Thursday, July 24, 2014

Liu An Gua Pian from Teavivre

Hello! Today we are going to be taking a look at Liu An Gua Pian from Teavivre! Liu An Gua Pian  is a green tea that comes from the Qiyun Mountain in the Anhui Province of China. The harvest time for this tea was May 3rd of this year(2014), which makes me wonder if this is the Chinese equivalent of Shincha in Japanese tea. This tea looks like it was slightly rolled into a needle shape without the buds or stems; just beautiful vibrant green leaves! After a little bit of research, I learned that Liu An Gua Pian is one of China's top ten tea and is made from large mature leaves that are hand rolled into a slightly plump needle giving it the nickname "Melon Seeds" in China.

This is one of my first ventures into Chinese green tea and I have a feeling Teavivre has spoiled me on quality with this one. The smell is sweet, fresh, slightly vegetal, and I'm not sure if my mind is playing tricks on me but I'm getting a hint of smokiness. Not being able to wait any longer, I grabbed a 100ml gaiwan and put the water on to boil. Today I'm going to use 4 grams of leaf in my gaiwan. After the water is done boiling I let it cool down a bit so I dont cause any scorching of the fresh tea. After a few minutes the water is down to 180 which is about where I like to start with greens(in general). I did a quick 5 second rinse and re-filled my gaiwan for the first steep. 30 seconds later I poured a light yellow liquor into my pitcher and took a smell. It smells so sweet and bright which is somewhat opposite of the green tea normality or at least the sweetness is.

Upon first taste, I certainly get a sweetness Ive only tasted in high quality Japanese greens except I'm not getting an umami flavor with the Liu An Gua Pian. At first I'm getting a vegetal sweetness reminiscent of fresh green beans. Luckily this tea doesn't have an astringency that greens tend to have and I am happy about that.

The next infusion was 60 seconds and produced a slightly stronger brew than before. The color is a little deeper and the smell is certainly more pronounced. I'm picking up a nutty spiciness I wasn't noticing with the first infusion. This infusion is still very smooth and sweet with a nice spicy/nutty/vegetable note as well. I'm enjoying this very much!

The third and forth infusions are still quite nice but are on the downward flavor spiral. The sweetness is about half on the third and even less on the fourth. The nutty/green bean/spiciness is diminished as well but not as dramatic on the third infusion as it is on the fourth. Still, this tea is a GREAT introduction into Chinese greens! It may not be as famous as Longjin or Bi luo chun but it can stand on its own quite well.

I did take this tea into the fifth and sixth infusions to see how far I could go but alas, the wonderful flavors it was producing before have left a plant flavored water behind. I think in the future I will brew this slightly different by either combining infusions 1-4 into a cha hai or brewing in a larger pot for a longer steep. I think this would help balance the flavors into a serveable condition so there wouldn't be a noticeable difference between each infusion/cup. I tend to like this brewing with greens if they don't become astringent with long brewing times.

Overall I really enjoyed this tea from Teavivre! Price wise this is about the middle of the road in price. For 100g(bag) it is $20.90, which comes out to ~$6 an ounce. Not horrible at all! I want to thank Alison at Teavivre for her kindness in supplying me with numorus samples without even knowing I would even review them. Certianly check them out!

-C