Ichiban Sencha

Ichiban Sencha, or as Lori and I lovingly call it “Icky-ban Sencha”, is a prime example of how easily you can mess up making a cup of tea. It’s refreshing to read even the most experienced tea connoisseurs and experts can incorrectly make a cup of tea the first time they brew a cup. The first time I made this sencha, I’ll admit, it was horrible. So much so, I was dreading this post. The second attempt, I’m pleased to report, was much more pleasant. 

Ichiban Sencha is possibly the most assertive of all senchas. Made from the first flush of new growth in the spring, the word Ichiban means “the first”. Unlike the single estate Matsuda’s Sencha, this is a blend of teas grown in the Kakegawa area of Shizuoka, Japan.

Made in a more modern (post World War II) style, this tea is deep steamed using  fukumushi method, where the tea is steamed an additional 30 seconds longer than the traditional method. Those extra few seconds further breaks down the leaves making a stronger brew. Today most senchas are produced using this method.

Brew It

Harney & Sons once again came to the rescue on this tea. Since there are no shops locally to source high quality teas, I do my tea shopping online, from a list quality vendors that I have grown to love. And Harney & Sons always has one of the best selections on pure teas available in the States. 

The leaves of Ichiban Sencha are a mix of rich green needles and more fine, almost powdery, bits. 

As you can see from my first attempt at the brew, the liquor is a darker green, and cloudy from the powdery leaves (this should have been my first clue that I made the cup a wee bit too strong). My second attempt matched closer to the expected intense green color (albeit still a bit on the cloudy side). 

On both attempts, the aromas of the steeped leaves is a unique mix of woodsy citrus with a vegetal undertone. 

Medium bodied on both attempts, but the flavors couldn’t be more different. The initial attempt was so astringent that Lori nor I could adequately pick out any flavors. It was like eating a lemon. Or more accurately, like a punch in the face. We did discover that as you held the liquor in your mouth, the flavors would evolve. The brew became less astringent and a warm spice flavor, almost a sweet-cinnamon or nutmeg-like, would pair with the citrus vegetable on the finish. 

My second attempt proved much more pleasant (no punch in the face!). I made the tea a little bit lighter. This made the tea slightly more lighter bodied, but also took out the worst of the astringency. As a result I was able to pick up more on the lemon and spinach / turnip green flavors. As on the first attempt, the longer that I held the liquor in my mouth, the more the flavors evolved, becoming less astringent still, letting the vegetal flavors really shine. The warm spice flavors were not as prevalent, but I definitely suggest trying yourself to see what flavors your tongue can taste. 

Contemplative Thoughts

Perfectionistic to a fault, I was certain when I first made Ichiban Sencha that I made it correctly. After all, I followed the instructions, so how could this have  gone wrong? But aray it went. 

I spent weeks brooding over this post. Dreading knowing what was down the pike. I procrastinated knowing that I would need to make another cup of this wretched brew to confirm what I had already tasted and recorded in my notes to adequately record my thoughts for you.  

Hindsight is always 20/20. And I now see that was part of the reason for delaying my writing. I found other things on which to spend my time. Making excuses for why something else was more important. But in the end, I was merely delaying the inevitable. 

Sometimes life throws you curveballs. Things happen that you don’t want, that you can’t prevent. And quite frankly, sometimes there’s no way to contend against them. Pummeled, we chose not to do what we can to push through, to press forward. We just turtle up, back against the ropes, hoping it will stop soon. 

But it won’t. 

And then we face the decision: Do I chose to stay cowering in the corner? Or do I pull myself up to my full height and fight back with everything within me?

Today, I chose to fight. But first, tea.

Gunpowder

Gunpowder tea is one of my favorite green teas. Partially for the name (everyone sounds macho when they say they drink gunpowder for breakfast!) and partially for the grounding flavors.

Grown predominately in the Zhejiang province in China, this tea dates back to the Tang Dynasty. It is called gunpowder as the leaves are tightly rolled into tiny green-grey pearls that are vaguely reminiscent of gunpowder pellets (imagination is needed on this one). The tight rolling made this tea less susceptible to damage and allowed the pellets to retain more of the flavors and aroma than other green teas. As a result, this was one of the few green teas that was stable enough to find its way outside of China in the days before faster transport and sealed packaging.

Another little fact about this tea is, even to this today, it is created as an export tea and very little is drank in China. Instead, the majority of it makes its way overseas and is the base for Moroccan Mint tea.

