Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Xue Ya Ballad

Tea: Xue Ya Ballad
Vendor: Adagio Teas
Price: $9/ 3 oz.
Source: Keemun, China
Vendor Description: An early spring harvest green - unusual for the Keemun region - this tea features gentle chestnut notes and complex fruit-like, mellow sweetness with a delicate yellow cup color. Once you have heard its lovely notes, you will return to it again and again.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is dark green with some silver hairs to it. Overall the colors of the leaf are rather muted and dull. They are relatively long leaves, with a thin twisting to them. No notable aromas to the dry leaf though.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5oz, 185F, 45s

1st Infusion: This tea has a yellow green hue to it. It is lightly murky with a sharp and distinctively Chinese green aroma to it. It can best be described as being vegetal in nature. The tea has some early marine flavors which transition into a pan fired sharpness. There is no aftertaste to speak of, but the core of the flavor is rather bold. It feels somewhat complicated, but at the same time a bit muddled.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 30s, 185F

2nd Infusion: This infusion has a bolder, stronger yellow color to it. Overall the color is much more intense. It again is lightly murky. This time around though the tea exhibited a medium sense of astringency, but it lacks the marine hues of the first. There is a strong central flavor to be found here with some strong roasted notes to it. It feels very much like a Long Jing without the creaminess.

Rating: 5/10

Conclusion: Overall a fairly average tea, not too expensive, but not too fabulous either. It would probably make for a good staple Chinese green tea if you're looking for one, but personally I would like to stick to something a bit more fantastic.

Black Dragon Pearls

Tea: Black Dragon Pearls
Vendor: Adagio Teas
Price: $19/5 oz.
Source: Yunnan, China
Vendor Description: Hailing from the Yunnan province, this black tea version of the popular Dragon Pearl is naturally sweet and smooth with a touch of earthiness. Comprised of only the highest quality leaves and buds, expertly rolled into a large pearl-like shape. Subtle cocoa notes whisper gently as each pearl unfurls delivering a superior tea experience not to be missed. We suggest using 2-3 Dragon Pearls per cup for a sublime tea drinking experience.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is rather interesting. It consists of black and yellow balls. They're about the size of gumballs, weighing about 1g each. They are rather compressed looking and much larger than jasmine pearls. They have the golden appearance that some Yunnan teas are known for (Yunnan Gold for example). There is a very faint aroma to the balls, it strangely reminds me of Nestea instant powdered iced tea.

1st Infusion Parameters: 3.13g., 5oz, 208F, 5 min

1st Infusion: The tea has a dark brown, red hue to it. The infused leaf makes it apparent that the balls are just compressed leaf. They are not from a single triplet like most jasmine pearls are, nor are they bound together like presentation teas. The tea has a very subdued aroma to it, not making much of an impression at all. Overall the tea feels subtle, yet very flavorful. It slowly opens up into a very bodied taste. It is very mellow and smooth. There is no bitterness or astringency to it, which is rather surprising for a black tea.

Rating: 8/10

Conclusion: While I wasn't really expecting much from this tea, I was rather surprised. I had expected it to be more novelty in the pearls than a solid flavor, but the flavor proved out over some of the more expensive Yunnan Gold teas that I have had in the past. It is smooth and enjoyable for when you want something that's got some power to it, but doesn't ask for sugar or milk.