Diagnosing strange teas

When drinking a large variety of teas, one ends up encountering a lot of stuff that is surprising, and most of them are not pleasantly surprising. Since teas are unlabeled, with unknown source and unknown provenance, what the vendor tells you is all you really know about it until you’ve tried it. Even then, it’s not always obvious what happened to the tea to cause it to be the way it is.

I had two teas today, both of which were a bit off.

The first was a puerh sample I have from somebody. I no longer remember who gave it to me, what it was, or really anything about it. I brewed it up at the BTH, hoping to try it and see if I can remember anything from it. The tea tasted like a Menghai tea. What struck me, however, was the extreme cloudiness of the tea. It looked like a chicken soup with the chicken meat ground up in it. The tea was really, really cloudy…. I was a little afraid of drinking it, even (and that’s a rare thing). Cloudiness is supposed to be a product of high moisture content in the tea, but this was just a little too high. Rosa said that apparently some tea makers, at least she heard anyway, made teas that were mixed or coated with a sort of rice liquid. This gives the tea more body when you drink it, but of course, it clouds up the tea. I seriously wonder if this was done to this particular tea. The cloudiness didn’t improve until maybe the 6th infusion. The taste of the tea was fine… not too bad, in fact. I could feel the power of the tea, although it’s a little unstable. Overall though, I don’t think I’d buy something like this.

The second thing was a special grade Tieluohan, a Wuyi tea from the BTH. I brewed it like I normally would… and it was sour. The second infusion was so sour, I was tempted to stop drinking the tea right then and there. I persisted. The third infusion, with really just a flash infusion, was better. Then the sourness dissipated into a sort of fruity tartness. There’s a strong note of fruity taste throughout the tea, but the sourness was just…. not really acceptable.

It’s only been opened for two months at most, so I’m not sure where the sourness is coming from, but I suppose moisture could’ve done it. However, sourness is really quite nasty in any sort of tea, and I would not buy sour teas from now on. That was just sour. What happened?

Diagnosing teas can also be fun though.


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