I’m not in the habit of drinking tea in the evening, but today when I was at the grocery store I looked at the choices for tea, and decided to buy some Tazo Green Spring Tips tea. Then, after dinner (West African Chicken Peanut soup and rice, accompanied by an Italian Pinot gris), I decided to have a cup. As many of you know, I’m a tea novice; and I don’t know much about green tea, or what it “should” taste like. I don’t know all the ins and outs of preparation, either, so I just heated tap water until it was almost boiling in my teapot, poured it over my tea bag, and let it sit for 2-3 minutes.

The tea is also called “mao feng”, which translates to “hairy crab”—how could I not be curious about it? Anyway, at first sip, I thought: vegetal; clean hay; barnyard (specifically, horse manure). Suddenly I was swept back to my youthful horse-loving days, when I spent a lot of time in a barn. Barnyard. This was kind of turning me off; it wasn’t unpleasant, but not what I had in mind for an after-dinner cup. But wait. About a third of the way through the cup, a completely unexpected fruity thing started to happen on my mid-palate! The hay and barnyard were still on the roof of my mouth and in my nasal passages, but on my tongue and sides of my tongue was an astringent berry floral feeling. Acerola berry. Salivary glands I didn’t know I had sprang to life! Juicy, grassy. Really enjoyable!

I’ve had several cups of this tea since; it seems to matter a lot what temperature the water is when brewing, in order to get that fruity, astringent quality. Not quite boiling, 2-3 minutes brewing .For me, this is not a breakfast tea, but an afternoon or evening tea. It is widely available and reasonably priced, which makes it attractive for us novices.

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