Not-So-Mainstream Chinese Teas

I’m currently going through an online Tea Basics Certification course with Tea Geek. I really appreciate how meticulous he is about presenting tea knowledge and has proved to be an invaluable resource. Part of this course package is about tea sampling and I was totally stoked when this lovely box of tea stuff came in my mail earlier this week.

I’m beginning my first round of tea tasting with the white, yellow and pu-erh tea samples as I’m the least familiar with them. So here are my “notes”, being the hardworking student that I am :

Silver Needle (白毫银针): I really love white tea in general but I did take a while to get used to the subtle taste of this premium white tea. Most people feel that it just tastes like hot water the first time they try it…but after a while, you’ll definitely come to appreciate the sweet, steamed chestnut notes of this light tea. Also, try not to take this tea with strong-tasting food like chocolate or fried foods. One way to tell if white tea is of a good quality is to have a feel of the infused leaves – they should feel juicy and plump. And in general, for any type of tea leaves, if there’s still an aroma even when the infused leaves have cooled off, then you have yourself a winner.(This particular sample wins on both counts yay!)

Meng Ding Huang Ya (濛頂黃芽): I’m the most clueless about yellow tea and even when reading about it, I’m still a little fuzzy about how it’s different from green tea as they roughly have the same profile. However, I think a simple way to categorise this is to think of it as a close cousin of green tea, just that it has gone through some slight oxidation. In general, I find the taste of yellow tea quite flat, though the plummy, non-grassy notes may appeal to some people. Perhaps I just need to expose myself more to this tea to appreciate it better.

Raw or Sheng () Pu-Erh: For some strange reason, I found this to be a stronger, earthier version of the yellow tea I just drunk. I much prefer this though because unlike the yellow tea, there’s definitely more depth and this lovely, long finish which leaves a surprisingly sweet aftertaste. I likey this very muchie! But now I’m wondering how I can store such pu-erh cakes in my humid, messy home (see random pair of jeans in above picture) such that it ages with grace.

Ripe or Shu () Pu-Erh: Immediately upon sipping this, I’m brought back to my childhood days of Sunday dim sum lunches – in particular, one Sunday afternoon where I was suffering from stomach flu and wasn’t sure I was able to keep my lunch in. My mum gave me some pu-erh tea to sip and I immediately felt better after that (though a few hours later, I was practically a Merlion). That being said, I still haven’t quite fallen in love with the taste of this type of dark type of pu-erh yet. It really just seems like drinking liquid soil to me. However, I think this is a good “transition” tea for coffee drinkers.

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