Alright, time to finally catch up on some reviews. In case anyone has wondered where I have been, I have been out of commission the last couple days due to illness. My chronic sinusitis has continued to cause me a lot of problems. From where we have had such a wet summer with up and down temperatures and because there is so much pollen and mold in the air, I have been pushed beyond the breaking point. I actually finished the last of a pouch of this tea two days ago, but had little energy to actually post a review. I found this to be a rather unique green tea, but I also have to admit that I don’t think this style is my thing.
Prior to trying this tea, I had never before tried Tai Ping Hou Kui. I had read about it, but I had never tried it. I was not actually prepared for how huge the leaves were. When people say that the leaf size is impressive, they really mean it. That also presented me with a challenge. How in the world was I going to brew it? I had resolved to gongfu it, but I was concerned that the leaves would not actually fit in my gaiwan. Lo and behold, I was right. I had a mountain of fat, flat leaves sticking so far up above the rim of the gaiwan that I could not even pretend to be able to get the lid on correctly. I did, however, find a solution when I decided to rinse the leaves. I did a flash rinse of the leaves after I got them into the gaiwan and they immediately softened and curled into a mass resembling seaweed, allowing me to successfully place the lid on the gaiwan. After the rinse, I steeped the mass of monstrous leaves for 5 seconds. This initial infusion was then followed by 7 second, 10 second, 15 second, 20 second, 25 second, 30 second, 40 second, 50 second, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 second, 1 minute 30 second, 2 minute, and 3 minute steeps.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted mild aromas reminiscent of bamboo, grass, and hay. The rinse brought out some floral and nutty qualities. The first infusion saw the emerging floral scents take on more definition. They reminded me a little of orchids and violets. I also began to get more defined scents of chestnut, as well as touches of peas and seaweed. In the mouth, the tea liquor mostly presented notes of chestnut, grass, straw, and bamboo underscored by hints of floral character. Subsequent infusions brought out the orchid and violet notes in the mouth. I also began to get flavors of peas and seaweed. At various points, aromas and flavors of minerals, malt, squash blossom, nectar, spinach, asparagus, and broccoli appeared. The later infusions were mild, offering mostly a wash of grass, hay, seaweed, asparagus, spinach, and minerals while ghostly floral impressions lingered in the background.
This was an interesting tea and I did love the huge leaves, however, I am not entirely certain this style is for me. While I loved the impressions of nuts and flowers, this was also a very grassy, vegetal tea, and it became increasingly grassy and vegetal over the course of the session. For me, the first 3-4 steeps were the best and most interesting. After that, the tea held no real surprises. In the end, this was not bad, but I have had better, more consistently appealing green teas.
Flavors: Asparagus, Bamboo, Broccoli, Chestnut, Floral, Grass, Hay, Malt, Mineral, Nectar, Orchid, Peas, Seaweed, Spinach, Squash Blossom, Violet