Raven’s Teaview Snapshot
|"The tea's wide, smoother leaves afford a bit more mature natured green with a sweet side. "|
With slimmer pickings of tea shops here in Canada, next to our American kin, it’s always fantastic to stumble upon a new tea company, to always wondering how I’ve missed them. So Teayama was quite the eureka of a find which, became even more golden upon finding their wide array of tea of all kinds, including flavoured blends. Despite being among China’s famous ten teas, Tai ping hou kui is not an everyday find either so, it seemed a fitting intro to Teayama’s selections.
The leaves of Tai Ping Hou Kui are always amusing as a two leaf and a bud pluck that is pressed flat as if ironed. Although they are frequently imprinted with a characteristic cross hatch pattern, as vestiges of the basket pressing, Teayama’s version are smoother with a light dotting on one side, displaying the streaks of olive green, tannish cream and brown hues, like an artist’s canvas. With some vees and more single silhouettes, the leaves are long and wider, about half an inch wide, seeming a bit more brown tinged than often seen. They are fragrant though, with an unexpected scent that bears some reminders of sheng pu erh. A touch wiry, the bouquet has a figgy, plum-like metallic sweetness and slight caked hay quality. The scent is quite fruity with an aged calm perhaps, suited to the leaves’ pronounced stature. They rise to salute in the glass as they brew, as Teayama kindly suggests, using one and a half grams, which makes quite the cluster of leggy leaves. Once steeped, the golden tea is moderately fragrant, awakening more of its green tea heart although, it isn’t as green a scent. Instead, the scent retains the sweetness and slight metallic of the dried leaves, commingling with a salty, almost smoky quality, that brings to mind canned bamboo or palm hearts. It’s an interesting scent with a warm peacefulness but it doesn’t seem so lively. A sip finds a similar paradigm, as the tea invites with a smooth feel that easily envelopes one’s tongue from the medium body yet, the taste has less presence. It’s a light, mellow flavour with a tinge of metal and a plum-like finish, leaving a slight saltiness on one’s tongue. Although there’s little aftertaste, the tea builds with a faint piney echo. The tea does have an ease in the relaxed flavour but doesn’t really have the draw befitting its langly leaves.
Into a second infusion of the leaves yields a darker brew that develops more body to its scent, adding a tinge of brothiness. As it retains a hint of sweet and tinny notes, the aroma is reminiscent of canned artichoke liquor while drier notes lend a slight chalkiness. The tea remains smooth, although a tad drier, riding the mild palm hearts or cooked bean sprouts kind of flavour. The tea’s flow seems less easy and slightly blunting while it finishes with a tingle on the tongue and a light wave of saltiness.
At one glance at the leaves nonchalant pose, it is hard not to try for a third steep. Although the tea is paler, it retains a light scent, still somewhat sweet and salty as it brings to mind soaked raisins and cornflakes with a powdery splash. The medium body is just a touch wiry, continuing to have a mellow elemental tinged vegetal, now similar to cooked celery leaves and reeds, that progresses to fresh celery leaves as it builds.
Just as Teayama was an unexpected find, Teayama’s Tai Ping Hou Kui brings it’s own unexpected twist. Perhaps their description of the tea as having a dark rustic tone should have been a nod to the tea’s more mature ilk. While the tea does have an amiable nature with a sweet bouquet and easy flavour, it’s not as green spirited as other Tai Ping Hou Kui’s I’ve had. That could be a good thing for some or apt for times when one wants to shake a leg with a mellower brew.
— To purchase Teayama Tai Ping Hou Kui, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.