This month we ask tea-loving artisan retailer, Steve, to put our Green Tea Tasting Selection to the test. This collection includes Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, Sri Lankan and Indian varieties of Ronnefeldt loose-leaf tea, all with their own distinctive character and flavour.

What did Steve think of the green teas? Here’s his verdict:

Ding Gu Da Fang: produced from the first light-green leaves of the spring harvest – a tea with an elegant, soft-flowery taste

Steve says: “I found this to be similar to the Lung Ching, but with a darker liquor colour, slightly more astringency, and a broader range of flavour notes. I liked its malty, vegetal aroma and smokey hints.”

Yuncui: one of the best handcrafted teas from the Wokou Garden. A fragrant and slightly tart tea, with a slight sweetness to finish.

Steve says: “I would describe this as having a light, slightly smokey chestnut flavour, with subtle undertones of sweetness and a dry finish on the palate. Its vegetal characteristics reminded me of the Lung Ching.”

Gu Zhang Mao Jian: a rare Chinese green tea that is only picked on a few days each year. Slightly sweet in taste, with a unique character.

Steve says: “This tea has a fine leaf appearance, leading to a clean, light-green liquid when brewed. Its flavour is light, refreshing and refined. Certainly my favourite of the collection!”

Lung Ching: a Chinese tea whose two leaves and a bud are dried and carefully flattened by hand – enabling them to unfurl in one piece when brewed.

Steve says: “This reminded me of roasted chestnuts in aroma and flavour – earthy and strongly vegetal, and almost buttery in the mouth. It is similar to the Ding Gu Da Fang but more refined and specific in taste. If the Ding Gu Da Fang were a quality southern hemisphere chardonnay, then this would be a Chablis.”

Oolong Ti Dung: a green-produced oolong from Taiwan, with a soft and nutty character.

Steve says: “A tea with a clear, light-green cup colour. It has a floral aroma and taste, and is refreshing and light on the palate. I found that the tea leaves could be left in the teapot or cup to develop an increasing complexity, without worrying too much about astringency. Being an oolong, it has a more rounded, softer flavour than a typical green tea. Very drinkable.”

Pi Lo Chun: a Taiwanese tea that is grown in orchards and harvested when the trees flower – making it especially fragrant and flowery.

Steve says: “When drinking this golden-coloured tea I detected hints of citrus, a pleasing astringency and a slightly smoky aftertaste. A nice, refined tea whose sweet floral notes are indeed reminiscent of the orchards it is grown in.”

Gabalong: a Japanese tea that is harvested only once a year. Its leaves are delicate, and infuse a fresh, grassy cup.

Steve says: “This tea has a grassy aroma and a sweet, herbal flavour. I tried steeping the leaves a second time, and found that this gave it a more pronounced sweetness – perhaps even a hint of strawberry.”

Fancy Sencha: a top-quality Japanese green tea characterised by a fine tartness, with a touch of sweetness.

Steve says: “I liked the grassy overtones of this tea, which is exactly what you want in a Sencha. It leaves a sweet aftertaste and gives a palate-cleansing, dry finish.”

Green North Tukvar: a special harvest from one of the best-known tea gardens in India. It produces an exquisite fruity, tart taste.

Steve says: “The dry leaf smells intriguingly like a fruity tobacco. It produces a nice golden liquor, with a hint of muscatel on the nose and in the mouth. The tea gives an initial impact of sweetness, followed by a mellow roundness.”

Green Watawalla Special: a tea grown in the highlands of Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka. It has the slightly tart character that is typical of teas from this island.

Steve says: “The smell of this dry tea in its freshly opened packet hinted strongly at fruit – and on this front, it didn’t disappoint. A malty aroma gave way to a deep breadth of complex flavours, including a plum- and cherry-like fruitiness. I found this tea to be much mellower than a classic Chinese green tea, influenced by a typical Indian maltiness.”

If you’d like to test your own tea-tasting skills, why not buy the Green Tea Tasting Selection and give it a go? We’d love to hear what you think of these teas, so please do get in touch to let us know your own verdict.

1st October 2012

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