I have been excited about this tea for a very, very long time. I’ve been gearing up for my first “real” Verdant order that wasn’t comprised of entirely samples, having a small list of teas I deemed worthy of spending so much of my sparse college student budget on. While teas like Laoshan Green were tried and true, I knew without even trying this Genmaicha that I wanted an ounce. I’m addicted to Laoshan Black, chocolate, and Genmaicha…how could I go wrong?
The day this order arrived in my mailbox was the most exciting I’d had in a while. Is that sad for a college student? Maybe. After making and reveling in a cup of Laoshan Green (Summer Harvest, which I blindly bought after addiction to the Spring Harvest…and it’s even better!), I couldn’t help myself. The dry leaves of this Genmaicha smelled so earthly, deep, and chocolatey, with the toasted rice hardly detectable.
Each and every time I steep this, the first inhalation of the tea scent gives me the shivers. It’s that good. Admittedly, I had hyped myself up so ridiculously for this tea, that the first cup was a disappointment…but to be fair, I had unrealistic expectations for it. The second cup was a bit better as I started exploring the many layers of taste contained in this brew. After the third, I was as hooked as I’ve been on Laoshan Green and Black alike.
The Laoshan Black is very evident in this blend, as expected…but I feel as though the Shui Jin Wuyi Oolong detracts from the tea. I don’t think it tastes out of place, because it would be nearly impossible to detect if one wasn’t familiar with both oolongs or the flavor of Laoshan Black. I just feel as though it tones down the famously malty taste of the Black, and makes the tea more likely to turn out bitter…and I’ve found it to be pretty finicky. In the end, I keep the water temperatures fairly low and simply put the tea in the bottom of my cup and fill it, straining with my lips as I drink. This way, it can sit around for 20 minutes or more without becoming bitter (and is still good for a second steep).
Anyway, back to the many dimensions of taste in this tea! The toasted rice seems to blend seamlessly with the maltiness of the Black, so that they seem to almost be one unique flavor aspect.
As for as the chocolate goes, I think others’ slight disappointment stems from expecting a sweet milk chocolate that they are accustomed to. The actual ‘chocolate’ ingredient in this blend is carob nibs, which give it more of a baker’s chocolate undertone – and it’s just that. An undertone. The Laoshan Black is the dominating force here. That’s not really a complaint, because I’ve been on withdrawal from that tea, but I think the overall balance could be better between the Black and the rice. I may just toast my own rice and add some next time I make some of this as a study incentive!
Overall…one of the most impressive teas I’ve had, although it took a while to grow on me (or, perhaps, the other way around).