Adagio’s collection of Masters teas has been around for a quite few years. The Yunnan Golden Curls is a long-time favorite of mine. They recently expanded this line and launched it as an entirely separate website, Masters by Adagio Teas. I was super excited when I first heard about this. It is great to see a higher profile company investing in teas where the focus is on quality and terroir. Consumers are now able to shop teas by region as well as by the specific farmer that produced the tea. It’s like a supercharged version of their Roots Campaign.
They were kind enough to share four different selections with me for review. These teas are all special in their own way but I thought it would be best to compile my thoughts on each of them in one mega-post. I meant to post this sooner but my pictures of Anji Bai Cha mysteriously disappeared so it had to wait until I could reshoot them.
Shi Feng Long Jing
This pre-Qingming green tea was produced by Guo Ya Ling. The dry leaf had the distinctive flat shape of dragonwell along with the occasional clump of trichomes. Don’t let those scare you! This is a sign of a high-quality tea. They were mostly whole with plenty of visible bud sets before and after infusion. I opted to brew this tea in my glass gaiwan so that I could admire the leaves as they unfurled.
Shi Feng Long Jing brewed up a pale greenish-yellow color. I was able to see a ton of trichomes floating around in my sharing pitcher. The taste was vegetal yet incredibly light and delicate. It leaned to the savory side with a prominent nuttiness and just a hint of floral sweetness. There was no astringency and the mouthfeel was soft and fairly thick. This tea did just as well grandpa style as it did in a gaiwan.
Shi Feng Long Jing sample provided for review.
Yu Qian Anji Bai Cha
This Anji Bai Cha was made by Yu Feng in Zhejiang. This is one of my favorite green teas so I was really looking forward to trying this one. The dry leaf had almost twig-like, rolled appearance. This one seemed a bit rougher than the Long Jing as there were more broken leaves. A few of them were very pale at the tips. This green tea is made from a cultivar named for its “white” leaves so that was not surprising. Once they unfurled, I was able to see a distinct darker middle vein on many of them.
The liquor was a pale greenish color. I immediately noticed a sweet, vegetal aroma. My first infusion was very delicate and slightly fruity. I was reminded of honeydew melon. Later rounds were more savory with an almost umami-like element. There was some astringency but only just enough to make it refreshing. This is the green tea that I recommend for people who think they don’t like green tea because it isn’t grassy at all.
Yu Qian Anji Bai Cha sample provided for review.
Jing Kong Que
This Yunnan black tea was made by Zhao Ji Lin. The translation of the name Jing Kong Que is golden peacock and the leaves certainly are as flashy as their namesake. They were fairly small and mostly golden with darker leaves scattered in as well. Even before brewing, there was a honey-like aroma that promised an excellent drinking experience. I brewed this tea gongfu style with a gaiwan since that is my default setting.
The taste was earthy and sweet with prominent notes of cocoa. It was almost like a tea version of hot chocolate. I drank this tea in the early summer months but it was very warming and comforting. There was also an interesting starchy note in the aftertaste that brought sweet potatoes to mind. This is one that I would definitely reach for on a cold day. As far as black teas go it was medium-bodied and very smooth. Gongfu is always my preference but this tea did really well when brewed in a western fashion as well.
Jing Kong Que sample provided for review.
Balasun First Flush
Balasun First Flush was made by Bandana Pradhan. I was really surprised by the appearance of the leaves for this one. They were larger and more whole than any of the Darjeeling teas that I have had in recent memory. They had a fresh aroma with both floral and fruity notes. Since this is a first flush tea the leaves are definitely are the greener side. The first harvest from this region is almost never fully oxidized. Once they unfurled I was able to see reddish colored edges on many of the leaves.
Balasun First Flush brewed up a golden yellow color. The taste was floral and bright yet fairly light-bodied. It had a refreshing astringency but never stepped over the line into bitter. The fruity note that I had picked up in the dry leaf came across as a hint of citrus zest. My second infusion was milder but just as enjoyable. I did find myself wishing for muscatel, the aroma that Darjeeling is world-renowned for, but that is becoming increasingly harder to find these days.
Balasun First Flush sample provided for review.
Masters by Adagio Teas is definitely worth checking out, especially for those that are fairly new to single-origin teas like these. Have you had the chance to try any of their offerings? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!