Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Tea Side: Red Tea Jin Xuan, A Tea Review

Time for my daily update on my dear friend the Flu, it seems our friendship is dwindling slowly. Last night my fever broke and has not come back (yay!) and I am starting to feel more like a person and not a ghost. I hope this means I am able to enjoy the snow we are supposed to get tonight and maybe, just maybe, use my sweet 40% discount at Michael's to get a clay roller. Yes, dear tea friends, I am getting back into making things with polymer clay, I used to be quite obsessed with it. When I decided to get back into sculpting I wanted to mostly use it as a way to make monsters but decided to go back to my real love, which is making things using techniques like Mokume Gane and Mica Shift, something I really need a clay roller (aka a pasta machine) for. I plan on making a lot of Chahe to display tea on the blog!

Today it is time to look at another tea from the region of Thailand! Tea Side's Red Tea Jin Xuan, basically instead of taking the leaves to make a Jin Xuan Oolong it was processed as a Red Tea, as is well known I have a mild addiction (read: not at all mild and very obsessed) with red teas made from Oolong material. It can make some of the tastiest and most unique tea, retaining some of its Oolong sweetness with its own character. The aroma of the curly leaves is quite intriguing, notes of cranberry and persimmon giving it a fruity sweet character while also having a bit of woody briskness. There are also notes of sandalwood, distant magnolia blossoms, and a touch of freshly baked chocolate bread. I really liked the tart notes of cranberry, not something I run into very often, so I spent quite a while sniffing the dry leaves.

I decided to brew this tea in my little green shiboridashi, and after steeping the leaves the aroma is strong, definitely not a subtle tea this one! Notes of malt and persimmon blend with cooked cranberry bread and woody sandalwood, the cranberry notes are definitely mingling with bready notes really reminding me of freshly baked cranberry bread. It is sweet without being too sweet, and woody without being too brisk, my nose is happy by the reveal. The liquid is bready and sweet, like chocolate cranberry bread with a side of freshly sliced persimmons and honey. It is very sweet and rich, mouthwatering in its sweetness!

Ok, this is a unique tea, truly! It starts with notes of persimmon and cranberries, very rich and sweet with just a hint of tartness (think more cranberry jelly than straight up cranberries) and it blends really well with the distinct sweetness of persimmons. The midtaste is a combination of coconut water, papaya, and honey that fades into a very light yeasty chocolate bread. It has a very strong start but a fairly light and faint aftertaste and finish, with a smooth mouthfeel that has a touch of dryness at the finish.

On to the next steep! Surprisingly light in both taste and aroma, it is not lighter than the first steep but roughly the same. Like the previous steep it starts with persimmons and cranberries, however the cranberry is joined with a yeasty bready quality being more like a cranberry bread, the faint tartness from the first steep has gone and is replaced with all sweetness all the time. The midtaste to finish is also similar, coconut water and papaya with a gentle wildflower honey and chocolate bread. The aftertaste is fairly faint persimmon that lingers a bit longer than the first steep, and the mouthfeel is all smooth all the time. Almost velvety in its smoothness.

And on to the third steep, sadly, the tea is already fading I was able to get this steep and one more before it gave up the ghost. Its fading was one of sweetness, like a delicious bready pudding made from persimmon and honey bread. I decided to give this tea a try bowl/grandpa style and it was quite a treat, very sweet and long lasting, going for several refills of the bowl. My only complaint about this unique tea is how it didn't have a ton of longevity, I still recommend giving it a try though because the flavor notes present are worth it not lasting too terribly long.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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