I FINALLY (after like 2+ years on here) got a gaiwan! I was making a Butiki order and they had a spouted one (the safest choice for my clumsy self) so I sprung for it. It is absolutely perfect for me – I love that it’s stoneware instead of porcelain and I love the way it pours, and that it is about 4 oz. Now I can finally do some gongfu and really get the most out of my leaves!
Verdant’s teas are all perfect for gaiwans, so I decided to start with Golden Fleece since I haven’t had it in a while. I was weighing out the leaves (per Verdant’s instructions, so 4 grams) and really, just holding it in your hands is a sensory experience in itself. They are so soft and feathery/fuzzy, and also super fragile looking. I want to keep them long and spindly so I’m fighting the urge to handle them too much.
1st steep= maybe 10 seconds? The predominant smell of the steeped leaves is peppery and kind of burnt – like very crispy potatoes. It was super hot so at first I didn’t get much taste. Just that smooth silky texture on my tongue. There was a pepper note after I swallowed and as the cup cooled down I could pick up honey and pepper together. Sweet and savory and silky. This steep seemed kind of delicate and light in flavor.
2nd steep = 15 seconds. The leaf smells sweeter now – honey, vanilla, cinnamon. The tea is darker, but still as smooth. This is mostly sweet – all honey but there is an umami-like bite at the end of the sip. Now that I’ve thought about it as umami, all I can think is that the liquor itself smells brothy. It’s as if somehow this manages to do everything at the same time – the only thing that changes is what flavor you choose to pay attention to.
3rd steep = 25 seconds. The leaf is back to smelling like potatoes and the taste is all umami + pepper. There is quite a bite at the end of these sips! I am starting to specifically identify the broad “umami” taste as more mushroom. Well, wait – the liquor smells like vanilla and honey, now. And tastes like it too, since its cooled.
4th steep = 45 seconds. Now it tastes like potatoes. Starchy but still amazingly smooth. This has plenty of flavor left in it but I think I’ll give it a rest for right now. Yay for gaiwans! I can’t wait to put these leaves through all of their paces!
I didn’t rate this numerically the first time I had it, but I feel like since I’ve tried it both ways I can do so now. Unsurprisingly it’s going to be pretty high. A very yummy Yunnan, for sure!