Review: Drink the Leaf Clouds and Mist

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Raven’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"The tea pulls one in with its gliding, slightly oily medium body and good intensity of fir and spinach flavours that linger with light butter. Uncomplicated and without any dryness, the tea is easy drinking yet the texture seems most engaging with its silky feel."
Raven’s Teaview: 6.4/10
Other Teaviews: Troy gave it 7/10, Chelsy gave it 8.7/10, Geoff gave it 4.1/10, Sophie gave it 8.1/10, Katie gave it 6.6/10, CJ gave it 9/10, Christopher gave it 8/10, Samantha gave it 8/10
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drinkleafcloudsmistWhat kind of tea do angels drink? Such important questions are the kind that surface around three o’clock when desperately in need of a cup of tea between what navel lint really is and where Waldo might be today. Surely one must need some refreshment flapping from cloud to cloud and keeping up one’s halo positioned just so. And through the fog, it hit me: Clouds and Mist, or Yun Wu, what more celestial sounding tea could there be? Not only is a seemingly perfect drink for the angels or perhaps because of it, Clouds and Mist tea is also one of China’s ten famous teas. Most commonly, the tea is grown not in heaven but on the Lu Mountain of Jiangxi province in China. After feeling a bit devilish these days, it seemed a must try. Thus I was on cloud nice to find the tea at Drink the Leaf at such a dreamy price for the perfect opportunity to live out the afternoon musings with a view of the angel’s cup.
Despite being wrapped up in thoughts of angels' lofty edens, the tea is decidedly terrestrial as my first look of the leaves unearths a garden of earthly delights, squiggling to and fro. The dark army green threads or filaments look almost black with a matte finish to their one inch forms. Like the silvery lining of every cloud, a few greyish silver buds catch the light among the whole wiry leaves, substantial stems and few small pieces of olive green open leaves. Almost anxious looking in their twisting array, the leaves seem more perhaps where the secret lies to the angel’s serenity than full of their calm.
Yet one can almost feel surrounded by soft fluffy clouds with a view of the misty mountains below from the scent of the leaves. A downiness gives a fuzzy, delicacy to the medium scent that speaks most of the forest, lightly floral and dewy green, to remind me of florist ferns with a touch of raw kale.
Charged with such energy, the leaves seem so eager to brew, so I steeped two teaspoons of the tea for two and a half minutes at 175°F. Drink the Leaf advises a two minute infusion for milder flavour and two and a half for a more buttery cup without any recommendations on the amounts. Since I tend to prefer stronger teas, I opted for two and a half minutes with the kettle fresh full of mist.
After infusion, the tea harkens with a halo from the wheat like tones of the pale yellow brew that are deep and cheery. Yet my focus quickly shifts to the fluttering, sweetly dark, green aroma of the cup which seems grounding. The savour of the smell suggests green beans but it isn’t as hearty or open with higher peaks of fir or dill. Climbing the mountain further with a sip, the tea pulls one up with its gliding, slightly oily medium body and good intensity of flavour. There’s no mist at the peak but a pleasant view of the mountain top with the tea’s cut grass and spinach taste that falls into a medium aftertaste of pine and canned green beans at the back of one’s throat and breath. Together, the vegetal flavours don't seem as open to make the tea overly savoury, leaning more towards the conifer and mineral green flavours through the cup. Yet there is a touch of saltiness lacing each sip that combined with the glistening body gives a lingering light butteriness to the flavour and a bit of a brothy feel. The levity of the straightforward flavours without any dryness are easy drinking yet the texture seems more engaging with its silky feel, if slightly trodding.
After the first cup, the leaves seem barely wet, still perked to brew almost dry looking. Yet the second infusion is just as peppy, donning an almost iridescent yellow shade with a few particulates. The second cup more readily invites scenic landscapes with its grassy meadow like flavours that seem to carry a mineral richness underneath like cooked parsley or collards. It’s a flavourful cup still, seeming slightly saltier, although the body subsides. However, the tea does gain a touch of dryness to give it some nice movement that also leaves a trace of chalkiness tinged by dandelion flowers in one's mouth. The aftertaste remains generous resonating with fir and iron rich vegetal flavours in one's breath.
From a third infusion, one is back amongst the clouds as the tea seems to fade like the ether. The cup still shimmers gold, almost silent to the nose and whispers of collards and moss in the brew. Yet the cup may almost be enjoyed for the delayed tingle of butter on one's tongue in the aftertaste. After brewing the tea using one teaspoon or two, I found I preferred brewing two teaspoons for a more generous cup while I also found brewing one teaspoon didn't seem to last to three infusions. I increased the time to three and three and a half minutes for the second and third cups while the tea also seemed forgiving to over-steeping in the first brew.
From the hearty flavour and fullness of Drink the Leaf’s Clouds and Mist, I’m not so sure it would be an angels sip but it does seem to honour the name and the mountain landscape. Plus, at such a pretty penny, it would be a dandy everyday tea for us mere mortals with enough substance to keep one's head out of the clouds but still able to afford a slice of heaven.

— To purchase Drink the Leaf Clouds and Mist, 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.

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