I’ve been wanting to try a raw Tuo cha for years, and the rice aspect seemed so appealing. A special Thank You to AmyOh for sending some my way!
I thought the rice scented tuo cha smelled just like a lightly sweetened rice cake. As it was steeping, I was getting lots of hot steam in my face, and light sweet rice aromas. The wet tea leaves had doubled in height and were still cylindrical. It looked like the inner leaves were striving to break free, but the outer leaves were holding them back. They smelled so aromatic- more smokey, with good sweet rice aromas. As the leaves cooled, the smokiness and sweet rice aromas were more balanced. Still cooler, the sweet rice aromas stepped up and the smoke receded somewhat; until-at their coolest, there were more sweet rice aromas, toastiness, and only light smoke.
The cup is a light yellow, which I found deceiving, because the aroma is much stronger than I expected it would be. Major toasted sweet rice aroma, with lighter smokiness in the cup (as the cup cooled).
Man, this was very tasty! Very sweet, lightly toasted rice-like putting a rice cake in the toaster, and lightly toasting it :)) So smooth on my palate-Aaahhhh toasty rice, with no smokiness detected! I like how it coats and stays (lightly, not too heavy) on my palate, even after the tea is swallowed. After swallowing the tea, I taste a light sweetness-like plain Rice Crispies cereal.
While steeping my second cup (45 seconds at 190), I saw light foam and bubbles, and good rice aroma. After pouring a cup, the wet tea leaves had finally broken free-some were even climbing my tea press trying to escape! “Oh, noo you don’t….I’m not done with you yet!” :)) The wet tea leaves smell even more smokey. As they cool, still quite smokey with faint rice aromas; until even cooler-less smokey & more rice aromas.
The cup is a darker yellow. The rice aroma is apparent, with a mild, lighter smokiness. A toasty aroma is there too-overall, the cup is aromatically lighter. The flavor seems light, until the tea hit the back of my palate. WOW!! Flavors are more smokey and astringent (in a good way) than my first cup, with a lighter rice quality. Tasted even more like a toasty rice cake on the back of my palate, with a full, toasted rice flavor. My best cup yet! :))
Am I the only one who swirls and swishes the tea around & ‘round my mouth to intensify the taste & flavors of the tea?!? I also inhale oxygen into my mouth. What can I say? It helps me enhance the taste and flavors of the tea. :)) If you dare….or care…to read on, there’s more to come later. I’m not done with you yet! Well, some of you anyway.
In my third cup (45 seconds at 195), it appears that some of the smaller leaves did escape into my cup on the pour. Actually, I remember reading or hearing that if some leaves end up in your cup, it’s OK to leave them there. Oh…….when my friend Elise was in China, the Chinese would leave them in their cups. She said they left them there because it added to the overall tea experience.
The tea liqour continues to darken and the smokey aroma continues. Leaves still possess smokey/toasty aromas, with the rice character waning, cooling to reveal less smoke and more fruit (lemon fresh?). I’m also getting that fresh “distant, grass in the air” aroma. On my palate, there is less smoke, but a greater toasty/nutty astringency.
Boiling water for 2:15, reveals leaves that STILL smell of smoke and nuts, that also exhibit the fresh quality of the third cup. The flavors are fading, but still retain a good tangy green quality.
Thanks again Amy for broadening my tea experience with this delicious tea! I love teas like this where each steep reveals different qualities and flavors of the tea. :)) I’ll just have to remember to Gongfu teas on the weekends when I have more time.
I always remember my Grandma (Dad’s mom) on her birthday. She was very kind, caring and loving. She liked coffee with her fish. She was a great cook. Before we would leave on our journey home, she always baked fried apple pies special for me, because she knew I liked them so much. I always hated goodbyes (still do), but the pies would help a little. So tonight, I will have a cup of coffee, and think of her and all of the fond memories, filled with the good times we shared. :))
Cupped & Reviewed: Thursday, May 17, 2012.