Thursday, April 30, 2015

Teavivre: Xin Yang Mao Jian Green Tea Spring 2015, A Tea Review

Today did not go nearly as expected, the car work (that is costing a small fortune, so there goes any fun money for who knows how long) that was supposed to be finished this morning won't be done until tomorrow. Since my plans did not come to fruition I decided to go visit the Kauffman Gardens, they were beautiful, but oh man I am so tired now!

The journey through Green Tea week continues with Teavivre's Xin Yang Mao Jian Green Tea, one of my favorite green teas, see, I said I would say that a lot this week. These slightly fuzzy green needles were harvested April 13, 2015 in the beautiful Xinyang County in Henan Province. The leaves remind me of tiny pine needles, and apparently this tea is frequently drunk in China during the summer for its robust and refreshing qualities. The aroma is delightfully savory, mixing notes of sundried tomato. tomato leaves, spinach, and a bit of sauteed mushrooms. At the finish there was a tiny hint of cut grass and a surprising note of dulse.

Into the gaiwan the little needles go for their steeping, and the aroma stays quite savory, with notes of savory sauteed spinach, lima beans, vegetable broth, and a little like sauteed mushrooms. The liquid has notes of edamame, mushrooms, and a slight sweet pea note at the finish. The aroma is very mild, but the trichomes floating along the surface of the water amuses me and makes up for the lack of aroma.

The first steep keeps up the savory notes, blending sauteed mushrooms, some mild bok choy, a bit of edamame nuttiness, and a tiny bit of potatoes and dulse at the finish. The mouthfeel is smooth and the taste is mild at the first, but delightfully savory.

Second steep smells so much like sauteed veggies and vegetable broth, with a hint of toasted sesame at the finish giving it a touch of sweetness. The taste is still savory! There are notes of stir fried vegetable with a bit of sesame seeds there are stronger notes of zucchini and bok choy, and lesser notes of asparagus and bell pepper. At the finish there is a bit of potato and dulse, an interesting finish giving it a bit of a starchy finish, and lingering savoriness.

The third steep changes things up a bit by being more sweet than savory, with notes of sweet pea, sesame seeds, and a gentle grass like aftertaste. The taste is also more sweet than savory this time around, with notes of sweet pea and toasted sesame, it does fade to savory with notes of sauteed mushrooms and dulse at the finish. This tea had some notes I do not run into very often, which I found greatly amusing, and I certainly agree that it is refreshing, especially now that the days are getting warmer!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Teavivre: Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea Spring 2015, A Tea Review

Guys, I finally think I need to break down and buy a scale. See, I have a project coming up that will require very exact tea measurements, and I do not think my vintage kitchen scale will cut it. I am a very 'free flow' in my tea preparation with eyeballing tea amounts and water amounts, count time out in my head (unless it is more than a minute) the only thing I am strict to is water temperature. So, this is going to be different for me, though not unpleasant, though it will interrupt the flow of my tea ritual, but not in a huge way. Maybe my vintage scale will work, clearly I will need to calibrate it and find out!

Today on the Green Tea Week from Teavivre, we take a look at one of my favorite spring greens (I am going to keep saying that everyday I think) Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea! Good old Yellow Mountain Fur Peak, as it translates of course referencing where it is grown and the appearance of the leaves, this particular harvesting was...harvested...on April 6th, putting it the day after Qing Ming. The aroma of these very pretty leaves is very fresh, very fresh and green indeed, and nutty. So, it starts out with a blend of chestnuts, water chestnuts, and edamame. After that the aroma fades to sweet peas, fresh spinach, and a tiny bit of smoke, like just a very very tiny whiff of smoke.

I decided to bowl steep this tea, it is one of those green teas that take to bowl steeping really well, it like never gets bitter! The aroma of the leaves floating around happily in the water is a nutty blend of sweet peas, edamame, and chestnuts. Subtle with a gentle edge of sweetness. The taste is pretty fantastic, it starts with a nectar sweetness of distant spring flowers (do I detect a hint of tulip?) and moves right along into green with notes of sweet pea, edamame, lima bean, and lettuce. Finishing up with a smooth chestnut and sesame and a lingering honey aftertaste. My bowl was refilled a few times before the flavor faded away to delicate sweetness and no more, not the most lasting of teas, but certainly very delicious.

