333 Tasting Notes
Back in the land of “random teas from China I found lying around the house”…
1. A sachet tea labelled as sheng pu-erh. The dry sachet has a smoky, almost lapsang-like smell. After rinsing and brewing, it has an aroma and flavor reminiscent of tobacco and damp leaves, a hint of muscatel, and a drying edge. Given my (and my family’s) limited experience with pu-erh, I don’t have much to compare this one to, but I hope to try more proper pu-erhs this summer.
2. A green tea with slender, twisty leaves that unfurl upon brewing. The fully opened leaves have a delicate spring-green color, and look good enough to eat (and actually are quite tasty when I accidentally imbibe one). The visual effect of the leaves dancing up and down in this one is too beautiful to use any sort of sachet or brew basket to confine them. The flavor of this tea is sublimely light and vegetal, with a fresh quality to it—the leaves are very tender and seem to have just soaked up the newest spring sunshine. Really love this one and wish I knew where it was from.
This one is just okay—it definitely has a malty assam quality, but nothing in particular stands out to me. It stands up to a bit of milk, but loses the note of natural sweetness it has upon the milk being added. It is strong, though, like a breakfast tea is supposed to be. I think this one fits right in with my other experiences with Paromi—decent but not extraordinary in the sachet category.
Today on “not sure if this is a good idea but I’m going to try it anyway”: instant pu-erh. My family received this as a gift, and it comes in the form of small individual packages in a rather nice-looking tin. Originally this was marketed as a high-end product, but I had my doubts…like many “gifty” teas, I thought it would probably be just mediocre (if not downright terrifying).
The contents of an individual pouch consist of a dark, coffee-grounds-colored powder that quickly dissolves in hot water. The initial aroma had a touch of fishiness to it, which made me think it wasn’t going to be good at all. The actual taste of the tea, however, is surprisingly pleasant. It’s smooth and completely free of fishiness, with a little bit of caramelized, coffee-like undertone. The overall body of the tea is silky and slightly sweet, similar to snow ear fungus soup.
Overall, this experiment turned out to be much better than I expected. Maybe this product isn’t for seasoned pu-erh drinkers, but it’s quite enjoyable and will be useful as something to carry during travel or other busy times. And as it turns out, “instant” pu-erh solidified from brewed tea has a long history and is more common than I thought (a quick search brings up several vendors that sell in the U.S. as well). I’m glad I gave this a chance in spite of initial misgivings, it’s often good to try something completely different!
I shared this with my dad, who really loved it, and noted that he had never seen yabao for sale in China, even though the name made sense to him when I pronounced it (ya = the shoot of a plant, bao = bud). I think this one has grown on me as well. Initially I had felt it didn’t have as much presence as the Whispering Pines version, but after a few more attempts and maybe some aging, it does come out to a very light and nuanced cup with pinewood notes and a soothing quality.
After a hectic few weeks which included moving again, getting papers published, and all that good stuff, I’m glad to be able to slow down and enjoy a cup of tea again!
This is pretty good for a bagged green tea. Numi has always been above-average in my experience. The tea has an inviting, “deep green” aroma, and brews out to a golden green color, with a vegetal undertone. It is quite light-bodied and develops a slightly astringent mouthfeel as it cools, but on the whole it is smooth and sweet.
Staying with family for the next few weeks until I head to China for the summer. Today’s tea is from my parents’ tea stash, and while they have a huge variety even by my standards, I think only the bagged teas are ones that I’d be able to find in the database…so maybe I won’t log all the “unknown green tea #3985” here, haha. I can imagine this quandary will only grow by another hundredfold when I actually go to China!