The first tea I ever fell in love with was called Shou Mei, and it tasted buttery. There’s no other way to describe it, and I wish I could impart to you how wonderful that was. Unfortunately it is no longer sold (that I know of). I have not found another tea like it since.
I mentioned this to my tea-loving friend, who proceeded to choose three teas she thought tasted buttery. We cupped them, slurped and sipped them, and wrote down our thoughts, discussing as we went. Here are my notes. All teas are from TeaSource.
Has a slight pungent smell, almost like a cow pasture. I had to try to not think about it too much as I tasted the tea. The tea, however, tastes completely different than it smells. It tasted very sweet and had the rare combination of being smooth while still leaving the mouth feeling dry. Very light and delicate. It was kind of a one-note sugar water taste. The second brewing, however, was much more complex with more of a toasted wheat taste mixed with a muted sweetness. I really enjoyed this tea because it’s not often I find one that tastes so sweet with no sugar added. I try to not add sugar to my tea, though it’s sadly a habit that’s hard to get rid of. This is a tea for those days when I don’t want sugar but have a strong craving for a sweet tea. I had a hard time tasting the butteriness in this tea, however. Still, a great cupping.
Dragonwell Special Grade
Had a pleasant, grassy smell and left me with a dry, clear palette. There is at first a fleeting buttery taste when first sipped that immediately fades into a grassy, sweet taste, which in turn fades into a grassy dryness with no sweetness at all. I’ve never tasted a tea with three different flavors before. It reminds me of Willy Wonka’s three course meal in a stick of bubble gum. The second brewing surprised me even more. In most teas, the flavors in a second brewing are muted versions of the first, which can be good if the first tastes were overpowering and bad if the first tastes were muddled to begin with. But with this tea, the flavors became more cohesive on the second brewing. They were not muted at all. Instead, they functioned like a three part harmony, coming together to create something beautiful. This was my favorite of all three that we tasted.
Annhui Yellow Flower
This tea smelled like an alfalfa field combined with a slight rice scent. Very pleasant. And it tasted exactly like it smelled, with a little roasted corn flavor thrown in. It took a lot of concentration, though, to sense the corn flavor behind everything else. I didn’t get any buttery notes until the second brewing, however. This time, everything was smoother and less grassy. The rice and roasted corn notes were gone, leaving a nice, roll-off-the-tongue sweet corn flavor.
There you go. My best attempt at describing tea. The language of flavors is so elusive, it was a fun challenge to dig deep and come up with descriptions of what I was tasting.