Took me a bit to figure this one out. I messed up one gongfu session with it – I think I underleafed. Tried Western style and was unimpressed. Finally, I stuffed as many leaves into my gaiwan as I could, and now its personality is starting to shine. This little guy needs plenty of leaf! A 60ml gaiwan is perfect for such teas, especially when you are frugal (cheap) like me.
Overall, the Cliff’s Notes version of this tea is that it is a nutty black tea. Actually, it sort of smacks you in the face with nuttiness, especially in the first few infusions. I like teas with that kind of power.
Beyond the nuttiness, it has quite a bit of complexity and definitely separates itself from other black teas. it has some interesting fruit notes as well as interesting sweet notes, with hints of caramel, brown sugar, bruleed marshmallow. Every once in a while, it has a very nice tartness to it, but it sort of comes as a surprise – it is not always there and it arrives at random times.
I’m getting to appreciate this tea more and more. It just shows that fiddling around with your brewing parameters will usually pay off with teas that aren’t coming out right.
Dry leaf: raw walnut; musty, dried dark fruit (raisin, date), some tangy red fruit (red currant); hints of baking spice and milk chocolate. In preheated vessel: some roasted almond nuttiness, tangy fruit more prominent (red currant, mandarin orange)
Smell: roasted almond, cherry wood, bruleed marshmallow
Arrival – roasted almond, cherry wood
Development – cherry compote/pie filling, bruleed marshmallow, dark caramel
Finish – all flavors get wiped out
Aftertaste – light red fruit (raspberry, cherry), hint of caramel and brown sugar sweetness, woody notes remain. Some hints of melon (honeydew, cantaloupe).