I went to the TenRen tea store in SF the other day and picked up two boxes of Chinese teas which I knew very little about. The first is a Pu-Erh, which is black, smoky, and somewhat fermented smelling. Although quite pungent, it didn’t taste nearly as strong, but it does form a dark heavy liquor. When it comes to smoky teas, I prefer Lapsang Souchong. A good Lapsang is like a fine peaty single-malt. How’s that for snobbery?
The other was the Ti Kuan Yin tea, named for the “Iron Goddess of Mercy.” I’m a bit of a sucker for those fantasy-novel-esque names, but this tea was light and refreshing, with a pleasant amber liquor and very little bitterness. Deb called it standard Chinese restaurant tea, but I found it to be better than that, probably because it was a single serving and not heated in a huge vat for hours.
The TenRen store is a pretty cheap way of getting samples of new teas, and since my tea-knowledge to this date has been very India-centric, I suspect there’s a lot to explore.