|"Malty, peppery, chocolaty, but not abusively so."|
Though I have no clue what prompted someone to create compressed balls of tea, I do know the etymology of the name "Dragon Pearl." Pearls are an integral part of the myths and iconography of Indian culture, and by extension the Buddhist cultures influenced by Indian Vedic traditions. Pearls symbolizing purity, health, and power were associated with the Dragons of China, Japan, and the surrounding areas. As everything associated with Dragons is automatically cool, someone put two and two together, and has known naught but awesomeness ever since.
Teavana, and other tea retailers, have missed the woo bus on this, why no mention of this anywhere is beyond me. Have I fallen behind the times? Are Dragons no longer cool? All I could find on Teavana's site is the following: "This fragrant and rare hand-rolled tippy black tea from the Yunnan province unfurls to release a smooth-bodied taste with sweet, chocolaty, and malty undertones. Good for multiple infusions. This is a perfect morning and afternoon tea." Yeah, not one reference to a dragon.
Enough about dragons (cept, well, DRAGONS) and on to the tea, which I've been sipping since I got the current batch of samples, but which I had not yet bothered to write about. I keep making a single ball in a small tea bowl, and then I get distracted before I can bother to write about it. I have nothing else to do tonight, so I tossed my final orbs of black, gold, and crimson goodness into my wrought iron teapot, and rinsed out the snazzy Japanese teacup my mother recently bought me. Despite always mocking those who rave about vintage tea ware, I have to say, a cup with a history does make a difference. It was bought by a man stationed in Japan, and it appears to be one of the more traditional cups which was made with a handle so American tourists would actually use them. Its pretty great, and it did improve the taste a bit.
Yunnan is something of a hot province, producing many great rolled and loose leaf teas, from Black, to Green, To Oolong. This tea shows the same tradition of hand rolled craftsmanship, unfurling into burlap coloured strips that drift to the bottom of the dark amber drink. Up until this final tasting I brewed this in a cup, and sipped when the leaves had dropped to the bottom. So when it comes to ease of drinking I can't imagine even a teabag being simpler. Just toss a pearl in a cup and wait for the leaves to finish and settle at the bottom of the cup.
Like a buxom young receptionist this tea was attractive, aromatic, and desirable, but in a relaxed approachable way. Its rich maltiness sooths the tongue and relaxes the mind, while the currents of red pepper and a faint chocolate finish lend interest to it, and makes this a great blend to accompany a meal, or a good book, but not grand enough to distract you from something terrible like, say, a Tom Clancy novel.
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