I am so excited, as soon as my varnish dries I will have a nice new tea tray! Well that is not entirely true, I still need to find a cake pan or something along those lines to place under it to catch drips, but the part that the tea gear rests on is all finished. Hopefully eight coats of waterproof varnish are enough, because I am a little sick of the varnish!
Today’s tea is from Teasenz, starting off a week of looking at their teas. Starting that week is Xing Yang Mao Jian, a green tea from Xing Yang in Henan Province, China. The Mao Jian part of the tea’s name translates to Green Tip, describing its appearance, and according to Wikipedia, this tea has a 2,300 year history, impressive! Another interesting tidbit of information about this tea is its reputation of being China’s toughest tea, since during the winter they withstand the cold while the other plants have withered. But as much as I am sure all of you love learning about tea, you are probably here to know what this tea is like from an olfactory and gustatory perspective! When I snipped open the little pouch this tea came in and gave it a good sniff, the first thing I noticed is how brothy, almost meaty the leaves smell, how intriguing! Once I poured the leaves I planned on steeping into my official sniffing dish, the leaves still retained their hint of broth, but it became more of a vegetable broth with strong notes of spinach, nuttiness, and fresh vegetation. There is a faint finish of sweetness like roasted chestnuts, the aroma of this tea certainly has a strong presence, I could sniff it for hours.
Into the gaiwan the little leaves go! After a quick steeping the aroma of the leaves is still strongly vegetal with spinach, bok choy, and a hint of kale, but there is a much stronger sweetness now. There is still a bit of the broth aroma but it is faint, allowing the other aromas to take the lead. The liquid is sweet, almost fruity, with a hint of spiciness that reminds me of spicebush. There is also a vegetal aroma that is more delicate and quite nice.
The first steeping’s taste starts out very vegetal, almost a bitter green taste of kale, spinach, and bok choy, but that very quickly fades to a fruity sweetness. The fruitiness reminds me of very delicate pear nectar with a hint of spicebush. The mouthfeel is great, it is one of those teas that tickles the mouth from the delicate hairs that are present on the leaf, one of my favorite things about drinking fuzzy teas.
For the second steep the aroma is a blend of savory broth and sweet fruit. I hestitate to call a tea that is Chinese Umami, but this tea’s aroma has one of the most clear Umami aromas I have ever run into, that alone has the power to enamor this tea to me. Tasting the tea I notice there is absolutely no bitterness as before, no kale, just refreshing bok choy vegetal and savory broth that fades to a delicate nutty sweetness at the end. Letting the tea cool causes the taste to become even more savory giving it almost mushroom (I am specifically thinking of shitake) quality to the vegetal broth taste.
The aroma of the third steep is still brothy, but now there are notes of citrus and pepper. The taste is refreshingly light, savory bok choy (I should specify that is is definitely the taste of steamed bok choy rather than fresh) and light vegetal lettuce, this fades to a delicate peppery taste and a tiny touch of smokiness. If you let this steep cool you will notice a delicate sweetness at the finish.
For the fourth and final steep the aroma is faintly sweet and vegetal with a tiny hint of fruit and a tiny hint of pepper. The taste starts off sweet with a hint of cherry and a nice note of lettuce which lingers until the peppery finish. This tea is unlike any green tea I have had before, I will go on a limb and say it is unlike any tea I have had before and I love it! I sometimes forget how unique Chinese green teas can be since (usually) if I want a green tea I go for a Japanese green, but this tea reminded me how delicate yet complex they can be. My favorite aspect of this tea is how refreshingly savory it was, it is the perfect taste for when you want a tea that has a presence but not a sweet one.
For blog and photos (including the new tea tray!): http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/05/teasenz-xin-yang-mao-jian-tea-tea-review.html