These are the final tasting notes for our six new premium Chinese green teas. Although this tea is not the highest grade we've begun carrying, nor is it anywhere close to being the most famous or popular, it has some interesting characteristics and acts as an excellent example of some of Chinese green teas' greatest qualities. This Zhejiang province tea is so-named
because the dry leaves resemble young bamboo shoots (although I have spoken with a customer who swore that it tastes just like bamboo--an observation I can't really corroborate). Like our other teas, it's brimming with juicy, fresh spring flavor and is beautiful to behold as it steeps. Why is this tea a great example of some of Chinese green teas' greatest qualities? First off, it's a great value--cheaper than some of the more well-known examples we've been featuring, but still a prime example of the quality that can be found in true spring harvest Chinese greens--something a lot of people in the West haven't actually experienced! Second, it's a reminder that not all great Chinese green teas are famous! Sure, Dragonwell and Bi Luo Chun and the others get a lot of publicity, but the fact is that there are countless premium green teas grown in China, all with special characteristics and all worthy of attention. This makes the world of Chinese green tea one that can be explored almost limitlessly, which is a big part of the fun!
On to the tasting notes. Gong fu brewing of this Chinese green was a real treat--the first infusion yielded a light, almost straw-like sweetness that I felt most at the top of my mouth. The second infusion revealed fuller body and a bright fulfillment of the straw/hay-like notes seen in the first. I also tasted a characteristic fresh legume flavor in the aftertaste, which lingered exceptionally well. The third infusion continued to develop, with an even fuller (almost sticky with juice) body and a darker feeling overall. The fourth came up a bit short, showing that, although it's a great value, a higher grade would probably feature a bit more durability. This tea also fared very well in competition brewing--very little bitterness or harshness was brought out by the hotter, longer brewing parameters, although the tea's flavor--which delicately danced between vegetal and sweetly straw-like in gong fu brewing--came off as a bit less subtle and dignified. What really surprised me about all six of these Chinese greens was their (varying) abilities to still taste good after being abused by hot water and too-long of a steep. It just goes to show that high-grade green tea not only tastes more complex, it's generally more flexible as well.
This Bamboo Shoot green tea was an excellent reminder that the quality of spring-harvest Chinese green tea is not only limited to the 10 Famous Teas, and an intriguing incentive to keep exploring lesser-known greens. In September we'll be featuring Indian Black Teas (we extended the Chinese green tea feature because the new teas arrived late), so look forward to a few posts regarding Indian black teas, including tasting notes for a brand new spring flush Darjeeling from the Makaibari estate.