Teavivre: Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea Spring 2015, A Tea Review

I just finished an epic baking frenzy! I made a Matcha and Chocolate Marble Bundt Cake which is delicious, a chocolate cake mixed with orange blossom water and masala chai spice drizzled with a glaze of saffron, raw honey, and orange blossom water. That one is my invention, turned out really yummy, this is my first time going entirely experimental with baking using gluten free flour, so I am glad it was not a disaster. My potato flour and garlic biscuits, however, they are kinda gross...more proof that I should stick to baking sweets, since my savories almost never turn out! So I am worn out and of course have more cleaning, but I am so waiting to just toss everything that is left into the dishwasher, I am a lazy baker.

And so the journey through China's spring greens continue, with Teavivre's Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea! They sell several grades of Long Jing, from their super fancy She Qian at the highest and most expensive (also earliest harvested if I am correct) to this one, the second least expensive of the Dragon Wells. Harvested on April 15, 2015, this tea is delightfully fresh, putting it between Qing Ming and Gu Yu (which was on April 20th this year, according to my handy calender, seriously it is the best app ever because it has all the Taoist holidays, Solar Terms, and things of that nature) two of the big spring harvest periods. The aroma of the little green swords (oh hey, a lucky ball of fuzz! You get those during the processing, I call them good luck because who doesn't like balls of trichomes?) is sweet, green, and nutty, just the way a good Dragon Well is supposed to smell! There are notes of sharp artichoke, fresh vegetation, sweet peony, toasted sesame seeds, a bit of green beans, and a hint of orchids. This one is surprisingly floral, but it is more like the nectar of the flower rather than a heady scent, it balances well with the green notes.

Into my green tea Yixing teapot it goes! I started having this teapot for all robust, vegetal Chinese greens, but really I use it most for my much loved Long Jing. Brewing the leaves results in a soggy tea that is not longer floral, but is all vegetal. There are notes of artichoke, bell pepper, chestnut, a bit of bamboo leaves, and a tiny bit of chestnut at the finish. The liquid is sweet with notes of artichoke, wildflower honey, spicebush, and a hint of peony. It smells mellow but not delicate.

The first steeping lets me know it is a good, clean, Dragon Well, it does now bowl me over, but it certainly is tasty! It has a rich, full body with a smooth mouthfeel, the taste starts off with bell pepper and green bean, this moves to a tiny bit of artichoke and bamboo leaves, the finish is sweet chestnuts and peony nectar.

The second steeping's aroma is crispy, yes that is how to describe a smell! There are notes of nutty chestnut and crisp broken bamboo leaves and bell pepper. The taste is rich, delightfully rich and green, with notes of bell pepper, green beans, with a nice slightly bitter cooked kale and a nice smooth chestnut midtaste. The finish, like the previous one, is a nice peony nectar which lingers.

Third steep, woo! The aroma is less vegetal this time around, it is sweet and nutty with a delicate peony flower and bamboo leaf finish. The taste is quite sweet this time around, like chestnuts and those delightful honey and sesame candies (not Halva, like I frequently rave about, but candies that are just honey and sesame...rather addictive) there is a light bamboo leaf and bamboo shoot taste with a gentle finish of green beans and peony nectar. This tea is one of those Dragon Wells that make for an excellent everyday tea without breaking the bank, which is always pleasant because Dragon Well can get really expensive!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Teavivre: Lu Shan Yun Wu Green Tea (2015) A Tea Review

Today is tournament day! I am fighting PHR and honestly I have no idea if I can win, see PHR are really good at killing things...and the Scourge (in particular me) is really good at dying. I hold the record for the lowest kill to death ratio, meaning I am really good at dying, which is funny because it doesn't mean I am bad at winning. Depending on the scenario, I might be very well suited to win, because my big advantage over the PHR is speed, they are super slow and I am the queen of speed!

It is spring, meaning it is time to revel in the spring harvested green teas! This week will be all about greens, specifically a set of five green teas from Teavivre! Today's green tea of choice is Lu Shan Yun Wu Green Tea, a curly and very green leafed tea from Jiangxi Province in China. This particular tea was plucked April 10, 2015, which, if I remember my calender correctly, means it was harvested between Qing Ming and Gu Yu, making it awesomely fresh. The aroma of the tea (which is also known as Clouds and Mist Tea) is a blend of nutty and vegetal, it has a bit of spinach, some toasted sesame, a distinct yet mild roasted peanut note, a sharp note of artichoke, and a finish of raw asparagus. It smells super green, and very fresh, like a pile of vegetables right out of a garden...and like someone is roasting nuts in the kitchen.

