Yes, yes, it took me a while, but I finally dredged up this sample from the LJ Community 2006 tasteoff. First, the name. “King Tea Biscuit”, in case it’s not obvious, is a nasty translation crime that nobody should commit. The tea’s name is “Qing Dynasty Thousand Years Ancient Tea King Cake”, which, if you literally translate the last three words using a dictionary (looking up word by word) will get you “Tea King Biscuit”, which is actually a little better than the mysterious “King Tea Biscuit”. How we got there is anybody’s guess.
Reading those reviews from 2006, it seems like the tea received a relatively positive reception. It’s been almost two years. What has time (spent in the same plastic ziploc bag it came in) done to the tea?
If we use colour as a judge — not much
(By the way, you might have noticed recently that there is an annoying line of purple at the top of my pictures. My camera, I think, is getting on in age, and has served me and this blog for more than two years… and is now protesting. Sorry for the quality)
Looks just sort of like the same tea as those pictured in the thread I linked to, maybe with a slight yellowing of the silver tips, but if it changed, it didn’t change much. The tea has been stored in relatively stable conditions for the past two years, in one box or another in the comforts of a heated apartment in Boston or Ohio. It’s probably nothing too different from most American homes.
The colour of the tea, when brewed, also doesn’t say much, but it never does anyway. My cup’s tall, whereas the one BBB used looks much flatter, so it probably accounts for most, if not all, of the difference in colour.
The tea…. hasn’t aged well with time. The first cup is rather bland, almost tasteless. A bit of sweetness in it, but nothing too remarkable. Maybe the tea hasn’t woken up yet. As I went on, however, the bitterness really shines through. Bitter, astringent, coupled with some minty effects and a bit of a floral note here and there. The tea never got to sweetness in the aftertaste, nor did it brew out into a sweet water tea that I hoped it might eventually turn to. Instead, it just remained bitter — a weaker bitter, but still bitter. Maybe I’m spoiled by the vast amounts of un-bitter aged oolongs recently, so perhaps my tolerance for bitterness has decreased, but I don’t think my tongue has deteriorated so much that I can’t detect notes of huigan coming through, or some sort of sweet water ending for the tea.
One of the comments in the LJ thread is made by Guang of Hou De, who was obviously questioning the processing method for this tea. BBB’s observation that this tastes more like a white tea is also a note of caution. I am quite certain that teas that were processed improperly in a method that resembles white/green tea processing will, over time, degrade and turn into nasty, astringent, bitter teas. Walt, if you’re reading this, I’m curious how this tea tastes now in your collection (or, for that matter, if anybody else has it, feel free to share your thoughts). I don’t think I made it improperly, since my pot is usually ok with this amount of tea, and in any case, using the pot does tend to absorb some of the impact from the bitterness.
Wet leaves, as Guang noted, is awfully uniform in colour, and quite green (in person anyway). I checked — no signs of pan frying. Doesn’t look too traditionally processed to me.