Hunting for hidden gems

A few years ago I got a couple of random teas from my local Asian supermarket. At that time, the store was not as good at labeling things in detail in English, and the teas I got were awful. One of them smelled like dirty diapers, and the other was just full of sticks and did not look appealing. Since then, the store has gotten much better at having more details in English on the products, so now it’s a little less like Russian Roulette and more like hunting for hidden treasure to try random things.

 

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So last night, when I went to the market for some steam buns and seaweed snacks, I decided to pick out a tea to try as well. This is a Dong Ding Oolong (also written elsewhere as Tung-Ting), which is grown in Taiwan. The tea is vacuum-packed in a golden bag inside the outer cardboard container. I braced myself, and snipped the bag open…

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And it actually looked quite nice, and smelled pretty good. Kind of creamy and vegetal.

I decided to use my plain white gaiwan set to brew it.

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And it’s mostly a very acceptable, if unexciting, tea. Definitely needs a couple of rinses, as for the first couple brews the leaves have a bit of a cigarette ashtray scent to them. This doesn’t seem to go into the brewed tea, so no worries there.

On it’s own, there’s nothing really memorable about the tea. But then I pulled out the other random thing I decided to try…

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Moon cake! The 15th was the Mid-Autumn Festival, so the store still had a lot of moon-cakes to sell. I had tried one years ago and did not enjoy it, but this time was different. This lotus seed paste moon cake was actually quite enjoyable, and the tea went well with it. This tea goes well with food – it doesn’t have a distinctive taste of its own to overwhelm or interfere with the food’s taste. It’s not like drinking water or anything, it’s still tea, but it blends really well.

Let’s see if I can come up with a ratings system for this. Scale: 1-5

Packaging: 3 ♥♥♥
The text is a little “default font” for my taste, but otherwise it’s pretty pleasant looking. I like the pattern on the lid. Not airtight though, so you’d need to transfer the tea to a better container.

Price: 3 ♥♥♥
$3.99 for 1.76 oz. Very affordable, and available close to home

Scent: 3 ♥♥♥
There’s that ashtray smell on the leaves I mentioned, but dry it’s a nice scent. I couldn’t smell the ashtray smell unless I stuck my nose down into the gaiwan.

Taste: 3 ♥♥♥
Not great, not bad. Good with food.

Would I buy this again? Hmmm. I guess if I had some sort of tea emergency where every other tea I currently have was ruined, like if I had a fire or a tornado, this would be an option. But I’d rather have a tea that excites me more. I don’t regret trying it though!

 

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