This sample was provided by Teavivre. The tea originates from Dong Ding Mountain. I opened the generous bag and poured out a spoonful of leaf to examine. This looks like little pieces of volcanic rock covered by moss or maybe petrified tea pebbles. It is dark gray/green and rough textured as if it is painted rocks. I am going on about it because it is really different. The scent at first makes me think peppery. Of course it’s really the ginseng. It also has notes of oats or some kind of grain.
I brought 12oz of water to a roiling boil and poured into my press with about 4g (one good spoon) of nuggets. I steeped for two minutes. When the timer went off some of the leaf was dancing on the surface and some was on the bottom. None of it was completely unfurled. Interesting, there is a light roasted aroma coming out of the press – this wasn’t even hinted at in the scent of the dry leaf. The brew looked golden with a light green tint, in the press. Once poured it became a light orange in the cup.
As the cup sits to cool a bit, the smell of ginseng keeps catching my attention. It is beginning to make me nervous. Is this going to be an overdone flavor extremophile?
I take a sip and must admit I am confused, in a good way. The ginseng is mainly present at the front of the sip, then fades only to return at the end of the sip and is felt at the back of the mouth and throat. It is done with balance. It leaves the mouth with a wonderful cooling sensation. The roasted smell of the wet leaf is a very subdued hint in mid sip. Given that this is from Dong Ding mountain, I was expecting heavy oolong floral notes. Instead this tastes closer to a green tea but not bright and grassy or floral. The best I can do to describe this is it is like a lightly roasted green tea and grain soaked in milk with some ginseng sprinkled on top.
The second cup, also at 2 minutes, is darker. The wet leaf smells like steak. Mmmm steak. This cup is tastier to me. The roastiness comes out more and the ginseng is less pronounced. The sweet floral notes I was expecting are now in the aftertaste taste. A good cuppa. Not that they taste the same but it reminds me of Gurman’s Pepper Mango green tea.
Cup 3 is back to being orange in color and is weaker in flavor but still pretty good.
I highly like this. I can’t say I love it at the moment. More tastings are required. I am fascinated by how different it is from my expectations.