With thirteen teas in all it took a little over 2 hours to go through them all. Tao steeped most of the teas using a Professional Tea Tasting sets. Each set consists of a cup with a lid and a small bowl. This set works similarly to a gaiwan when a fair cup is used with it. In competitions and for tea merchants this is the set that is used to pick the teas which win or get purchased.
Tao brewed the teas for us using these sets in a certain manner. If you have been part of a Chinese tea ceremony before, you will recall a part where the leaves are added to a warmed vessel and shaken. This releases the aroma of the tea. Tao used the Tasting set in this manner during our tasting. It increased the intensity of the teas aroma for us to determine which teas to purchase in the end.
After this step Tao then added more water to steep the leaves. After sufficient time the cup set was turned into the bowl to catch the brew. Once all the tea had left the cup some leaves were placed on top of the overturned lid to display the leaves. We then used a Chinese soup spoon to spoon the tea into our cups. This worked especially well for the lighter teas such as the Silver Needles.
At this very moment of finishing up this post I am enjoying a cup of Jun Shan Yin Zhen, a yellow tea. Yellow tea production is just about one step further from white tea, because of this additional time most places do not produce yellow tea. As well the way to create such tea is not being passed down from lack of interest from current generations.
To explain the extra step required to make this tea, white tea is let to ferment covered which changes the colour of the tea to a “yellow” hue. Te resulting tea when steeped has a bit of a “fermented taste” which comes across as a little spicy as well. For those of you who want a lighter tea but has a bit more body then certainly try this tea out before this tea disapeares.
Tao has two big tastings a year, spring and for the Anniversary of his shop. Look out for the Anniversary tasting outing in December! Support your local tea shops in your area by checking out this year’s spring teas.
Here is the list of teas we sampled: Silver needle Top grade, Silver needle old bush, Jun Shan Yin Zhen, Anji Bai Cha, Bi Luo Chun, Long Jing, Phoenix Dan Cong- Honey Orchid, Tie Guan Yin, Jin Ping, Purple Puerh, and Shui jing gui.
*** A link to Tao's blog is to the right! Check it out!