I like to think that our love of tea stems not just simply from its taste, but also in the state of mind the art of tea brewing invites us into. The rituals and intricate details associated with the preparation of the drink, the way the steam wanders from a full teacup and lazily drifts into the air, the pure indulgence of that first sip. The entire experience is something to be savored.
As the semester comes to an end and I find myself practically drowning in my workload, I’ve spent many a sleepless night with a cup of tea at my side as I work away. But lately.. that cup hasn’t been about the ritual, it hasn’t been about relaxing. It’s simply become a necessary utility for me: background noise, a silent passenger along for the turbulent ride. I’ve found myself drinking tea just for the sake of drinking it a lot of the time, either to get rid of some old stuff I don’t really like in my stash, or just as a caffeine punch to help get me through the night.
When I signed up for Yezi Tea’s free 3-sample pack offer on a whim after reading TeaWithPolly’s review of their jasmine pearls, my expectations of course were high, but I was just excited to be getting some free tea, to be honest. 😛 There was no real method to my choice of samples, I just wanted to try what I thought was a bit of everything. I was excited to get the teas, but I still had sort of pushed any thought of them to the back of my mind before the small white box from Yezi Tea arrived on my doorstep.
Everything changed when I opened my first sample, a small sample pouch of Jin Jun Mei. As the sight of the delicate leaves and the lingering scent of cocoa escaped the package and found their way to my senses, I knew this was going to be special- I actually got chills! I had to do this tea proud- Keurig brewer water was obviously not going to do. Even my usual tea strainers wouldn’t do, especially for a proper review of this tea. I searched local Asian grocers high and low for a proper gaiwan, and having no luck, resulted in commandeering my parents’ sugar bowl to use as a makeshift gaiwan instead. I was going to experience this tea the way it was meant to be enjoyed. 🙂
Finally, all the pieces had fallen into place and I was ready to brew a proper cup that I could base a review on. Given that this was both my first time tasting a real premium tea and using a gaiwan (..sort of :P) for brewing, I knew this was going to be a significant milestone in my journey as a tea enthusiast. However, I was still planning on the relatively simple ritual of boiling my kettle, pouring the water into my trusty lil teapot, and taking the tea and my teawares into my room so I could drink it whilst doing schoolwork.
But after my first infusion of Jin Jun Mei, I was rooted to the kitchen, staring with wonder down into the opened gaiwan and watching the slender leaves unfurl and lend a gold-tinged molasses coloring to the water. The smell of cocoa continued to intensify, teasing me at this point. I clumsily poured the brew from my gaiwan into my little cup, and that first sip.. it took me away. I forgot about all the work I had to do. This tea commanded my attention. I just stood there in the kitchen, taking small, thoughtful sips, closing my eyes and savoring every single drop. Cocoa and caramel, the flavors companies pour millions of dollars into research trying to replicate synthetically was achieved by whatever growing and roasting sorcery was employed by the producer of this tea. The taste was smooth.. no astringency, no bitterness, a flavor so full bodied and thick it seemed impossible this drink had resulted from a combination of hot water and leaves. Everything about this tea invites you to set aside all of your worries and cares, and simply explore the depth of what you’re tasting. As an added delight, after I finished my sip, the sweet, floral aftertaste remained to keep me company until I was ready for my next one.
I began the second infusion happily, realizing now that I would remain in the kitchen until this entire experience was over, and not minding in the least. At this point, the prevalence of the cocoa had washed away slightly, and was replaced by a pure honey taste. Light and sweet, it soothed and enveloped me in warmth. How is this even a black tea?! How is this freaking tea in general and not like.. powdered angel wings or something?!
Each subsequent steeping continued to evoke those warm honey and cocoa flavors, and I slipped further and further away into a tea-infused dream. Yezi’s website recommends an initial steeping time of 1:30 with 10 seconds added after each subsequent infusion- I followed these guidelines loosely, adding a little more time than suggested, and the brews still turned out perfectly. I wasn’t able to put the “recommended” amount of tea in the gaiwan so I could not enjoy as many steepings as I would have liked, but I was more than satisfied when the flavor finally faded away after the 4th steeping. I felt refreshed and revived. This tea was so freaking good it FORCED me to stop everything else I was doing or thinking about and just pay attention to it. This tea removed me from the confines of my stressed-out mind for a wondrous 20 minutes of relaxation and happy contemplation. What an incredible treat. 🙂
If you haven’t already done so, I would STRONGLY suggest you check out Yezi Tea and take advantage of their free 3 tea sampler offer- all you’ve gotta do is pay a small fee for shipping. I guarantee this will be some of the best tea you have ever tasted, regardless of which samples you choose, and I hope your experience will be as inspiring and bright as mine was. Thank you Yezi. 🙂
Cost of Tea: $11.95/oz
Ingredients: Love, Magic
Overall Grade: A++++++++++, obviously. 😉