Brew It

Since this tea is made from summer flushes (not the first, prized growth after the winter season) and many growers process this type, not all Gunpowder teas are made the same and quality widely varies. You’ll know you’ve found a lower quality tea if the liquor is bright yellow and has acrid, smoky flavors. By contrast, higher quality teas will have a charred vegetal flavor. Knowing how quality varies so widely, for this tasting I procured this tea from Harney and Sons to ensure that I would receive a good quality tea.

The leaves are tiny pellets, tightly rolled, but not perfectly round. They are a greenish-greyish color.

The Gunpowder’s liquor is a light caramel colored, almost an orange, with a hint of green. The wet leaves smell of roasted vegetables; like grilled brussel sprouts or artichoke. By contrast, the dry leaves smell sweeter and give your nose the illusion that the resulting brew will be a bit sweeter.

Medium bodied, the liquor has a mild astringency that builds a bit as you hold it in your mouth and as you drink it. The astringency is quite complementary to the flavor hint of vegetables roasted over an open fire.

Contemplative Thoughts

Like China, we often use our talents to create things for others. It could be daily tasks at your job, cooking a meal for a sick neighbor, tending to the needs of your family (like laundry, cleaning, or yard work). But how often do you take those same talents and enjoy them?

The tasks you complete may not be the most joyful, but when you slow your pace you can open an avenue for gratefulness. If nothing else, we can take a moment to enjoy how our bodies are able to do so many tasks, from strong physical labor to gently rocking babies to sleep. We can appreciate our minds and the speed from which they can swiftly move from one complex thought to the next. Our emotional well-being should never be underestimated; having the empathy to reach out to a friend in need, near or far, has the ability to bridge gaps that no man could separate.

So as you sit and sip a cuppa gunpowder, remember this: You are strong. You are gentle. You are wise. And right now, you are enough.

Dragon Pearl Jasmine

Grown in the Fujian province of China, Dragon Pearl Jasmine is a very special tea. For centuries, the Chinese have been using jasmine to enhance some of their teas. But, I warn you, not all jasmine teas are the same. Many that you’ll find in Chinese restaurants or on the tea isle in your local grocery store are made spraying the tea leaves with a jasmine flavored chemical. These teas may give you the flavor of jasmine, but the quality of the tea will likely be lacking.

One of the things I love about the tea that I tasted for this post is that there is no jasmine flowers in any of the pearls. Nor has the tea been sprayed with any flavorings.  Instead, these pears are hand-rolled by a group of women and then dried on racks. Every day fresh jasmine flowers are brought in and dried on racks in between the racks of tea leaving the small room heavily perfumed with the smell of the jasmine flowers, and thus, infusing the tea with the floral scent.

Brew It

As with many of the teas in my collection, Harney and Sons comes through with finding great quality teas at reasonable prices; Dragon Pearl Jasmine is no different.

The tightly hand-rolled dark green pearls are streaked with white. Once brewed, the pearls unfurl to be the precious green leaves and buds of the Da Bai cultivar, proving the quality of the this tippy tea.

The liquor is a golden color, like a pale copper with a strong floral jasmine and honey aroma. As the leaves cool you may also pick up the a warm spice flavor that Lori and I could only describe as “the scent of a good looking man”. Lori’s nose also picked out a light grassy scent. We both agreed the aroma was a perfect balance of manly and floral scents.

The flavor of the tea is nearly identical to the aroma: strong of jasmine, it is a fresh floral flavor with a hint of honey. The liquor is surprisingly strong bodied (must be the manliness) and has very little astringency or bitterness.

Contemplative Thoughts

Sweet and floral, but surprisingly full bodied and filling, this tea makes me think of the complex balance of a woman. Women in general are ridiculously resilient creatures. They can stand strong on their own when others fail to do so; they are fierce in battle and delicate and soft at the same time. Wrong her and she will cut you down; treat her with kindness and you’ll have won a friend for life. It is said that a woman is like tea: you never know how strong she is until she is put in hot water. Likewise, women are also like whisky in a teacup. Sweet and proper on the outside, but on the inside they are full of passion and fire.

Blaze on.

Taiping HouKui

Today’s tea is especially fun.

Taiping HouKui, also called “Taiping Best Monkey Tea”, is considered one of the top 10 teas in China and is known for it’s (rather comically) large strips.

