December 13, 2016
Story of My Tea - Shou Puerh Tuo Cha & Subscription Box
The Story of My Tea subscription box is unassuming. It is a simple white box tied with a simple ribbon. The contents of the box depart from the external simplicity. First, the tea pouches are designed and arranged to mimic a card catalogue. I have fond memories of library card catalogues. Second, the box included four straight teas and one tisane. (Each box will contain five loose leaf teas.) There is some overlap in the source of the teas but overall there is a broad representation across tea-producing regions. There are two subscriptions options: Camellia sinensis which contains straight and blended teas and Teas of the World which includes tisanes. Third, the tea pouches have transparent windows so you can see what the teas look like without breaking the seals. Fourth, the packets are printed with country of origin, steeping instructions, and tasting notes. I would like to see more detailed origin data on future packets. The Story of My Tea box I received is a beta version. There are a couple of technological components to this box. Each tea pouch has a QR code which links to that tea's profile. You can track the teas you've drunk through the Story of My Tea app.
So far I have tasted two of the teas in my sample box. I steeped one of the Dark Rose hearts; my first "golden flowers" tea! I don't know what this type of tea is supposed to taste like but I did detect an sweet earthiness that's different from what you get with a shou. If you like rose flavored or scented teas you might like the Dark Rose. The first tea I prepared was the shou tuo cha which I shared on Instagram and review below.
The instructions for this tea were steep a tuo in 12 ounces of 212F water for 1-3 minutes. After a quick rinse, I infused the tuo three times: 1m in 12 oz; 2m in 6 oz; 3m in 6 oz. The dry ball smelled like bell pepper. The liquor from the firs infusion was a clear, dark amber color with earthy, sweet, and slightly mineral tastes. A green banana skin scent emerged as the liquor cooled. The tea had a light mouthfeel but the flavor stuck to the roof of my mouth.
The leaves after the second infusion smelled like beets. The liquor was much darker than from the first infusion. I could not see the bottom of my drinking cup. The liquor had more depth. I tasted the flavors in layers. This infusion brought out cocoa/dark chocolate notes. The mouthfeel was creamier with a nutty end note and an aftertaste of cherries. The third infusion was primarily earthy. With the exception of a chalky effect, the third cup did not become more complex. My cup was stained with a caramelized brown sugar scent.
What distinguishes the Story of My Tea box from others? On the tea side, they are offering a wide variety of straight, loose leaf tea and in an amount that allows multiple sessions. On the technology side, they are enabling tea drinkers to record and map the teas they've drunk. I have not used the app so I can't speak to the success of this feature. I would categorize the teas I've drunk -- the shou and the "golden flowers" -- as easy drinkers. I can't talk about value because I don't have expertise in this area. If you are curious about this subscription box, check out the Story of My Tea website (as of this writing, the company's Kickstarter has not been launched).