Into my tall plum blossom gaiwan the leaves go, to have their dance with the water. After steeping the aroma becomes really intense, pretty much all the nutty notes have vanished, replaced with a mountain of vegetal notes. It starts with a very strong cooked asparagus, a nice note of cooked spinach, a bit of broccoli, and a finish of bell pepper. It kinda smells like food and honestly makes me more than a little hungry for stir fried vegetables. The liquid is fairly mild on the first steep, with notes of sauteed vegetables (primarily bell pepper and asparagus) and finish of gentle nuttiness.

First steeping, and wow, this tea is not mild, it packs quite the vegetal punch! It starts out sweet and nutty, like roasted peanuts and a hint of honey. Then boom, sharp asparagus, slightly bitter yet leafy kale, crisp bok choy and bell peppers, and a surprisingly sweet finish, kind of like the sweetness of carrots without the taste of carrots.

The aroma of the second steeping is sweet and vegetal, there are notes honey and peanuts, followed by asparagus, spinach, and a bit of bell pepper. The taste, well, remember last steep how the aroma made me hungry for stir fried vegetables, well the taste kinda satiated that craving. It is a blend of stir fried (in sesame oil if we are being really fancy) bell peppers, asparagus, bok choy, and a touch of broccoli. If this sounds delicious to you, then let me tell you, it is. I am a sucker for really vegetal green teas (yes, yes, I am sucker for teas in general, but shush) and this one takes the cake. The aftertaste is a touch of pepper and then a bit later a bloom of honey.

Third steeping time! The aroma is more sweet than vegetal this time around, with notes of honey and toasted sesame overpowering the more gentle notes of bell pepper. Ok, so here is where it gets weird, this steep has one of the best tasting notes ever, it tastes like capers but without the pickle aspect, it is really quite awesome and unique. Mix this in with gentle black pepper, bell pepper, and a touch of bok choy and you have a green end to a very green tea.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Tea Leaf Co: Rock Star, A Tea Review

Ah, Sunday, my least favorite day of the week. No mail, half the restaurants are closed, and everywhere closes early. I know I am just being a spoiled brat, but I have been looking forward to having some sushi for quite a while, things just keep panning out that I could not have that delicious food that I so desired...until today! Ben left to fetch me a favorite treat but came back sad, alas, it is Sunday (we both keep thinking it is a day different than it actually is, I blame his new work schedule) meaning the restaurant was closed. I feel much like a sad, molting, parrot.

Today we are taking a look at Tea Leaf Co's Rock Star, a white tea blend of blueberries and Bai Mu Dan, I do not drink as many blended teas as I used to (for shame) but I still get excited when I find a new blueberry blend, since it is frequently my favorite. To be listed among blueberry blends that I like, it has to taste like sweet fresh blueberries, not nasty tart unripe blues, honestly this is one of the few things I do not mind if it tastes extra sweet like blueberry muffins or blueberry candy, I really like my berries to be sweet. Looking at the ingredients, it turns out the berries in question are actually dried Elderberries, and the blueberries come from blueberry essence, which is interesting. The aroma is rather strongly in the blueberry camp, strong sweet blueberry with a tart undertone, and a finish of fresh vegetation and crisp lettuce. Bai Mu Dan always smells a bit like lettuce to me, making it seem crisp and fresh.

The now thoroughly soggy brewed up leaves take on a richer aroma, with notes of lettuce, a touch of pepper, loam, and of course a blend of sweet blueberries and tart elderberries. These last two notes seem pretty even with each other, the sweet does not overpower the tart and vice versa. The liquid is honey sweet, with notes of, well, honey, and of course blueberries and a touch of fresh green.

The taste is rather soothing and light, not a strong tea, the primary note that reigns supreme is honey and gentle vegetation. There is a tiny bit of pepper and loam, and a finish of sweet blueberries that linger well after the sipping has finished. The blueberry is pretty mild, but happily it is a sweet blueberry taste, which is good since I am not a fan of the tart. So, this was an enjoyable tea, it did not wow me, but I did enjoy it, I think also it could make a really tasty ice tea, if you are into that kinda thing.