Plucked from the Shi Da Cha cultivar which is bred for its long, slender leaves, the best production comes from the town of Taiping in Anhui Province. The leaves are fixed green and then laid between layers of canvas, weighted down to flatten the leaves into thin strips, and oven-baked.

More about these special leaves in a moment. First, a little bit of intrigue to whet your mind:

The name “Houkui” actually means “Monkey King”.  Legend has it that this cultivar of Camellia Sinensis was created when the Monkey King fell ill and died after losing his son. The day after his death, a gardener found the King’s body and buried him. A year later, in appreciation for the burial, tea plants had grown where the King was laid to rest. The gardener then cared for the tea plants and began to harvest the leaves and create this unique tea.

Brew It

This tea can be a bit of a challenge to find and falsification is rampant, so be sure to purchase your Taiping HouKui from a reputable vendor that is known for quality teas. You’ll know you purchased a fake if the leaves look symmetrical.

As usual, I found Harney & Sons had this tea ready to procure.

Before steeping your tea, take a few moments to examine the leaves. Appreciate the delicate hint of the cross-hatch print embossed on the leaves from the canvas press, the deep green with white stripes and the occasional hint of red. With leaves ranging up to 3 inches long, it feels like you’re holding a piece of green bacon in your hand (will you have it in a box with a fox?).

When you’re ready to brew, it will feel like you’re about to cook some spaghetti with how the leaves stick up out of your cup. Have no fear! Once you pour your 175 degree water over the top, the leaves quickly bend and tuck nicely inside your vessel. Steep your green bacon tea for 2-3 min.

Some people suggest steeping the tea in a tall cylindrical glass to watch the  leaves sway. This is often called the “Phoenix dances”.

Lori and I had such a kick with this tasting that we had to take a few extra pics for giggles. Enjoy!

Look at this tea leaf, y’all! This thing is ridiculous!! These leaves are almost as long as my hand!! (Also, please pardon me with no makeup; totally impromptu pics.)

Sticking up out of the gaiwan:

Mmmmm… Green bacon anyone???

The liquor should be a light pale green with aromas of steamed green beans and wet hay. The scent will fade quickly as the leaves cool, so you’ll want to be sure to get your sniffs in quickly.

The light to medium bodied liquor doesn’t have as much flavor as the aromas let on, but you’ll hopefully pick up a light Lima bean / butter bean (for all you southern folk) flavor. It is mildly bitter, but surprisingly mellow and well rounded. The finish is still slightly astringent with no real flavor of it’s own.

Contemplative Thoughts

No matter how many other thoughts that I try to have while sipping this tea, my thoughts seem to always swirl back to Dr. Seuss. It must be the green bacon like strips which immediately makes me think of his wonderful children’s book, Green Eggs and Ham. But more than that single book are the wonderful words of encouragement that we get from the pages of Dr. Seuss’ whimsical writings.

As an INTJ on the Myers-Briggs, many of these quotes resonate with my mind, but two in particular sum up Contemplative Thoughts:

“Think and wonder, wonder and think.”

“Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.”

May you always wonder, think, and dare to look at life through the wrong end of the telescope.

Sláinte!

 

Lung Ching

Lung Ching, which when translated means”dragon well,” is a Chinese green tea surrounded by legend.

One such legend surrounds it’s very name. Grown and produced in the Hangzhou region in the Zhejiang province, there is said to be a well that contains relatively dense water. After a rain, the lighter rainwater floats to the surface and will twist and swirl with the well water, resembling the movement of a Chinese dragon. Hence, the Dragon’s Well.

Anther legend is around the tea itself. Being one of China’s most well known, and highly prized teas, it earned the Gong Cha, or imperial tea, status during the Qing dynasty. It is said that during this dynasty the emperor’s grandson visited the area’s Hu Gong Temple. The temple had 18 tea bushes planted in it’s garden. Presented with the tea and being readily impressed, the grandson gave the bushes the special imperial status. These 18 Camellias are still living today and it is purported that the tea they produce is priced higher per gram than gold.

Brew It

Thankfully, for a sample, you won’t need to pay more than gold if you secure it from Harney & Sons.

You’ll want to steep this like most green teas, two to three minutes in no more than 175 degree water, resulting in a pale yellow liquor.

The predominant aroma is one that is how a water chestnut tastes; it has a hint of roasted nuts (possibly walnuts? Lori and I had trouble deciding) alongside steamed bok choy.

The liquor is surprisingly medium bodied with a light astringent bite to it.

