With luck, as of tonight, my Christmas shopping will be done. This will be the first time I have completed Christmas shopping early and didn’t make gifts, it feels incredibly refreshing. Don’t get me wrong, I love making gifts, but every year I get myself worked up, then I burn out, and then I can’t go back to that craft for a while. After almost burning myself out of painting Ben put his foot down and said that this year we are going the route of commerce. Granted, I think part of the reason is because as soon as the Kickstarter is fulfilled he will have a giant five-headed dragon as big as one of my cats he will want me to paint for him…so priorities!
Today I am looking at Tillerman Tea’s Muzha TieGuanYin Spring 2016, I adore this style of tea, in a way it is the tea that pushed me from drinking junky bags as ‘just a warm drink’ to appreciating tea as an art. I was a teenager when I first discovered it and went through a bit of an adventure from that point to now, but whenever I am given to opportunity to drink a Muzha TGY it is a fantastic nostalgia. It is, also, a perfect tea for the encroaching chillness of autumn! The aroma of the dry leaves is wonderfully roasted, strong notes of walnuts, woodiness, char, pipe tobacco, acorns, and baking bread. Honestly, the blend of walnuts and sweet baking bread reminds me of a slice of freshly toasted walnut bread, with a hint of black walnut along with regular walnuts.
The aroma of a steeped Muzha TGY reminds me of sitting in a personal library, complete with comfy leather chair, the old smell of slightly fruity pipe tobacco (or grilled peaches), an old wooden desk…and a slice of walnut bread. The nutty and roasted gentle char notes blend well with the sweet fruity notes, it is a strong roast but not smoky at all, so if you like a strong roast but not smoke this is a good choice. The liquid smells much like a delightful walnut cookie with a hint of brown sugar and grilled peaches, the char is not as strong in the liquid, but the notes present are thick and heavy, reminding me of sinking into a comfy chair after a long day.
The first steep starts smooth and round in the mouth, coating the inside of my mouth but finishing with a sharpness that keeps the senses alert. It starts sweet, with notes of walnut bread, freshly toasted bread, brown sugar, and a touch of distant peach. There is a hint of char that reminds me of charred oak wood and a touch of maple syrup, the aftertaste is a lingering sweetness reminiscent of toasted walnuts. I find roasted teas to be very comforting as well as delicious, and this tea is a perfect combination of both aspects.
The first steep was strong in both aroma and taste, but the next steep increases in strength and richness, which makes sense as the leaves unfurl but at times surprises me with the intensity. The mouthfeel is very smooth, no finishing sharpness this time, just smooth and thick, with a touch of dryness along with the aftertaste. For this steep the char makes itself known, like burnt oak wood and grilled peaches alongside walnut shells, like a campfire the next day, no lingering smoke but a healthy and tasty amount of char. This steep is not as sweet as the first one, instead showcasing the nuttiness and char with just a hint of sweetness, and that walnut note is fantastic, I adore walnuts, even the subtle bitter quality you get in black walnuts, I think their taste is complex and I adore when it shows up as a note in tea. The aftertaste is sweet, in fact I would say it is the sweetest part of this tea, with a brown sugar note that lingers with a hint of black walnut.
I found that this tea did not fully open and release the oomph of its taste until the fourth steep, steep three was more intense than the second, and the fourth the same, but after that it stayed stable for several steeps before it began the transition to fading. This is a fantastic example of a Muzha TGY, definitely the best I have had in a long time, it reminded me why I fell in love with it and by extension high quality tea all those years ago.