Friday, April 24, 2015

TanLong Premium Tea Collection: The Home for Butterflies-LanCang River Basin- XiGui ManLu Mountain Ancient Tea Tree 2013, A Tea Review

I came to a very silly realization last night while lying in bed, thinking on how a lot of my tea gear is imperfect, and how that endears them to me, gives them personality, it makes them beautiful. I started this very early in life, mostly because of shopping at thrift stores and yard sales (long time bargain hunter) those imperfections usually meant history and life, and I get to carry on its legacy. The only time I find myself unhappy is when I buy something and it is different from the description, like the beautiful Zisha teapot that turned out to be painted black (why?) and is taking some thoroughly cleaning and boiling before I even consider using it for anything other than a vase, it is safe to say that ebay seller got negative feedback. My larger point is, I realized I have been a follower of the art of Wabi-Sabi most my life, and that it has taken me this long to realize it is a bit silly!
Today's tea might win the award for the most applicable for my blog, at least with the name, TanLong Premium Tea Collection's The Home for Butterflies-LanCang River Basin- XiGui ManLu Mountain Ancient Tea Tree 2013 just fits, because butterflies! The LanCang River Basin is a resting place for butterflies, the story reminded me of a place I visited in Georgia where there were hundreds of Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies drifting through the air and resting on the river bank (it was actually a creek, but shh) it was magical. This Puerh is made from old tree's leaves, 100+ years old, these trees grow in the shade of mango trees on Man Lu Mountain. It is of the large leaf variety, and you can certainly tell because the leaves are rather large and twisty, with a hint of silver down. They have a very sharp aroma, mixing camphor and a lite sour straw and wet greenwood. On top of that is a strong smell of fresh spinach and wet hay, this is a very pungent pu! Pungent in a strong way, and intense way, not in a smells gross way. This is one of those Shengs that you can smell the Cha Qi, it is strong and invigorating, which is pretty impressive. 

Giving the tea a rinse and short first steep, I am pleased I got the leaves in the pot, the one problem with drinking large leaf teas with a tiny shui ping! The aroma of the now wet but not fully uncurled leaves is pretty intense, a good kick in the face of camphor with a touch of cedar, along side that intense cleansing aroma is very sweet broken hay and honey, toss in a bit of green wood and spinach and a delicate finish of walnut shells and you have the aroma of the soggy leaves. The liquid's aroma is honey sweet, with notes of sun-warmed fresh hay (if you have ever spent time on a farm, you know that smell) a very light camphorous note, and a finish of delicate fresh cherry.

The first steep with its golden hay coloring can be best described as subtly beautiful. It is mild and delicate, with notes of fresh sweet cherries, distant flowers brought in on a breeze, a bit of freshly broken vegetation, honey and hay. At the finish there is a tiny hint of smoke, just a whiff at the back of the tongue, the aftertaste is a delicate lingering camphor note and honey.

The second steep's aroma is similar to the first, a blend of honey sweet warm hay and a touch of cherry, this time the camphor note is stronger and there is a note of fresh spinach at the finish. The taste is also very similar, but the delicate notes have more of a punch this time. The green vegetation notes are replaced with a mouthful of fresh spinach and the camphor is more present, causing a salivary explosion. There is a tiny bit of bitterness, but it is mild and quickly replaced with honey sweetness. This tea has a wonderful Qi, very invigorating!

Third steeping, the aroma is more camphor and more spinach, taking the sweet notes and giving it a touch more savory. It cools the nose and throat as I sniff it, some powerful camphor notes! The taste is very refreshing and cooling, like drinking a hot cup of tea with the feeling of drinking spring water, camphorous Yunnans are confusing at times. Like the previous steep there is a touch of bitterness that faded very quickly to sweet honey, the spinach note dominates the midsip along with a strong note of crushed vegetation. The finish is one of camphor and honey, both linger for quite a while.

