The struggle of a nocturnal person living in a diurnal world is real, especially with Ben’s new work schedule! He gets up right when I am going to bed, and with him being such a light sleeper I have to creep around not making much noise (and keep the cats relaxed, they always get rambunctious when one of us is awake) so not to wake him. I am going to try, ugh, again to switch back to diurnal, but it is so hard. Something I have always struggled with, I say I am nocturnal, but really I have a cycling sleep schedule and always have. I sleep fine when my cycle matches up to when I am supposed to be awake, but if not…well…there was a reason in school I would fall asleep leaning against a wall sometimes. So it is that time to brute force ‘reset’ my sleep schedule so that my nocturnal rustling doesn’t bug my more productive fiance, not fun!
Today I am taking a look at Bitterleaf Teas’ Sabertooth 2015 Feng Qing Ancient Tree Dian Hong Black Tea. A Hong Cha from scenic Yunnan, made from old tree leaves and if age was any indication of leaf size, well, this tea comes from an Ent. When I was sharing this tea with Ben it easily fit in my larger teapot, but for a single session I needed a gaiwan because the leaves didn’t fit in my Petr Novak pot and I didn’t have the heart to break them. They were big ol leaves with a hint of golden fuzz here and there, mostly they are dark and twisty, they look archaic. The aroma is rich, with notes of cocoa, malt, autumn leaves, acorn squash, and caramel sweetness. There is also a woody briskness at the finish of the sniff, giving promises of a zinginess along with the heavier qualities in the aroma.
I decided to use the big audacious golden gaiwan, because she is needy and gets jealous when neglected. The aroma of the wet leaves after their first water dousing blend notes of cocoa, malt, molasses, dried cherries…and…hello…notes of sassafras! Yessss!!! I love when that note pops up, I have only had it show up in Red Jade, but considering it is a hybrid of assamica and wild growing trees, picking up this note in a Yunnan tea I am assuming is an assamica is not too surprising. Now if I am wrong and it isn’t then I will admit to being surprised, because I have never seen sinensis with leaves this big. The liquid is sweet and rich, with notes of acorn squash, creamy sweet molasses candy, malt, and a finish of cocoa and a touch of cherries.
Well, this first steep is complex! It is really a coin flip with Hong Cha as to whether the first steep will be a gentle introduction or a complex flavor burst, and I have found it almost always is not indicative of how complex later steeps will be. It is why I love this tea so, it always keeps me guessing and interested. It starts with notes of cocoa and dried cherries, then moves to cranberries and sassafras, on it then goes to finish out with acorn squash and myrrh. It starts smooth and finished a bit mineral and dry, really waking up the palate…hello morning tea!
Guess how long I waited til the next steep…yeah not long at all. The aroma of this steep is straight up chocolate covered cherries and molasses, super rich and sweet. This taste starts out rich and sweet, with notes of caramelized sugar, cherries and a bit of cranberries. The middle is mellow squash and a bit of peanuts. For the finish is a resinous myrrh and pine wood with a lingering rich molasses that lasts for aged. This steep is nothing but smoothness as well, not a single note of dryness or briskness.
The aroma for steep three is rich and super sweet, again it is a chocolate covered cherry and molasses bomb with an extra explosion of yams and squash in the finish. My goodness that first sip is sweet, like a mouthful of brown sugar and cocoa with a rich dark cherry (not dried, juicy fresh this time) note as well. In the middle the familiar notes of squash and yams are joined by a touch of pumpkin and distant sassafras. This tea has great longevity, it just goes and goes, and if it wasn’t totally obvious, its taste is quite enjoyable while being very soothing. In my opinion this is a perfect morning tea, since I do not use caffeine to wake up, I use intense sensory input, and this tea takes the cake!