Friday, January 24, 2014

Steepster Meetup: Tea Drunk

Now that the craziness of the holidays is over the Steepster meetup group is back in action. Last week we met right on my home turf, Tea Drunk in the East Village. We've gone to several different kinds of places over the last few months and even took a class on matcha. Jason, one of the wizards behind the curtain at Steepster, was able to join in on the fun this time around. While everyone loves tea, most of our group is still in the beginning stages of their exploration.

I was unanimously elected to choose the teas for the evening and while a daunting task, I tried to pick the teas that suited our group's tastes but that also helped to push boundaries a bit. When we first arrived, Shunan (the owner) served everyone a cup of Big Meng Song raw puerh. Everyone hesitated a bit but they were pleasantly surprised to find that it tasted great. The teas that I selected were:

Silver Needle 白毫銀針
Dian Tou, Fu Ding, Fu Jian, Early Spring 2013
Rou Gui 肉桂
Lotus Peak, Wu Yi Mountain, Fu Jian, Spring 2012
Lightest Fermentation Tie Guan Yin 鐵觀音正炒
Fu Di, An Xi, Fu Jian, Autumn 2012
Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong 正山小種
Tong Mu Guan, Wu Yi Mountain, Fu Jian, Spring 2012
We had a kettle set up next to our table so that I was able to continuously brew and pour. The silver needle was served first and it was an immediate hit, even for those who do not usually enjoy white teas. I might be a bit biased since I work at +Tea Drunk but it is truly among some of the best that I've had. Next came the Tie Guan Yin. This one was incredibly sweet and floral with a strong aroma and it was also very popular. Rou Gui is a very roasty tasting oolong with a subtle hit of spiciness while the Zheng Shan is a smoked tea, similar to Lapsang Souchong but of a much higher grade. These two did not seem to be quite as well liked but they are two of my favorites when it comes to the darker teas on the menu.
Tasting the teas as they cooled or seeing how a sip of silver needle prior to drinking Zheng Shan were just some the experiments that were tried. Being a bunch of tea folks, there was a lot of nerdy chatter and sharing of samples. Jason from Steepster brought some goodies from their first Steepster Select mailing so I scored some Karigane from Tea Wing and Nantou Oolong from In Pursuit of Tea. 
If you'd like to join us for future meet ups, just keep an eye on the Steepster message boards. I'm sure that we will be planning the next one soon.
Image borrow from Steepster's Instagram since the one I took came out rather terrible. Make sure that you give them a follow!