Wednesday, March 4, 2009

David's Tea's Lu An Gua Pian Review

Type: Green
Origin: China
Price: Sample (regular price - $18.75 for 50g. Also available in 25g and 100g packages)
Vendor: David’s Tea
Brewing Method: Per Instructed - 1 teaspoon of leaves, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 205°F-210°F, steeped for 5 - 7 minutes
Overall Score: Their instructions: 2.0 out of 5; My Instructions: 4.0 out of 5

According to David’s Tea’s website, Lu An Gua Pain is “classified as one of the Famous 10Teas in China, it crosses a bridge between top Chinese and Japanese green teas.” The first thing I noticed is that the leaves are fairly large. They are in the shape of long rolled strands. The aroma of the dry leaves is very subtle – I had to pretty much stick my nose in the package in which then I found the leave’s sweet, grassy smell.

The aroma of the tea is very vegetal, but simple – meaning that the vegetal, or grassy, aroma is really all I get. The liquor is a pretty yellowish-green color.

The taste… simply put… is bad. It was very bitter, very astringent, very strong, which means very bad. It also had this sour taste which made me glad I was doing this review alone because the face I made would have been rather comical. I actually said “wow” out load after taking the first sip because the strength and bitterness gave me such a punch.

Once I get over the bitter, sour taste there is a subtle lime-like aftertaste. It also has the signature green tea grassy aftertaste mixed somewhere in all of the bitterness.

I didn’t get a picture, but the wet, spent leaves were quite big for green tea… some as about as wide and long as thumb up to my first knuckle (keep in mind that I have a petite girly thumb).

I wasn’t ready to give up on this tea just yet. So I put a fresh batch of leaves in the gaiwan and steeped them my way – 160°F for one minute.

The color is noticeably lighter - as it is predicted to be - almost like a pastel yellow. The aroma of the tea is very subtle. I really had to put my nose to the cup to find it.

The taste is SO MUCH BETTER! If you ever wondered the significance of the brewing parameters… this is a prime example. The tea is not harsh like it was before. I can really taste the sweet grassy, vegetal flavor of the tea (and yes, I said sweet).

There is still some astringency in the aftertaste, but that is typical for green teas. The bitterness is no where to be found. I can’t believe this cup of tea came from the same leaves. The differences in the two cups are like night and day.

I am still going to play around with different times and temperatures to see if I can get an even better cup. If you are thinking about trying this tea… you might want to play around with the parameters as well to see what you like.


Cecil Hill said...

I went to the Chengdu Tea Culture Town to specifically obtain some Lu An Gua Pian after much research into what constitutes a "classical Chinese tea." I must have gotten lucky because I found the tea to be just as you described in your second attempt. Sweet and a little bitter but very refreshing.

Something is nagging in the back of my mind about taste verses quality. There were at least five different qualities of this tea being offered. I bought the one in the middle range. In your opinion, how much does quality affect the actual tasting of the tea? One of these days I will find out for sure. Once in a while, over budget can be good.

Love your tea site

Steph said...

I am totally loving that photo with the yellow teacups. It's amazing!

Steph said...

PS - this is a perfect example of why temp matters!

mandybee said...

I just tried a blend of Lu An Gua Pian from Mighty Leaf. I could definitely understand how bad this could taste if steeped for 5-7 minutes. Yikes!

For the Mighty Leaf Lu An Gua Pian, I found that a minute and a half made a perfect cup with water at 165-170F. I'm starting to notice that I like a lot of teas a lot more when I don't steep them as long as is recommended. Probably my own tastes, though. :)

Glad you were able to steep this correctly instead of thinking it was just the tea! It's really good! :9

PS - I love the shape of this tea! There's just something about it. :) The color of the leaf is very nice too.