I had nightmares last night. I had a really, really bad morning. And I hurt my back and it has been getting steadily worse all day. Also, it has been raining for two days and it isn’t supposed to stop soon and I really, really need sunlight. It was just an all around bad day. Did I say bad day yet?
Until shortly after lunch.
The mail was delivered. And there was an unexpected envelope from overseas. The Czech Republic to be precise! It was tea and a postcard and a letter from Martin! Steepsterites to the rescue! Even though it was still raining outside, the sun came out in my kitchen! The teas were this one, two from Bird and Blend which is a company I have never tried before, and another called Kali Laska.
Well, it is New Year’s Eve so of course I am going to try Martin’s favorite black tea, Guria Likhauri! This will be my NYE celebration! Cuz I am wild like that.
Youngest gave me some Champignon cheese for Christmas – a delicious soft cheese with mushrooms, so I made a plate of that, crackers, Hickory Farms turkey summer sausage for Sam the King of Dogs, mozzarella which was pretty bland and hardly worth mentioning, and some Bon Maman cherry preserves to try to make the mozzarella interesting.
I measured the leaves and determined that there was enough here to make a small pot.
But oh those leaves! I rarely see black tea leaves that look like this. They are thick and twisted, sinewy, and so shiny – really glossy black and beautiful. They exude character – the life of the tea bush is almost palpable. I think I had a tea from Old Ways Tea that looked like this. Just looking at leaves like this makes me feel awestruck with the miracle of tea and the beauty of nature.
The aroma was complex and layered with a deep woodiness and fresh, sharp grapes, like muscatel. The muscatel aspect was like the scent in darjeeling but not as sharp and high as darjeeling. As I start to sip I inhale and the aroma floods my senses before I even get any tea and it is fruit – stewed, rich, dark. Stone fruit?
There is no bitterness and no astringency, and I can see why Martin says he drinks this grandpa style. You surely could. It’s that smooth. While the tea sits in your mouth, I would say it has medium body with a touch of creaminess or oiliness like the texture of some ripe puerh. After you swallow, woody notes linger. And something else….minerals! Definitely minerals.
My husband sips and says, “This is fruity.” Normally he says, “This is hot and has tea-like qualities” when I ask if he likes a tea, so the fact that he pointed out a specific impression from the tea means it made him take notice. (Maybe he can take review lessons from Kiki!) He drank A LOT of it.
There is no way I am wasting any of this, so I steeped it again. We finished our cheese and I am now sitting alone drinking the third steep as I type and while it is lighter than the first steep, it still has way more interest and flavor than many teas have on their first steep.
And wow, as it cools, it has different notes. Some teas get so astringent as they cool that you really have to reheat the cup to finish it, but not this one. The minerality is increased, the muscatel has decreased, and the stewed fruit – plums with a pinch of brown sugar maybe? – is still present but light. Mostly minerals and woody flavor here at the end.
Still good and I still want more, so fourth steep here we come. Paler now, minerals and a more noticeable sweetness. Well, that was unexpected. Almost like a licorice root sweetness so I guess this may be what they call hui gan? Was it there before and I missed it?
A delightful tea, and I see why it is Martin’s favorite.
Many thanks, Martin. It made my day.
Many thanks to the Steepster community for being who you are. May 2021 be blessed and filled with hope, joy, peace, fellowship, and good tea!