The flavors are vegetal with a hint of the bok choy and walnut flavors that were present in the aroma of the leaves. There is a sweet grassy taste on the finish.

Contemplative Thoughts

“‘Halflings!’ laughed the Rider that stood beside Éomer. ‘Halflings! But they are only a little people in old songs and children’s tales out of the North. Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?

A man may do both,’ said Aragorn. ‘For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time. The green earth, say you? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day!'”

JRR Tolkien,  The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Book 3, Chapter II “The Riders of Rohan” (emphasis mine).

 

Bi Lo Chun

Bi Lo Chun is another ancient tea. This one is grown in China’s Jiangsu province and is one of the northern most grown teas. Once enjoyed by emperors, and today more well known than other Chinese green varieties, it is still harvested only once or twice a year in small quantities.

Brew It

As with many other rare teas, Harney & Sons has come to the rescue.  The leaves are small, squiggly pieces, that have been tightly spiraled. Coated in a heavy layer of fuzzy down, the dried leaves have almost a blue-grey hue. Once steeped, however, the leaves turn this beautiful sandy-green and unroll into the most precious tiny leaf sets, no more than an inch long. I highly encourage you to pick up one and hold it on the tip of your finger for examination and appreciation of the talent needed to make this tea.

Like most green teas, you’ll wish to steep this tea for two to three minuets at 175 degrees.

The resulting liquor is a golden green that meets a dark pale yellow, with an almost orange tint.

For the aroma of the wet, steeped leaves, I first need to remind you that I am a southern woman. I was born in the Atlanta area and have lived here my entire life. There are some things that do not exist anywhere else on this planet; they are just southern.

When my tasting partner Lori, another born and bred southern woman, and I smelled these leaves we agreed that there was an aroma of cooked butter beans and black eyed peas (two very southern foods). Then as the leaves began to cool a bit, we hit on the primary scent; one that made both of our mouths water (and we may or may not have accused the other of hogging the shared gaiwan). The aroma, you ask? Hot. Boiled. Peanuts.

If you have not experienced a hot boiled peanut, bless your heart, you’ve missed out on life. As incomprehensible as it is for me to believe, hot boiled peanuts are not for everyone. Like my New York born husband.  Try as he might (and he only tried once, bless him), my man cannot appreciate (or stomach) this southern delicacy. Meanwhile, I think about these peanuts at least once a week.

Now, if you have tried the boiled peanut and you didn’t care for it, don’t fret none, as we say in the south. This thin bodied, lightly astringent liquor tastes nothing like a hot boiled peanut (much to mine and Lori’s disappointment). Nor does it taste like hot boiled peanut juice (also to our disappointment).

I found the flavor to be similar to that of asparagus. Lori thought it needed salt and was bitter on the finish. Though initially one may find adding salt to one’s tea to be an odd request, it really isn’t all that odd. In Okakura Kakuzō’s famous writing, The Book of Tea, he explores the origins of the Japanese tea ceremony and the preparation of the tea, which included salting the water. Remembering this gem of knowledge, I fetched Lori a wee bit of salt. She found the addition of salt made the brew a bit better for her palate.

Contemplative Thoughts

Typically the aromas of steeped leaves give you a hint of what to expect when you take your first sip. Granted, they may not be identical flavors, but they at least get you in the ballpark. Never before have I tried a tea where the aroma was so vastly different than the flavor. My first cup really threw me for a loop; so much so I found it difficult to seek out other flavors. 

Sometimes in life that happens. We plan and prepare and make many efforts in a particular direction all the while expecting a certain result. And if we don’t get the outcome we were anticipating, we find ourselves disappointed. Many of us, myself included, can spend valuable time that we will never recover, steeping ourselves in the disappointment. When we get stuck in this rut of negativity and depression, not giving ourselves the gift of lifting our head and hearts above the muck and mire, we steal away our chance of getting to taste other flavors of life. Flavors that, though not expected or anticipated at this time of life, can be tasty in their own way.

Anticipating the unexpected helped me to enjoy and appreciate my second cup of Bi Lo Chun all the more.

Jin Shan

Jin Shan, also referred to as Jin Mountain, is a tea grown in one of China’s ancient tea growing regions in the Anhui province. The area where this tea is grown is home to an equally ancient Buddhist monastery. Since it was Chinese monks from this region who introduced Japanese monks to tea a few thousand years ago, it is highly plausible that this style of tea is what was shared.

