I decided some time ago that my one luxury in life would be tea.
I don’t go out to the movies or restaurants (unless I have an occasion) and shopping for clothes is an old habit. (I have too much from when that seemed important.)
Tea is my #1 pleasure.
My contact with other human beings is primarily through discussing tea, reviewing tea online and drinking tea with family and tea shop buddies.
I want the best TEA that I can get. Sometimes it isn’t possible, and sometimes…I find a way.
When I read about Master Han’s and Anxi Fo Shou Black Tea’s I knew I had to have them, if even just an ounce. I ran to my computer as soon as they became available. Then, I waited….
This morning when I opened my curtains to look outside, there were glowing silvery ice crystal flakes, floating down without the will to be snow or stick to anything. This is intense TEA WEATHER! I’m ready with my newly arrived tea!
I have a spotted green/brown gaiwan that I chose to use for the tasting.
I followed the Verdant instructions for rinsing, proportion of leaf to water (I used a little less leaf because I’m a hyper-sensitive taster) and used the suggested steep times.
I’ve never looked at the tasting notes of other people first.
I like to make up my own mind and then check them against other people to see if there’s a match or not.
This time however, I sat with the notes from the website as though I was at a tasting with another person in a tearoom and we were going back and forth discussing the tea.
One of the first amazing but truly Brilliant flavor discoveries was Olive.
(I have to give it to whomever picked this out of the flavors because it’s so spot on.)
The fruitiness of olive oil…pungent and rich…wow! In a tea?!
I began to blither on in my head…picturing myself driving towards Elliot Road and the incline to my old home in Paradise.
The country road was lined with Olive Groves. Sheep and cows grazed between the rows of dusty green trees, the red and gold clay of the Sierra foothills under their feet and purple wildflowers lining the irrigation channel at the edge of the road.
There are tasting rooms for Olives in this part of California, tasting rooms for almonds (ah-mands is how it’s pronounced by the farmers (ah as in achoo)), and wine. Kiwi stands, peaches and apples. http://flic.kr/p/dL2zmW
The next pour, there was Brandy…in the scent of the liquor, which was beautiful clear amber, honey, golden and luscious. (I can’t even go into how the wet leaves smelled.)
I read that there is whisky and that was not in the scent, it was in the taste. Yes, in the fruity sweetness with a broad finish of the tea the whisky went deep… and lingered way down in the chest like liquor does. A rolling, welcome warmth. (I loved the sensation.)
There were notes about other tastes but I was not tasting them yet. I stopped somewhere else at the third steeping and found a thick syrupy quince membrillo taste, ruby red garnet yam right before they disolve into sugar. Something was changing like a mash.
If there’s anywhere the tea was taking me, it was to the beginning of Spring. Bursting forth…here I am with all my glory! Pushing up and out of a slumber and becoming many things.
From the forth steep forward, I tasted full Grape.
I not only worked at 2 wineries, but I come from a family (on my dad’s side) from Napa and Yountville. Wine people.
This tea doesn’t taste like a cloying too sweet grape, not like a dark grape or a darjeeling with a muscat flavor.
The flavor is something else. I’ve had wines from some areas that are semi sweet and golden, grown in hot climates that are ambrosia.
This is that Springtime golden grape taste, not buttery and not like a chardonney.
In Murphy’s, there’s a winery called Ironstone.
The first time I went to Ironstone, it was early Spring and the roads leading from the small town to the winery had been planted with Daffodils and they were in bloom. Winding country roads with flowers and cows in the fields…on and on. It was magical. http://flic.kr/p/dKW5wX
Ironstone makes a wine that reminds me of this tea, so does Castillo di Amarosa http://www.castellodiamorosa.com/ (worth a visit).
The meaty fresh coconut aftertaste isn’t sweet. It’s more on the savory nutty side of coconut.
Pinning down such a complex and vibrant tea isn’t easy. One amazing Ping of flavor brings to mind a time or place…then another Ping of flavor…and off I go again! This tea is full of Pings!
If you can manage this limited addition tea, do so. The experience is worth it. So much so…I can’t wait to share this with someone!
When something is such a one-of-a-kind and has given so much to me. I can’t compare it with anything else and say, this is better than…what? It’s wild picked for goodness sake. It’s fantastic!