I have been looking forward to brewing up and tasting the first new spring green of the year for some time now. And who better to provide it than Life in Teacup! I only had two spring green teas during April of 2011 (I also had a few during early June), so I still consider myself relatively new as to what to expect of them. I have been talking about my excitement with my wife (she saw me open the package from Life in Teacup earlier in the week), but I didn’t tell her that I would be brewing up the very first pot of this tea this morning. I sometimes don’t tell her what I’m brewing up so I get an unbiased opinion from her about the taste. For awhile there, after having a couple ‘smokier’ green teas (which she despises) her initial reaction to any green tea—especially one that has a reputation for being smokey, like Hunag Shan Mao Feng or any tea from the Yunnan province—that had a taste she was uncertain about,was, ‘I think it tastes smoky’. Needless to say, I would then give her the evil eye. : )
I like to experience the Tea with every sense possible: visually and aromatically—the appearance and aroma of the dry leaf, watching the leaves dance and co-mingle in their new watery home while I take in the aroma, smelling the wet leaves after the first steeping, then using the auditory senses—listening to the leaves jostling for position as I use a spoon to gently take them from their temporary home in the bag, or tin, or jar, and drop them into the clear glass pot with a tinkle, almost like a wind-chime, and listening to the water begin to stir in the kettle, signaling it’s time to pour the water, and then finally through taste—as the liquor rolls around in my mouth making my taste buds shiver with delight as the various flavors finally reveal themselves. The first time I steep a tea I pay a little more attention to all of these things. I guess it’s kind of a ritual. I invite my wife to participate as well, and fortunately she’s usually happy to join me.
This morning her one-word litany when encountering this spring green Tea with each of her senses was: interesting (said in that positive way as one draws out the initial ‘i’ sound when pronouncing it: in-tres-ting ); although my reactions were unspoken, all the while I was thinking the same thing (keeping my fingers crossed that she was going to find the same wonder that, so far, I have found in fresh spring greens). Our senses were telling us there was something about this tea that was different than all the other green teas we had been brewing up all winter.
When the time finally came to drink of the sweet nectar that was only moments ago locked within the curly leaves, we were rewarded with flavor that was clearly fresh and inviting. It was not flavor I would describe as strong, but rather a flavor profile that brought back memories of the spring teas I had tasted a year ago; it’s hard to describe—and I will hopefully improve as I continue to drink infusions of these wondrous Teas—but the sensation in the mouth is light and uplifting, full of zest, and I imagine it having a kind of sparkle to it. It’s like nothing I have ever had before. Still, quite honestly, I think it is somewhat of an acquired taste (my wife agrees). Not that the flavor is weird or bad in any way, it’s just delicate and subtle and can be easily unappreciated by one who doesn’t know what to look for or take the time to sit with it enough to really take it in (I am guessing this is also the case with fine wines).
And as far as staying power? This tea delivered three wonderfully flavorful steepings and still had discernible flavor on the forth and right up through the fifth. That is very impressive for a green tea at this price range ($18 / 5OZ = $3.60 / OZ). The wet leaf is about as good as it gets: all full leaf, few stems, and lots of bud sets and buds—all of an army green color. I plan to give more details later, but I wanted to sit down and write up what came up for me now rather than put notes on a note-card that would inevitably sit for weeks (or months) before I posted it. I highly recommend this tea for those that want to experience a fresh spring green tea at a very reasonable cost.