I am a Tea Noob. Yes I admit it, I own no gaiwan, no fancy-pants Zingydoo-Ninja Tea Sets or anything better than a few teapots and some pyrex glassware. My only knowledge of Gung Fu etiquette involves Tai Chi, my main experience with Proper Tea has been a few sample bags, Bancha, and occasional sessions of Yum Cha, and my supply of Tea Superlatives is limited to say the least. So, bearing this in mind, this is a Tea Noob’s take on this fine tea from TeaVivre:
By the way, I also have to mention I’m not really a green tea fan. At least I wasn’t. My previous experiences have been negative ones (except for Bancha) and have left a bad taste in my mouth, so with many such “bitter” memories I haven’t really felt like trying more. I have to say my experience with this tea has changed my mind.
I recently and impulsively deviated from an Oolong hunting expedition on eBay, and bought a sampler (fresh from TeaVivre), in due time receiving a well packed box in the mail, inside which, nestling under the bubble packing, was a classy looking sealed silver bag. Sealed within this were 4 nice little mini silver baggies of leafy goodness – one immediately drew me by its intense and delicious aroma (and no it wasn’t the Dragon Pearl Jasmine) – it was this one (Tian Mu Mao Feng). Upon opening the bag I was seized with the need to repeatedly inhale deeply until I finally sneezed (tea leaf up nostril, oops) and was even tempted by thoughts to keep it as potpourri – an intense grassy warm aroma with lashings of honeysuckle flower scent… yummmmm! It even looks pretty enough to use as potpourri with its deep green leaves so dark they absorb the light and give off an almost blackish hue, might look very good in a blue and white bowl near my chinese painting, I thought.
Anyway, having got over that (somewhat impractical) idea, I decided to go for a chinese style brewing (or at least my uncultured approximated version of one). Heaping what I can only describe as “a good amount” into a tea cup (ok I didn’t measure it), I brewed it 3 times into other cups, straining it with a teapot lid (I am a Barbarian).
The first steeping I’d probably brew next time around for more than a minute (hadn’t read above review yet, tsk), as it was a little bit too weak for my taste at this stage, however some sweet light floral notes skipped daintily alongside a crisp yet mild grassy greenness, making it a pleasant cup. Quite nice, and not a hint of bitterness.
Next one I brewed for 1 min 15 s, and the second cup really did it for me, a buttery, sweet full mouthed flavor burst that left me wanting more. I’m not sure if this is what they meant by “chestnut” flavor (on their website), as I didn’t get any “nuttiness” as I imagine it but it was a little reminiscent of notes of chinese water chestnut (the fresh not the canned variety, and this is not a /nut/, its a /corm/ :p (ok, semantics)).
The third cup (brewed about 1 min 30 s) was a slightly woodier (but not bitter) flavor and errrmm I’m running out of descriptors here, so I’ll just say it wasn’t as full, sweet or “interesting” as the second but still pleasant.
I don’t think I’d go for a 4th brewing myself but thats because the possiblity of something bitter puts me off the idea thus far, but I may become more adventurous as the journey goes on.
Oh I definitely could vouch for the “spinach” description of the flavor of the leaves as in the above review, at least the leaf I accidentally ate in one cup was very “spinachy” (crisp and not too chewy either, add to stir fry after steeping perhaps? ;) ). I didn’t seem to get much in the way of twigs in mine though, and my leaves were mostly intact – different harvest or random chance? Not sure.
I wrote this down shortly after drinking the last cup as to retain the full memory of the experience. I think my tea-describing superlatives could use some work (I’m better at describing wine I think). Looking forward to trying the next 3 samples (I’ll not be so spontaneous and read the reviews first for handy hints this time) but I’ll leave that until tomorrow as its near bedtime, and aside from too much caffiene making me go “Whee!”, green tea has certain physiological effects on me that may be indelicate to mention, at least 3 cups does :-)
P.S. My thanks go out to all the “pro” types who review on this site, such as the above (probably more helpful) one, its great to get tips from the more experienced “teaphiles” (is there a proper word for this that isn’t Chinese?). Cheers!