Sunday, March 15, 2015

Shang Tea: Tangerine Blossom Red, A Tea Review

My favorite thing, hands down, about the weather having warmed up is being able to have my windows open. I love sitting at my desk feeling the fresh air, hearing the birds sing...and hearing my weirdo cats chirp at things like they are aliens. Tao only occasionally chips, Espeon sounds like a crazy noise machine, but she is just a much noisier cat. We frequently have conversations and pretend we have some idea what we are saying to each other.

Well, it is official, today marks the start of ticket sales for the Midwest Tea Fest, and to celebrate I am going to take a look at a tea I really should have reviewed ages ago, Shang Tea's Tangerine Blossom Red. I say that I should have reviewed it ages ago because (spoilers) it is one of my favorite teas, belonging to the surprisingly short (for me anyway) list of teas that I HAVE to have on hand. It is also a tea I have been afraid to review because I was afraid of not doing it justice. Of course the really sad thing is as I review this, this is the end of my supply, so I guess we know what I will be buying very soon. The aroma of the leaves is nothing short of decadent, it blends rich cocoa, roasted peanut, and a tiny dried cherry note with intense heady tangerine blossoms. Me being me, I have spent a lot of time sniffing citrus flowers, tangerine flowers are one of my favorite because they are so heady, blending citrus notes with honeysuckle and gardenia, those combined into one slightly sharp heady flower makes me swoon. Honestly I have a hard time describing it because my brain goes all happy fuzzy while experiencing this tea.

The brewed leaves are so delightfully heady, the tangerine blossom is definitely the dominant note, It reminds me of a pile of plucked flowers on a hot day, if you have ever gardened and had a pile of flowers to deal with, you will notice there is a massive heady note that drifts out from the pile of flowers, now mix that with cocoa, dried cherries, and sweet tangerines. The liquid is a blend of tangerine blossoms, citrus fruit, and a rich cocoa and roasted peanut note. It smells delicious, this is almost a tea I have to sniff and sip solo, because it is a little too sensual.

First steep, oh man, it is so good! A perfect balance of sweetness, richness, and heady floral. Pardon me while I let out a contented sigh, because this tea is intense and lovely. It starts out with a cocoa and dried cherry sweetness and then moves to a heady rich tangerine blossom. It blends the taste of citrus with flower nectar sweetness reminiscent of honeysuckle. The finish is rich cocoa and roasted peanuts with a floral note that seems to linger on my tongue for an eternity.

And now I decide to have a second steep, which is no surprise, the aroma of this steep really ramps up on the sweetness front, the floral notes are intense and the cocoa notes mouth watering. And not just because my doctor said no chocolate and I am having some hard core cravings! The taste starts off intense and it stays intense till the end, and most of that intensity is floral, though it is not like perfume or soapy like some floral teas can be, it is like nectar and sipping a slightly earthy, cocoa, and dried cherry note red tea while sitting next to a bouquet of tangerine blossoms.

Third time and last time, usually I can get four steeps, but the fourth steep is fairly weak, and I let it steep for a while. If anyone is curious, yes I have steeped this tea Western style and it is pretty good, though it does seem to lose some of its more subtle nuances, and even my staunchly western tea drinking boyfriend thinks it is better gongfu style. The aroma of the third steep still has a very strong floral presence, along with cocoa and dried cherry, but it also has a creamy note as well. The taste is a bit milder than the previous one, but there is still a strong tangerine blossom flavor, the nectar like notes are so delicious, though this steep the tea itself really shines. The notes of roasted peanuts, cocoa, sweet dried cherry, and a bit of malt at the finish. I have such a weakness for floral teas, especially citrus flowers of any variety, and I really love that this is a red tea rather than a green or white like I usually run into, Tangerine Blossom Red is one of a kind and delicious, also I love I can go to the shop and talk to its creator when I visit, the personal aspect makes me enjoy it even more.

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