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The Final Sipdown: Day 15.4
Drat. I was hoping to do a proper Showdown, until I compared steep two of Specifically Tea’s Lung Ching and was met by astringency. It’s very light, mind you, but it’s there. Glancing over Jillian’s logs, I see that I should have, perhaps, gone for the third steep, but there ain’t nothing that can be done because I’ve thrown the leaves out already to make way for this guy. Showdown fail.
But we must move on, because this tea deserves a proper send off.
Dragonwell has been a historically light tea for me, and this one is no exception. Light doesn’t mean without complexity, thankfully, and so I find myself having to pull away from distraction and concentrate on what’s happening in this cup.
This tea has managed to retain its flavor even though it’s been about a year since I drank it. One of those teas I was holding off on finishing because it was so tasty, but didn’t get purchased for reason x, y, or 72.
Drinking this, even warm, is simply refreshing. The flavors seep into my tongue in a breezy, carefree manner. A saltiness rounded off by a complimentary leafy sugary flavor almost reminiscent of a particularly sweet bite of iceberg lettuce. A flavor that softly hints at roasted pine nuts adds warmth and depth to what would be approaching a crystalline flavor profile. The aftertaste, almost tasteless but with just a touch of flavor to remind you that something was there, feels clean.
These two dragonwells are so similar, yet when given the amount of attention they demand present enough differences to make them both worthy of a space in the cupboard. I’m going to have to remedy the near absence of delicious dragonwells in my stash. And soon.
In the meantime, I will simply be grateful for the fact that I was kindly introduced to two different varieties of this lovely tea by Steepsterites. In the interest of marking their brief presence in my tea drinking experience, and also inspired by the onset of holiday goodness in our house, I leave you with a picture.
Teas Downed: 28
This tea initiated my tea swap with Carolyn, because I’d been having such a crappy time of trying out Dragonwell. Let me say that if this is how Dragonwell is supposed to taste, either I was doing something horribly wrong before or this one is simply far superior. I’m going to have to revisit Tavalon’s Dragonwell and maybe, if I’m feeling brave, I’ll try Adagio’s again.
Carolyn mentioned in her review that this has a nutty scent to it, and that’s what I smell, too. The nutty aspect is absent in the taste for me, though.
Dragonwell Spring is light, smooth, clean and overall very refreshing. It’s got a sweet edge to it that seems chlorophyll-like, but it doesn’t read like a grassy tea to me. I can’t really relate the taste it has to…anything. Not anything that’s not pretty abstract anyway. So I’m going to try to explain what this tastes like to me.
It makes me think of those days during the summer when you come in from running around or doing yard work or whatever and you are HOT and DEHYDRATED. So you grab a glass and gulp down water like you’ve been in a desert for a week and holy H2O, Batman, water has never tasted SO GOOD before. It’s cool and quenching and it almost tastes sweet. It’s like in books, when they talk about characters arriving at springs and drinking from it. This tea makes me think of the way that they describe how that water tastes.
It also reminds me of the citron teas that I’ve been trying, but without the citron. It’s breezy and subtle, but at the same time very much present. Soothing and relaxing. I really like this tea. The aftertaste has a lingering, almost nectar-y sweetness to it. If I were drinking it blind, I’d almost think it was a white tea, but it’s got a smidge more oomph. I can see it becoming my default tea for when I want something simple, bright, and without a lot of flavor.
So thanks, Carolyn, for turning me around to Dragonwell. It makes me a little sad to think that I almost gave up on it because this is pretty fantastic. Lesson learned.
I woke up this morning from a dream about this beautiful golden tea and realized that I longed for it. I pointed out to my bed-warmed self that I always drink black first thing in the morning and if I didn’t do that, where would my caffeine come from? But something in me longed for this tea. So I am now warming my hands and sniffing the honey-apricot scent of this in wonder. It is a very light tea. As I recall, subsequent steeps bring about stronger sweeter tastes, so I will continue with this tea today.
When I visited Dream About Tea in Chicago I asked the proprietor for advice about Pu-erh. I told him that I hadn’t found any I truly liked and that they upset my stomach. He asked what I had tried and so I told him the most recent experiment Tuocha: Camel’s Breath. He told me that Tuocha is made with broken leaves and that I would likely enjoy full leafed pu-erhs better. This rang so true for me I felt like slapping myself for not realizing it. Afterall, I prefer full leaf teas of every other sort of tea, why not pu-erh? I asked him for a recommendation for a beginner pu-erh tea and he showed me this one.
I rinsed it with hot water and then brewed it for 30 seconds (as per directions found on the web). Brewed up it smells like a combination of honey, light sweet fruits and apricot. The taste is very light, though that may be due to the 30 second brew time. I am looking forward to the second steeping which I may do a longer steep. There is no bitterness, no compost like taste. Just a sweet good tea. I really like this one.
Second Steeping: 45 seconds this time. It has stronger notes of honey and apricots.
Backlogging from Chicago trip:
One of the best teas I’ve ever had. The fragrance was perfect and simply inhaling the tea as it cooled brought pleasure to my senses. Drinking the tea was excellent as well. Even my beloved who thinks he hates teas loved this one.
A note on the tea shop: It was excellent. The proprietor is knowledgeable and very helpful. It is a great sadness to me that I couldn’t spend more time there.