Brew It

Procured from Harney & Sons, the beautiful dark green leaves are small and stiff with a touch of silver on the ends; the leaves have a thin downy coat that gives them a frosted look. Most of the leaves are twisted into small bits, but as you can see from the picture below, there are a select few that seem to have unraveled.

You will want to steep this tea at about 175 degrees for two to three minuets. The resulting liquor will be a very pale yellow.

The steeped leaves have the scent of kale, spinach, and steamed green beans. My tasting partner, Lori, was able to pick up on a faint citrus smells of orange blossoms and grapefruit. I on the other hand, didn’t smell anything but spinach and green beans.

Light in body, the liquor has a slight astringency to it, with flavors of wet, leafy vegetables and green beans.

Contemplative Thoughts

The flavors of this tea remind me of warm, late spring days when a garden has it’s first fruits ready for harvest. It is a reminder to take time to pause, be thankful, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  Too often I go from one task to the next, one goal to the next. Rarely do I pause to appreciate the challenges I have just overcome, to celebrate what was just accomplished.

This is an integral part of life that is missing in our modern American culture. It keeps us from a moment of peace and joy, an opportunity to truly appreciate. It also keeps us from the opportunity to completely analyze life. As we quickly jump to the next goal we deny ourselves the chance to re-evaluate our next goal. Is it still appropriate? Are the steps that we thought we should take still the best steps? Has something better come along?

Often we must set aside one good thing for a better thing. Without a moment to pause, appreciate, and review, we may find that we are sacrificing what is best as we rush to what is merely good.

Lychee

Today’s tasting is a real treat: Lychee Black. One of my dear tea friends, Erica at Tea Time, Me Time, sent me this sample a few weeks ago. Now if you’re like me, your first thought may be “what is lychee?”

Lychee is a tropical evergreen tree that is native to Fujian and Guangdong provinces in China. The tree produces a red, fleshy fruit that is used in many different desert dishes. The outside of this fruit appears rough in texture and is inedible; the inside has a large black seed that is surrounded by a slightly opaque-white flesh (the pictures online remind me of the consistency of a jellyfish). Typically the fruit is eaten fresh as preservation techniques, like canning, tend to lose the sweet floral like fragrance.

I haven’t been able to find the specific way that this Chinese black tea is created, but the way the ingredients are listed on the package lead me to wonder if it is by spraying the flavor onto the leaves (a popular technique used today).  What I find more interesting is the origins of this fruit flavored tea date back to the Tang Dynasty where the tea leaves and the fruit were smoked together, allowing the sweet fruit flavor to infuse in the leaves. It was popular with the emperor then and has remained popular today.

Brew It

Erica procured this amazing tea from Teavivre. Upon opening your package you’ll be hit with the intoxicating sweet scent of the lychee. The leaves are a small and thin, dark brown with a slight twist to them.

Obviously, I got a little excited about trying this tea and took the picture after I ripped the package open. This sample packaging actually holds several cups worth of the tea. I merely wish it was resealable.

The package direction suggest you steep this tea for 2 to 5 min at 195 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a slightly cooler than most black teas (which can take the full boiling point). I couldn’t find any research to support the lower temperature, but I won’t argue with what a tea grower says to be the best way to brew his tea.

The resulting liquor is medium bold in body, with a beautiful dark caramel / copper color. The wet leaves offered a clean, fresh aroma that had a hint of fruity stone-fruit type of sweetness (this is the lychee flavor) that is vaguely reminiscent of apricot. As the leaves cool you may also pick up a few sniffs of a vegetal aroma (from the tea itself).

The flavors of this tea are a bit more complex than what I was anticipating. It has only a mild stone-fruit suggestion (some tasters have said it’s grape-like, but I don’t taste anything like grape) with a hint of vegetal tones that balance well with the fruit. Where this tea really shines is in the finish: extremely smooth with an almost soft, delicate flavor.

Contemplative Thoughts

Honestly, this tea has flavors that I’ve never smelled or tasted in all my days. As a result, I don’t have a single cell in my body that knows that to do with these flavors. I knew immediately that I liked it, but in several tastings since, I have yet to wrap my brain around this amazingly smooth and complex tea.

That’s part of the fun of life. New experiences, good and not so good, happen. Simple things, like trying a new restaurant, or even reading something outside of your normal genre, could easily spark a moment where your brain has to pause to really think about what you’ve just experienced and come to a formal resolution.  Those moments where you don’t just instinctively react can be small opportunities to rethink what you’ve always taken for granted or believed without cause.