As is my tradition, I continued with the steeping past the third steep, the fourth was deliciously sweet, almost no bitterness. By the sixth steep the camphor had calmed down a good deal, and the tea had mellowed out to just sweetness by the eighth. This is a tea I want, not just because of butterflies, but because I enjoyed the taste. It seems the more I drink Sheng, the more I prefer it over Shou, which is such a contrast to a year ago where I only kinda liked Sheng and preferred the earthiness of Shou.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Great Matcha Showdown, A Marathon of Green, A Matcha Comparison

Matcha is a crazy tea, really it is, lately it has become huge in the pop-consciousness thanks to the many health claims...I could care less about these claims, what I want is a Matcha that tastes good! And so here is the great showdown between 12 different Matcha, all of them Culinary grade, to see which is superior! A little while ago I was contacted by Red Leaf Tea to help organize a massive showdown, taking a bunch of tea bloggers and enthusiasts and have us take 12 samples (at the time of testing we do not know what Matcha is what, so no worries about brand loyalty!) and pit them against each other to see how price, color, and taste all compare. After one epic day of testing...I swear I think I am still caffeinated from this the next are my results!

Matcha Organics: 100% Organic Matcha Green Tea Extract
Photo from Amazon

Price: $24.95
Price Per Ounce: $6.24
Color: 5
Flavor: 6
Sweetness: 6
Notes: Well, this title was a giant pile of keywords that made it difficult to actually find the name of the Matcha, but whatever. This Matcha smells really green, and is super powdery. The color is pretty brownish, not at all vibrant, but the taste is not half bad, tastes more like powdered bamboo than tea.

Tradition Pure Green Tea Powder
Photo from Amazon

Price: $10.75
Price Per Ounce: $1.22
Color: 5
Flavor: 5
Sweetness: 5
Notes: A Matcha from Taiwan, that is pretty neat. This Matcha smells like old paper and fruit, kinda like bananas. Has a weird perfume-y aftertaste, other than that extremely generic.

Doctor King 100% Organic Japanese Matcha
Photo from Amazon

Price: $24.00
Price Per Ounce: $6.00
Color: 7
Flavor: 5
Sweetness: 4
Notes: Papery! Papery and a bit like paint, much greener but the taste leaves a lot to be desired. Would be good as a latte or cake I think since it has a distinct greenness, but as a cup on its own, not so good.

One Organic
Photo from Amazon

Price: $19.99
Price Per Ounce: $2.27
Color: 4
Flavor: 4
Sweetness: 4
Notes: A very dingy brown Matcha, very dark in color. Has a really weird paint and paper taste, not a fan of this one, nasty aftertaste.

Enzo Organic Green Tea Powder
Photo from Amazon

Price: $21.99
Price Per Ounce: $5.50
Color: 5
Flavor: 5
Sweetness: 6
Notes: This is another Matcha that is just all-round average, it left no real impression. It did end up having a fairly bitter aftertaste. The name is another pile of keywords, which I personally find annoying.

Some of these Matcha are just plain swampy looking

TerraVerve Matcha Green Tea Powder
Photo from Amazon

Price: $29.99
Price Per Ounce: $8.52
Color: 8
Flavor: 7
Sweetness: 7
Notes: Pleasantly nutty and a bit floral, really liked how green this one was. Had a good aftertaste, but it did have a lingering dryness. Ugh more keywords, just say the name >:(

Kazu 100% Organic Green Tea Matcha
Photo from Amazon

Price: $16.99
Price Per Ounce: $1.93
Color: 2
Flavor: 2
Sweetness: 2
Notes: It has an absence of color, it is a pretty sage green, but not for a Matcha! Oh wow, super bitter, not really picking anything else up.

Matcha DNA Certified Organic Matcha
Photo from Amazon

Price: $24.71
Price Per Ounce: $2.47
Color: 3
Flavor: 7
Sweetness: 7
Notes: Really unappealing color, but has a surprising sweet taste. Kinda like pine needles.

Kiss Me Organics Matcha Green Tea Powder
Photo from Amazon

Price: $25.00
Price Per Ounce: $6.25
Color: 9
Flavor: 7
Sweetness: 8
Notes: Good taste, mild and a bit floral, a very powdery texture though, which was a bit off-putting, made me cough.

uVernal Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder
Photo from Amazon

Price: $24.99
Price Per Ounce: $6.25
Color: 3
Flavor: 3
Sweetness: 6
Notes: Not bitter, but tastes nasty, kinda salty and really woody. Nope, nope, nope.

Red Leaf Tea Starter Matcha
From Red Leaf Tea

Price: $14.99
Price Per Ounce: $0.94
Color: 5
Flavor: 6
Sweetness: 8
Notes: Pleasantly nutty and robust, but without a ton of bitterness.

