I am a bit perplexed. I found a new jar at Central Market last week that had a tea called ’King’s Jewel’, and was classified as a green tea from Republic of Tea, sold for a steep $149.99/lb. I couldn’t resist the intrigue of the little pellets, so I bought a couple teaspoons ($3!). I came home and did a little research, and apparently Republic of Tea isn’t aware that they are selling this one, but I found more info on this type of tea, more commonly known as lan gui ren, or lady orchid, and it is actually an oolong. This entry is the only mention it I found on Steepster. The tea is coated in a powder of ginseng and licorice grass. Although my tea is from a different manufacturer, it looks identical to the picture above.
On to the tasting! The dry pellets don’t offer much aroma. After a minute or so of steeping, they started to crack and unfurl. After two minutes, it yielded a golden yellow liquor. The first noticeable quality was some spiciness and a little sweetness. It almost reminded me of a ginger tea, but ‘thicker’ and more subtle. I definitely get the aftertaste of licorice, and just after swallowing, I taste plastic! Weird. The second infusion was a bit more complex and less plastic-y, and most of the leaves were about halfway unfurled. The powder coating seems to be mostly dissolved, though some pellets are still intact! The leaves smell roasted and a little spicy, but I can recognize the vegetal smell of a green or lightly oxidized oolong. Now on the third infusion, the liquor is getting darker, although I’m not increasing the steep time. The tea doesn’t taste as thick, and a peppery flavor is dominating. Some of the pellets still haven’t opened up. I’ll probably steep a few more times this afternoon, see if I can’t coax the last few pellets to blossom.
This tea is interesting, and I’ll enjoy it a couple more times, but once it’s gone, I don’t think I’ll be looking for it again.