It's the end of the semester here at my university. It's a burden and a relief. I left home a 7:30 this morning to take an exam, with the temperature hanging around 26 degrees with a wind chill of 19. Upon arriving home, I remembered having that last sample from Upton that I hadn't yet opened. I had been so busy writing throughout the year, that I was only able to complete about three or four reviews. Fortunately, I now have the time to pursue my passion for tea.
White Monkey is a recently released lucha from Upton Tea Imports. It consists of pretty leaf-bud sets that are really set off by the large amount of tricomes (the down covering the leaf buds). The scent upon opening the bag was decently fresh, with a medium-bright grassiness mixed with a light undercurrent of rose and wildflowers.
I rinsed the leaves for 10 seconds, giving the leaves an aroma of canned creamed corn. The rinse was dumped in the cha hai. The first infusion used 175 degree water for 15 seconds, which resulted in a pale tan-green liquor with aromas of corn and honeysuckle. There is some sweetness present in the front of the palate, with a veggie/green bean note somewhere around midpalate. The mouthfeel was rough, and I didn't detect any sort of huigan.
The leaves had opened up by the 30 second steep, giving it a stronger, darker vegetal flavor as well as something that resembled fried chicken. I had experienced this before, and I hoped that I wouldn't be experiencing it here. The aroma had changed too: A slight tartness with notes of butter and the very obvious "fried chicken" scent.
For the 3rd steep I cranked things up a bit. The water was warmed up slightly, and I let the leaves steep for 60 seconds. The aroma rising from the cup had changed yet again, this time resembling diluted rose oil. The fried aroma had diminished somewhat. Unfortunately, this tea had lost a lot of it's sweetness. It now had a sencha-like tartness, which was a pleasant surprise, but I also understood it to mean that most of the flavor from the tea was gone.
The fourth and final steep lasted for 90 seconds, this time with a sugary aroma. I was hoping that the tea had lost some of it's bitterness, as it became rather harsh once the liquor had cooled. Regardless of my hopes for this tea improving throughout the steepings, I was wrong. The tea had very little flavor; some sweetness in the front of the palate that faded after a few sips, and the bitterness remaining constant throughout. This cup had the addition of a huigan that resembled super-glue. I decided to stop there.
Overall, this tea is average. The corn and green bean notes were pleasant, but they faded rather quickly, where the bitterness came in. I noted that the amalgamation of the four infusions in my cha hai was rather pleasant, mixing sugary notes with corn and other summer vegetables.