Red Leaf Tea Deluxe Matcha
From Red Leaf Tea

Price: $24.99
Price Per Ounce: $1.56
Color: 10
Flavor: 8
Sweetness: 8
Notes: Smells so floral! Tastes so floral, very little bitterness, plus it is the most green which is nice after so many dingy Matcha. This one is pretty delicious!

Also, some awesome charts to show how everything looks, because let's face it, charts are AWESOME!

What I learned, just because a Matcha is culinary grade does not mean that it has to taste gross, a strong taste can mean that it will be amazing no matter how you brew it up. Price does not always mean quality, nor does the color, though usually color is a pretty good indicator.

Curious about the other tester's results?
Lion's Battle Royale
Not Starving Yet's Blind Test
The Last Dodo's Mega Matcha Comparison Showdown
TeaTabby's Matcha Madness
Oolong Owl's Matcha Comparison
Sailing the Seven Teas' Matcha Showdown
The Everyday Tea Blog's Matcha Madness
Zack's The Blind Matcha Test
Tea Unmasked's Matcha Results's Matcha vs Matcha

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What-Cha: Taiwan Amber Oolong, A Tea Review

I decided to pay a visit to the thrift store today, to my surprise they were having a 50% off sale on EVERYTHING. I was looking for a new teacup because my cat broke yet another one (so glad they like breaking my cheap thrift store finds instead of my expensive stuff) and found a nice new teacup, a Somayaki cup and creamer (which I will use for a Cha Hai, because why not) and an awesome antique table thing that will be completely redone into a tea table. I got it partially because I wanted a tea table I can sit at that is low to the ground, and also because if all goes well Ben and I will be moving in with a tea loving friend this summer and I want to have the most epic tea room.

So, it is Wednesday (though all week I keep thinking it is the wrong day) meaning it is time for What-Cha! I honestly think I am never going to succeed in my goal of trying all of the teas in that shop, because more keep arriving! New fancy ones from Malawi and Australia are the most recent ones that are making me check and double check my budget to see if I can swing another order soon. Usually I try to order once a season, stocking up on my favorite teas to drink that time of year...and a few favorites that I can't seem to live without! So anyway, enough squeeing over future tea orders, today we are taking a look at Taiwan Amber Oolong! Yes, it is a roasted Oolong, because I have an obsession, this one is from Wushe Garden in Nantou Taiwan, this particular Oolong is roasted over the Longan Fruit tree's wood, meaning some of that fruity goodness gets imparted into the tea (much like it is with smoking meat over fruit wood) and since this is a Jin Xuan cultivar, expect extra sweetness! So, the aroma, smells really good! I am getting notes of toasted peanuts, sesame seeds, pie crust...and is that marzipan? After sniffing a bit more, yep, that is definitely marzipan!

The curled up leaves are tossed into the roasty-toasty Oolong Yixing for their happy bath, after which I give the leaves a thorough sniffing. So, this tea smells like pie. Specifically it smells like freshly baked peach pie, but with a nutty crust and a caramel drizzle. The liquid is super sweet and toasty, with notes of caramel, toasted nuts, pie crust, and a heaping pile of charcoal roasted peaches!

OMG, HOW!!! This tea taste exactly like peach cobbler with an oat crust and caramelized sugar, that is just uncanny! I kinda had to do a double take because I was sitting at my computer..took a sip...looked down at my cup, took another sip, and was totally blown away. It is sweet and toasted, with the toasted notes of oats and grain, and the sweet notes of fruit. That was an impressive first steep.

Second steep time, and I hope it still smells like pie. Hah, nope, now it smells like peach cobbler! Not a huge difference, except cobbler the way I had it had a crumbly oat crust, giving it more of a grain smell. The taste is still sweet and fruity, like a cobbler, but it has a sharper roasted taste. Along with that strong peach taste, there is also a nice cherry note and spicebush at the finish which lingers for quite a while.