#zenme

Bai Mu Dan

Bai Mu Dan, also known as White Peony, is a white tea that is grown from the same cultivar as the Yin Zhen. Unlike other white teas which use only tea leaf buds, this style, grown in China’s Fujian Province, uses a combination of both mature leaves and buds.  Another factor that makes Bai Mu Dan unique is the leaves are laid out to wither for a spell before they are baked dry, which means it is actually slightly oxidized.

Brew It

When I was seeking this tea out, I had a wee bit trouble finding a vendor that I would sell me a sample. If they carried this blend at all, it was sold in larger quantities. I was able to find this tea available through Adagio.

From what I have researched, the dry leaves shoulbd be silver-green tips and forest green leaves; the better the quality, the more tips will be included. Lesser selections will have more brown leaves (from the mature leaves) that will result in a dull, more harsh brew. As you can see, the selection I have includes many more brown leaves than what is optimal (or even described online).

Despite being slightly oxidized and containing older leaves, you’ll want to brew your leaves up at about 175 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-3 minutes to avoid scorching the buds.

A good quality Bai Mu Dan’s liquor should be a yellow green, but as you can see from the inferior blend I received, it’s more golden yellow.  The aroma of the steeped leaves is vegetal earthy, like sauteed spinach.

Having a medium body, it is a bit heavier than I would have anticipated for a white tea. The inclusion of the mature leaves makes it rather astringent (almost like a dry wine). The dry bite lingers in your mouth until you’ve swallowed the liquor and the vegetal flavor fades from your tongue.  For as dry as this tea is, you may expect it to have more flavor, but the flavor of the tea doesn’t really come out until the finish. You may wish to steep this blend for 1-2 minutes instead, which could result in a sweeter, less astringent liquor.

Contemplative Thoughts

This tea has been a learning experience for me, more than others. It begins to open up the possibility of unique preparation styles and usage of the  Camellia Sinensis plant. But it has also taught me the importance of finding a supplier that can provide me with the quality of tea that I’m really looking for. Not all specialty tea retailers are the same, and as with all types of marketing, what you see is not necessarily what you get. Will I buy from Adagio again? Absolutely. They have some great tasting blends in their massive fandom collection (The Maverick and Dragon’s Dream, being my top two). And I fully support their sourcing techniques and push to know your tea farmers. But as I read and learn more about pure teas and what constitutes a high quality tea versus a lesser grade, I know I must be more discerning when purchasing online.

Zen Me

Ceylon Silver Tips

Ceylon Silver Tips is rare white tea that is grown in Sri Lanka. The island off of India’s coast was known during the British colonial rule as Ceylon and the name has remained common terminology (mostly for marketing purposes) in the tea industry ever since. Most teas produced on the island are black teas for cheaper, mass-market blends. However, there are a few estates that will produce some amazing specialty teas, Ceylon Silver Tips, being one of them.

This tea comes from about half way up the island’s mountain range.

Brew It

The tea I am tasting and writing about today was procured from Harney & Sons. A good quality blend will have slender buds that are just over an inch long. They should not be covered with as much down (the tiny fuzz) as other white teas.

As with any white tea you’ll want to steep the buds in 175 degree filtered water for 2-3 minutes.

The resulting brew will have a pale yellow liquor. After steeping, the wet buds smell vegetal with a hit of sweet, like a sugary, wet hay. My tasting partner, Lori, describes the scent as “day old cut hay that has been rained on”. On the other hand, others have described the scent as a gentle citrus-spice with a subtle sweetness. Each time I’ve brewed this tea I have not picked up on this citrus-spice, but maybe you will.

The body of the tea is thin, yet surprisingly thicker than one might anticipate for a white tea. The first sip is of grassy notes, but the longer you hold the liquor in your mouth root vegetable flavors will emerge (Lori and I both agreed on turnips and rutabagas). For us, the sweetness that we smelled in the aroma does not come through the flavor.

Contemplative Thoughts

Though not my favorite white tea, this tea is a rare treat for where it is grown. For an area that has focused so heavily on producing bold, and often high quantity / low quality brews, the gentle vegetal flavor of this light bodied tea is a gem. The people who pluck these buds by hand and produce this rare first flush tea are doing an amazing thing by breaking the cultural mold.As you try this tea, you may wish to consider what things – big or small – you can do to positively impact your community. Don’t be afraid to try something new or different. It is often counter-cultural acts of kindness that make long lasting ripples in the liquid of society.

#zenme