Peter Guagy is a friend of ours who has a great wine background and is excessively talented at describing his experience of tea. He works in Santa Fe at the Nuart Gallery on Canyon Road.
The leaf is in the shape of needles, with a yellow to dark green quality. This is a delicately flavored tea, so it needs a longer steeping than most green teas.The brewed tea liquor is a light gold, like a light white wine. The nose, has a rich buttery-nutty quality that is confirmed on the palate. This tea has notes of a rich fatty nut, such as a cashew and has none of the green herbaceous tastes of most green teas. There is almost no edge of tannin, which perhaps also leaves it tasting fatty and oily, without the cut of acid. The tea finishes with semi-sweet tones, perhaps…
Overall, this is a very compelling tea. I kept wanting more and more to try to flesh out the elements I was tasting. There is something meaty and unusual in this tea. Yellow in both taste and mood.
This tea has broad/flat, unsteeped leaves like slightly crystallized dried grass that smell faintly of horse hay. The color of the liquor is a lovely yellow – greenish gold like a light Pinot Blanc.
The nose is a classic green tea with grassy/floral notes with a slight touch of ghee. This is a full-bodied tea with toasted rice and clearly delineated tannic acid edges. There are floral undertones, an edamame like green vegetable mid-palette and bright green tannins as a top note.
Dragon Well is the tea that was served to President Nixon by Chairman Mao in 1972 during that fateful opening of China that has allowed us a generation later to taste all these wonderful Chinese teas. John Adam’s opera, Nixon in China, (probably the most success opera written in the past fifty years), is a perfect minimalist accompaniment to this tea.
Heavenly Blue Peak
You will find needles of dark bluish green with the dry leaf. A light liquor with a slight yellowish tinge, rather than a deep gold. The nose is more elusive and ethereal with a slight green tea taste and toasted rice. The taste is more dark floral than herbaceous when it comes to the plant-like characteristics. There is a lovely, oily-like buttered quality. The tannins are sweet and reserved. Although, like most teas, it moves to a sweet finish. There is a serious feeling about this tea.
This tea is neither bold and upfront, nor reserved and charming, but rather meditative and brooding. There are dark notes. I think of Franz Lizst’s later works, saturated in romanticism and heavy spirituality. There is something in this that takes one’s thoughts in a deeper direction. This tea is made for the oil lamp and for those uncertain Faustian nights we all have on occasion.
Gunpowder Tea comes in tightly rolled balls, hence the gunpowder name. Also, like gunpowder, a little goes a long way and it is easy to either use too much and or over-steep….. pay attention to this one.
The liquor is burnished gold. The nose is more reserved with a toasted element and a classic green herbal quality. Tasting this tea you get a clean tannic attack followed by a dreamy lingering sweetness of cardamon and tropical spice. This tea is upfront and fully present, well delineated and yet leaves good memories.
Perhaps, like the martial nature of its name, this tea makes me think of uniforms and decorations and the authoritative quality of an officer, who possesses a quite worldly outlook and a seductive masculine charm.
Little Melon Seed
The unsteeped leaf is curled with dark green to bluish leaves.The liquor is a classic green tea yellow-green to burnished gold color. The nose gives a buttered, candied nut taste. With a confirmation on the palette of the buttered element. There is also green-tea like herbed quality, with a tannic edge that does cut the buttered flavor. I also get tastes of roasted rice cake and hibiscus. It resolves to a sweet perfumed finish with lovely hints of melon. Hence, the name.
This is a very refined tea, with a reserved feminine quality – a beautiful summer tea that you can drink all day long. Of all the green teas this was my wife’s favorite.
Jasmine Silver Hair
The leaves are silver to black and curled, with a beautiful smell of infused jasmine blossoms.The liquor is clear to yellowish gold with a nose of jasmine – floral, fecund and sexy. On the mouth the floral notes feel like rich oily rose water with green tea. The tannins are soft. Just enough to give it structure. The finish moves to floral sweetness and then ends with a slight tannic grassy note.
This Jasmine tea give associations with Springtime gardens and sunshine. You can almost taste the sun’s energy.
The leaves are beautiful hand-rolled pearls with the leaf and the bud that has been infused with jasmine.The nose is of floral jasmine with a stem-like flavor. There is a candied note as well. The lower notes are earthy and nutty with a slight fermented cheese quality, the mid is grassy and herbal and the top end is floral and rich. The tannins are well integrated and help balance out the floral part. The finish lingers on and on in a scented sweetness.
Overall the tea is a very gentile and calming. Graceful and soft-spoken. I tasted this tea with my son and he lent his voice to some of the descriptors.
Drum Mountain Cloud and Mist
Beautiful downy leaves intermixed with dark green leaves. Steep this a little longer to bring out its subtle tastes. The liquor has a very light yellowish color. The nose is reserved as well with slight buttery and toasted qualities. But, on the palate one is immediately presented with elegant sweet, nuttiness. There are layers of flavor in this tea. The low notes are toasted, with a rich oily taste of tropical nuts. The middle layers are complex hints of asian spices – such as cardamon and cinninamon. Whereas the top has a fruity sweetness with a sustained high note.
Overall this is a complex tableau of experience, and like a great painting, touches on many different levels of emotional and intellectual experience. This tea, if you pay attention to it, can give one a profound insight into the art of tea.