Friday, May 27, 2016

Review: Teavivre Organic Tian Mu Mao Feng Green tea

It's a great time of year for tea drinking (ok, when is it not a great time of year for tea drinking?). Many spring teas have been released, and I recently received a package of fresh teas from Teavivre. It just so happens that I needed a Chinese green tea to review for a tea class that I'm taking through ITEI, and I decided to try Teavivre's Organic Tian Mu Mao Feng. Teavivre describes this tea as pure tea buds and new leaves. In fact, Mao Feng refers to the fuzzy tea buds. This is an important thing to note for later in the post.

I've been delving deeper into tea tasting through my class, and I think the more structured tastings are helping me to identify more characteristics in a tea. Since this is a Chinese tea, we decided to use a gaiwan. The leaves had a lot of flavor to share with me, and I was able to get quite a few steeps out of them.

Teavivre lists the harvest time as April 14th, 2016. This tea is from Tian Mu mountain in Hangzhou City. I've had very good experiences with the teas I've had from Teavivre in the past. They package the teas in well sealed vacuum bags, and they have a nice selection.

The dry leaves are a deep, dark foresty green with a little bit of white fuzz scattered about. The leaves are small, and tightly twisted. This tea is supposed to be processed the same day that it's picked. Processing the tea quickly to stop the oxidation causes this tea to have a nice deep green hue, darker than many other types of Chinese greens I've had.

I've been learning about the different grades of Chinese tea, and this one appears to be close to a 'grade 1'. Special grade teas are young buds with the first appearing young leaf. They're plucked before the Qingming festival, which is an ancestral memorial day holiday in China that happens in April on the 15th day of the spring equinox (I think this year it landed on April 4th). The grade 1 teas are 1 bud and 1 leaf, plucked before April 21st. Since this tea has more (tender) leaves than buds (but does contain some buds), and was plucked on April 14th, it probably falls closer to a grade 1.

The dry leaf has a raw green bean aroma, it is sweet and every so slightly floral. It smells very fresh! My first infusion produced a pale yellow tea. The infused leaves had a brisk aroma and a dark green, fresh smell. After examining the wet leaves, I was surprised to see a lack of buds.

The first steep had no astringency at all. It was gently vegetal and delicate. After a few steeps a bit of astringency emerged, which could be because I upped the steep time by a few seconds. There were hints of dryness but the vegetal notes were still there. There was a soft sweetness as well. It became a little more floral as the steeps went on, and kept that fresh vegetal green flavor. This combination brought yellow dandelion flowers to my mind. I could see them as I sipped. It brought back childhood memories of sitting in the spring grass, making chains of dandelion flowers for my friends to wear. This is a medium bodied tea with a beautiful long finish. I tasted it long after I sipped!

As I mentioned, upon inspecting the infused leaves I was hard pressed to find the tell-tale mao feng buds. I found a scant few, and they weren't attached to the leaves. Since Teavivre doesn't mention anything about the grade or quality of the tea, this isn't much of an issue. I'm surprised by the lack of buds, but I still think this is a tasty, enjoyable spring tea. This tea is light, yet flavorful enough to drink all afternoon long, even on the hottest days. Thank you to Teavivre for providing this sample!

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