Monday, June 23, 2014

Teavivre: Liu An Gua Pian Green Tea, A Tea Review

Today's mail was awesome, I knew that my Meteorology book was supposed to arrive today (because yes I obsessively track packages whenever I have a tracking code), but I also got my Geology textbook today! Now if only I could find a Mycology textbook for less than $100 I would be happy, turns out those more obscure subjects have pricier textbooks. I also received a Calligraphy book to review thanks to Goodread's First Read program, so I have a reason to break out my ink and nibs.

Today's tea is Liu An Gua Pian from Teavivre, a green tea from Liu An, Anhui, China, specifically on Qiyun Mountain. The name Gua Pian translates to Melon Seed, for the way the leaves look once they have been steeped. I do want to take a moment to point out how beautifully verdant the leaves are, their color is a deeper green than a lot of famous Chinese green teas. When I was sniffing the dry leaves, I had one of those mouthwatering moments, there are certain smells that I just love in tea, and this one certainly has it. The aroma is quite vegetal and also quite nutty, with note of green beans, spinach, chestnut, sweet sesame seed paste (Halva for those who enjoy Middle Eastern desserts) and a very delicate finish of toast. It manages to be sweet and vegetal without the clashing, in fact sniffing this tea makes me a bit hungry.

Once the tea has been given a nice soaking in the gaiwan, the leaves become an even richer green, I would go as far as to say they look like fine Nephrite Jade. The aroma is rather complex, the wet leaves have notes of toasted sesame seeds, green beans, asparagus, lychee, and spicebush. Again these notes do not clash, but compliment each other. The liquid in my cup is a lovely shade of green, again reminding me of jade (why yes, I have been brushing up on my Mineralogy, why do you ask?) The aroma is delicate, with notes of honeysuckle, lychee, sesame seeds, and chestnut. It is more nutty and floral than vegetal, and is quite sweet.

The first steep, well on the first steep all I can think is 'oh my that is sweet' I even wrote that in my tasting notebook. There are notes of lychee and honeysuckle at the front, the mid taste is nicely vegetal with notes of asparagus and green bean. The Finish is a blend of apricots and sesame sesame seeds, it is very complex and light. If the rest of the steeps are this tasty I could become addicted to this tea.

And onto the second steep we go! The aroma is a blend of asparagus, sweet lychee, and a nice sesame finish. The taste is still light, but has more of a vegetal and herbaceous tone than sweet this time around. The taste starts out with a bit of asparagus and green beans, this fades to a hint of sage and cooked spinach. The aftertaste is sweet, like lychees and a hint of cherries.

The third steep's aroma is fairly faint, there are notes of spinach and lychee and the faintest hint of sesame at the end, but mostly it is vegetal and discreet. The taste is not faint, however. It is a perfect blend of spinach, lychee, green beans, and sesame seeds. They all seem to dance in perfect tandem, like a very strange waltz (I say strange because usually spinach is a terrible dancer). The tea has a slightly dry finish, but it is still refreshing, especially with the lychee aftertaste that lingers.

For the fourth steep, well, before we get into aromas and taste, I have a confession. I had to nibble on a leaf, they looked so pretty, turns out they were really tasty! Sometimes you get lucky and used tea leaves are sweet and vegetal, sometimes they are really bitter. The aroma is sweet, with strong notes of sesame seeds and a touch of honey, no real vegetal or fruity notes this time. This is a nice finish to a delicious tea, the fourth steep is light, with delicate notes of sesame seeds, a touch of lychee, and touch of green bean. I really enjoyed this tea, though I really wish I would have gotten more than a sample, at least I know what will be in my next Teavivre order!
Also, Espeon says hello!

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