I tried an unusual green tea recently, Taiping Houkui, or Monkey King tea. For once I'll try and write a simple tea review, not delving into too much research or deeper thoughts on tea. It was a green tea, not really my favorite type, since I'm more taken with darker oolongs and black teas these days, but who doesn't appreciate interesting, good teas (if they like tea).
The review part:
Some of the taste elements were common to a lot of green tea: a grassiness, some floral tone, and a generally fresh taste. More notable to me were a nutty flavor and slight smokiness. The body of the tea, the feel, was also different, a bit heavy, thick. In general it was a nice tea, and different.
Per a little research--a good reference here, and a little from the vendor on a G+ reference here, or more on their website--and the labeling that floral was supposed to be orchid, but I'm still working on remembering and identifying the taste and scent of different flowers.
The appearance of the tea is perhaps more notable than the taste, which was distinctive, but what more to say of that; long leaves and a single bud are pressed as a giant version of a tea like Longjing.
A green tea lover would surely fall in love with the distinctive nuttiness of the tea (like cashew?), or freshness, or pleasant balance of floral and vegetal undertones. The other aspects--in particular the unique body, the thickness of the tea--I'll need to try a few more times to get a feel for, but I like it.
There didn't seem to be much astringency to speak of, a smoothness familiar from drinking "greener" oolongs. Surely this was part of the character of the tea and not the result of careful and ideal brewing technique.
The shop, Tea Village in Pataya
This place is definitely my new favorite shop. Just too bad it's not where I live, in Pataya instead of Bangkok, but I do get over there sometimes.
For readers not familiar with it, Pataya is known for night life, and to be honest it's the sordid sort Thailand is infamous for rather than a club scene. But different kinds of tourists also go there for different reasons, for example Bangkok families getting away for a weekend.
What would be the ideal tea shop? Maybe a place with a good selection of basic teas, at good prices, with good product quality, and other far more unique types, along with a good bit of teaware? Or a shop where friendly owners love to talk about tea, and are happy to let you sample different kinds before you buy any? That's this place.
They're even good with five-year-olds asking lots of questions, trying out herbal teas, and threatening to break everything in the store as an energetic boy might, which is over the top hospitality.
After this excessively positive review I should mention that although I did buy this tea and a few others they did give me a complimentary sample of a Red Jade tea that they don't even sell, and some blue pea tisane (floral herb tea), and a small tea cup to Keoni, my son, for free.
But I was a big fan before all that. I really like a couple other shops in Bangkok but in terms of interesting selection combined with overall value this shop matches any I've visited. I'll write more about that Red Jade and a nice Dahongpao presently and it will be clear why I was so impressed.