A tale of woe, from It’s All About the Leaf
Dear Tea Companies,
Your packages’ brewing instructions matter.
Let me explain. I have run into many a situation where I’ll get some amazing sounding tea. I’ll read the instruction on the label, and do what it says. I have to trust that the company who gives me a tea, knows how to make it the best. It will look lovely, the leaf will smell lovely, and the brew will be the most beautiful color ever.
And then that first sip will make me cry. Wonky preparation details will take my little cup of heaven and make it undrinkable.
Such was the case with my first experience with Royal Garland by Samovar. Many of my on-line tea friends experience heighten states of being when they have Samovar teas. So I was really looking forward to the experience of this tea. And then I got it, and read the package where it called for 2 tablespoons of leaf being steeped in 5 ounces of water for 3 minutes. MEH?? I know some teas, especially the fluffier ones, break that 1 cup = 1 tsp golden rule, but this sounded really funky. And everything I’d read says that more leaf = shorter steep. This just couldn’t be right.
But, I decided to trust the tea company. The leaf was gorgeous and smelled amazing. But when I tried that brew… Oh, when I tried that poor abused cup of tea, I almost sprayed the room. It was horrid. Bitter, astringent, and just plain awful. And it was a goodly portion of my tin, since it had called for so much leaf. It honestly took me a good few months to think about trying the tea again.
But, luckily, this tea story has a happy ending. I, after asking around for suggestions of brewing parameters, played with brewing some additional cups. And I’ve gotten the brew to where it’s pretty darned good. It’s a light yellow color, with a clean and slightly astringent flavor with overtones of cashews. I can get multiple yummy steeps out of the same, much smaller, amount of leaves. This is a really nice oolong. Just don’t use the preparation techniques on the container!!