For my first tea I shall be reviewing one of my favourite flavoured teas, a Jasmine tea.
I got this tea as part of a subscription box from British based company Curious tea. It was one of four teas in the box and I intend to get round to reviewing them all.
This is a Jasmine green tea called phoenix eyes because the leaves are rolled into a shape that supposedly resembles the eyes of a phoenix. Then like many Jasmine teas the tea leaves are laid out between alternating layers of Jasmine flowers so they absorb the Jasmine aroma.
Jasmine tea is one of the oldest types of flavoured tea around. It is very popular in China where it is traditionally served to guests.
Packaging: Very clear and very informative. It is immediately obvious what the tea is, the recommended brewing parameters and the origin of the tea.
Brewing recommendations: 2-3 minutes at 80 degrees.
My brewing recommendations: 3 minutes at 80 degrees increasing steeping time with each infusion.
Taste: The tea smells absolutely gorgeous with a very strong Jasmine aroma and taste.
Subsequent infusions: The tea leaves unroll when steeped in hot water, during the first infusion they do not completely unfurl this leaves plenty of flavour for subsequent infusions though with each infusion the Jasmine flavour decreases and becomes more subtle so it is easier to taste the actual green tea which is a good quality green tea which is smooth with no astrigency. I got three infusions out of one teaspoon full of leaves.
Conclusion: A good quality Jasmine green tea. I prefer this to the more common Jasmine pearls as I find the Phoenix eye leaves do not unfurl as quickly leaving more flavour for subsequent infusions.
Many teas come with instructions that tell you what temperature to heat the water to and how long to steep the tea. These can be very useful, when I am trying a new tea for the first time I always follow the instructions because it gives me a good starting point to go from, and in general tea vendors want you to like their tea so you will buy more of it in future so following the instructions, especially if it is a tea you have never tried before is a good way to get the best out of the leaves. Then if I like the tea I will keep following the instructions whereas if the tea doesn’t quite meet my personal flavour preferences I will mess around with the temperature and brewing time and experiment until it does (for example I tend to brew white teas for several minutes longer than I am “supposed to” because I enjoy the stronger taste).
You will also find people saying you should never use teabags or you should never put anything in your tea except water. I have my own opinions on this and will be publishing another post later about why I prefer loose leaf but at the end of the day as the person drinking the tea it is completely up to you.
Tea is the most commonly drunk beverage in the world (after water) and many cultures have completely different ideas what “tea” is. If you ask for “tea” with no further specification in Great Britain (where I come from) you will get black tea in a tea bag (most commonly Assam or Ceylon) and the offer of milk or sugar. Whereas when I lived in Japan the request for “tea” would instead result in being given a cup of a green tea (most commonly Sencha) with no offer of milk or sugar (because green tea doesn’t tend to taste good with milk or sugar). These two countries have completely different ideas of what “tea” is. Yet even within cultures there is a huge variety of preferences, I have known British people who drink tea with no milk, with sugar, with no sugar, with cream, with lemon. Or Japanese people who steep the leaves (or tea bag no everyone in Japan does the tea ceremony all the time or even uses loose leaf tea) for far longer than I personally would to make a stronger liquor, and I have only gone into the most common two types of tea in two countries I have spent most time in.
When you factor in the other 193 countries in the world and all the other thousands of teas (excluding blends which would make the number a lot higher) the different ways of having tea become almost infinite.
The simple fact is if you like the taste of the tea you are drinking you are making it correctly.
“It (Teaism) inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.” Okakura Kakuzō (author of the Book of tea).
Cha or 茶 is the word for tea in both Chinese and Japanese and also in certain parts of India.
浮世 or the floating world is a Japanese concept popular in the Edo period (1600-1857) to describe the impermanence of life and the idea of seeking pleasure.
No two cups of tea are exactly identical and no harvest of tea is exactly the same as that of previous years. But as with the Japanese floating world aesthetic this variety and the fact it does not last forever makes tea, in my opinion even more fascinating.
Thus came the name for my blog floating world of tea.
Although blog is mainly for personal pleasure for me to review and record the tea and tea related items that I use I also hope it will be helpful for fellow tea addicts and those looking to learn more about the world of tea.
If it is not already obvious from the above explanation I know far more about Japan (and Korea) than I do about other tea drinking countries. Although my focus is mainly on tea from China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea other teas will be featured. I am a Darjeeling addict so expect Darjeeling to feature prominently as well as any other teas that catch my interest.