Monday, April 3, 2017

Old Ways Tea Company: Black and White, A Wuyi Tea Review

Instead of starting my blog with a little quip on how my day has been, I am jumping straight into the tea at hand, because I have no desire to talk about my life at the moment. I am suffering an abundance of first world problems and it is silly, so instead...TEA! Recently new to me company, Old Ways Tea Company sent me a message about looking at their tea, and this blog is looking at two of those teas. They specialize in teas from Wuyi, and while I do have some of their Yancha to look at, I wanted to start off with a side by side look at two polar opposites, a black tea and a white tea!

First off, their Wild Style Black Tea, and can I first point out how I love that they say that the trees the tea comes from are not wild, but grown spaced apart and grown in a more 'wild' manner. None of that 'look we found an ancient tea plantation in the wild and decided to harvest it' like I see some places claiming. The aroma of the large curly leaves is really appealing, strong notes of lychee and pomelo, with undertones of starchy brownies, and a finish of sweet honey and malt. It is wonderfully aromatic, the citrus tones blended really well with the sweet notes, and of course I am always a fan of anything that tastes of chocolate. As expected, brewing it is immensely aromatic, notes of lychee and orange blossom blend with malt and cocoa, it has a slight undertone of resin, like an unlit incense, it is amazing. tea is something else! I think the reason I love tea so much is because if you get a good one, it can be sweeter than candy or fruit and incredibly nuanced. This tea is a grand example of nuanced, with strong notes of orange blossom and brown sugar, lychees, and a fantastic finish of cocoa. The later steeps become surprisingly richer, with the floral notes dying down and replaced with a rich resinous myrrh note. The finish brings in a distant touch of roses and a slight creaminess. Throughout the session, the mouthfeel was smooth with a brightness similar to its vibrant color, really vibrant is a great way to describe this tea, it tastes cheerful and left me feeling quite happy once I was finished. And of course, it passes my test of longevity and lasts a long eight steeps.

Few things get me quite as excited as a rare or unexpected tea, give me a tea produced by a region that is well known for something else and I get all excited. Which brings us to Organic Wuyi White Tea, a Da Hong Pao processed as a white tea, in the Baimudan style, it is very awesome. I could tell from first look that these were different, with leaves that look more like a Moonlight with leaves that are black and silver with bits of green. They are very pretty leaves! They smell fascinating, with familiar notes of melon and cucumber with gentle smoke, wet bamboo, and undertones of a hay barn. Once brewed, the leaves have no more smoke, but much stronger wet hay and barn, with cucumber and melon, the liquid, however, is pure undiluted wildflower honey and it is intense.

The first thing I noticed was the immensely thick mouthfeel, it is a bit unreal, like melted honey water or thick consomme, not that it tastes like consomme because that would be a little odd. It starts out like cucumber and winter melon with a strong hay note. Around the midtaste the taste pretty much explodes into wildflower honey. It is really kinda confounding how strong the thick honey is. Another fascinating thing about this tea is how later steeps bring out a woody note of sweet resin, but specifically amber resin, but it appears more the nose than in the mouth, I always find that fascinating. It lasts for many steeps, and even when the taste has faded the thickness sticks around. One thing that was odd, I made it western style for Ben before work, expecting it to be super strong sweetness, and the sweetness was there but the taste of barn was as well, and while I liked it, Ben was not a fan...granted he didn't spend a lot of time in farm country like I did, so the familiarity is not as nostalgic for him. I definitely recommend giving this one a try, especially if you like unique teas.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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