Friday, April 4, 2014

Verdant Tea: Yu Lu Yan Cha, A Tea Review

I didn't do much of anything today since I am still on the mend from my mouth surgery, or really I should say I didn't do much because of the pain killers making me kinda derpy. I seem to be healing up nicely, just in time for International Tabletop Game Day and the grand opening of Shang Tea's new tea bar. It will be a very busy day tomorrow.

Today I am reviewing Verdant Tea's Yu Lu Yan Cha, an experimental black tea from Xinyang in Henan Province. The name Yu Lu Yan Cha is a combination of ancient names for Henan and Shandong provinces, and creator Wang Yanxin's name, which I think is pretty awesome, but you all know me and my love of learning something new. The aroma of this tea is a blend of sweetness and earthiness, blending cocoa and honey with rich nutty qualities and a very slight hint of fruit. There is a very interesting afterscent (totally a word now, I am making it official) that reminds me of an old leather bound book, it has that sweet yet rich papery aroma with a hint of leather. Why yes, I have spent far too much of my time sniffing paper, I sniff everything though so it is not unusual.

Into the gaiwan the leaves go! Once the leaves have been given a nice short bath the aroma becomes even richer blending cocoa, peanuts, and oakwood. Yes the aroma has gone from earthy to woody, I ain't mad at that (I can't believe I am still using that as a catchphrase...curse you PS2 era games!) in fact I think it is quite delicious smelling. The poured off liquid is quite sweet and cocoa heavy with hints of nuttiness and an almost creamy quality.

The first steeping is at first faintly sweet, like a touch of honey, it then explodes into a rich cocoa and peanut flavor that fills up the entire mouth. The taste fades to a malty quality with the subtle honey like sweetness that lingers in the mouth for a few allowing you to really savor the sweetness.

Sadly the only notes I have written down are from the fist steeping, but I did get a total of five before I called it quits with this tea and went to slumber land. It was one of those 'oh hey I am going to sit down to a nice gongfu session' when suddenly there are plans for dinner that no one told me about, so I ended up sipping with my supper and not taking any notes. I can say that the taste became richer and maltier with the honey sweetness becoming stronger as well. The nutty and cocoa tones from the beginning reached a crescendo around the third steep and were replaced mostly by malt and honey. When this tea comes back into stock I certainly recommend giving it a try, because experimental teas need lots of 'testing' for proper science!

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