Here's a picture of it:
I thought I was making an oolong tea. Though it is semi-oxidized, I think it is more like a white peony tea. In fact, in many ways, I think I made almost the same tea I made last year... only this time I don't think I baked it long enough because it still had a limp feeling and smelled a bit musty by the time I brewed it. Interestingly, I baked this tea twice as long as I did last year. Maybe this year's tea had a higher water content to begin with? Or maybe (and perhaps more likely) it was the bowl I baked it in this year, which was thicker and deeper than last year's baking dish. It is a good thing I've been taking such good notes. Now maybe if I just start to pay attention to what I'm doing, I can learn from my past mistakes and start to make better tea in the future.
On Saturday morning (5/1/10), my friends David, Gwen, James, Andrew and Chris joined me at Teacup to taste my home grown tea. I chose Vortex to do the honor of brewing my creation. I used all the leaf and started with a 3 minute 190° steep. It was way too weak... but the tasters were complimentary of the brew saying it had potential and a pleasant "tingle" in the mouth.
The second steep was boiling water for 5 minutes. Much better... but still too light. David noted that this infusion had a nice flavor reminiscent of decent quality Assam Indian white tea. He also commented about my tea possessing a certain unique flavor that he has tasted in all of the Washington State teas he has previously sampled.
A photo of the second infusion:
The third steep (10 minutes with boiling water) and the fourth steep (15 minutes with boiling water) were well liked by all tasters. Chris likened the aroma to a brewery he once knew and Andrew spoke of its interesting herbaceous flavors (perhaps from the giant rosemary plant that grows right next to the main tea plant). The fifth infusion (also 15 minutes with boiling water) was pleasant but once again yielded a very weak flavor. After five infusions we called it quits.
In closing, I'd say that this spring's tea was pretty good and that I learned a little bit more about making tea. Hopefully, I'll get another chance to practice in the summer.
It was a very rewarding exprerience to make my own tea completely from scratch!
The beautiful spent leaves: