A couple of weeks ago in a comment, Helen brought up something called "grass jelly tea" and offered to send me some because it was so horrible. I had never heard of grass jelly tea, so I looked it up and found some information about a strange gelatinous substance made from a type of plant. It looked positively vile (imagine black licorice Jell-O, except worse), so I couldn't wait for Helen's package to arrive. I imagined a jiggling glop that would slide repulsively down my throat leaving a vomit-like aftertaste. (She said it tasted like vomit.) But, today her package arrived and it contained (among other things) a simple box of tea that looked not that different from what I would find in a dollar store, save for the Chinese on the box. Hmmm... Clearly not gelatinous.
The lable on the box reads "Chrysanthemum & Puerh Tea" and doesn't say anything about "grass jelly". I looked at the other things in the box (more about them in time), but there wasn't anything gelatinous. The first sentence of Helen's included letter read, "Here is some delicious Chrysanthemum tea, also known as grass jelly tea." Ah-ha! So the regular looking tea is the grass-jelly tea, but what the hell was that gelatinous crap I saw online?
The teabag smelled a little different than typical tea, but that's nothing unusual. I was intrigued by the fact that this was supposedly Pu'erh tea. I've got some Pu'erh tea I got straight from China off Ebay which are little hard pucks of weirdness that brew up to smell vaguely like manure, but taste not quite like manure. Actually, it's not that bad tasting, but I'm not crazy about it. Is this stuff Helen sent me going to be the same, I wondered, except not pressed into a puck? Wouldn't it be funny if I actually liked it? [Pictured below is the Pu'erh I got off Ebay.]
I brewed up a cup and what I ended up with was something that smelled objectionable (but not like manure) and tasted strange and vaguely unpleasant in ways that I can't even describe other that to say it's peppery. Of course peppery isn't bad, I like pepper, but this stuff is nasty in mysterious ways that I'm not able to articulate. I will add that it doesn't taste like vomit. The idea of trying another cup makes want to vomit though, but I'm going to have to try another cup. The first one was sweetened, but the second cup won't be. I can't imagine it will make a difference.
OK, I've made a second cup and it still stinks. How can describe the smell? Dirty wet dog? No. Anyway, it's a musty, vile reek that I find difficult to deal with since I'm supposed to be drinking this substance. The taste? Oddly, it's far more palitable unsweetened. I didn't say it was good, mind you, but it's not quite as repugnant. It's sort of bland, actually. And down the drain it went.
I'm going to save the other two things Helen sent for posts in the next few days because I don't want to blow it all at once.