Ben and I went gallivanting today after he got home from work, a celebratory gallivanting to my favorite store: International 888, possibly the best Asian market ever. It is celebratory because next week is my official 'One Year as a Tea Blogger' anniversary, I wanted to celebrate by getting some teas. I got a few surprise teas (surprise as in I have no idea if they are at all good, but they were cheap) and a Boba Thai Iced Tea, first one in years! I love Thai Iced tea (and bubbles!) but I have to only have it once in a great while because it makes me vibrate. I also plan on having a giveaway next week, more on that as I finish planning it.
Today's tea is another offering from What-Cha, Zhejiang Purple Bamboo Shoot 'Zi Sun Cha' Green Tea, a beautifully vibrant green tea from Zhang Ling Tea Farm in Zhejiang, China. According to my little bit of research, this tea was regarded as one of the finest teas by Lu Yu, and was a much loved Tribute Tea during the Tang dynasty. Teas that have an ancient and storied history make my immensely happy, it is like I am having a cup of history, like I am a Time Lord and my gaiwan is my TARDIS. The aroma of the dry leaves is intense and complex, it is one of those teas that when I open the little foil package I am slammed with aroma, no need to stick my nose into the pouch, the aroma comes to me. There are initial notes of hay, a touch of spinach, and bit of tomato leaf, and a finish of sesame seed. As I sniff further (and breath on) the leaves sitting on my little display dish, I start to notice a savory sauteed mushroom aroma that grows the warmer the leaves get, it is a mouthwatering aroma.
Into the gaiwan the leaves go (I finally stopped sniffing them) for a nice steeping. Again the aroma is complex, the wet leaves have notes of spinach, sesame seeds, orchids, cherries, and honey. It is surprisingly fruity, especially at the end. The liquid is delicate and light, there are notes of sesame seed, and vegetal with that delightful savory sauteed mushroom aroma making an appearance.
The first steep is light and savory, it starts out with notes of spinach and sauteed mushrooms, this transitions to a gentle sesame taste. The finish is surprisingly sweet and floral with a sweetness that lingers like cane sugar. I certainly think this is a good start!
For the second steeping, the aroma of the liquid had a complete change of face. It is sweet like cherries and lychees with a touch of sesame seeds. The taste is very similar to the aroma, it starts off sweet and fruity and then transitions to sesame seeds and a touch of spicebush. It is a mild and refreshing tea.
Time for round three, the aroma is pretty faint this time around, there are delicate notes of flowers, it is like a distant bouquet that you can smell but cannot quite make out what kind of flowers there are. The taste starts out mild with savory sauteed mushrooms and spinach, this pretty quickly switches to toasted, almost smoky, sesame seeds. After the seeds there is a nice finish of lychee that lasts as a sweet aftertaste.
On a whim I decided to put aside the gaiwan and give this tea a Western Steeping. The aroma is quite rich, with notes of toasted sesame, spinach, and a touch of smoke. The taste is quite different from the gongfu version, it is still mild but the taste is sweet and orchid like with a touch of spinach. It almost reminds me of an oolong it is so floral, but when I drink it gongfu style it is very much so a green. I like these experiments, I feel it gives me a greater understanding of the tea I am drinking, I certainly suggest giving both brewing methods a try if you have the supplies.
Shameless plug! I am taking pre-orders for my annual Tea Advent Calender, it is early but I have reasons, all info can be found here.