July 05, 2016

Teabook Sampler

Have you ordered tea on Amazon? I did so for the first time in May placing an order from Teabook for four packets of tea. I received Silver Needle (listed as Bai Yin Zhen), Green Bud (listed as Lv Hao Ya), Oriental Beauty (Bai Hao), and Sunset Red (Xi Yang Hong)  You can read my review of some of the other teas carried by Teabook here.

Oriental Beauty

Let's start with the tea I drank first, the Oriental Beauty. This tea is from Anxi in Fujian. The dry leaves were pretty though the infused leaves revealed mixed quality. I used 195F water for three 30 second infusions. The liquor of the first steep tasted light and sweet. The second steep was the most flavorful; it was sweet, floral, and tasted of a buttered pastry.

Sunset Red 

Several days later I prepared the Sunset Red which was a new tea for me. The tea was sourced from Changde in Hunan. The dry leaves smelled of chocolate, malt, and grain. The slightly twisted leaves were a mix of dark brown and wheat and about 1/2 inch in length. The recommended temperature for this tea was 195F but I think this temperature is on the hot side. I rinsed the dry leaves then steeped them three times. The rinsed leaves smelled sweet and retained their chocolate and grain notes. The liquor from the first infusion was shiny and transparent. It was a light amber/copper color. I detected a mild chocolate and an underlying dryness. The color and flavors of the second infusion was deeper. I listed tasting chocolate, grain, and sweetness. The liquor was smooth and light with a slight dryness on the tongue. The third steep was twice as long as the previous ones at 60 seconds. The liquor remained smooth and light. The sweet chocolate aroma was still present with an emerging bark note on the back of the tongue. The last sips of this tea smelled like maple syrup.

Silver Needle

Almost a month went by before I drank another tea from my order. The preparation of the Silver Needle coincided with my tea studies of Chinese white teas. I am enrolled in a Master Tea Sommelier course with the International Tea Education Institute (ITEI). This Silver Needle was sourced from Jiangxi in Hunan. Typically Silver Needle tea is from Fujian Province. The amount of tea in the packet measured at 1.33 grams so I used my smaller gaiwan of 4 ounces. I steeped the tea using the recommended water temperature of 180F. My variable temperature kettle does not heat water to 180F so I let 185F water cool. The tea was a mix of buds and leaves colored silver, brown, and green. The inclusion of leaves in this tea indicates that it is perhaps not true 'Bai Hao' tea. I steeped the leaves three times at 1 minute, 2 minutes, and 2 minutes. The infused leaves smelled sweet, like summer hay and a bit fruity. The liquor was a pale yellow and had an aroma of sun-warmed hay with a slight toasty taste. The liquor from the second infusion had a similar flavor profile. It was light and refreshing. For the third and final steep, I used 185F water. The flavor profile remained more or less the same.

Green Bud

This is a very curious tea. It is not listed on the Teabook website. I googled 'Green Bud' and 'Lv Hao Ya' which did not yield any information about a green tea. What did show up were entries for the Keemun varieties 'Hao Ya' A and B. The leaves in the packet weighted 1.38 grams so I used my 4 ounce gaiwan. The recommended water temperature was 170F. (I let 175F water cool.) The dry leaves were twisted, curled, and measured less than 1 inch in length. They were pale and emerald green in color. The leaves smelled incredibly sweet and creamy but also of dry hay and toasted nuts and bread. The infused leaves smelled sweet, creamy, like hay and toast, and of malt. Wow! The first steep of 30 seconds yield a pale green liquor tasting of hay and toast. It had a light sweetness but the creamy smell was absent. There was a vegetal note similar to steamed asparagus. The second 30 second steep made the vegetal note more pronounced. The liquor had bright, slightly dry effect. The vegetal taste lingered on my tongue with an underlying sweetness. The liquor from the final 30 second steep was weaker with only the vegetal note still present.

The four pack assortment from Teabook is priced at $5.99 which is incredibly inexpensive. My favorite of the four teas was the Sunset Red. The feature I appreciated the most about this order was that I was introduced to new teas, the aforementioned Sunset Red and the Green Bud. What new teas have you been drinking?

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