I don’t think I’m the only one who’s happy that 2020 is ending. Like many of you, I’ll be spending the holidays alone. I was going to get together with my family, but the widespread lockdown and rising case counts in Ontario made us change our plans at the last minute. With things feeling less than festive, I’ve decided to dip into my tiny stash of pricy, aspirational teas that I’ve been hoarding for several years. I always worry that I won’t appreciate these treasures, or conversely, that they’ll ruin me for all the good but not great tea I can afford to drink regularly. Nonetheless, I’ll be sampling some of these teas throughout the holidays.
This green Tie Guan Yin is from spring 2016. I steeped my entire 7 g sample in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma of these still green leaves is of citrus, orchid, cream, baked bread, and apple. The first steep has notes of orange, apricot, orchid, baked bread, cream, violet, lilac, honeysuckle, grass, apple, butter, and herbs (Eastkyteaguy says parsley, and I agree). The second steep adds honey and a pungent note of zucchini. The third gives me more lilac and orchid, as well as gardenia, sweet pea, custard, grapefruit, peach, melon, peas, spinach, and minerals. (That peachy aftertaste alone is enough of a reason to buy this tea!) I love how the fruit, florals, and veggies are so balanced.
In the next few steeps, the tea gets less fruity, with the florals, veggies, umami, herbs, and creamy sweetness balancing out. However, I still get those apple/melon/stonefruit notes if I look for them. I also get some pepper and metallic notes, with a lemon-like tang. There’s a pleasant sourness by steep seven. The tea keeps becoming more pungent and vegetal, but is still surprisingly balanced and enjoyable until the end of the session.
This is easily the best Tie Guan Yin I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. At $29 for 50 grams, it’s expensive but not out of reach. I’ve paid $15 per ounce for Li Shan and Bai Hao teas from Taiwan, though admittedly, I usually get only one ounce. I won’t wait another four years to buy more of this tea!
Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Citrus, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grapefruit, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Melon, Metallic, Mineral, Orange, Orchid, Parsley, Peach, Peas, Pleasantly Sour, Spinach, Umami, Vegetal, Violet, Zucchini