Winter’s frost gets my mind busy at work as I sift through a year in reflection of the teas I’ve tasted and the ones that stand out. Just like 2019 and 2020, it’s time to share the 10 memorable teas in 2021! 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.
HUOSHAN YELLOW BUD | SPIRIT TEA
My naturally cool constitution lends itself to requiring extra warmth in food and drink during these colder seasons. It often means I reach for 黃茶 Huáng Chá or yellow tea. During the yellowing process, chlorophyll begins to be destroyed due to the high temperature and humidity, degrading into pheophytins and pheophorbide, causing the color of the yellow tea to change from green to yellow. This Huoshan Yellow Bud Huáng Chá from Spirit Tea is warm with life!
HORSE MEAT | WEST CHINA TEA
I and my good friend Grant took a weekend trip to West China Tea this autumn and the moment I tasted this yancha I knew I was hooked! Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo myself of this experience but sipping on it during a front-of-house tea service was memorable, to say the least! The name Horse Meat comes from an abbreviation of this tea’s full name, Mǎ Tóu Yán Ròu Guì, which means “Rou Gui from Horse Head Cliff.
LU’AN MELON PEEL | VOLITION TEA
Lu’An Gua Pian is a great way to ease into the world of green tea. Being pan-fried, there’s a mellow roasted quality that tones down any bitterness and brings about a nice, clean cup. It’s well-rounded with little surprise, and the resiliency these leaves offer means it brews well in a mug, glass, or gaiwan. This specific tea from Volition strikes a beautifully warm balance while providing floral, water-chestnut, and earthy qualities!
See my reflection of this tea HERE
KANZA | IPPODO TEA
Anytime my travels take me to NYC I make an effort to stop by Ippodo. I also needed to restock on some matcha and took the chance to taste their Kanza Matcha. It was immediately clear this was a tea for the long haul. It’s certainly catered to the North American palate, with a clean aftertaste, remarkable fragrance, and powerfully rich. It’s blended exceptionally well as to not yield astringency. Though it doesn’t have the same brashness other options might, it’s great for the entry-level matcha drinker and seasoned lover.
JASMINE | SHIFTING SENSES
I’m usually not the biggest fan of jasmine teas and yet this yinzhen material from Shifting Senses was a true delight. With a touch of alpine coolness, wholesome taste, and light liquor, the aromatics persist diligently. If you’re a jasmine fan this is a must-have. If you’re not, I strongly consider giving this a go!
2020 ANCIENT NANNUO SHENG | RIVERS & LAKES TEA
I purchased a set from them last autumn and it’s beautiful to visit these in a new season. The material is lush and resilient, the liquor sweet and gummy with a striking presence to be revered; the culmination of passion and intuition by tea producer Dá É in Nannuoshan. It’s the hit of brief bitterness that slides away in powerful sweetness that is not only ultra-thick but keeps me wanting more and more through astringency. If you haven’t checked these out I highly recommend them. They’re a wonderful example of shifting subtleties in sheng.
MONK GABA | MOUNTAIN STREAM TEAS
I snagged 50 grams of this GABA, unaware of just how unique and potent it would be. A beautifully sweet and deliciously sour aspect that constantly transforms, it’s a wonderful GABA tea I’d recommend everyone to add to their collection.
AUTUMN 2020 GREEN SHOU MEI | ONE RIVER TEA
With a beautiful huigan and texture that lasts, this shou mei possesses subtle aspects of spice and fresh-cut grass. They’ve got additional options for comparison as well!
ZAIRAI KAMAIRICHI | NARI TEA
This tea comes from either wild tea trees or ones planted from seed – a rarity compared to the common clonal cuttings in contemporary gardens. It also boasts a pan-roasted shaqing (杀青), establishing the nature of the tea counter to steaming. The result has made a roasted sweetness that’s rich in egg-yolk umami that’s sure to leave an impact on your tea journey!
JADE STAR V | MEI LEAF
Years ago in China, Don Mei tasted an aged white tea and was blown away by the body sensations and potency – floating around the streets of Shanghai. Since then, this line of aged white teas has gained popularity and anticipation! Each Jade Star iteration contains a blend of Bai Mu Dan and Shou Mei. It is this utilization of dynamic materials and age that has created a powerful experience. This year’s iteration (5th) boasts a beautiful experience I won’t ruin here!
See my reflection of this tea HERE
I hope you tasted some delightful teas this year, and let me know if you snagged any of these as well and your thoughts! There are so many great vendors and teas circulating the globe!