Friday, December 2, 2016

Origins Tea: Bao Zhong, A Tea Review

Woo! My Christmas gift from Ben arrived today, early of course, because I don't think we ever give each other gifts on the correct days. From Card Kingdom, a Mythic Treasure Chest, listed as a product for new players, I mostly wanted it to bulk up my personal collection and inspire new decks. I have an odd relationship with MTG, when I was very young (and I mean really young) I collected the cards, I remember when they first showed up at the card store my dad went to get baseball cards. I didn't have anyone to play with, but they were my treasures, sadly they went away because my dad was a monster...oh how I mourn for my Alpha Chaos Orb!! Then in school, I wanted to play but was constantly greeted with the 'girls don't game' nonsense that I just gave up, Last year when Ben and I were getting ready to move (err so we thought) he found his old Magic collection and I asked him to teach me, and I have been having so much fun! His collection is pretty huge, mine is fairly small, I know I will never have a Chaos Orb again, but just having a decent collection is enough for me. Ok, that and killer decks too!

And of course, blending my gaming and tea is what I do, pretty sure I was embroiled in a doomed game of Commander (pseudo really since it was just the two of us) against Ben's stupid Atraxa deck, this tea was all I had to keep me sane. Looking at Origins Tea Bao Zhong, that most evocative of spring Taiwanese Oolong, also the least oxidized of the Oolongs, I always feel like enjoying Bao Zhong is like drinking a little bit of spring. Stuffing my nose into these long emerald leaves the first thing I notice is how nutty the leaves are! Very distinct notes of sesame seeds and honey meaning, yep, this tea smells like my favorite Persian treat, Halva! It is wonderfully sweet and nutty, but there is more to it than a pile of sweet sesame seeds, there are also notes of fresh zucchini, sage leaves, very light basil, hyacinth, lilac, and orchids. The aroma is quite complex with nutty, floral, sweet, and herbaceous...which is how I like my Bao Zhongs.

After the initial steeping in my gaiwan, the aroma of the leaves is pretty intense. Strong notes of chestnut and sesame seeds blend with hyacinth, orchid, and lilac with a finish of crisp green undertones of zucchini. The liquid is all sweetness, with notes of buttery chestnuts and sesame seeds, honeysuckles, lilacs, and a very distant note of sage. It is nectar-like in its sweetness.

As I was hoping, the sweetness present in the aroma transferred into the flavor, yay! But before taste, let me tell you about that mouthfeel, it is smooth and velvety, with a pleasant thickness in the mid-range of tea thickness I would say. I need to clearly make a scale of tea thickness since it seems I do like to go on about that specific texture aspect a lot. The taste starts floral, with notes of lilac and surprisingly strong orchid. After the initial floral burst notes of crisp zucchini and sesame show up, with an undertone of sage and honeysuckle, even with the crisp green and nutty notes it is very sweet. For the finish, there is lilac again which lingers long into the aftertaste!

Next steep time! As my notes grumpily tell me, the game of Commander I started along with this tea is over and I was utterly trampled by that stupid Phyrexian angel horror, so clearly I need to just focus on tea now! Like the first steep the mouthfeel is thick and very smooth, velvety and soft, it is a very pleasant mouthfeel for sure. Starting out is not flowers like last time, but zucchini and sweet snap peas with a hint of sesame, though they do not stay long as a small building note of honeysuckle and lilac ramp up to something intense. Under the strong floral notes is a distant sage note which keeps the flowers from being too strong. The finish is hyacinth and lilac, again it lingers for quite a while.

Sadly, a lot of times I find that Bao Zhongs putter out pretty early, usually after the fourth steep, though once in a whole I get lucky and get a one that lasts longer, such as this tea. I got to go a solid seven steeps before the tea started fading, with the flowers being the first to fade, meaning I was left with sage, sweet peas, and zucchini, very refreshing and crisp. The aftertaste transitioned from flowers to sesame seeds and honey for a lingering sweetness. It was a fantastic tea to drink while I sulked after a very sad showing of my Commander deck!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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