2015 Frosty Spring Yunnan Roast Green, Arbor Tree, First Day Harvest from Life in Tea Cup

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5 grams. 120 ml gaiwan. 170 degrees. Quick steeps.

 

I’ve had a thing for Yunnan greens since last year. When I had my first pre-qingming Yunnan green, I found it to be an entirely new experience in green tea. It was different than its smaller leaf sister. It had heavier breath to it. It had a spiciness. It was less mountain meadow and more evergreen forest. I’ve come to learn that many of the notes that I appreciated when I first experienced this tea are very common Yunnan variety notes, but when a tea maker takes very beautiful Yunnan leaves and crafts a top notch green from them, these notes shine.

The dry leaves of this Frosty Spring Yunnan Roasted Green are a consistent one leaf one bud to two leaf one bud set. They are uniform and have a nice pallet of brighter olive greens to lighter golden colors near the stems. The scent of the dry leaves reminds me of a fried crispy eggplant. That’s the heartiness that I like in Yunnan greens. When the leaves are first steeped, they give off some really great roasted root vegetable scents like sweet potatoes and carrots. Through successive steeps, the liquor changes from sweet to brisk. The sweet buttered corn and spring pea notes that are present in the initial steeps give way to piney notes just like a Yabao winter bud tea. Soybeans and a greener corn flavor are carried throughout.

I’m beginning to find that teas that make my list here have a few things in common. One of these things is how long they can be steeped before they go flat. While this tea shares some of its flavor and scent notes with many other Yunnan greens, what sets it aside is the amount of flavors dancing together in this tea, and how long they all interplay before the tea goes flat. I have been getting far more mileage out of this tea than many other greens. Where green teas in general can fall flat and exist in later steeps as just an astringent, minerally, brisk mouthfeel that doesn’t have much in terms of flavor left, this Frosty Spring Yunnan Roasted Green has that lingering piney Yabao flavor that only becomes more prominent as the tea opens up and sheds its sweet sap. Noticing that for the first time was a pleasant surprise. It is almost as if I am drinking a few different teas as the spectrum of a gong fu session unfolds. This adds to my enjoyment of this tea.

At $5 for 25g, this tea is a bargain. A gong fu session that costs about a dollar is an easy sell. It’s not the most economical tea, but it is reasonable for the quality of the tea. It won’t have the same marathon steeping of a shou pu’er for example, but even 4-5 steeps make drinking this tea well worth it. Teas like this can be good gateways to new tea growing regions. Yunnan doesn’t have to be all about pu’er tea. In fact, some of my favorite white teas come from Yunnan. Explore the tea growing regions of China and beyond and give some unorthodox or unpopular combinations a try. You may find a new favorite.

-Elliott

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