Friday, September 4, 2015

Tea From Vietnam: Fish Hook Tea, A Tea Review

It is Friday night and I am sitting in my chair confused. Not really confused, but stuck trying to decide what to do with my night. My new meds seem to be helping, so in typical me fashion I want to do all the things I have neglected lately...but on the other hand I still feel not quite right, and moving around too much is very tiring. I am hoping once my body gets used to the new meds the side effects will ease off, if I remember correctly from taking these as a teenager (much higher dosage for a different problem) some of them do, and when the dosage is low most of them went away. But man, does it ever feel good to have that weird electrical edge taken off, it was getting really old. I think that maybe I will paint, or game, or I might take a nap. I am, as ever, a total party animal.

Today we are looking at another Tea From Vietnam, specifically their Fish Hook Tea, a Green Tea whose shape is said to look like a fish hook. You know, I can totally see that, the leaves are quite curled and dainty looking. They are grown in Thai Nguyen, what is considered the best location to grow green tea in Vietnam, and these specifically come from a small garden in Tan Cuong located in the southern part of Thai Nguyen. The aroma of the dark green leaves is nutty and vegetal, notes of slightly sweet sesame seeds and rice, with an accompaniment of greenbeans, asparagus, and savory sauteed bok choy. It smells like food, like a sauce-less stir fry of tasty greens and rice.

Into my teapot the leaves go for their nice short bath, I mean really short (for a green) the steeping guide recommends 5 seconds and even though usually I take brewing instructions with a grain of salt, when they are that short I tend to at the very least pay attention for the first time. The aroma reminds me exactly of one of my favorite Japanese dishes, of all things, Ohitashi. Basically it is boiled spinach with sesame seeds and some seasoning, now I do not get the bonito notes (thankfully, that would be a little too weird) though I do get the savory soy notes and definitely a ton of steamed spinach and sesame seeds. The liquid is nice and strong, notes of spinach, edamame, rice, and sesame, tea smells like food, and I am so ok with that.

The first steep is smooth and surprisingly cooling, not like a Sheng Puerh, but it has a gentle cooling quality. This is a savory tea starting out with a strong spinach and edamame note, moving on to turnip greens and asparagus, and finishing with gentle rice. This tea has a definite vegetal oomph to it, with just the gentlest sweet note at the end with the rice.

Second steep brings on the spinach, along with edamame and sesame seeds, though even stronger, it is super intense and very green. You know, for all my love of strongly vegetal teas, I really dislike drinking straight vegetable juice and smoothies, and I dislike kale in any smoothie, no relevant to anything, just thought I would share. This steep looked at the previous steep and was like 'what, that was the best you can do? Crank that past 11!' and took the notes of the previous steep and amped it to the max. It is super vegetal and surprisingly not bitter, you would think with these levels of intense veggies there would be bitterness, but nope, just gentle cooling and sweetness at the finish.

The third steep decided to scale back with the vegetal notes, bringing in stronger notes of rice and sesame seeds to compliment the spinach and edamame. The taste, well, I think it felt embarrassed by its vegetal over-exuberance, which is totally not necessary, so it sent int this note of sweetness and balanced itself out. With the strong notes of spinach and turnip greens, there is gentle nutty sweetness and a touch of freshly broken hay and grass. It adds a bit of nuance to the green explosion of the previous steeps. I kept going for a few steeps after this one, it was never quite as bombastic as the second steep, but it maintained a steady vegetal presence up through the end.

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