Tai Ping Hou Kui Comparison

So I’ve had a relatively poor experience with tea this week and decided that I deserved something special. First I thought maybe a milk oolong, but I was all out … what next? A Four Seasons High Mountain oolong, I only have roughly nine grams of this left so I decided against it. But I did have a large number of samples left over from Teavivre two in particular stood out from the rest, Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea and Nonpareil Cha Wang Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea. So I thought why not compare them to my Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui from Dragon Tea House.
Based on my previous experience with this tea I know it can be brewed for longer than what I consider normal for a green tea and still produce a lovely second infusion and subsequent infusions. So I used thirteen large pieces in a glass teapot for three minutes at 170°F. The dry leaves originally had a buttery aroma, but after my first infusion it became quite rich and thick. It had a sort of vegetal taste, but also some sweetness and a little nutty.
The second infusion I brewed at 175°F for four and a half minutes. The buttery aroma was a little weaker from the first, but had more of a sweet buttery aroma versus the normal salted buttery aroma from the first infusion. The vegetal taste was still there, the nutty undertones became more pronounced and there was a new sickly sweet hay (not necessarily bad) taste to it.
For the third infusion I brewed at 180°F for six minutes. This time the tea had a floral aroma and taste, according to the description this is an orchid taste, and I’ll trust them on that. Besides the orchid aroma, this time it smelled vaguely like freshly cut wet grass. As for the taste, it almost entirely lost the vegetal taste, instead the sweet hay from the last infusion became more pronounced while still being nutty, but having a sharp citrus hint that was quite nice. After brewing the other two teas, I reused the leaves and had a gongfu session and brewed it ten or so more times and I did not see a large loss in taste even in my last infusion. I have to note that with this Tai Ping Hou Kui and the others it is not easy to brew in a medium sized gaiwan. Mine is 70ml and the leaves took up the entirety of the gaiwan.
It is interesting that this is Teavivre’s more expensive Tai Ping Hou Kui, while it lacks the vibrant green leaves of the slightly cheaper version and the leaves are slightly bigger than the other version. Regardless this is still an amazing green tea. I noticed in the previous Tai Ping Hou Kui that the leaves may have some slight variance in terms of leaf size, but the color was fairly uniform; however with this version there was a larger variety of colors to the leaves. Some were lustrous while others were quite dull in comparison.
Regardless for my first infusion I brewed fourteen leaves for three minutes at 170°F. I noticed immediately there were small black dots on nearly every leaf and indent patterns that I am assuming came from the tray they were dried on. There was a very strong peony aroma while not quite as nice as the previous Tai Ping Hou Kui, it was not offensive. The taste was a little hard to describe, the best I can describe it as is fresh cabbage and iceberg lettuce as well as sweet apple undertone.
For my second infusion I brewed at 175°F for four and a half minutes. This time I was getting the buttery aroma, but it was very rich, much more decadent then Teavivre’s cheaper version, while the peony scent began to develop more depth. This time it had a dry vegetal taste that was overpowered by the aroma. It almost felt that this was a scented tea at this time, but it was still refreshing.
For my third and final infusion I brewed at 180°F for six minutes. This was my favorite infusion for this tea, the scent was not as overpowering as the last, it still had the peony aroma, but there was also a grassy contrast to it. While the tea felt very delicate it had a weak cabbage taste, a slight floral taste and a little seaweed/unami aspect to it.
This Tai Ping Hou Kui had the most variance in dry leaves of the three that I tried. I found it interesting that the edges were slightly curved making the dry leaves look like a scope, rather than the traditional flattened leaves. These leaves were smaller than the Teavivre varieties, but had a brighter color that was not uniform throughout the leaves, but nowhere near as dark as Teavivre’s Nonpareil version.
I used seventeen leaves at 170°F for three minutes for my first infusion. The aroma and taste was considerably weaker than the other two versions I tried. The aroma was unmistakably orchid while there was a vegetal taste it was hard to identify because I should have brewed this tea at a higher temperature.
For my second infusion I brewed at 185°F for six minutes, I thought of removing the leaves around the four minute mark, but I am glad that I waited. The orchid aroma was still there, but it more vivacious. While the tea itself was quite effervescent, it reminded me of the liquor of a high mountain oolong. This time there was a cucumber-vegetal and buttery taste.
Next I brewed at 200°F for eight minutes. This infusion was drastically different than the previous two infusions. There was a very perfumed aroma that was quite smooth, not necessarily delicate, but still quite nice. There still was a buttery taste, but it was overpowered by a new pear taste.
While I enjoyed all three teas, the Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui was the best. I liked the Nonpareil version least as it felt the least developed and was lacking the complexity of the other two. While Dragon Tea House’s version was quite nice and refreshing it felt less consistent then Teavivre’s Premium version. I noticed that each time I brewed Tai Ping Hou Kui that it felt like it was leeching everything it could from the leaves, and was always surprised that there still was flavor in the following infusion. I had gongfu sessions with all three before, but the Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui could withstand around twenty infusions, while Dragon Tea House’s could do around fifteen (but it becomes really crazy in later infusions where it switches back and forth between vegetal and fruity) and weirdly enough Teavivre’s Nonpareil struggles being brewed more than ten times. I’d recommend Teavivre’s Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui and Dragon Tea House’s Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui, I’d feel conflicted about recommending the Nonpareil. I was expecting a more vegetal, perhaps asparagus-esque or other dark green taste that was better than the cheaper version, but interestingly enough it is definitely the weaker of the pair.


Just a guy who likes tea.

1 comment:

  1. I love Tai Pings, I guess I have to try Teavivre. Thanks!