Supreme Liu Au Gai Pan from Dragon Tea House
This is a pouch that sat sealed for many months as I worked my way through too many other teas bought around the same time. I’ve been trying to be more disciplined about my green teas the same way I have about my greener oolongs and senchas, not opening a bunch at once and having all degrade significantly before I finish them, but despite being sealed, this one may have suffered for it.
The leaves are a deep green, darker than the average long jing, but also more or less long, thin, and while not completely flattened, not curly either. The scent is reminiscent of fukamushi sencha—sweet, deep, vegetal, with a hint of cucumber. Tantalizing!
4.8 grams in my Petr Novak iron-rich kyusu this morning, preheated, and now the aroma of the heated leaves is more like sweet peas.
Flash rinse with filtered tap water about 180 degrees: not much there in the wash. It’s not that there aren’t hints of deliciousness, but it really is super dilute, even for my tea-wimp’s palate. With that in mind, I’ll do the first infusion proper longer, perhaps a minute.
1 minutes, 150 degrees: sweet peas, vegetal, but an astringent finish, that reminds me of an overcooked vegetable.
30 seconds, 180 degrees: went hotter and shorter to try to bring out the sweet over the overcooked vegetable taste, and didn’t quite succeed.
I’m not sure if this unpleasant vegetable flavor is related to the heating of the leaf during processing, or is due to the tea sitting too long before drinking, but it definitely is something I recognize and dislike in many green teas. It is not present in the bag of dried leaf, but comes out as soon as the leaf hits the preheated brewing vessel, before it’s even wetted.
I’m going to switch to a porcelain gaiwan, in case that makes a difference, and will prepare it with a cooler start. The flash start is something I read about in a blog a few months ago, and it’s really been lovely with long jing and Gu Zhu Zui Sun, so I thought I’d try it here, but perhaps this tea does not want it.
2 grams in small porcelain gaiwan, infusions about 75 mL water.
145 degrees, 30 seconds, a little better in flavor profile—brought out more sweetness, but too light from the short infusion.
I’ll stick with 30 seconds next infusion, because the now-wetted leaves will give more in this one even with the same infusion time.
30": still can’t separate the sweet flavor—and I do get the sense of melon—from the overcooked and astringent vegetable. Bummer.
160 degrees, 30 seconds: no real change.
Last gasp: 212 degrees, 30 seconds: astringency with edges of the sweetness.
It’s frustrating. It looks good, the leaf smells terrific, but I can’t make this one really pleasant. I feel like I’ve failed the tea. Oh well. Since this is a classic tea, I’ll try it again one day, but I’ll get a small sample and drink it right away to give it the best chance.