I’ve been drinking this April 2017 harvest western style in the mornings over the course of this week. Very clean, cooked vegetable savory and lemony and packed a heck of a caffeine punch. I usually used 2 tsp for one steep of a minute or two at 205F, then a second steep for as long as it took me to get ready. Not once did I experience any bitterness or astringency preparing the tea this way.

Today, I finally got around to doing a gongfu session and regret not doing so sooner. The dry leaf, now with 2 years of age, has settled into a soy-sauced and lemony vegetable stir-fry with some pepperiness, sweet potato and marshmallow sweetness, rose and spicy wood (agar). In addition to those aromas, warming the leaf brought out some sautéed mushroom. The rinse, which I drank, was piercing and strong and I was able to discern something like ginkgo nuts. I don’t know how to describe that scent.

The taste was incredibly complex, showcasing the various aromas of the leaf with hints of almond, malt and cinnamon. The body was medium, satisfying, full in the throat. Clean minerality. Aftertastes of peach, peach pit, lemon, lychee and cream. Bottom of the cup aroma of toasted marshmallow? Orange-lemon aroma. The tea forcefully maintained these characteristics for 6 steeps, when most black teas would have lost much, if not all, of their steam. With the seventh steep, some orchid came out in the mouth and the tea transitioned into a stronger lemon taste. This tea just did not want to stop. At the end, I was pushing 10+ minute brews and still sipping on something bright with a light tannic bite. I’m amazed that a black tea could produce more than 15 steeps (the only other I’ve had with comparable longevity was the Jin Guazi offered by Old Ways Tea, another Wuyi black).

I wouldn’t say I’ve been wasting the tea with western style brewing, but the strength of the leaf and its flavor complexity blew me away when prepared gongfu. I recall the price being rather high, maybe somewhere less than $0.50/g, but in my opinion, this tea was well worth it and I would gladly buy more if it were restocked.

Flavors: Almond, Cinnamon, Cream, Lemon, Lychee, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange, Orchid, Peach, Pepper, Rose, Soy sauce, Spicy, Sweet Potatoes, Vegetables, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Always up for a trade. I keep an updated cupboard. Check it out. Don’t be shy — message me if you want to try something! I send international :)

Most enjoyment:

Wuyi and Taiwanese oolong, GABA oolong, sheng and shou puerh, Yunnan and Wuyi blacks, Laoshan green. I also appreciate Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Darjeeling and Nepali teas, bagged tea and herbal teas/tisanes.

I take my teas without milks or sweeteners except sometimes chai and the rare London Fog or matcha latte. I generally steep a tea until it has no more to give.

I’ll try anything once because it helps me learn. Not opposed to well placed herbs, flowers, fruity bits and flavorings. Just nothing cloying especially banana, caramel, coconut, cinnamon or maple. And no added sugars, sweeteners, candy or chocolate.

Preference reference:

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.
89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again. Some could be daily drinker teas.
79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.
69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.
59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possess off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.
Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s puerh, I likely think it needs more age.


Sonoma County, California, USA

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