Being a fan of tea, I was excited to try out what the tea world has to offer. Recently, I’ve purchased the emperor’s sampler, which consisted of Dragonwell, Gyokuro, Jasmine Chun Hao, and Anhui Emerald Seed.
Dragonwell or Longjing tea is one of the most renowned tea in China. It’s a pan roasted tea from the area of Longjing Villages near Hangzhou, China. The most conservative connoisseurs insist the authentic Dragonwell tea comes from West Lake area in Hangzhou. I don’t really get the thought process behind this other than maybe Dragonwell tea from other areas may have different environment that would yield different taste. Since I am not an expert connoisseur, I probably wouldn’t tell the differences.
For the taste, I would say it’s very subtle. If I wasn’t keeping my mind to the present taste and smell, I might have easily mistaken the drink as hot water instead. Supposedly, it’s has a nutty and buttery texture with taste reminiscent of sweet flavor and roasted corn. To me, I could detect that and thought it was slightly grassy but that’s it.
Gyokuro (Jade Dew)
Gyokuro is one of the highest grade of tea from Japan you could commonly find in tea stores. Compared to common Sencha, the leaves are shaded from the sun. From the shading processes, the chemical reactions within the the tea would result in a sweet flavor and a very green color.
It has a similar taste to Sencha with slight grassy finish and not as subtle as the Dragonwell tea. No traces of astringency could be found, which I was glad since Gyokuro is expensive considering the predominance of minimum of $20 for two ounces found in the market. The downside to this tea would be my undeveloped palate, which couldn’t discern this Gyokuro from a Sencha tea I had. Considering the prices of the tea, I might be reluctant to buy Gyokuro in the future.
Jasmine Chun Hao
Jasmine Chun Hao originates from the Fujian province in China. The tea is harvested and in the spring, then stored until the summer, coinciding with start of jasmine blooms. The tea is infused with fresh blooms every night. This process repeats until the tea reaches the desired level of aroma. The final process involves the tea retired to dry out the moisture.
The tea overall is floral in taste and scent with a perfumy smell and a noticeable jasmine taste. Although the taste was detectable, it is somewhat light and not astringent at all. I was satisfied that the tea matches up to its name unlike some flower oriented teas. This is something I would expect blooming flower teas to taste and smell like. Unfortunately, sometimes the best attribute of blooming teas would be their aesthetic qualities when the balls bloom in hot water rather than their taste.
Anhui Emerald Seed (Lu An Melon Seed)
Anhui Emerald Seed is considered one of the top ten famous teas in China according to some lists. Originated from Anhui province, the tea is harvested in a later date than most teas, which earlier harvests are prized. Dating back to the Tang Dynasty, it was described as a “Superior Tea” in the first book on tea and a tribute tea in Ming Dynasty.
This tea has reminiscence of a vegetal taste compared to the teas with sweet finish. Supposedly, one could detect seed flavor in the tea though it was subtle to me. I also think the tea was a bit astringent but not enough to stop me from enjoying it.
Overall, I liked the teas I’ve experienced from this sample. I would rate the sampler as a 7.5 / 10. Positive points included overall lack of bitterness in the taste as well as the “zen” feeling from drinking them. Although I had a bit of trouble comparing teas due to my beginner’s palate, each has its own distinct qualities and I was definitely not buying the same two teas in the package. Negative points would be low number of steep times. All of them lost their flavor by the time I went for second rounds in infusing the leaves again. Although this negative point may be affected by the way I prepared the teas since some teas require a nuanced way to steep.
Would I buy the teas again? Maybe. There are other teas I would like to try but until I get a craving, it would take some time before considering buying them again.