I am writing this from under a mound of blankets and pair of cats, still too sick to get out of bed, but certainly better than I was Saturday. I think my fever has finally broken for good (YAY!!) which means that I will be on the slow mend, personally I am most excited about my sense of smell and taste to return to normal so I can actually enjoy the things I am consuming. The Flu is gross, I do not wish it on anyone, if I am lucky I will be back to semi-normalcy by the end of the week.
Today I am reviewing Mountain Roasted Green Tea by Shan Valley, they were awesome and sent me very generous samples of their teas for review, the samples arrived on Thursday so I was able to get two of them tasted before the sickness took over. My one complaint with Shan Valley is they do not have steeping instructions for any of their teas, so I had to do some experimenting with brewing. The aroma of the rather large dried leaves is both nutty and vegetal, mixing roasted peanuts and chestnuts with the aroma of spinach and a touch of kelp. There is a finish of smokiness.
Once the leaves are steeped the aroma becomes a mix of roasted nuts and cooked spinach, it is mostly roasted nuts and the vegetal quality is mild. The liquid without the leaves is pretty mild, not much of an aroma except faint vegetal and a hint of popcorn.
The first attempt I steeped the tea at 170 degrees for 2 minutes, I found the taste was uninspiring. It tasted faintly honey sweet, faintly vegetal, faintly roasted, and faintly smoky. Faint is the word to take away, clearly I need to try warmer water.
Take two! 180 degrees for 2:30 minutes, the first thing I notice is the aroma of the liquid is stronger, more vegetal and the popcorn aroma is also more prominent. The taste is a bit bitter, like kale, in fact the vegetal tastes in this tea are like a blend of cooked spinach and kale. There is of course a roasted taste to this tea, like roasted chestnuts and popcorn, it has a sweet finish and has a popcorn aftertaste.
Out of curiosity I decided to brew some of this tea in my gaiwan, uncovered, using 180 degree water for one minute. I am not sure how much of it is psychological (because I enjoy it so much) but brewing anything in my gaiwan seems to make them taste better. I found that the flavors were slightly altered, the popcorn roasted flavor was much stronger and the vegetal bitterness from earlier is just plain old vegetal. At the end there is a faint fruity sweetness that pops up and is quite nice. Even though this tea did not make me jump up and down in awe and in a lot of ways was just average, I still found myself brewing multiple cups throughout the day. It has a charming, homey, quality about it that soothed my aching head and sore throat, it was perfect because it was so simple, I didn't have to think about it at all. The tea tasted good, not at all intense, and kept me hydrated. I can see myself reaching for this tea on days when my allergies or a cold make me crave a mild, unassuming tea.