Monday, December 8, 2014

Teavivre: Anxi Monkey King (Ma Liu Mie) Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea, A Tea Review

Something really awesome happened to me, thanks to some awesome connections I got my hands on a ton of paint, a glorious selection of brushes, and some basing/sculpting supplies. This pretty much tops off my miniature painting supplies wishlist, I mean yeah there are a few things I need with washes, varnishes, and some technicals, but mostly I am set. This means that any money I get I can use for buying the actual minis instead of the painting supplies, so exciting! I expect that a large portion of Christmas monetary gifts will be used to buy things to paint. Currently I am working on a rather sexy and scantily clad lady standing in some fancy looking rock formations with a friendly lizard.

So, today we are having a tea from Teavivire, Anxi Monkey King (Ma Liu Mie) Tie Guan Yin Oolong. This Tie Guan Yin is of the Zheng Cao type of processing, meaning it is only lightly oxidized, making this a vibrant green oolong from Anxi! The name Monkey King, Ma Liu Mie, or Monkey Picked, all refer to the legend that ancient farmers could not pick the tea growing wild on the cliffside, so they improvised by tying ropes around their waists and climbed the cliffs, just like a monkey. Charming, though this myth has led to some pretty wild tales about the tea being picked by actual monkeys or that the farmers would scare the monkeys into knocking branches off the tea tree by throwing things at them. The beauty of legends, trying to sort the truth from the fiction! The aroma of the dry and very green leaves is one of those 'just right' combination of notes, it is floral but not too heady, has notes of fresh vegetation without smelling too green, and notes of chestnut without being too nutty. The Goldilocks of smells. It reminds me of morning dew on an orchid, along with the summer aroma of growing things and a touch of sweet nectar at the finish, very lush smelling.

Once the leaves have been given their first steeping, the headiness of a typical green Tie Guan Yin comes out! The aroma is a very floral blend of orchid, hyacinth, and a touch of honeysuckle with an accompaniment of fresh vegetation and chestnuts. I think I even detect a hint of distant lilacs, very much so a summer evocative blend of notes. The liquid, it is hard to describe, the aroma reminds me of flower water and nectar, like some little (very hard working) elf gathered all the raindrops left on flowers after a rain storm. It is floral, green, and just a tiny hint mineral. Just like summer rain off a flower, not that I am a hard working elf who has done that or anything.

The notes in my notebook for this tea are a little giggle worthy, especially when I use the phrase 'powerhouse of orchid' yep, that sums it up nicely. I find this kind of Tie Guan Yin very relaxing, something about its mixing of strong floral notes, wet and crushed vegetation, and just that hint of buttery chestnut always put me in mind of the feeling after a summer storm. I feel focused and relaxed, very alive and ever so slightly sleepy. The buttery mouthfeel and honey sweet finish mix well with the earlier flavor notes.

The aroma of the second steep, no surprise, is very floral. A blend of orchids, hyacinths, and a touch of chestnut sweetness at the end, ah the headiness of oolongs. The taste is a delightful blend of floral sweetness, I definitely know I am picking up lilac along with the orchid powerhouse this time! A touch of green things, including a tiny hint of fresh spinach, and a tiny bit of chestnut and honey at the finish. It is not as buttery smooth this time, there is a hint of dryness at the very back of the mouth which causes a distinct honey aftertaste.

I should note, I am not the only one sipping this tea at the moment. Yes yes, I do have the notes in my notebook, but decided I also wanted to drink it while writing this. I got my mom a little yixing teapot as an early Christmas/birthday gift (her first) and she wanted it seasoned for green oolongs, so we are having a nice time with this tea and her pot. The third steep is much the same in aroma as the second, a bit more hyacinth than orchid, more sweet than vegetation. The taste takes a similar tone from the aroma, the taste is still quite floral but it is no longer a powerhouse but a mild floral headiness. It reminds me of flowers in the evening, closing their petals up, you can still smell them but it is not as intense. Everything about this steep reminds me of the evening, it is winding down, soothing and relaxing. There is a hint of mineral along with the green fresh vegetation and spinach notes that make up the finish. A very soothing end, and now I return to painting!

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