The Tiger Box Experience: The 2022 lunar new year box from Volition Tea and Yaocha
Day 1: Volition's Colorful Peony (bai mudan) Hello again friends! I’m back with a delicious Chinese New Year box that I purchased through Volition Tea. The box is a labor of love between Annie of Volition Tea and YaoYao of Yaocha Tea. Both came together to curate a wonderful selection of teas fit for ringing in the Lunar New Year, or the Year of the Tiger (2022). In this box, there are 14 different teas (including all 7 of Volition Tea’s lineup) alongside a slip in each pouch describing the rich culture and traditions of Annie’s family from Northern China and YaoYao’s family from Southern China. Now, those of you who know me know that I am an anthropology major and have always loved learning about different cultures and their practices. This box combined my two main loves in life: tea and cultural anthropology, so naturally I set an alarm on the launch day to ensure I could get a hold of this box. I have anxiously waited, like a child before a major holiday, for this box and am so happy to finally enjoy it here and share the details with you. Inside the box, aside from the tea, there was a gorgeous 红包 "hóngbāo", or red packet. Inside was a thank-you note and the outside had a Tiger and the character 福, "fú", for "happiness/ fortune/good luck", a popular Chinese New Year blessing. So, without further ado, let’s get into this review.
Cultural Tiger Tidbit: ( “ / ” indicates a new line on the paper slip) “Feb 1 大年初一 / Colorful Peony / White Tea / Volition Tea / Happy New Year 春节快乐 (Chūn Jié Kuài Lè)! In the North, Annie’s family have hand-made dumplings for breakfast. In the South, Yao’s family eat Tangyuan (sweet rice balls) with osmanthus and sugar for breakfast. Then we head out to visit family members, and temples to pray to the buddhas and gods. Cleaning is forbidden, as it will sweep away your good luck.” Brewing Parameters: 3g/100mL gaiwan 200℉/93℃ water Dry leaf: The dry leaf smells like sweet grass with a nice undertone of honey poking through, kind of like a clover honey aroma.
Warmed gaiwan: The leaves are now smelling like honey, vanilla, dates, and Chinese Five Spice. Very pleasant liquorice aroma. Rinse 3s: Very strong honey notes with an interesting chamomile flower flavor lying behind the honey. I’m also getting heavy vanilla flavors. This tea is very sweet with a nice and honeyed flavor. Interestingly enough, there’s a refreshing feeling that I can only describe as a peppermint cooling happening in the back of my throat. It’s very nice and refreshing overall, especially for a rinse!
1st steep 5s: I’m getting notes of honeyed hay with that chamomile flower flavor hanging around. It’s still pretty vanilla-forward (new indie band name, anyone?) with that refreshing lingering cooling going on in the back of my throat. It’s still very sweet, this time the sweetness has ramped up and tastes more like someone dipped a piece of sugarcane into some honey. It’s great. For the first steep, this is surprisingly thick and really clings to the mouth.
2nd steep 15s: The vanilla notes are really kicking through here. I’m also getting a weirdly satisfying cucumber-like flavor poking through? It’s definitely a refreshing tea, I’d bet this would be phenomenal cold-brewed. The tea thickens. Very nice mouthfeel, almost like a warmed honey- it’s viscous but at the same time, entirely fluid like water. It’s unique and wonderful.
3rd steep 30s: It’s still vanilla-forward with a nice pepperminty cooling effect in the throat. Very pleasant and refreshing. The tea is a yellowish color now and is still fairly thick for how light this is brewing up.
4th steep 45s: The tea is a darker orange now, with an intense sweetness lingering in my mouth. Still a mild cooling effect though it’s toned down and instead is more along the lines of a crispness in flavors.
5th steep 60s: This steep tastes like honeyed dates. Very pleasant. 6-12th steeps: The tea tended to have the same notes. It’s not necessarily the most dynamic as far as tasting notes goes, though that doesn’t mean it’s lacking. It more than makes up for this with the dominant honey and sweetened vanilla flavors, combined with a thick tea soup that really clings to the tongue. Overall Verdict: I’m very impressed with this white tea and it was quite the fitting way to ring in the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Tiger. Aside from the leaves being absolutely gorgeous, this was a great tea. I’m typically not the biggest consumer of white teas (I tend to prefer my heavily roasted yancha, among other teas, though I will drink a nice, boiled white tea when I want a comforting pick-me-up) but this one blew me away. It’s the first white tea where I’ve really noticed strong notes of sweet vanilla and honey on top of the usual green flavors I associate with white tea. The texture of this tea is phenomenal and I loved feeling the progression in my mouth with each steep. Another fascinating aspect that I really loved with this tea would be the strange pepperminty cooling effect I got. I don’t know what caused that, or if that’s even the best way to describe it, but I loved it. It felt refreshing and tasted wonderful. Overall, I would recommend this Colorful Peony white tea to friends who typically don’t like white teas or to someone who claims they don’t like tea. This tea is sweet and flavorful enough that I think it could honestly convert anyone to the leaf side. Volition Tea certainly has impressed me with this and I can’t wait to taste the rest of their lineup.