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I embarked on my tea journey when I studied abroad in China in 2008 and traveled around Taiwan that summer. I'm here to share my experiences and offer my own opinion, advice, and comments on tea.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tea Gallery Classic Roast vs. Just 4 Tea Traditional Roast

I’ve heard some pretty good things about both of these teas, so I was excited when I finally had the chance to try them both, and to have them in my possession at the same time! Since these two are frequently suggested on TeaChat, I decided that it would be a good idea to have a “throw-down” between these two teas, and compare them head-to-head. Countless people have tasted and reviewed this tea before me (see here and here and here and here) and I really don’t have much to add to what they’re saying, so I’ll just be seeing how the two stack up to each other.

And in this corner, standing at $17.50 for 100 grams is the Just 4 Tea Tie Guan Yin…

And in the other corner, standing at a whooping $9.00 for 25 grams is the Tea Gallery’s Classic Roast Tie Guan Yin…

Okay, I’m probably not cut out to be standing in the middle of a boxing ring, so let’s spare the dramatics from here on out. Okay, even though price is definitely not an indicator of quality, I had a sneaking feeling that the Tea Gallery’s Classic Roast would probably stand victorious at the end of the day. Not surprisingly, I was correct. But I hope you do read on, because I think the exciting part of anything is not in the end result, but rather is the path that leads to the end result.

The Tea Gallery Classic Roast, the last tea to be brewed in my heavy roasted Oolong pot, before I "upgraded"

I tasted the Classic Roast first, and I was taken aback about how potent it was. The smell from the dry leaf was very heavy, roasted, with a dark-chocolate-like aroma. The leaf seems very roasted, and the color borders between really dark brown and black. As I was tasting the tea, I tasted burnt sugar/caramel and cinnamon/spiciness. The tea has great body, and I imagine it would taste better in the cold winters. The words “roasted coffee” kept running through my mind when I was tasting this tea, and I think in many ways the aroma is very similar to nice roasted coffee, but the taste is much better. This could be the ultimate weapon to convert coffee drinkers to tea.

A very delicious tea, IMO. Even though it might be overly roasted, I tend to like these types of teas, so I enjoy it very much. I wish that there was a year or vintage attached to the name though. Is it 2009 Tie Guan Yin, or is the old stuff from last year’s qingxiang TGY that the shops they import from couldn’t sell. Regardless of the tea’s background/heritage, I don’t care too much. The proof of the pudding (or in this case, the tea) is in the eating (drinking), and I must say, the proof is very strong.

I wish I had tried the Just 4 Tea Tie Guan Yin at the same time, but I didn’t get the Just 4 Tea version until a little while after I got the Classic Roast, and I had no idea at the time I would be able to get my hands on the Just 4 Tea one. The Tea Gallery’s Classic Roast certainly upped my expectations for the Just 4 Tea version, which probably created some bias in my part.

The dry leaf smelled really nicely roasted, although the aroma is a bit more subdued when compared to the Classic Roast. The Just 4 Tea TGY was pre-owned, and I suspect that might have contributed to the “weaker” aroma, but it probably wasn’t a leading factor for it. The leaf was also smaller too, and looked like cocoa Rice Krispies, whereas the Classic Roast looked like Cocoa Puffs.

The tea had some of the same similar characteristics to the Classic Roast, but not as “loud.” I got none of the cinnamon spiciness from the lid aroma like I did with the Classic Roast. It was still very delicious though. It didn’t have that strong roasted coffee aroma like the Classic Roast either.

So the Tea Gallery Classic Roast won the throw-down hands-down, but what if you consider the price? The Just 4 Tea version is cheaper, and by a lot. I think I could rink the Tea Gallery Classic Roast if I was splurging myself. I could definitely see the Just 4 Tea TGY as like a really good everyday tea. It might be a tea I might buy to try my hand at aging Oolong. So, perhaps the winner at the end of the day is the Just 4 Tea version, because after I’m done with my stash I’m definitely going to order more, probably the 8 oz version so I can try my hand at aging Oolong.


Will said...

Their claim is definitely that it's usually the current year's tea; Michael says it's a mix of fall and spring harvest (which is apparently a common way to do it). The color of the broth in the picture doesn't look quite dark enough -- experiment with even a little more leaf, maybe about 1/2 the pot.

I like the tea, especially after a few months or more of resting, but I find that it doesn't taste right if I don't brew it just so. Also, it doesn't seem very oxidized; I prefer a healthy dose of oxidation along with my strong roast.

Maitre_Tea said...

This is one of the earlier photos I took, so I was still playing around with the leaf amount...and I agree, the sweet spot was about 1/2 the pot. I would've retaken a photo, but this ridiculously hot weather was making me too lazy to. I think the first session knocked my socks off, but I wasn't able to recapture that same magic since.

Will said...

You could play with crushing some of the leaf too. Tim explains it pretty well (by 'pallets', he means 'pellets').