Thursday, March 2, 2017

Teaful: Taste of Taiwan Chapter 2, A Tea Review

We are deep in spoiler season for Modern Masters 2017, aka the set I won't buy from and what is keeping me occupied until Amonkhet. I don't play modern (or competitive really, I am a casual player with a serious obsession with Vorthos decks) but it doesn't stop me from loving the meta and watching the market...it is a weird side hobby of mine. What I have seen so far from Modern Masters that has me excited is the reprint of Abrupt Decay, a card I want a playset for my (actually standard legal) Golgari deck, the problem is my Golgari deck is stupidly overpriced in its wip state, currently it is an unplayable mess relying entirely on my single Deathrite Shaman. The cards I want to fix this deck will cost me about $30 (which is nothing, but I play casual, so that is a lot to spend on a deck I rarely play, relying on my mono black decks the most) and blah, I am cheap. Long story short, Tarmogoyf is getting a reprint which means the copy that Ben has is going back in the Helvault until the price spikes in a year...grumble grumble. Yes, the place we keep our valuable cards is called the Helvault.

So, Magic rambling aside, it is time to look at another collection of tea from Teaful, their Taste of Taiwan Chapter 2 Box! This one arrived when I wasn't flailing with the flu, so I actually got a decent picture to show off their classy packaging. I really like how the teas are presented, the boxes with closing stickers that name the tea inside, then opening the box to show a vacuum sealed bag which contains steeping instructions and names of the tea are a really good touch. Honestly, the little name stickers make me happy, it is just that little extra touch that puts the packaging over the edge of good to great. Now that I have gushed over the box, I suppose I should tell you what is in it: Baozhong Green Oolong, Milk Oolong, Assam Black Tea, and Ruby 18 Black Tea. Yes, long time readers will notice that those are favorites of mine, so I was a bit excited by this collection.

First up is the Baozhong Green Oolong, the greenest of the green Oolongs, a tea I have always thought of as being the most spring like of the Oolongs. The aroma of this tea is pleasantly complex, notes of lilac and hyacinth blend with cucumbers, sage and a hint of buttery cooked bok choy. I love Baozhongs when they are green and herbaceous along with their intense floral quality, I usually find ones that smell that way tend to last longer than just the floral ones.

As expected, this Baozhong goes the distance, I got a solid five steeps from it, which is good for a Baozhong. It is a tea that delivers on the sweetness and floral qualities, with notes of cocuses, lilac, gardenia, and lilies...like I said...it is a cup of spring time! After the initial flowery burst I am greeted with notes of sweet peas, cucumbers, and fresh oregano (without the bite, so cooked oregano.) Later steeps bring in a more savory quality of bok choy, but it still has a strong floral sweetness that lingers long in the aftertaste.

Next on my little tea adventure is Milk Oolong, this one is a natural Milk Oolong, meaning it has not been scented or flavored, relying on the Jin Xuan's natural creamy quality. I have really mixed feelings on the artificial milks, but a legit milk will make me super happy. I <3 Jin Xuan so much. The aroma of this tea is wonderfully sweet and creamy, like rice milk and chestnuts with a bamboo shoot undertone, and of course a nice floral burst of lilies at the finish. It smells like a delicate dessert, one that you know you can just eat and eat without it ever becoming too sweet.

Oh man, this is a sweet tea! Strong notes of rice milk and chestnut with gentle lilies, so a standard milky, but what makes this one stand out to me is the really outstanding note of pineapple. In fact, it kinda reminds me of the well known Taiwanese treat called pineapple cake. Later steeps have a bit of a green crushed vegetation quality adding a touch of savory to an otherwise very sweet tea. I got a really enjoyable ten steeps from this one, so it goes the distance.

Onward to the Assam Black Tea, a black tea from Taiwan, so spoilers I am going to like it because they are one of my favorite kinds of teas ever. The aroma of the leaves is a blend of malt, pine resin, sun dried tomatoes. cumin, and chocolate. It is resinous and spicy with a subtle sweetness, a pleasant tea for those who want a more brisk smelling tea over a super sweet one.

This tea is very sweet once steeped, but it has a crisp briskness that makes it seem not too sweet. Notes of creaminess and a slight sassafrass quality blend with malt and a hint of cumin for a really great tea. Later steeps err more to creamy and less brisk, with a distinct gentle fruitiness that comes through at the aftertaste. I really enjoyed this one and I am doing my best to not drink it all quickly, though since it has decent longevity I don't have to try too hard.

Did I save the best for last? Well maybe, my overwhelming love for Ruby #18 Black Tea (or Red Jade as I usually call it) is no secret, whenever I get to have some I do a little happy dance because I adore it. Probably because each one I have had is distinctly different while being recognizable as a Ruby #18, it is so fascinating. The aroma of this one is surprisingly nutty, like toasted almonds and walnuts with a strong side of stewed cherries and a strong note of sassafras and cloves. The finish has a gentle cocoa note that lingers in my nose.

This might be the most chocolatey and nutty Ruby #18 I have had, such strong notes of dark chocolate and roasted almonds, from the first steep to the last. It starts strong, with a slight briskness to the mouth that finishes with a creaminess in texture. There are also notes of cherry and sassafras with a strong note of malt, especially in the middle before the tea starts to dwindle away around steep eight. Yeah, this tea went the distance, which I was relly glad for since I ended up loving its rich sweetness.  Like Chapter 1, this box of tea really impressed me, each of the teas were very enjoyable and I certainly enjoyed drinking them! I cannot wait to see what other future boxes contain!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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