Last weekend, I was finally able to breathe through my nose again and, thus, was able to TASTE things again. What a relief it was (and is)! As a special treat to myself, I had my first side-by-side(-by-side) tasting of the same kind of tea from multiple vendors/sources.
(I’m about to go on a bit of a tangent, so if you want to skip ahead to my actual comparisons, click here!)
You know what… somehow I think I’ve managed to write this blog so far without really discussing what types of teas are my personal favorites. I’ve always enjoyed a nice black tea blend (especially the British blends so common in the UK) and oolong has worked its way up my charts in more recent months. Sometimes pu-erh is my favorite, but at the moment my tea life is dominated by oolong – more specifically, it’s dominated by Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) oolongs.
My first experience with Da Hong Pao was within the last few months. I received a glorious box of tea in the mail from my brother (currently living in Wuhan, China). I knew he was sending a package, but thought it was going to be quite small with a few samples for me to try. Boy am I glad I was wrong! It was a larger box than I expected and every last inch of it was PACKED with tea and teaware! It’s true… my brother is amazing.
In any case, one of the teas was listed on his helpful notecard as “Da Hong Pao: An oolong from Fujian across the strait from Taiwan – Spicy red flavor.” The idea of a “spicy red flavor” in tea was extremely intriguing to me and I ended up loving it. Since then, I picked up an oolong sampler set from Verdant Tea which included the Wuyi Mountain Big Red Robe and enjoyed some tea at Vital Tea Leaf where I ended up bringing home a good amount of their Aroma Red Robe.
I had read a bit about how one of the great ways to really develop your palate with tea is to have side-by-side tastings of the same tea type from different sources to get a solid feel for how the flavors can vary. I had wanted to do this ever since and was super excited when I realized I had 3 different Da Hong Pao teas in my cupboard!
And now… onto the actual comparisons! (more…)