10 Memorable Teas from 2020

It’s difficult to believe that another year is coming to a close. I remember last December I sat with a kyusu of hojicha, recalling fond memories of numerous teas while looking forward to a new year. 2020 has been a different year for us all, and the times I searched for a tea to fit the moment, with the internal and external environments always pulling at opposite ends, proved to be a challenge. I invite you to join me as I sit down with some Bingdao Gushu Sheng Pu’er from Wuji Tea Co. and reflect on this past year in our shared tea journey. The teas shared below are in no way ranked and though there are many more teas than these ten I’d love to showcase, these stand out to me in my continued year of learning. I’ve provided a link to further reading as well as where you can purchase the tea when applicable.

SLOW MELLOW YELLOW

A tea that has traversed arduous terrain and is crafted through the wisdom of the Yi people, this high-elevation tea is pure bliss to drink. Gardenia, rose water, and a lush, full-leaf display exudes care and diligence during every step of creation. This tea finds its roots in the Yi people’s folklore of the 100-Spirit Bird. In ancient times, the bird was said to have flown with a tea branch and seeds in its mouth, cultivating the region with its tea trees. The dying art this tea’s production is facing makes this experience bittersweet and one to support.

If you’d like to experience this tea yourself, you’ll find it HERE

ROHINI FIRST FLUSH

With the COVID Pandemic impacting the production of tea gardens throughout the world including spring harvests, Darjeeling’s presence had been a rarity within the community in early spring. It was Adagio’s first tea sourced for 2020 and I was excited to find a Darjeeling out and ready for purchase so early! With notes of fennel, slight citrus burst, grapefruit zest, and a lingering finish that remains dry and clean on the palate, this Darjeeling surprised and delighted me.

For a closer look into this tea, consider reading In The Land of The Thunderbolt: Rohini First Flush
If you’d like to experience this tea yourself, you’ll find it HERE

KOUSHUN WHITE

Bred from the Japanese Kurosawa and Kanayamidori tea bushes, Koushun’s signature aromatics of sakura, herbal spice, and resinous woods shine within this white tea’s sweet creamy texture. This lingering profile certainly mirrors the longevity in infusions as well, making for a robust and complex morning session. This special batch while limited is a promising endeavor and reflects the relationship UNYtea has with their producers. The owner, Jeff, is one of the most consistent vendors of quality out there.

If you’d like to experience this tea yourself, you’ll find it HERE

1970s OOLONG

Prepare to take a trip through time as this aged oolong tells stories of antique woods, sunlit cabin vibes, and showcases the standards in visual appearance and shaping technique indicative of the time. A thoughtful case study into a handmade, well-stored aged oolong, and surely one to keep reserved for further reflection. My first experience with this tea was as the mystery tea in Mountain StreamTeas’ first subscription box early last year. It certainly left a mark on me!

If you’d like to experience this tea yourself, you’ll find it HERE

MIDSUMMER LIGHTSHOW

As I broke into the 2010 Fuding Shou Mei it pulled apart with ease. Cool menthol trickles down the throat and chest as za’atar, sesame seeds, thyme, and woody. Compared to the first iteration, Sunfire Ripple, this sweet white tea has a fuller spectrum of flavor and lasts considerably longer. It’s not finicky and brews wonderfully well no matter the parameters.

ZHANG PING SHUI XIAN

Another stellar tea, this particular Zhang Ping Shui Xian erupted with aromas of rose petals, amaretto liqueur, and hydrangeas. Its low fire and 4-hour roasting process assist in such a pleasing experience. Cool spring days near the water come to mind. It prompted me to dive deeper into learning about the processing and art behind its craft, which I’ve linked below.

For a closer look into this tea, consider reading A Complete Guide to Zhang Ping Shui Xian
If you’d like to experience this tea yourself, you’ll find it HERE


WHITE FOREST


From the moment I opened the bag of White Forest Gushu White tea from Black Cloud Tea, I knew I was in for a treat! This sun-dried Gushu white tea is syrupy sweet and wholesome in flavor. Perfect for bowl brewing or gong fu style, the solar warmth in this tea surely lifts any dreary day.

If you’d like to experience this tea yourself, you’ll find it HERE

BLACK FRAGRANCE

This Black Fragrance (rare lot) comes from a small farm about 60 km from Fuzhou in the mountains of Fujian. Using the prized Mei Zhan varietal, this fruit-forward and malty tea persist in the mouth as comfort takes hold. I was fortunate to experience this tea and share the same reaction with others during a virtual tasting in which this tea was included.

If you’d like to experience this tea yourself, you’ll find it HERE


SHIRAKAWA GOKU MATCHA


Powerfully potent, the 100% unblended goku cultivar matcha is bold, creamy, and provides beautiful serenity. Not only is this tea a great addition when compared next to other single cultivar matchas, but its potency also creates powerful sensations with each chawan emptied.

For a closer look into this tea, consider reading Shirakawa Gokou Matcha
If you’d like to experience this tea yourself, you’ll find it HERE

UMBRELLA 2020


Umbrella 2020 was a significant tea for many reasons, and if you’ve read my reflection you know that I have frequently revisited this tea since its release. Marked by generosity and a spot of solace at the start of the pandemic. I share more complete thoughts in my reflections, Tea for Rainy Days: Umbrella 2020 from W2T

I hope you enjoyed a few of the many teas that have stuck with me over the course of this turbulent 2020. Have you had any of these teas yourself? I’d love to hear which teas stood out to you!

Steep well!

-Marco


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