Monday, May 23, 2011

Taste Test: Yellow Bud yellow tea from It's About Tea

I'm going to be upfront with you and say that I'm not particularly experienced with tea tasting as of yet. I mean, I drink the darn stuff every day, but as far as really serious flavour analysis goes, I'm a bit green.

I hope to change that, though, and these Taste Tests are going to be my training. If you are a beginner teahead like me, these posts will (hopefully) help you out in your own tasting adventures, as well. Let's all learn together, shall we?

Today's tea is interesting for a few reasons:

1) It's a yellow tea, which is probably the least known of the six tea types.

2) It was very much an impulse buy (a very pricey impulse buy).

3) Only one people of the six or so regulars in my tea club had any strong feelings about it one way or the other.

It's very odd, at least to me, to have a tea that looks and tastes so weird arouse no opinion whatsoever. The one person it seemed to get to excitedly exclaimed "That's so interesting!", but that was about the only reaction the tea got. Everybody else was just kind of "meh".

So I shelved the Yellow Bud for awhile, and promptly forgot about it until I was scanning TeaChat and noticed a thread about being disappointed with yellow tea. One of the suggestions made was to use hotter water when brewing the tea to try and wring more out more flavour. "Why the hell not try it?" I thought to myself.

So that's what I did this morning. Up until now, I've always treated the Yellow Bud like a green or white tea: never even thinking of bringing boiling water near it. Today I decided to hell with it, and let the kettle reach a good boil before infusing the leaves. I also used a lot more leaf than I normally would, because why not go for broke on a so-far underwhelming tea?

One of the things I had noticed about Yellow Bud before today was a weird salty butter note, not unpleasant, but definitely unexpected. I tried not to have any expectations going into this session, but I really REALLY wanted to taste that butteriness again. Unfortunately, I didn't.

What I DID taste was a more floral, woody cup, with the barest hint of sweetness on the back of my teeth. It wasn't nearly as smooth and vegetal as the Lu An Gua Pian green tea I had after it, and it wasn't as sweet and fruity as the Silver Needle white tea which I am so fond of. It was just kind of in the middle, having elements of white and green tea without doing any of them particularly well. Even the mouthfeel was insubstantial, vanishing from my tongue like a ghost without leaving anything behind. Five infusions, and not one of them was interesting.

Somewhere out there is a yellow tea that will rock my socks; of that there is no question. And it's unfair to write off a whole genre of tea based off of a few tastings of but one member of that genre. But for now, I think I'll be keeping this tea in the closet when the Tea Clubbers come to visit. It just doesn't have anything to say.

*I was going to post some pictures of the brew here, but none of them really turned out that well. Sorry 'bout that. I'll use my actual photo camera next time, instead of my video camera

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