Thursday, April 3, 2014

Red Leaf Tea: Roast Ti Guan Yin, A Tea Review

I have a bit of a confession to make. This blog, specifically its devotion to teas, might be one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only do I get to try wonderful teas from around the world, I have met some amazing people, and have been told many times that my descriptions paint pictures in my reader's minds and have led them to discover new favorite teas. This blog fills a part in my life I felt was missing, I feel like I found my true calling.  Everyday my views increase, and this is such an honor. I am so very thankful to everyone who reads my blog, tea companies that send me samples to try, and just the tea community at large. You guys rock!

Today's tea is part of the Red Leaf Tea Sampler Pack, lucky number 14, Roast Ti Guan Yin from Fujian, China. Ah, Ti Guan Yin, my first ever Oolong and the tea that really got me into appreciating tea as more than something you quickly chug to relieve thirst. Specifically it was a roast TGY that I tried first, so this will be a nostalgic trip for me. The aroma of the rolled leaves is fairly mild in the roasted department, like toasted rice, with that hint of sweetness you get from rice. There is a heady floral aroma blending strong orchid and delicate honeysuckle, meaning this tea is extra sweet smelling.

Into the basket the leaves go! At the time of writing this tasting note in my notebook I did not have my gaiwan yet, so it will be for a Western Style steeping. Once steeped the leaves become much headier, the orchid notes become almost overpowering. The roasted notes from the dry leaves also become stronger giving the tea a bit of a toast aroma. There is sweet honeysuckle as a finish. The liquid is honey sweet and gently roasted, much subdued in comparison to the wet leaves.

Fun side trivia, this was the first tea I steeped using my electric kettle I got as an early birthday present, so yes this tasting note is from mid October. The taste is sweet, like honeysuckle nectar and roasted chestnuts. The sweetness stays with you from beginning to aftertaste with the honeysuckle and chestnut fading in and out. As a first steeping it is mild and refreshing, a promise of more intense flavor to come.
My cup has autumn leaves and sky in it. 
With the second steeping, the leaves are more unfurled and have a much sweeter aroma with a nice hint of mineral. The aroma of the liquid strong chestnut with an accompaniment of honey and orchids. The taste is very sweet, not only is there the floral honeysuckle nectar flavor, there is also a honey flavor that is quite intense. The mouthfeel is silky smooth, almost oily in its smoothness. The floral sweetness fades to a mineral aftertaste.

The aroma of the leaves on the third steep is still sweet, but there is also a strong mineral note, like spring water and pennies. The liquid has no mineral notes, it is all sweetness and flowers. The first thing I noticed when sipping this tea is the mouthfeel, it went from being silky to creamy and thick. It no longer coats the mouth it explodes into it filling the mouth with sweet honeysuckle and orchids. Like the previous steep the finish is mineral, but what happened to the roasted notes?

Onto the fourth steep! The leaves have a more buttery vegetal, like green bean, aroma with only a faint floral sweetness. The liquid's aroma is mostly notes of chestnut with a very faint hint of flowers. The taste is winding down now, only a faint hint of floral and strong mineral taste. It is very much so like drinking spring water or licking a piece of limestone. There is an aftertaste of chestnuts.

I really wanted to put this tea and my new kettle through its paces! The fifth and final steep's leaves are fully unfurled and barely any aroma left. Just the ghost of flowers and honey. The taste is like mineral water with a hint of chestnut and honey. The most amusing thing about this steep is that the mouthfeel is still really creamy. I enjoyed this tea, I think that is blended its floral and roasted notes well, even though the roasted taste faded pretty quickly.
Leaves from beginning to end, a pretty transition. 

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