I received this as a freebie with my latest order. Thanks! The envelope says Spring Harvest with no year indicated and the website states Spring 2017. Who knows.
This tea struck a very positive and uplifting note with me but is a one-hit-wonder following the recommended brewing parameters of 1 tsp, 8oz, 212F, 3/5 minutes. I even did a third steep at what was going to be 8 minutes but turned into 11 due to forgetfulness.
The dry leaf is a sight to behold, full of twisty brown, black and gold needles that smell only of malt and sweet potatoes. The aroma of the first steep promised an exciting session with scents of orange, moss, orange blossom, molasses and milk. Indeed the first steep tasted wonderful, possessing notes of orange, walnut, mossy wet river rocks, milk, malt, light brown sugar and non-spicy ginger. The mouthfeel was smooth and milky, like 1% milk. There was a lively energy in the mouth. I was instantly warmed from the inside-out and happy.
Unfortunately, the second steep fell flat. The aroma of the liquor lost everything but the orange. There was an addition of orange zest and light ginger and the milk faded. The body became very light and watery and the mouthfeel slightly tannic with tastes of orange, apricot and wood. I wanted more than this so I went for a Hail Mary third steep. Sadly, even after 11 minutes, I was left with a nose of orange zest and orange and a taste of apricot. Very watery. There were no lingering tastes, but as I write this review, I notice a pleasant kind of watery, sour apple mouthfeel. I will say it made an excellent post-dinner drink that complemented my salmon, rice, broccoli and sweet corn.
This would be the perfect tea for those gray and frozen winter days when you need a ray of sunshine. I’ll move this one to the back of the drawer for now. Hopefully some light aging will work its magic and allow for some longevity and cocoa notes to develop but I feel like realistically it might not happen.
Edit: I think I was too harsh on this tea. Ratings are tough without clearly defined criteria and I sometimes think about dropping that habit. That said, I’m not ready to drop the habit yet. I was disappointed to not pick up on any of the chocolate I’ve gotten in other dianhong teas. There’s something really nice about this tea that I can’t define. Some of the best things come in short bursts. Increased rating. Still going to let the tea sit for a while.