The Best Laid Schemes…
Originally I had lofty ambitions of a full review for each tea from the generous YS sample pack, but the arrival of my Ippodo Japanese Shin-cha derailed my ambitions.
Shin-cha is a tea best consumed fresh and only sold for a couple of months every Spring. Ippodo is not able to ship directly to China, so I had to employ some Hong Kong tea smugglers to carry the contraband over on a voyage to the Mainland. The underground tea smuggling community is a cutthroat band of miscreants. Luckily, the delivery arrived intact. Opening the fresh green tea put me on a clock to work it into my daily routine and finish it, which is both good and bad. Gladly it meant a delicious Japanese green tea nearly everyday for the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately for the sample pack, it drained some of my blind taste testing ambition.
Out of the remaining samples, only a couple of teas really stuck out for me, so naturally they will get the bulk of the attention. The rest sort of faded into the mix, which is usually how sampling goes.
Blind Dates of Note: Lambda and Mu
First the Lambda.
The smell off the leaves involves grape-like tannins.
The first steep is promising. Some body and interesting depth from the beginning.
Second steep, things get more interesting. This is the first tea (other than Mu below) that I have been really interested to see behind the curtain. If there were 10 layers to the tea, on layer 9 or 10 there is some slight over roasting. That flavor further diminishes on the third steep, disappearing later on.
The thickness of this tea is beyond most of the other teas in the group. Cooling in the back on the throat, which lingers for a long time. There is some reasonable depth in this tea. Curious to see what it is. (Note: Later found out this is a Simao blend of 4 teas)
On to Mu.
This tea had a very strong fragrance, which filled up the room. Some of the leaves below on the gaiwan lid, which appear to be a bit oxidized.
This tea was overall my favorite of the bunch. It had the most body and complexity of the entire batch. Some Qi [voodoo feel] and a complexity, which were far above anything else in the group.
Seems my final list, which is something like:
3. everything else.
Kind of jives with Jakub’s list. I also share his sentiment, that Mu would probably be the tea I would lean towards buying if I were picking from the group. The Lambda is a blend of Simao area tea and the Mu is a Nanpozhai. I am curious to see how the Mu will age!