As I mentioned in my previous post, I received two samples from Red Blossom the other day: an Aged Formosa Tung Ting, and A Wild Formosa Assam. This morning, I eagerly opened up the Tung Ting, that the company confidently asserts has been aging for over 42 years. I brewed it in a ceramic gaiwan, at about 190 degrees, after ceremoniously cleaning the gaiwan, tea tray, and cups with the freshly boiled water. I went through the leaf rinsing and watched the archaic leaves open up and fill the air with their sweet, aromatic fragrance. It seemed increasingly obvious that the tea had been well cared for and protected. The Formosa character was evident and showed itself in the floral nose of the tea. The Red Blossom Company itself describes the smell and flavor of plum, but I would contend that the plum is more of a hidden flavor mixed with more floral, and spice-like, elements with hints of vanilla. Its age lent to its subtle but musky, earthy undertones beneath the fruity exterior. The Tung Ting has turned out to be very nice and smooth in the cup and the light, golden liquor looks beautiful throughout the pouring process.
Recently, I visited the Red Blossom Tea Company in San Francisco. I was in the City for the Giants Parade (Go SF!) but I took two short breaks from the action to visit this delightful business in China Town. It was highly recommended to be by a friend and fellow tea lover, and Red Blossom did not disappoint. The staff was ready and willing to answer questions and take requests for tastings. I ended up sampling a Dragonwell, two Silver Needles, a Big Red Robe and a Baozhong, and one Pu-erh. I bought the newer Silver Needle, Both Oolongs, and a 1997 Pu-erh. The experience was amazing overall, and I even learned a thing or two to add to my ever-growing knowledge of tea! The generous staff threw in two samples (I’ll include one of the names and tasting notes in my next post) in my bag, and I went home very happily.
I had the pleasure of trying this as a sample packet that came with my shipment of Golden Fleece, and it has most definitely lived up to Duckler’s high praise. It is a very mellow black, with the taste of boiled milk. It is delicious and wonderful. Will probably order some with the Immortal Springs white and the new Dragonwell they have up on the site. Thanks!
The best of man is like water,
Which benefits all things, and does not contend with them,
Which flows in places that others disdain,
Where it is in harmony with the Way.
So the sage:
Lives within nature,
Thinks within the deep,
Gives within impartiality,
Speaks within trust,
Governs within order,
Crafts within ability,
Acts within opportunity.
He does not contend, and none contend against him.
—The Tao de Ching
I recently received 4 ounces of Golden Fleece tea, sourced by Chinese Wang Yanxin, from the Verdant Tea company headquartered in Minnesota. This tea is a sublime, hand-picked, wild, masterpiece discovered in the remote mountains of southern Xishuangbanna. It is, in the words of tea master Wang Yanxin, the "Best Dian Hong." In my experience tasting the fresh-brewed cup, it revealed tomato notes and a saccharine tea-version of buttered toast. If you have ever had the pleasure of viewing the film “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”, it was like a tea version of the entree gum. A meal in a cup. This meal was tomato soup with fresh, full grain, buttered toast. It was an amazing experience, and I thank the Verdant Tea Co. for this opportunity, because I know they could have kept the ten pound shipment for their own tasting pleasure.