This puts the TEA in complexiTEA. (rimshot)
Honestly, this tea made me feel like a novice trying to decipher its complex offerings of layered flavors and aromas. For a while I wasn’t sure how to describe them, but some reflection and time with the tea made it clearer, and the later infusions brought out hidden qualities that were present in the earlier infusions but I couldn’t quite put my thumb on before.
This is my first time with a Red Robe. I had high expectations since it is a rather well-known and prestigious tea. I can say my expectations were well met.
The aroma has consistent notes of cinnamon, and for the first several infusions was very woodsy with notes of amber and hay. The amber notes are especially evident when smelling the wet leaves. As for the flavor, it really evolved a lot from one steeping to the next. The common denominator was the sweet cinnamon taste. In earlier steepings it was very woodsy with flavors of sunflower seeds. Later steepings mellowed out and revealed nutmeg and sandalwood. The sweetness accompanying this tea throughout started out like molasses but gradually got lighter with each steeping, moving to an unmistakable caramel note, then becoming more like honey by the fourth or fifth infusion.
These notes all come together to make a really complex cup that is very warming and very “red”. It’s a wonderful and unique tea. Not exactly my tastes, as I tend to be lured by more bright and fresh tasting teas and this one is definitely deep and bold. I couldn’t see myself drinking it often, but I would definitely like to revisit it every once in a while.
As for preparation, I used 2.5g of leaf per 100ml of water, 194F/90C, steeping for 1’30 and adding 0’30 each time.
EDIT: I have finally gotten around to drinking the other packet of this and I am doing this the more traditional Gongfu way for Wuyi oolong, which I’ve learned is to use more leaf and less time, so I’m infusing 4g in 100ml of water for about 10 seconds followed by flash infusions. I can say this definitely yields a much lighter result. Sweet, but with a seriously thick mouthfeel and still plenty of flavor. I would recommend this method over the previous one I used.