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Toss those supermarket teas in the trash and discover the thrill of finer teas. A high quality sourced tea is so much more refined, pure and crisp. It will change how you look at tea forever.
One of my colleagues jokes that his mom kept a pot of orange pekoe tea boiled strong in those old Pyrex tea pots. She just added water and boiled away all day long. That is fine if you have zero care in the world for what tea should actually taste like. But let me tell you, once you have experienced several cups of finer teas the rest pales in comparison. An excellent tea is like enjoying a top vintage wine. Today I want to introduce you to five higher grade teas, all of which are harvested in China.
Where can you get finer teas?
I sincerely recommend you try Teavivre.com if you have no specialized tea shops in your city. They sent me some samples last year and I organized a traditional Gongfu tea ceremony with a few friends. Well as traditional as I could with what I had on hand. Plus each guest had to bring a food pairing for their assigned tea. It was great fun. I have ordered as a paying customer since then from them and I have always been very satisfied.
This year I did less of fuss about it when I was approached again with samples but I still wanted to share my bounty. So I took my finer teas to work and had my colleagues partake. I like the idea of having various opinions of different teas. We had 3 Green teas, 1 Oolong tea and 1 Black tea. If you click the More Info tab of each tea one can usually get more info on the farmer who grows that particular tea plus photos of the tea gardens, pretty cool I think.
The finer teas were brewed with the Western method this year: 500 ml of hot water in a tea pot. All teas were brewed at 85℃ (185℉), unless specified otherwise. I will indicate the amount of tea and brew time with each tea below. We brewed them twice, the second time longer, to see if the tea developed more in flavor.
Organic Superfine Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea
Harvest time: April 10, 2016
This tea grows in Tianmu Mountain, Lin’an County, Hangzhou, Zhejiang. The Organic Superfine Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea has flattened tea leaves, with one bud and one or two leaves that makes a pale yellowish green tea. The delicate orchid like taste is smooth, sweet and mellow, and long lasting in the middle and back part of the tongue.
8 grams brewed, 1st steep: 2 min, 2nd steep: 6 min
We found this tea to be delicate and subtle on the first brew with a floral nose, and it had a stronger green taste on the second brew. It was the number 2 pick.
Nonpareil Te Gong Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea
Harvest time: March 31, 2016
This tea grows in Da Guyun villiage, Shexian, Huang Shan, Anhui. The Nonpareil Te Gong Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea has a curly shape with sharp tip, mostly bud with unopened tiny leaf that makes a bright and light yellowish tea. This sweet floral and fruity fragrance tea has a smooth, sweet and soft taste with no hint of bitterness.
4 grams brewed at 80℃ (176℉), 1st steep: 3 min, 2nd steep: 5 min
We found this tea to be sweet, smooth and having a light mineral taste on the second brew. It was the number 1 pick.
Xin Yang Mao Jian Green Tea
Harvest time: April 25, 2016
This tea grows in Xinyang in Henan province. The Xin Yang Mao Jian Green Tea has long, thin, dark green leaves, with straight tips that makes a vibrant yellow-green colored tea with a bold and robust green tea flavour.
8 grams brewed, 1st steep: 3 min, 2nd steep: 5 min
We found this tea to be broth like with notes of a sea breeze and fresh cut grass. The second brew was robust like cooked vegetables. It was the number 5 pick. But we also though black tea drinkers who want to explore green teas should try this one first.
Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong Tea
Harvest time: April 21, 2016
This tea grows in Alishan, Nantou, Taiwan. The Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong Tea has evenly and tightly rolled tea leaves that makes a pale yellow-gold tea liquor. This tea belongs to the “Milk Oolong” family, however this one is unique because its milky aroma is natural. Usually the milk is manually added milk when process. The first infusion will have a have slight milky scent.
7 grams brewed at 100℃ (212℉), 1st steep: 3 min, 2nd steep: 5 min
We found this tea to be very vegetable like and the milky taste was vague in the the background. It was the number 4 pick.
Keemun Imperial Black Tea
Harvest time: April 18th, 2016
This tea grows in Qimen, Huangshan, Anhui. The Keemun Imperial Black Tea has black bloom leaves which are curly, wiry and well twisted with a high percentage of tiny golden tips that makes a clear orange red tea. Enjoy this smooth and soft tea with rich aromas of roasted sweet potato.
7 grams brewed, 1st steep: 3 min, 2nd steep: 5 min
We found this tea to be light and tangy but without an astringent taste. It was smooth with notes of malt and roasted sweet potatoes. The second brew was metallic with a gold taste. It was the number 3 pick.
The taste notes is a mix of 4 people’s opinions and tastes are subjective. I now have three tasting Teavivre experiences under my belt and I am fascinated but my discoveries and evolving tea taste. Having tasted the 2014 and now 2016 Nonpareil Te Gong Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea I can say that, like wines, they are different each year. I found out I do prefer a milk oolong with the added milk in the process. My favorite was the Keemun Imperial Black Tea because I am not normally a fan of black tea but this one really impressed me. Can’t wait to see what new tea tastings await me!
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