I wanted to start my figurative tea tasting tour back where it all began, in China.
I read that the notion of drinking tea began accidentally, when the leaves of a Camellia Sinensis tree (that’s tea to you and me) happened to land into the drinking water of the emperor Shen Nung way back in 2737BC. Now regardless of whether this story is true or not, what is true is that tea has been a huge part of Chinese culture long before cropping up in any other country’s history books.
Eager to get started as soon as I could, I took to the internet to find a suitable brew to be my first subject. I must admit, I’m very new to the world of loose leaf tea. Looking at the sheer number of varieties, I felt like I’d stumbled in to a gargantuan foreign supermarket with aisle after aisle of unfathomable obscurities for my uncultured eyes to take in.
I decided upon buying a few samples, that way I could get a wide range of tea varieties without having sacks of loose leaf tea piled around my home. I came across www.adagio.uk.com, who had just what I was looking for, four tasters of Chinese black tea in their Silk Road Sampler. The delivery only took a day or so and before I knew it I was ready to get brewing!
I decided to go with the Yunnan Jig for my first foray into Chinese loose leaf tea. I had read that the drinking of tea began in the Yunnan province so it felt only right that this should be where I started. As I opened the sample, the scent came rushing out to meet me. It was earthy but soft and sweet, not entirely unknown but so much fresher and more vibrant than anything I’d come across before.
The tea was made up black leaves (unsurprisingly) but flecked with the occasional golden leaf, making it look pretty striking as it sat in my infuser. After 4 minutes of brewing (I like my tea quite strong) and with a little dash of milk, the Yunnan Jig was ready for tasting.
On first taste, that same earthiness that was apparent in the scent was clear. There was so much flavour in each sip, but still soft, delicate and in no means overpowering. I was suddenly starting to think that this was going to be a very fun blog to write, especially if all the samples were going to be this enjoyable! Adagio described the tea as “spicy”, with a “smooth cocoa mouthfeel and finish” and while I can’t begin to really imagine what that might mean due to my novice status in the tea tasting world, what I can tell is that this is a beautiful, flavourful tea which would be very easy to drink on a regular basis.
In my opinion, a great first sample. I already can’t wait to move on to the next one!
Have you tried any Yunnan teas? What should I try next? Please leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you.