I am so bored! Boredboredboredboredbored! Not bored enough to take the hoover around the house, though. Not yet. It needs to be done, but it can wait a little longer. I hate hoovering…
Instead, I shall have a cup of tea to celebrate the Teavivre order I just accidentally (yes, totally!) placed. Finally, oh finally, I shall try that their Tan Yang. I’ve been feeling kind of guilty about not having tried it yet, because I distinctly remember asking them if they were planning on getting. So not having tried it yet feels like not following through on my own suggestion, which is kind of poor manners.
While I’m waiting for that, I’m going to have a crack at another one of the Verdant samples I received recently when, on Husband’s orders, stocking up on the Life-Giving Tea. That would by the Laoshan Black, FYI. Hasn’t been called anything else in this house since forever. Yes, we nickname our favourites. Don’t everybody?
This one, I have to admit, I picked almost entirely based on the name. Every time I see ‘Fo Shou’, my mind reads it as ‘Fo’ sho’ and often supplies either ‘dude!’ or ‘man!’ after that. Can’t help it. It makes me smile. Obviously, therefore I had to try it.
The packaging is different from the other Verdant samples and thankfully comes with an identification sheet. I hope I don’t lose it. It would be just like me… Perhaps it’s a sign that I should try this out sooner rather than later, yes?
The aroma is slightly wood-y and slightly leather-y, and I want to say slightly fruit-y as well, but I’m not super-certain that I really think it is. What it does have in large amounts, however, is a strong note of something that… I know what it is, but I don’t know what it is! It’s kind of like cocoa, but not quite there. I think it’s cocoa mixed with something and it’s the something that is confusing me. Roasted nuts, perhaps? Hmm, I need to think about this.
Gosh, the flavour is a lot stronger than I had thought it would be! There is definitely leather and wood in this, all dark and rough and somehow faintly ash-y. Now those of you who remember the recent encounter with Tetley’s tea bags, will remember that I said those tasted like ashes, and that it wasn’t particularly pleasant. For some reason this note of ash is coming off in a much more favourable light here. I suspect the unpleasantness in the Tetley bags was in combination with the smell of wet cardboard and the taste of the paper teabag, whereas this particular tea is completely cardboardless and guaranteed paper-free. This way, the ash just comes over as something with just a hint of smoke. It isn’t really smoke, but it reminds me of smoke, and apparently that’s close enough for jazz.
Ashes, but good ashes. Right. Okay. I’m not sure that there really is any sound logic in that, but there you are. It is, however, a note that brings a warning with it. With many Chinese black teas you can generally steep them from now and until kingdom come, and your result will still be drinkable rather than a bitter, astringent mess. I don’t think that is true for this one. That note is a strong one, and I think it will turn strongly astringent if left to its own devices for too long.
That note is the primary one here, and it’s the first one I meet when sipping. It’s fairly small at first, then there’s a pause in which other stuff happens, and then sort expands rapidly on the swallow, greatly dominating the flavour profile.
Now I want to talk a bit about that other stuff that happens there in the middle. Those are our more friendly, calm and well-behaved notes. The source of the cocoa-and-something notes in the aroma. So there is a great deal of cocoa there, obviously, but there’s something else as well. It’s not pure caramel, but more a dulce de leche sort of note. I loffs me some dulce de leche… I’ve only ever seen one brand of it here, though, and it costs a small fortune for a small glass, so it’s a very rare treat indeed.
Although the cocoa note is stronger than the dulce de leche-y note, I still think it’s the dulce de leche-y one that I’m noticing the most. It feels longer, somehow, softening the ash-y pow at the end of the sip. As I drink it even starts to build up a little on the aftertaste too.
As it cools and develops, this is the note that really starts to come out more and more and I don’t even have to wait so very long before that initial ash-y dominance is almost completely broken into something much smoother and caramel-y.
I find I’m enjoying this a great deal more now than I thought I would when I had the very first sip. But I still think it’s one of the few Chinese blacks that it’s actually possible to ruin through over-steeping. This tea does not give the impression of being foolproof.