Sunday, May 11, 2014

Teasenz: Anji Bai Cha, A Tea Review

Of all the complaints that I voice on this blog, I think my constant confusion about Midwestern weather's unpredictability might be the one with the most recurrence. My most recent annoyance is the constant promise of storms, the classic Accuweather alert of severe storms bringing flooding rains, strong winds, lightning, hail and a tornado (only get one, folks. Use it well) for the last several and absolutely no payoff is frustrating. It is like making a favorite cup of tea and spilling it before you get to drink it. Today was a classic example of buildup with no payoff, a beautiful anvil drifted overhead with some really clear bulbous mammatus clouds...and I watched it just drift off to deliver its rainy present to somewhere else. The rest of the week is predicting storms, maybe one of those days I will get some happy rumbling.

But enough about weather, it is time for tea! Today is the last of the fancy Teasenz week and I might have saved my favorite for the end, you know me, I like to go out with a bang. Anji Bai Cha or Anji White Tea is an extremely delicate green tea from the bamboo covered region of Anji, China. You are probably wondering, if it is a green tea then why is it called a white tea, well it is not a reference to its processing (like white tea) but to the silvery white color of the leaves. This tea has been on my 'must try' list for quite a while, so let us dive right into the pile of leaves. The aroma is very delicate and very fresh, a mellow blend of fruit like sweetness and roasted chestnuts. Of course there is a vegetal presence, it is one of green beans and fresh vegetation, there is also a delicate hint of flowers at the finish. This tea smells wonderful, it has my favorite aspects of a delicate Chinese green tea, smelling like late spring and rain.

After a nice soak in my gaiwan the aroma of the leaves goes from delicate to rich. The chestnut and green bean notes are almost heady with their intensity, there is also a much stronger floral note (a cross between lilac and honeysuckle) with a finish of faint smoke. The liquid is a delightful blend of chestnut and green bean with a delicate touch of sweetness at the finish.

The first steep starts out with a delicate creamy mouthfeel, this is one of those teas that really fills the mouth up with each taste. And what a taste it is! Delicate vegetal notes of green beans and lima beans with a finish of sweet chestnuts. The taste is incredibly delicate and subtle but incredibly nuanced.

For the second steep, the aroma is very sweet and nutty with a distinctly gardenia aroma at the finish. The taste is sweet, very sweet, like sucking on a piece of sugar cane that fades to chestnuts. The finish is lima beans and green peas with leaves a lingering vegetal taste.

The third steep's aroma is still delicately floral and chestnut sweet, I really like the aroma of this tea, it has a very natural and spring like feel to it. The taste for this steeping is mostly vegetal with delicate notes of lettuce, green beans, and green peas. For the finish there is a delicate sweetness that lingers long after the sipping ends.

 I decided to do a little experimenting, I was going for a ramble around the Plaza and did not want to pay for overpriced and usually poorly brewed tea, so I got my trusty (and now broken) travel infuser out and had a little fun. Filling half of the infuser with 145 degree water, adding the leaves, and then topping it off with 145 degree water, letting the leaves soak in water for the entire hour or so I was out rambling. I can say that this experiment was a success! The taste was very good, the vegetal notes of the third steep and the sweet notes of the second steep. It started out more sweet and by the time I had finished my tea it had transitioned to mostly rich vegetal. I was thrilled at the utter lack of bitterness, plus wandering around carrying an infuser of such beautiful leaves made me feel quite posh.

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