Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Adagio Teas: Masters Collection Part 2, A Tea Review

Thank you so much to KCPL, they rescued me from the dread of not having electricity. I slept in today, not feeling too well, and did my usual walk to my chair and fill/plug in the Zojirushi. While waiting for its 'pleasing chime' to sound and signal me to have tea I heard a loud hum and a pop...and the power went out. I looked outside (having recognized the sound of a transformer blowing, thanks to growing up in hurricane country) and sure enough, all along the street the power was out, so I reported and outage and waited. It is crazy windy today, gusts of 45mph, so I was not too surprised, but very annoyed because I am very reliant on electricity. Both my kettles, my stove, my wifi and computer, the Xbox, and of course lighting (it is a dark and rainy day) means I could not do anything. Even my usual standby of 'just go sit outside and read until the lights come back' didn't work because my book would have been blown away! I could not paint because I could not see, I was feeling the cold and unfamiliar grip of boredom sneaking in...but luckily the power company was quick, turned it back on in a little over an hour...my sanity was saved! I once told Ben that I expected the world to end before I get bored, I am usually very good at entertaining myself, but it is hard to do when the lighting is bad!

Ok, enough about my ever increasing First World Problems (I am turning into Jay-Z at this rate, not quite to 99 First World Problems yet) and on to the tea at hand. Looking at the other half of the teas I received in my little create my own Masters Collection set from Adagio Teas, looking at Formosa Pouchong, Fujian Silver Needle, and Fujian Ti Kuan Yin.

First one on the blogging docket is the Formosa Pouchong, and I will not keep it a secret, I am super picky with my Baozhongs, I find they can be either the most fantastically complex tea...or just unbelievable boring. I previously looked at their other Pouchong and was sadly not too impressed, so was curious if the Masters Collection could sway my opinion. The aroma in the tin is pretty sad, a touch of sage (like all the other tins, which still kinda baffles me) and a distant hint of lilacs. It smells exactly like lilacs that have already finished their bloom and are dried on the bush...a sad smell because I love my lilac bush when it is in bloom! Even adding the leaves to a warm gaiwan cannot coax out more smell, that is pretty much all she wrote. After steeping the aroma gets a little stronger, lilacs in bloom with a bit of hyacinth, no sage though. The tea itself smells a bit of hyacinth and that is pretty much it.

Sadly, I have to confess that this one also did not wow me. I got one solid steep out of it, and even that one was very mild, not an overwhelming complex burst of springtime I come to expect from high-end Baozhongs. There are delicate notes of hyacinth and lilac with a slight touch of melon rind and sage. The notes that are present are pleasant, but the combination of having no longevity and being very weak had me craving more. I tried pushing the leaves harder than I am comfortable with a Baozhong, using extra leaf, longer steep times, and even boiling water, but could not get them to magically give back.

Next, I am looking at the Fujian Silver Needle, I have high hopes after the Yunnan White was pleasant. The leaves are on the small size, bit of broken bits too, but it is very obviously a Fujian silver needle, all silver and fuzzy. The aroma is a blend of sage, wildflowers, melons, and a bit of dust...aka...I inhaled some trichomes. Always an occupational hazard with silver needles, I find their aroma at times is not super strong so you need to really get your nose in the leaves...and then end up with plant fuzzies up your nose. After steeping the aroma is stronger, notes of sweet honey and wildflowers with melons and a bit of fresh hay, it is pleasant. The liquid is sweet and gentle, wildflowers and honey with a touch of melon.

It lasts for several steeps, and they are very enjoyable. Solid notes of wildflowers, honey, hay, and melon blend with a touch of cucumber and lettuce at the finish. Later steeps bring more focus to the green aspects of the tea, giving it a very refreshing quality. The mouthfeel is smooth and the sensation cooling, I found myself wanting this on a warm day rather than a cold one. It is not terribly nuanced, and fits very well into my daily drinker style requirements for taste (aka a tea I can drink when I am painting or gaming, tastes good but not one I have to pay a lot of attention to) though it is not daily drinker in price, for about the same price I can get 7oz of my favorite Silver Needle and that one is not a daily drinker. I will say that if you brew this one western style you get a much more potent cup, though the trade off is you only get a single cup from it, where gongfu you get four.

Lastly, my old friend, the Fujian Ti Kuan Yin, although usually, I prefer my TKY's roasted, I do on occasion (aka usually in spring and summer) get a wicked craving for the green version, it is seasonal. The aroma is a blend of orchids, gentle chestnuts, and a touch of a paper quality and sage. If you sniff it in a warmed teapot the orchids become quite strong and much sweeter, which is enjoyable. Brewing the tea brings stronger notes of orchids and chestnuts with a wonderful note of yeasty sweet bread. The liquid is light and flowery with a sage green undertone.

This tea, was by far, the best of the bunch (and I mean out of all six) by being flavorful and long-lasting...really that is all I want out of a tea. It stuck around for eight steeps, though the last two were really faint, but sweet. The mouthfeel was smooth, as was the taste, blending notes of orchid and honeysuckles, with gentle chestnuts and buttery bread, and a finish of crisp broken vegetation. It has a lingering aftertaste of orchids that stick around for a nice long while. It is s solid daily drinker, though it does have the same price problem that the Silver Needle has...for roughly the same price I can get almost 17 oz of a comparable in quality TKY, ouch.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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