265 Tasting Notes
I was really intrigued by the description of this on the menu, so even though I’d already had six (Chinese-sized) steepings of two other teas, I had to try this one.
Sparrow’s Tongue comes from Korea. The plants themselves are descended from Japanese tea plants, acclimated to different conditions (including altitude) in Korea and processed more in the style of a Chinese tea. The result is a curious-tasting tea. It’s grassy, like a Japanese green, but it also has a sort of nuttiness and a little saltiness that’s much more like a Chinese green. I called this the lovechild of Sencha and Dragonwell, and that pretty much sums it up for me.
This tea is good for up to three steepings. I liked it enough that I bought 50g to take home with me after I’d sampled it at TeaSmith’s tea bar.
I’ve been MIA for a couple of months, mostly because I’ve been drinking very little tea shock horror. First I was travelling for nearly a month and so preparing tea was problematic, and after that I got really sick and spent nearly another month in a Spanish hospital. The closest I came to tea in Spain was some Linden flower herbal infusions (“infucion”) that the nurses brought around late in the evening.
I’ve been back in London for a couple of weeks now, staying with my brother while I wait to get the all clear from the doctor to be able to fly home to Australia, and the other day I was finally well enough to go out for a few hours, so OF COURSE I went in search of somewhere with good tea. I ended up at TeaSmith.
It’s been so long since I’ve had a really good Taiwan oolong that I thought maybe I wouldn’t be able to evaluate it well, but as soon as I took the first sip I remembered exactly why I love this sort of tea so much. Of course, having the tea prepared properly in the Chinese style by someone who knew exactly what she was doing right in front of me at the fantastic tea bar certainly helped – and especially doing six steepings of it, so that I could really appreciate the evolution of this tea. It really hits its stride around the second or third steeping: beautifully sweet, silky and buttery. The sweetness is mostly gone by the final steeping, but there’s still enough flavour left to make that sixth steeping worthwhile.
This was a really wonderful return to the world of tea. If you happen to be in London sometime, TeaSmith is well worth checking out. The tea bar is a great experience for anyone who loves tea enough that they… write reviews on Steepster. ;-)
*resists the urge to make a tasteless joke about the Spanish Flu *
I hope you’re feeling better hon. Those nurses might be onto something with the linden/tilia tea – it apparently has been used as traditional medicine for centuries both in the New and Old World to treat respiratory conditions and various other problems.
Just noticed that it’s my steepster anniversary – I created my account a year ago today. Thanks, guys. It’s been quite a ride.
This is a tea that’s a favourite now, but I didn’t know it existed when I started logging my teas here a year ago. It’s just one of the great tea discoveries I’ve made along the way.
raises favourite porcelain tea mug Cheers!
Another of my accidental purchases courtesy of the Lupicia discount coupon.
The dry leaves smell of several things: the peach isn’t central but I’m sure I can smell it, and there’s something in there that smells so green that I’m not thinking so much vegetal as vegetable. Fortunately, the eau de broccoli disappears from the brewed tea. The remaining green-ness is of the tea variety. I’m not much of a rooibos fan, but the green rooibos works well in conjunction with the green tea. Meanwhile, the peach note is more obvious than it was in the aroma; there’s a little of that silky ‘full’ sort of texture that I’ve grown to associate with some of the better stone fruit teas.
This is a much better tea than many fruit-herbal blends involving lots of different elements. Yeah, I’ll be having this one again.
So the other day I made a firm decision not to buy any more tea before I go travelling in just over a month. Mere hours later, Lupicia sent me a 20% discount coupon.
And that’s why I’m in the position to write this review today. Oops. g
Actually, after trying this, I don’t regret taking the plunge with a few more new teas. I’m pretty sure I’ve never tried a grape-flavoured tea before and I wasn’t completely sure what to expect. A little surprisingly, grape – or at least this sort of grape – works very well with sencha. The scent of the dry leaves is clearly, but not overpoweringly, grape-like, and this translates into a very similar aroma from the brewed tea. The liquor is, appropriately, pretty close to the colour of a green grape. The flavour is a little lacking, and I think I’d really love this tea if a little more of the grape from the aroma showed up in the drinking. Even so, I do like this one quite a lot. One caveat: I’ve been drinking this for the first time while also testing a quite heavy jasmine perfume and I’d like to revisit the aroma of this tea sans perfume sometime soon.
Continuing on with my search for a vanilla tea that actually works properly for me… I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this blend, having come to grief with several of teas.com.au’s green blends in the past, but this actually turned out to be not too bad. The quince and the vanilla mix nicely in the aroma, even if the vanilla is a tad too obviously artificial, and the flavour is quite okay, though the aftertaste really doesn’t linger. The leaves are pretty, too.
I found a little of this left in the cupboard, a little past its use by date, but it’s such a good tea I really didn’t want to just throw it out. I made it with about half as much again the usual quantity of leaves, and that seems to have worked out pretty well. The colour is much the same as usual, a pale green-ish yellow, while the flavour is perhaps not quite as strong as it is with fresher leaves. However, it’s still an excellent oolong, particularly if you’re in the mood for a tea from the “green” end of the oolong scale.
I’m failing to pick up the promised citrus notes, but since I never noticed them before, either, I don’t think that’s the fault of keeping the leaves too long. I think it’s more a case of the retailer drawing a long bow in their description. I’m really not sure quite how to describe the taste of this tea. It’s not really like anything except itself: a high-grade, very “green” oolong, smooth without being as silky or buttery as some others, and with a distinctive personality.
Time for steeping number three…
I haven’t had any dragon pearls for a while, so I was really happy to see them along with the other teas that kaiz sent to me for my birthday. The flavour is a really beautiful balance of silver needle and jasmine. I’ve been drinking these steadily for the past couple of days and I’m not sick of them yet: a love affair re-kindled!
I kept meaning to wait until after a meal to try this one, considering the name, and then I kept forgetting. So finally I just gave up and tried it in the middle of the afternoon.
Weirdly, of all the elements, the rosebuds manage to dominate the flavour – or perhaps I just ended up with a few too many rosebuds in this particular cup. This isn’t a bad thing, particularly, since it did deliver a nice, refreshing cup of tea, but the taste was a lot more herbal than I’d really expected, even allowing for the presence of the peppermint.
I think I need to try this one again and see how it works out using a second lot of leaves.