So I placed an order with 52teas last week, and it should (in theory, and if nothing goes wrong) arrive here at the end of this week or the start of the next. I should, therefore, be spending Suicide Reading Week drinking up some teas in my cupboard to make room for the new ones, right? Right? I should, in no way, be buying more teas or teaware. Ahem.
Well, I guess I actually won’t be picking up any more for a while, as my bank account can’t handle it. I took an extra shift at work to cover this purchase, but then that’s it until I get paid…twice.
Anyway. One of the most interesting things about this tea…“journey,” obsession, whatever, is that I am learning things about my own tastes that I never expected.
For example. If you were to ask me if I like floral teas, my first impulse would be to say no. I hate floral scents in perfume after all, plus I grew up that kid with the hideous sweet tooth who had to be strapped down to be fed vegetables. Flowers are PLANTS, and not fruits, and therefore sort of fall into the category of “vegetables” in some utterly irrational part of my brain. I’m sure I would never have had tea as a child if someone had told me it’s plant leaves.
Yet, I liked that orchid-infused green I got from Teaopia a lot, so hmm. I went to DAVIDsTEA yesterday with intentions to buy Nepal Black, a sample of White Tiger and a sample of one of their straight whites…I was thinking probably the Bai Hao Yin Zhen. Until I smelled it, and it was so utterly unexciting, and I ended up leaving with everything but the Bai Hao Yin Zhen.
I had originally not planned to get this at all because it is a jasmine white (ew, flowers!), so I was completely taken by surprise when I smelled it, and it was absolutely divine. I can’t put this scent into words, other than to say I want to huff in the bag, it’s soft and sweet and so enchanting. We have a Tetley jasmine green that smells a bit like this, but that’s like saying that that a digital sport Timex and a TAG Heuer are the same thing because they both tell you what time it is.
I steeped it in little batches in my gaiwan, about 45-60 seconds to a steep. (No less than that because I fumble too much.) Then I poured it into my new hailstone cast iron teacup that I got from DT at the same time as this tea. I cringed at myself buying a $25 tea cup (that’s almost as much as my Timolino!), but I have no regrets now. What an amazing little cup! Its capacity matches my gaiwan perfectly, our strainer fits it exactly, and it keeps my tea so warm once I pour it from my gaiwan (the reason I got it, since gaiwans lose heat quickly and I drink slowly). Whee!
First infusion: Very subtle and gently sweet. Left a veritable lei in my mouth. So far, this is actually the best infusion, and I couldn’t stop sipping it. Good lord, I’m glad I got out of the way of thinking that I should automatically discard the first steep when brewing in a gaiwan. Why would you not drink this, seriously.
Second infusion: Whoa, more strongly floral than before, in a way I wasn’t entirely sure was pleasant. It bordered on an outright “plant” taste, not as sweet as before. So I added a single drop of honey to it. Mistake! You cannot add a sweetener to this. The end result was utterly baffling to me and hard to describe. Essentially what happened was that the tastes did not remotely mix. The honey in no way flavoured the tea; I could still taste every note of the tea perfectly, just as I had before, and I could also taste the honey separately. How can that be?!
Third infusion: Think I’m getting more “tea” taste now as I write this. It’s light and crisp, reminds me of…I don’t know, white wine? I’m not certain, though. Grr, why didn’t I start with the plain white so I’d have a point of comparison? Think I’ll only do one more infusion of this, I’m getting bored.
Fourth infusion: Two minutes, not one. Don’t think that’s even the full potential of this one, but I truly got bored. I’m too fickle for the same tea over and over, no matter how much I like it. This is fuller in the middle, like a balloon of tea with flowers for the rubber boundaries. It gets almost a bit fruity, and is very satisfying at the back of your throat in a way that I just realized I associate exclusively with tea. After the first infusion, this one is my favourite. Maybe it gets better after this, but the instructions only suggest brewing it for 5 minutes, and this is five minutes total.
So: lovely! Although don’t let it get cold, it’s gross.
And apparently…I do like floral teas.