After almost a year away I am going to try to make a go at continuing to share my journey with tea. I haven’t stopped drinking tea and my passion is still there, it is just that after over 12 years my tastes have refined and I don’t do as much experimentation as I once did. I still dabble and will try something new and different but it has slowed down. Each Spring does bring excitement and subtle variation in old favorites but that doesn’t always translate to exciting writing. I’m going to try to cover exactly what I am drinking, both the high-end and the low-end even if it is something I may have covered in the past. We’ll see how it goes!
Ahh… finally back to tea. My shipment arrived after the normal struggles with the USPS and their inability to grasp the concept of accepting the signed form *they* provide and the fact that most normal people are not home at 11AM to personally accept packages. I wish I was however. Regardless, I am now the happy owner of some teas in a totally new direction for me… red/black tea. I also snagged some Rou Gui because it is a tea I have heard a lot about but have never tried. So, I started with it.
Rou Gui is often spoken about as having cassia/cinnamon-like qualities which intrigued me, however the nose of the freshly opened packet was more of red dates. I wasn’t getting anything resembling cinnamon at all, in fact I wasn’t getting a whole lot of anything from the dry leaf. In my gaiwan I began to brew the tea and the initial aromas from my notes went like this: Citrus. Chamomile. Nestea Instant Iced Tea w/ Lemon. The last one might seem strange but it was the perfect explanation of the scent, those pre-sweetened instant tea granules that come in the can have the exact aroma of what I was getting. As it brewed a bit longer the aroma changed abruptly to a green TGY and it lost those former notes completely.
The first sip was purely green oolong. Thin, watery, not very complex, not much of anything. Again, certainly no cinnamon. A bit of a letdown. I moved on to a second brewing to see if anything new might appear but unfortunately nothing did, more of the same. Pretty disappointing. It is a good tea for what it is but nowhere near what I had been expecting or hoping for, and since I’m not a big green oolong fan there was little for me to get excited about. I’ve not given up yet, though, and I will track down a more finely crafted version before giving up on it.
The tea rut is about to be over finally! A new order from Teaspring has been placed and it may take a little while to make its journey to my door but when it does expect some new coverage. I had initially planned to go with a couple other vendors for variety but none of them had the one main reason for my breaking out: Rou Gui. Teaspring did, so while the vendor will not be new the teas will be.
The order: Rou Gui, Long Jing Huang Pao, Yi Hong Jing Pin A, and Yunnan Gold
I know Teaspring has been getting a lot of play lately from me, and I can assure you I will be moving on to other vendors soon… but honestly they have been filling my needs quite well lately and at prices I can love. I have been hooked on Huo Shan Huang Ya for almost a year straight now, and I figured I would try out their offering. Without a doubt this is the freshest yellow tea I have ever seen! Truly. When I opened the foil bag I was hit with just pure scent that was unreal. Beautiful pale green full leaves, many single leaf and bud and even two leaves and bud make up the 50g packet I ordered.
It brews up to a wonderful clear liquor that is barely green. The scent of it brewing is the giveaway that it is steeped, as the color in my white gaiwan barely changes. While Huo Shan is among my personal favorite top five teas, I actually have no words to properly define it’s flavor. I have to cheat and use Teaspring’s description. They use the analogy of sweet corn, and that is pretty good as I would only be able to use the term “vegetal” if asked and that just doesn’t capture it. I have a pretty solid palate and I guess if I would really sit and concentrate I could do better so I apologize.
If you enjoy vegetal, but not fishy, green teas then this is the pinnacle of that flavor. It is not acidic or too strong, but has a real depth and quality that makes it so hard to define. Super affordable and easily in the top quality I have seen in my experience with yellows.
My heavily anticipated order from Teaspring came today, and I can honestly say it is one of the largest hauls in quite some time. Weighing in at around 1.3kg in just tea, not including packaging, it is a sight to behold (and lucky for you I took a photo):
(Click thumbnail for fullsize image)
Most of it is going to be used for wedding gifts but there is easily 100g of each and all of the Huo Shan padded in there for us. The breakdown is 600g Shui Xian, 600g Bi Lo Chun, 50g Huo Shan Huang Ya, and a few single-serve packets of Lapsang Sou Chong as well as Dahongpao from Wu Yi Star tea. This bounty came from Teaspring.com which has received high praise here before but yet again came through by even sourcing an out of stock tea specially for me with the Bi Lo Chun. I have no ties or affiliation with Teaspring except for being a very satisfied customer.