I really dislike, and since I go for some more dental work on Thursday I requested sushi. No, dental work and sushi are completely unrelated but it was what I was in the mood for! Usually at my favorite restaurant (Kokoro Maki House for anyone curious) I get the Salmon and Vege Tempura rolls but tonight I decided for Vege Tempura and their very yummy Tofu Teriyaki, also some tea. My blogs always lead up to tea, don’t they? The tea arrived a nice shade of golden-green and completely unlabeled, I took a sip and then asked the server “Is the tea Bancha?” he replied that it was and it made me happy. I am getting better at this tea tasting thing!
And now apropos of nothing I am going to review a Chinese tea, debatable my favorite tea from China, in fact. Anxi Tie Guan Yin by Teasenz is a lovely tea from Anxi, Fujian and is probably my favorite Oolong (I am pretty sure everyone who reads my blog knows that Tie Guan Yin is my favorite). Neat fact for anyone who doesn’t know: Oolong or Wulong translates to Black Dragon, so yeah Tie Guan Yin Oolong translates to Iron Goddess of Mercy Black Dragon, this tea is totally metal. Terrible puns aside, the aroma of this tea is heavenly, richly floral and very heady. I would go so far as to say the orchid and gardenia floral aroma is so intense that it is intoxicating, I might need to lay down. It is very sweet, like honey and flower nectar which is fitting with the intensity of the floral. This might actually have the best aroma for a Tie Guan Yin that I have had the pleasure of inhaling.
I almost feel guilty putting these beautiful and wonderful smelling leaves in a water bath, what if it loses it aroma? That would be a crime! Hooray, I did not commit a crime, the aroma is still wonderful and takes on some interesting side notes. It is still honey sweet and intensely floral, but now there are buttery notes of chestnut and a touch of leafy green. This might sound a touch strange but the aroma has a creamy texture, a nose feel if you will. The liquid is very rich, it is even butterier than the steeped leaves and it has a hint of chestnut and after notes of honey.
Reading my notes on this tea in my notebook I am amused that the tasting part starts to list to an angle and becomes, well, sloppy, I think this is a mark of a good tea tasting! The taste is very buttery and smooth, I feel like my mouth is coated with happiness. The orchid is very intense and incredibly heady, it is disorienting with how intense the floral taste is. Imagine being in an orchid themed conservatory and breathing through your mouth, with each breath you can taste the orchids with the same intensity as the aroma. Towards the end of the taste there is a hint of herbaceous green similar to sage and an aftertaste of mineral water.
As to be expected I wanted another go with these leaves. The aroma of the liquid manages to be even more intense, the chestnut and heady orchids shine through and they are followed with little sparks of honey and gardenia. The taste of the tea is initially very sweet and strongly floral. Everything about the second steep is sweetness, the foretaste and the aftertaste, and a tiny hint of mineral. The mouth feel is still buttery until it reaches the back of the mouth where it takes on a bit of sharpness. I am not sure how but the tea gets even sweeter as it cools. There are different kinds of Tie Guan Yin, roasted and green, Anxi and Muzha, and one for all the seasons, it is a very versatile Oolong and each one I have tasted has a distinctive quality that links them together. This is possibly the best Anxi Tie Guan Yin I have had the pleasure of drinking and I do not give that statement lightly.