Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tea In The City: Krasnodar Green and Gold, A Pair of Russian Teas

I am equal parts happy and despondent, my dear friends, Mono-Black Zombies are now a force to be reckoned with in Standard. I am kicking myself so hard for not pre-ordering the zombies I wanted from Amonkhet because now they are the hotness and cost a fortune. Take Dread Wanderer, I opened a single copy in my mostly garbage draws from Amonkhet, I need four for the deck I am planning...it is a $6 card! Now anyone who plays Standard and is reading this is probably laughing at me since they are used to paying a fortune for cards, I am not, I like my barely playable Vorthos casual decks just fine. So happy my zombie bros are getting the attention they deserve, but so sad over pricing.

Today I am looking at a pair of teas from Russia (by way of Tea In The City) both from the Khosta Tea Plantation in Sochi, right on the slopes of the Caucasus Mountains. Pretty high on the list of mountain ranges I would love to visit, do yourself a favor and google them for some real eye candy! First up is Krasnodar Green, a very rugged looking green tea, not like the super uniform and specialized leaves you see in Chinese green teas, this one reminds me more of a Bancha or even Hawaiian greens. Large fluffy leaves in various shapes and sizes with a deep vibrant green color, the aroma is really light, a touch of mown grass and fresh hay and that is really about it, this is one of the lightest smelling green teas I have encountered. Once they have been livened up with some steeping the aroma intensifies, notes of sauteed zucchini, asparagus, and eggplant dance around with mown grass and fresh hay. It is a savory tea, not much going on in the sweet department, it certainly smells very green.

Tasting it, however, there is most certainly some sweet! This tea is immensely thick in the mouth with a snappy finish (not dry, but snappy, like fresh veggies) which gives it a lively quality. The taste starts very sweet, similar to cane sugar and snap peas then pretty quickly transitions into cooked eggplant and zucchini with a light grassy finish. Later steeps increase sweetness bringing in sweet peas and a touch of a distant floral note that was maddeningly light and ghostly, I could not pin down what flower it was as it ghosts around. One thing I found very striking about this tea is how pleasantly light it is, it is full of flavor but delicate with a refreshing quality, perfect for sipping on a hot day, especially since it has great longevity for a green lasting a full six steeps with a few extra light ones.

The other tea I am looking at today and quite unique, Krasnodar Gold, a yellow tea, and if the idea of a yellow tea from Russia excites you as much as it did me, well, you picked a good day to read the blog! This tea takes a whopping 71 steps to make, which is a lot of work, making this tea quite the work of art, and you can tell from the first sniff. These leaves have such a unique blend of notes: malt, sauteed zucchini, acorns, cooked plums, hazelnuts, sweet corn, and a touch of cranberry. Now, that might sound like a nose cacophony, but really it all works together quite well, nothing really overpowering and seeming out of place. Once the leaves are steeped, notes of green peppers, lima beans, corn bread, and hazelnuts mix with a delicate floral and malty undertone.

This tea wormed its way into my heart pretty immediately, I thought it was delicious, but Ben really loved it and any tea that picky tea barbarian likes become an instant favorite. If you imagine the crossover between a sweet moderately oxidized oolong and a savory green tea, you pretty much get the idea of what this tea tastes likes. Blending floral notes and vegetal, starchy cornbread and sweetness. Notes of peony, corn, lima beans, and a peppery finish make for a truly fascinating tea, but yellow teas are like that, I find they have some of the most unique notes in any tea. I definitely say if you get the chance to try some of this tea to do it, and not just for the bragging rights of having tried a yellow tea from Russia, though that does help!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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