Blind Tea Tastings with the Greeks
This post was written a couple of weeks ago, but in the interest of synchronized timing, I will be releasing these reviews in the coming few days.
The samples are all labeled with Greek letters, and I have no prior knowledge of what I am drinking. Time to find out how little we all know, as I mistakenly profess my love for pesticide drenched plantation summer tea and denounce spring gushu [old tree] laobanzhang with hubris! Though it is pretty safe to say neither of those things are amongst what Scott offers – as he is usually in the good tea/ good value range. Whatever, Let’s get this frat party started.
Theta, I choose you!
10.2 grams and 150 ml gaiwan.
The gaiwan lid smells of fruit after a rinse and sitting for about a minute. The first two steeps have a few things in common; very gentle, cloudy soup, and soft fragrances. A light astringency comes and goes in the second steep, and the tea leaves a light sweetness in the mouth. There are the beginnings of a coating in the throat.
The soup retains its cloudy character on third steep and astringency perks up even futher, along with a very fast huigan [sweet aftertaste]. It becomes less gentle as it opens up. As far as a distinct flavor character, nothing leaps out at me. Something like dry grass and honey.
The fourth steep makes seems to be a bit thicker. The flavor is still not the center point of the tea. The sweet aftertaste is the best feature, appearing quickly and staying for a long period of time afterwards, as well as stimulating saliva and drying the mouth. The astringency is still very strong, but it is not a bad astringency, it is the kind that a young tea ought to have.
To quickly get off track, some older people have said to me, and I am paraphrasing, “Young people are always complaining about astringency. We used to say that if it is not bitter and not astringent, it is not tea.” Astringency is not a bad thing. Young puer tea should be astringent. So, when I say the astringency is strong, that is not a slight, merely an observation.
Around the fifth steep, it is more of the same. Huigan. Shengjing [inducing salivation, dryness]. I take a ten minute break between cups and my throat is not very comfortable. The coating seems gone and feels a little raw.
Sixth steep through the eight steep seem about the same. After my break, the first cups re-coats my throat. The huigan is still there, as is some remainder of the astringency.
I got for an oversteep on the ninth to see what rises up. Stays pretty much the same. All of the aspects I listed above are amplified, but none of them overly harsh. It has been an even keel of what is described above, not a lot of depth, but consistent enough.
I guess this will not be my favorite of the group and will probably be towards the bottom of the list. It is not bad tea, but I am sure better things await in the other bags. Also, I had bad experience with the Thetas in college which clouded my judgment of this tea. Damn you, Θ s!