Thursday, November 3, 2016

Golden Tea Leaf: Honey Red Jade Tea, A Tea Review

If you are like me and a real lover of schedules, you are probably noticing that it is Thursday and there is a blog and that there was no blog on Wednesday like there was supposed to be. Blame Ben. This week and next he has Wednesday off, and since we only have the one computer (and he is the one with the job) I was nice and let him have full access to it all day. The single computer ordeal is soon to be over as a friend is hooking me up with a killer nice tower and surround sound speaker system, so no more polite computer sharing.

Today I am looking at quite the fascinating tea, Golden Tea Leaf's Honey Red Jade Tea, a bug bitten red tea that has been tightly rolled similar in appearance to an Oolong. It is no secret that I am a bit obsessed with Taiwanese teas that have been nibbled on by leafhoppers, be it a Hongcha or an Oolong, their natural sweetness and complexity have skyrocketed them into being a comfort tea and not just one I seek out because of its deliciousness. The aroma of the leaves is hard to put into words that are sensical and not just 'holy yum sweet om nom nom' so it took me a few sniffs to calm down enough to articulate. There are notes of caramel coated hazelnuts and cashews, stewed pears and plums, honey-drizzled pumpkins, and a rich heady distant note of plumeria blossoms. It is very sweet and rich, one of those teas I feel like I am sinking into while sniffing it.

I decided to brew this tea n my yixing devoted to Taiwanese Hongcha, which sees a lot of bug-bitten teas! The aroma of the brewed leaves is very rich and sweet, with notes of caramel, figs, cooked plums and pears, plumeria blossoms, and a finish of cooked pumpkin and brown sugar. The liquid is sweet and nutty, notes of honey and cashews blend with cooked pears and plums with a finish of caramelized figs and distant tropical flowers. It smells intense and mouthwatering, the perfect amount of sweetness and richness to push this tea over into a dessert tea.

If you like a tea that manages to be very sweet, very fruity, and floral while maintaining a rich quality, then boy do I ever have the tea for you! So before I get into the outstanding taste, I need to mention the pleasant mouthfeel. It is smooth and thick, not the point of an Oolong thickness, but it coats the mouth and is velvety in its texture. Ok, now for that decadent taste, it starts with a dessert-like combination of stewed pears, plums, and pumpkin with a sprinkling of cashews and brown sugar. Next, the flowers start, orchid and plumeria with a hint of honeysuckle and lilies, it is heady without being perfumed like an Oolong. The aftertaste is cashews and lilies and they linger for quite a while.

The second steep is impressively intense, it takes the same notes (with a gentle extra woodiness in the middle) but ramps it up! The sweetness is sweeter, the flowers more like nectar rather than just blossoms, and the fruit notes take on an almost pie like quality. No longer just a dessert of stewed fruit, the pie is on! The sweet nutty aftertaste continues, but instead of lily, the aftertaste is, of all things, persimmon, which was a fantastic surprise.

So the first two steeps I drank while they were hot, the third steep I decided to play around with by letting it cool to room temperature, since according to the website this tea is even better when cooled. I find that hard to believe since it is already pretty fantastic! Drinking this tea cool is truly where it really shines, notes of orange blossom and malt show up, along with caramelized pears and heady plumeria. It is beautifully rich and smooth, I could become addicted to this tea! One thing I found really useful is it seemed impossible to over-steep this tea, I could toss leaves into a bowl and bowl-steep this tea for hours and it never gets bitter, meaning it is perfect for tossing in my travel tumbler. Toss this tea on the list of teas I need more of!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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