Sunday, September 25, 2016

Taiwan Treat: Gu-Tsao-Wei Black Tea, A Tea Review

Well, this weekend (apart from being asininely busy for me with a million events to attend and crowds to deal with...so not a social person) is Minecon. Not a lot of exciting news to come out yet (at least that I have heard) except the announcement of a Chinese Mythology based Mashup pack, which allow me to say excites me immensely! A lot of my builds are Chinese and Japanese in origin, and I have many more planned for various other parts of Asia as well, so having a texture that might reflect that more makes me happy. Plus it is not like I will be sad if the paintings in my lake house and sky castle now look Chinese, because, surprise surprise, I really love Chinese art.

Today I am looking at a fascinating blend from Taiwan Treat, a Taiwanese Black mixed with roasted Cassia tora seeds, Gu-Tsao-Wei Black Tea. Cassia tora, just FYI, is an herb which is frequently used in traditional medicine as an expectorant, mild laxative, and skin soother, so if you are wanting to avoid teas with a laxative effect steer clear of this one. I will say that as someone with IBS who is sensitive to that kind of thing, I noticed no effect of that nature and also it didn't do any expectorating which was a bummer because allergies. The aroma is pretty striking, I feel like I am sniffing chocolates, specifically it calls to mind these chew-able chocolate flavored vitamins I took as a teenager, very much so chocolate flavor while not being exactly chocolate. There is a little note of roast and a touch of distant brown sugar.

I decided to have a bit of fun with the brewing, using my vintage rice pattern teapot and a vintage Japanese cup for this session. The aroma of the leaves once steeped is a combination of medicinal sweetness similar to licorice, chocolate, dry wood, and a gentle smokiness like burnt chocolate chip cookies. The liquid continues the medicinal notes with licorice and those chocolate vitamins to be chocolate but not quite chocolate.

The taste is peculiar! It is papery and woody, almost cardboard like in taste, but with a sweet licorice and chocolate quality. Like licorice, it feels slippery and coats the mouth, so I can certainly see why it gets used as an expectorant, since Glycyrrhizin is used for a lot of the same things that Cassia tora is. After this initial papery quality it blooms into a licorice and chocolate (though not quite chocolate, though also not like carob thankfully) with a slight sweetgrass/sweet woodruff quality. Amusingly enough one of the chemicals in Cassia tora, Coumarin, is also present in sweetgrass and sweet woodruff so I am not surprised by the similarity. Overall, not a bad tea, it is certainly a strange one and not one I want to drink all the time (because boy would I ever be cranky if the laxative aspect decided to kick in) but as an occasional cup. I did really enjoy the slippery thick texture, but it is one of the things I love about licorice too.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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