Monday, May 8, 2017

Vouch Tea Co: Oolong and a Pair of Shous, A Tea Review

I had the most bonkers game of Magic the other day! Ben was running his Orzhov control and I was running my mono black zombies (as usual) Things looked bleak for me, I was super mana flooded (13 swamps, ughhh) with 1 life remaining, only keeping the inevitable at bay with Lord of the Undead, Gavony Unhallowed, Gray Merchant, and Paragon of Open Graves combined with Graf Harvest getting me a slow trickle of zombies with menace. I knew this was my last turn, Ben had just played his win condition and if I didn't draw something other than a swamp I was done...I drew Dark Salvation...which meant I got to kill his win condition that turn, and then obliterate his life total with a massive menacing zombie hoard with so much +1/+1 the next. I have had some pretty amazing comebacks before, but nothing quite like that. My other decks are kinda fail, but my zombies are such a powerhouse!

Today I am looking at a trio of teas from Vouch Tea Co, and what they all have in common is a bit of age on them, though one is a bit younger than the others, we can just let it sneak in on a technicality. Starting with the oldest, Dates For Days, a 1998 CNNP Ripe Brick. Do you remember what you were doing in 1998? I was still living in Georgia, going from my Hippie phase to my Goth phase, as so many teenagers do, but my story can wait, instead, how does this tea smell? Earthy, like a fresh bag of potting soil and leaf litter mixed with a very strong note of figs and dates, it is quite true to its name! I did find the aroma surprisingly light, usually, Shou is very strong, but age has mellowed this one out quite a bit. Brewing the tea brings out the aroma of old books and a bit of a swampy wetness with very strong sweet dates, it is so sweet and strong and it works with the earthy qualities.

I will say one thing for this tea, holy crap does it go the distance, thirteen steeps in and it was still giving back...sadly I wanted to go to bed and I am not a fan of leaving tea overnight (I don't trust my cats) so I finished before it did. It starts off very earthy with an almost peppery undertone with hints of cumin and old books, then towards the aftertaste, the dates show up and start a thick sweet party in my mouth. The more steeps in the more the earthiness fades and the dates show up earlier til the final (for me) steeps where it is all dates all the time. The date notes is fascinating, wavering between Jujube (aka Chinese dates) and Medjool dates, both very sweet and with underlying earthiness in their own right. Around the middle, when the tea is probably at its strongest, there is a touch of a metallic taste, specifically the taste of slightly rusted iron which I found fascinating and reminded me of the way the air tastes after a particularly lighting heavy storm.

Next, we are traveling to 1999 with Barely A Wrinkle, an Oriental Beauty hidden away from the ravages of time. I make it no secret, I love OB, I've only had one other one from the 90s and it was quite unique, apparently, OB fades pretty quickly if not stored properly, I never have my stash last long enough to find out! The aroma of these leaves is very sweet, even for an OB, it is intense with notes of raisins, white grapes, honey, plums, apples, and a bit of peach. Immensely fruity, it smells thick and heavy. So here is where it gets fun, once steeped the notes stay very similar, but with added notes of old books, camphor, apple wood, and sugarcane. It is still very sweet, but that added aged smell is fascinating, reminds me of eating fruit in a library.

The tea starts subtly, with delicate notes of honey drizzled dried apples and sugar cane, building to a finish of stewed plums and autumn leaves. After that first delicate sweet steep, it gets intense! Notes of baked pumpkin, grapes, plums, apples, and honey blend for a really sweet and thick tea, really the mouthfeel is quite thick and velvety. I feel very heavy while drinking this tea, like sinking into dessert and autumn leaves, the notes I usually love and associate with OB are very much present but with an added unique depth to them. Clearly maturity is good for an OB if done right, it lasts a decent while as well, getting six solid steeps and a few extra light ones...I didn't want it to end so I pushed every bit of flavor out of those leaves.

The last tea I am looking at is not in the store yet, but I am told it will be soon, a 2013 Xiaguan Ripe Tuocha (bit of an age gap compared to the others.) The aroma of this Shou is very earthy, strong notes of loam, dry books, dusty pine wood, wet leaves, with a hint of jujubes and dried pear at the finish. Steeped, the tea brings in a surprisingly strong metallic note with undertones of wet pine and brown sugar, balancing earthy and sweet pretty well.

You know what I love about Shou? I love how on cold damp days it makes me feel warm, more so than any tea, I think it might be the style of fermentation, but since I don't know the exact reasons I can just be glad about it. I drank this on what might be the last truly cold wet day of the season, so I made sure to savor it, as I really don't drink much Shou once it gets warm. The taste is smooth, blending thick notes of loam and wet pine wood with a touch of slightly sour oak wood and a finish of wet copper. Later steeps bring in a very strong note of brown sugar and molasses, however, it does increase the metallic taste which I could have done without. It is one of those tastes that really depends on my mood, sometimes I don't mind it at all and find it electrifying, other times not so much. By the sixth steep the metallic taste had wandered off and I was left with heavy, thick, brown sugar and loamy goodness, exactly what I want in my Shou.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

No comments:

Post a Comment