Monday, May 2, 2016

Quantitea: Huoshan Huang Ya & Junshan Yinzhen, A Pair of Yellow Teas

Before I start my day of rambling, I want to send a quick update out to those who might have noticed my blogging is not as consistent as it could be, posts are kinda random with when they show up. Never fear, I am not losing the inspiration to write or losing my love of tea, far from it! Weekends I am super busy getting stuff done and being glued to the screen watching tournaments, this is when I do a lot of tea tasting and note taking. During the week it is a bit erratic lately because I have been really fighting with the Fibromyalgia the last month or so, so there have been days where the pain turns my brain to mush, and I don't want to subject my readers to the mush. I am hoping to create another backlog of posts so you guys can get daily posts again, but I have been playing catch-up on my good days and have not gotten there yet. As always I thank you so much for your patience and continuing to support the blog!

Today I am taking a look at the two Yellow teas from the Quantitea 12 Loose Leaf Tea Flight, and let me tell you this, bravo to them for including Yellow teas, they are one of my favorite types of tea and they frequently get neglected. The first one I am looking at is the Silver Needles of Gentleman Mountain 'Junshan Yinzhen', a delightfully fuzzy tea from Hunan, I have had this tea where it is covered in downy trichomes and also where it is just needles with very little fuzz, and knowing my love of fuzzy teas it is no surprise I am partial to the ones covered in down. Giving these needles a sniff I detect vegetal notes of okra, bok choy, peas, corn and I swear I am not making this up...cornbread. It honestly smells a bit like gumbo but minus the tomatoes and this makes me so hungry. The starchy undertones of corn and cornbread give the tea a sweetness that compliments the more green notes.

This is the first time I have ever brewed a Yellow tea western style, I always use a gaiwan, so this will be a learning experience for me. The aroma of the plumped up soggy needles is green and sweet, with starchy notes of corn and bread with okra and sweet peas, there is also an undertone of very distant smoke, like someone grilled the okra before tossing them in the gumbo...man I really need to go get some food. The aroma of the liquid is gentle with notes of okra and corn with yeasty bread (more like bread than cornbread this time) and an underlying tomato leaf green note adding a crisp quality.

Ok, that is really quite yummy. It is still reminding me of gumbo with those strong okra and corn notes, as a person who might be addicted to okra in its many forms I can safely say this note pleases me immensely. The midtaste is bready and sweet, reminding me of a combo of cornbread and sweet yeasty farm bread, towards the finish there is a hint of pepper and a lingering okra note. I steeped this one for a few more cups, trying to wring every bit of flavor out, my only complaint is that I want more. I loved this tea in a mug and I really want to see how it performs in my gaiwan, or a yixing, clearly I need a yellow tea only yixing now.

Next up I take a look at Yellow Sprouting 'Huoshan Huang Ya' what I consider to be the most classic of the Yellow Teas, it is a really good entry point because it is similar enough to a green that it acts as a good stepping stone, granted this could be because it was one of the first yellows I had, and it is one of the easier ones to get. The aroma of this tea is definitely on the green spectrum with notes of asparagus, cabbage, bell pepper, and a bit of crisp raw broccoli at the finish. It has a sharpness from the pepper notes, and well, a peppery note in general, like someone sprinkled a bit of pepper melange on cooking veggies, yum. What is it with me and food today?

So here is where it gets really fun, the steeped leaves smell like cooked cabbage and savory asparagus, a hint of the sharp pepper remains, but it is mostly savory veggies. Until you sniff the liquid, and it is surprisingly sweet, like freshly squeezed sugar cane juice and blooming peonies, toss in a touch of raw cabbage and you have this tea's aroma. I always get amused when the leaves and liquid smell so different.

Tasting this tea is pleasantly light, it has a gentleness to its taste and mouthfeel. The taste starts mellow cooked cabbage and pepper, then moves to a more rich asparagus and starts to pick up a nutty sesame seed note. At the end it flips from savory to sweet with gentle chestnut and honey notes and a lingering aftertaste of pepper but without the heat of the pepper of course. I got a couple more mugs out of the leaves, it always stayed really mellow, getting sweeter with later steeps. This is a solid yellow tea, it did not blow me away as much as the Junshan Yinzhen, but that tea was something else!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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