Friday, May 22, 2009

REVIEW: Zhi Tea, Snow Mountain Green

The most beautiful place I have ever seen is the Königssee, in the Bavarian Alps, which I quite desperately long to visit again. It was summer, and my wonderful friends brought my wife and me to the high mountains surrounding the crystal lake, where the blue flowers against the verdant valleys echoed the perfectly clear sky framed by high peaks. These remain strongly in my mind, and the memory is sweet, though growing a bit fainter over the course of years.

The reason I'm thinking about this is because Zhi Tea's Snow Mountain Green tea is also like an exercise in memory. When drunk according to Zhi instructions, the tea taste is mostly experienced in its aftertaste, where the long finish unfurls the various aromas.

Surprisingly curly, twisted silver-white leaves with a very lightly floral fragrance. As they are steeped, they take on a jade-green color, long leaf tips joined together with a tiny bit of stem. Carefully crafted. The leaf aroma after steeping is not completely attractive, but it's interesting: a memory of the

Snow Mountain Green is a China green tea from the Hunan province.

1 teaspoons of leaf in 80C reverse-osmosis filtered water, 2.5 minutes steeping time.


Two days ago, when I prepared this tea, I followed the Zhi tea instructions: 1 tsp per cup. As I made it, I thought the end result would be rather weak, because the large leaves were not very dense in the cup. I was right. Such a pale green-gold, the liquor was as transparent as clear water. The flavor of the tea itself was rather elusive, with a lovely aftertaste 2-3 min after sipping... like cherry, slightly bitter, dry, and rather flowery.

And so today I made the tea again, this time with double the amount of leaf per cup. The tea is lovely. The liquor is a just slightly foggy gold, with almost a cherry blossom aroma. As the leaves cooled, I noticed a green grape aroma coming from them in the pot. The tea was much more nuanced, with faint fruit-- grape, perhaps-- and with a floral aroma high up in the profile. Very springlike and fresh, smooth, with a longish finish.

Truly a beautiful tea, which benefits (to my taste) by being steeped with double the leaves as the Zhi packaging and Web site recommend.

(Beautiful picture of the Konigsee is able to be seen on an Alpine photography tour run by John Baker.)