Today I’m sampling Taiping Houkui and Taiping Houkui Superior next to each other. The difference between these two teas is that the regular one is processed partially by machine and the superior is entirely hand processed. There’s also a fairly significant difference in the price, to account for the amount of extra labour that goes into hand processing.
I believe this is my first time having Taiping Houkui.
The dry leaf is beautiful. Large, uniform, very flat and thin, in an intense medium green colour. These leaves are definitely unique and interesting. They smell of seaweed and umami, with just a hint of maple. Compared to the Superior, the smell is less sweet and slightly less refined smelling.
I steeped 1g of leaf in 50ml of 80C water, three times, for 60 , 60 and 90 seconds.
Steeped, the leaf smells nutty and grassy, with lots of umami. The leaf is truly beautiful – the long, flat leaves turn int bright green ribbons in my gaiwan.
The tea soup is a pale yellow green and crystal clear. Smell is very mild, almost non-existent. The faint whiff that I do catch is vegetal.
The first steep is delicious, smooth. The dominant flavours are seaweed, umami, nutty, with a touch of grass. The light colour of the soup belies the pungent, mouth filling flavour this has. The intensity of the flavour fades quickly in the finish, and a milder, tangy edge lingers in the mouth for a while. This has a medium body, one of the most noticeable differences between these teas.
After the first steep these teas diverge quite a lot. The second steep is mellow, nutty and a touch astringent. The umami remains. The third is quite grassy and the sweetness is gone. The astringency builds a little bit, but still remains mild and pleasant.
After three steeps, I believe these leaves are done.
Both teas are excellent. The differences are hard to pick out at first but really come out after the first steep. I enjoyed the Superior slightly more, though if you focus strictly on the experience of the tea, I think this one is a better value. If you factor in the handcrafting, well, I think everyone values that a bit differently in their tea experience.
Samples provided by Nannuoshan.
Flavors: Grass, Maple, Nutty, Seaweed, Sweet, Tangy, Umami, Vegetal