[Tea Review] Numi's Temple of Heaven Gunpowder Green
What I expect from a gunpowder green tea is a strong, rich, though not exactly perfect flavor. The grassy notes, the nutty or twiggy notes, and the tart, metallic notes that most green teas have to some degree: gunpowder green has lots of and none are all that subtle or particular nuanced. The flavors sort of swell and run over the tongue, leading each sip to focus on a slightly different palette, causing some portions of the same cup to come across in different ways. The varieties I have tried also have a strong kick, and can quickly can become bitter.
This green tea is gently steamed, then hand-rolled into small pearls. When brewed, the leaves unfurl, exploding a mouthful of flavor. This high-grade Gunpowder Green Tea brews a bronze green color and is well-rounded and smooth.
- From Numi's product page (linked below)
Numi's Temple of Heaven gunpowder comes in mid-sized dark pearls ranging from a green-brown to a nearly black. All with an appropriate sheen to them. The tin aroma is hard to pin down, but hints of tea mix in with a more general, vegetal smell. There are some non-pearl bits in the mix, but nothing too major.
The first pot was brewed one for one with a five minute steep. Steeping aroma was very similar to its tin notes: while I was surely smelling green tea, there was sort of a whiff of something slightly bitter floating around. Five minutes is too much for a first-infusion steep, unless you are the kind of person that really likes bitter or likes taking anti-oxidants in by the mega-dose. The front- and mid-tongue bitterness effectively blanked out the subtler flavors, leaving little to pay attention to until it had died down and a copper chestnut note lit up the back of the tongue in the after-taste. As the sips continue, the tastes meet up a little better, making the tea a whole tongue affair.
Second cup from the first pot was a little better, the tea apparently cooling into the proper taste range (in other words, after steeping, remove the leaves and let it drop 10-15 degrees). Mixed in a little bit of honey which worked right at first but ultimately, by cancelling out the bitter, roped in the taste just a bit too much. Drink this one straight and plain.
Second infusion for a three minute steep shows the tea still retaining a lot of flavor. Rather than be washed out to only a hint of its initial potency, this is still a tea that stands on its own (as strong or stronger than some other green teas on their first infusion). The bitter blast has toned down, and the copper tone has come up, leading to it becoming much more of a mid- to back-tongue flavor with a faint but pleasant after-taste. Drinks hot or cool.
The overall suggestion is to steep lightly on the first go, and then make use of the quick steeping time to get a second or maybe even a third infusion. Drink plain at a temperature you feel comfortable with, possibly with some small sesame or light cracker snack to help work the flavor around some. At a price of only about a dollar per ounce through Amazon, it is not expensive and you definitely feel the caffeine and anti-oxidant rush from it. A cup or two of this should wake you up from a long day's after lunch slouch, no problem.
Final rating will be slightly under Good (+0.8) with a couple of tenths awarded to price and the quality of the second steep. Tomorrow or so, I'll go for a quicker steep (two minutes) and then update to say whether it helped.
UPDATE: Upon letting it cool the coppery flavor becomes even more pronounced. It has the effect of lending a refreshing quality to it. I recommend trying this iced to see if you get the same effect.
Si Vales, Valeo
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