Third steeping, the aroma is pretty mellow, blending peaches and toasted grains for a sweet yet subtle aroma. The taste has also mellowed out a bit, there is still a sweet peach and toasted grain taste, but it is a lot more subtle. Sadly this tea lacked staying power, but it made up for it in a crazy good taste, so I am not too sad, it has become a new staple in my 'must have around' collection because sometimes I really want a roasted Oolong but do not have the time for multiple steepings, and I hate having it go to waste, so this is perfect for a quick couple of steepings session.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Whispering Pines Tea Co: High Mountain Xinyang Maojian Green Tea, A Tea Review

Last night was the first night of the Dropzone Commander Tournament, but alas I did not play my game because my opponent because he had to take care of his baby, so instead I served the players tea. I have decided that mixing my passions is just a logical choice, luckily everyone seemed to like the tea, problem is I need more cups, but that problem is fixing itself as we speak. On the news of DZC, I won the league's painting contest, so it is safe to say I am very pleased with myself, totally going to take my little award and hang it on my wall.

Today's tea is a preview for a tea that Whispering Pines Tea Co will be stocking a small amount of in the near future, High Mountain Xinyang Maojian Green Tea! The name combines region and description of the leaf, it comes from Xinyang County in Henan, China and the Maojian part refers to the fuzzy leaf tips, yay for trichomes! I am going to start out by saying there are green teas and there are luminous teas that capture the essence of life...yeah, it is going to be one of those posts, so strap yourselves in. When I opened the pouch and scooped out the needed leaves, I let out a 'whoa' hopefully not sounding like Keanu Reeves, but I probably did, these leaves are crazy vibrant! They have beautiful silver fuzz which makes them almost look like they are shimmery, like the surface of water. Oh man, the aroma of these leaves is so fresh, like really super fresh, like did they just come straight from the field fresh! It blends notes of sweetly nutty chestnut and fresh green spinach, and the best tea flowers. It smells like blooming tea flowers (I totally got to sniff them when I was in Charleston) they are subtle and honey sweet, smelling ethereal, just like this tea.

Into the gaiwan the leaves go, and they seem to become even greener somehow, which is impressive. The aroma of the now steeped and soggy leaves is so fresh and so green, blending clean mountain air, fresh growth, chestnuts, fresh asparagus, fresh spinach, and a distant hint of flowers, less tea flowers and more something slightly spicy like tulips. The liquid is also very clean, hmm, seeing a theme here? Blend a sense of cleanness with fresh spinach and asparagus, sweet peas, and a touch of growing bamboo for a very green smelling tea.

I am glad I was sitting down when I first took a sip of the first steep, because it is a tea that would have knocked me off my feet. It is so delicate while having such crisp and distinct notes, starting with a velvety smooth mouthfeel and moving right into a clean green sweetness. It reminded me of my favorite notes taken from Anji Bai Cha and Dragonwell and put into a super light tea. There are notes of sweet peas, chestnuts, a touch of spinach and a light note of asparagus, unlike a lot of Maojians I have tried, this one is only light on the savory, adding touches of sweetness and floral.

So, right after I finished that paragraph I wandered off to Tabletop to play my first tournament league, in case you are curious, I won on objectives, but my opponent did kill most my kill to death ratio is intensely bad! Also, as a side note, I had this tea in my travel steeper, it performed beautifully, no surprise there. Anyway, the second steep needs attention now, and the aroma of the gently steaming liquid is beautiful, it is the embodiment of clean mountain air, misty and green, fresh with new life in spring. Yes that is a silly poetic description, but this tea is one that fills my mind with images rather than with aroma notes, all teas do that to me, but some more strongly than others. The mouthfeel is just as velvety smooth as the previous steep, the taste more intense, starting off with sweet peas and chestnuts, the midtaste is smoothly green spinach and artichoke, with a tiny hint of mineral, much like spring water. The finish had a lingering note of floral, distant floral brought on a breeze rather than sitting next to a vase of flowers, meaning it was hard to identify.

For the third steep, oh man, the aroma is still so delightful, though I am able to piece together more than just images and emotions this time, there are notes of crisp vegetation, chestnut sweetness, and a finish of peas and asparagus. The taste is still pretty fantastic, going strong, it has a wonderful peaceful Cha Qi, this could be a great tea to meditate over, or to accompany you while doing something thoughtful (like painting and wargaming?) there are notes of asparagus and sweet pea, chestnut and a touch of bok choy at the finish. It is safe to say many steeps were had! The best part of this tea was sharing it, Brendan of WPT was awesome and shared some of this beauty with me, so letting my friends at gaming night try it seemed the perfect thing to do. They all agree, this tea is a thing of beauty.