Two's a Crowd. Three's a Tieguanyin.
Over the past month a new tea company has been in and out, and all about. The Dr.Seuss in me wants to say they’ve also been here and there, however, not really anywhere. That's because Tributary Tea Co. is a relatively new tea company with a smaller tea selection which focuses on Taiwanese teas. For their 2019 line-up, they only provide twelve teas. One of the regions they focus on is Tieguanyin. With that, they were able to send me three Tieguanyin teas from different ends of the tea spectrum. These include a traditionally roasted and oxidized Muzha Tieguanyin oolong, a Muzha Tieguanyin black, and a Pingling Tieguayn white. So how do these teas differ from each-other? Let’s dive right in!
For all three sessions, I used a 70ml gaiwan with 4.3g of tea and water heated to a temperature of 190ºf.
Muzha Tieguanyin Oolong
This tea started faint with a touch of floral hay, along with a smoothness that jumped right out from the beginning. However, by the third infusion, the fresh taste of charcoal started to carry this tea from the bottom up — leaving a creamy finish on the tongue. Halfway through the session, this tea floated between being smooth and bitter but consistently leaned towards the smooth side of the spectrum. By the end of the session, this tea was evening out but still presented a boldness that refused to back down.
Muzha Tieguanyin Black
For starters, some of you may know that I just recently hopped on the hong train. Since black teas aren’t my forté, I try to reserve some level of judgment since I don't have a lot to compare it to. However, this tea opened up with a woody and light caramel body with a velvet-like smoothness on the base of the tongue. As this tea continued to open up, the notes of forest and woods got stronger and stronger with a faint undertone of honey. However, despite this black tea providing strength, it never crossed the line into the bitter territory. I kept expecting it too, but thankfully, it stayed behind the border.
Pingling Tieguanyin White
Before jumping right into brewing, it should be noted that the leaves on this white tea were a lot more firm and dense that almost any other white tea that's made its way into my cup. For starters, a light velvet body of kiwi glided across my tongue with a distinct sharp finish of melon. The notes that resembled kiwi and melon were almost tart, however, a licorice roots-like sweetness snapped back to take over a lasting coating across the tongue. Even as the tea got stronger, a hint of jasmine hid underneath the tea’s strong sweetness. Towards the end of the session, the tea’s texture continued to soften to a diluted oil-like texture.
A lot is going on between these three teas. To start, the Mush Tieguanyin Oolong began this day of tea by presenting a session that felt more traditional. This tea’s boldness was a similar kind of boldness that’s best compared to a medium-roasted coffee. While being bold, the presence of its roast was still really fresh and would recommend waiting a minute for this tea to settle. To continue this journey, the Muzha Tieguanyin Black was a very pleasant surprise. For a black tea, it came off more delicate than I’d expect — especially considering its boldness.
To end this journey, the Pingling White did take by surprise. While I’m not able to generalize Taiwanese white tea, this one specifically kept begging the question, “Is this really a white tea?” Considering it wasn’t from the other two tea’s regions, it was still a force that doesn't want you to forget of its exists. With the oddity of a white Tieguanyin, this one certainly takes first place as far as enlightening experiences go.
Overall, this was a fun comparison and is something that I’d recommend for others to try. White Tributary Tea Co. doesn’t currently offer the Pingling White Tea on their site, it is a tea that seems best for a special occasion. Out of the three, the black proved to be the most calming and meditative (and my personal favourite). Seeing thus far how strong a start this company made, it'll be exciting to see where they take their strengths into the future…
(no pressure guys)