943 Tasting Notes

87

This was one of my more recent sipdowns, as I think I ended up finishing what I had of this tea around either the end of the third or beginning of the fourth week in June. At the time I started working my way through it, it was a tea that I had been wanting to try for some time. As mentioned several times before, I am a huge fan of Feng Qing teas, and this green tea was yet another Feng Qing product. I found it to be a very good Yunnan Mao Feng green tea, maybe not quite the best or the easiest-drinking I have ever had, but certainly very good.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf and bud combination presented aromas of smoke, malt, corn husk, hay, and sorghum molasses. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of lemon zest, chestnut, and squash blossom. The first infusion then introduced aromas of bamboo and spinach. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of smoke, malt, corn husk, hay, lemon zest, and chestnut chased by bamboo shoot and spinach notes on the swallow. Subsequent infusions saw the nose take on a heavier and more complex citrus character as well as some apricot-like fruitiness. Notes of sorghum molasses and squash blossom finally appeared in the mouth, and lime zest, lettuce, umami, mineral, cream, grass, straw, seaweed, and green wood notes made themselves known as well. There were also some subtle fennel and sugarcane impressions lingering in the background. The final infusions offered mineral, malt, umami, grass, lettuce, spinach, and seaweed notes balanced by subtle sugarcane and corn husk impressions.

Compared to some of the other Yunnan Mao Feng green teas I have tried, this one was better balanced with less astringency. It also offered greater depth, complexity, and longevity both on the nose and in the mouth. Despite these positives, however, it was also a bit too robust in places and was a very filling tea. Still, this was a very good Yunnan green tea, one certainly worth a try for fans of such teas. I would recommend it to fans of Yunnan green teas who are looking for something a little busier, more complicated, and fuller-bodied than many standard Yunnan green teas.

Flavors: Apricot, Bamboo, Chestnut, Corn Husk, Cream, Fennel, Grass, Green Wood, Hay, Lemon Zest, Lettuce, Lime, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Seaweed, Smoke, Spinach, Squash Blossom, Straw, Sugarcane, Umami

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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91

Here is yet another review from my slowly shrinking backlog. I finished a sample pouch of this tea sometime around the end of May. Prior to trying it, I had never tried a purple oolong, but came away quite impressed. Though I found it to be a somewhat temperamental tea, I enjoyed trying it and would most likely be willing to buy more of it in the future.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of chocolate, plum, and malt. After the rinse, new aromas of blood orange, raisin, and fig emerged. The first infusion saw the plum aroma strengthen while subtle aromas of butter and cream also emerged. In the mouth, the tea liquor started off with a pronounced plum note before transitioning to reveal chocolate, butter, cream, malt, fig, and golden raisin flavors. Plum notes then reappeared on the swallow. Subsequent infusions saw the nose develop some bready, floral, and nutty characteristics. New flavors of wood, cinnamon, ginger, lemon zest, minerals, roasted beechnut, tart cherry, pear, baked bread, and roasted chestnut appeared in the mouth. Notes of blood orange belatedly emerged as well, and I even noted some floral impressions reminiscent of a combination of rose and violet on several infusions. The last infusions presented mineral, cream, butter, and pear impressions balanced by subtler wood, golden raisin, and plum notes.

A seemingly rustic tea with surprising depth and complexity, this made for a nice drinking experience. It certainly made me want to try some more Kenyan purple teas because, if this one is any indication, they have plenty to offer. I know I am the most extreme outlier with regard to my rating of this tea, but I really did find it to be that good. It reminded me of a lighter, sweeter Chinese purple black tea, but without the astringency and bitterness that those teas seem to frequently display. Definitely give this one a shot if you are open-minded and looking for something new and different.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Blood Orange, Butter, Cherry, Chestnut, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Fig, Ginger, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Pear, Plums, Raisins, Roasted Nuts, Rose, Violet, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Daylon R Thomas

Blood orange was a note? Dang that is specific, and also a taste I love.

Daylon R Thomas

And I might try that one. The other purple varieties are usually too bitter for me, even if they are a moonlight variety.

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91

You know, as I started hammering out this review, it occurred to me that if I could manage to get at least one or two backlogged reviews posted each day for the next month, I would be all caught up by the first of August. I have no clue if I can manage that with demands on my time being what they are, but I’m going to try to get all caught up on my reviews by the start of the fall semester at the very latest. I finished a sample pouch of this tea around halfway through May. I recall trying this and another roasted Taiwanese Tieguanyin back-to-back and ended up being impressed by both. I especially appreciated this tea’s complexity and depth.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of wood, char, cinnamon, raisin, and banana. The rinse brought out a roasted peanut aroma as well as stronger aromas of wood and char. The first infusion then introduced aromas of cream and vanilla. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, cream, dark wood, char, raisin, and caramelized banana backed by butter, pine smoke, and spruce tip impressions. Subsequent infusions saw the nose steadily become creamier, grainier, sugary, and more buttery. Stronger butter, pine smoke, and spruce tip notes appeared in the mouth alongside new flavors of minerals, plum, toasted rice, coffee, roasted barley, malt, and brown sugar. Notes of vanilla, raisin, and roasted peanut belatedly appeared, and I was just barely able to detect some hints of nutmeg as well. The final infusions offered mineral, dark wood, pine smoke, char, and cream notes backed by subtler impressions of roasted barley, toasted rice, malt, and raisin.

Though I have only found one or two dark roasted Tieguanyin oolongs that truly disappointed me, this was still among the better ones I have tried. It displayed great body and texture in the mouth to go along with tremendous depth, complexity, and longevity. I loved what the roast brought to the table, and I was even more impressed by the fact that it did not overpower the tea’s subtler qualities. An impressive offering all around, I think fans of heavier roasted oolongs would find a lot to like about this tea.

Flavors: banana, Brown Sugar, Butter, Char, Cinnamon, Coffee, Cream, Dark Wood, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Peanut, Pine, Plums, Raisins, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Toasted Rice, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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63

This tea was yet another one of my forays into unique Chinese green teas. So-called purple teas, in general, are still somewhat new to me, and prior to trying this tea, I do not recall ever trying another green tea produced from a purple tea cultivar. If this tea is representative of all such teas, these purple green teas are very likely not for me. I can appreciate what this tea had to offer, but it did not offer the traits of Chinese green teas that I generally find to be most enjoyable.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted muted aromas of roasted grain and roasted almond. The rinse brought out a stronger roasted almond aroma as well as an aroma of cooked spinach. The first infusion then saw the nose turn a little more vegetal while something of a berry-like presence started to make itself known. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of roasted almond, roasted grain, cooked spinach, grass, and cream accompanied by hints of lemon. Subsequent infusions saw a touch of coffee appear on the nose with stronger berry tones and hints of woodiness. New flavors of coffee, blackberry, blueberry, black cherry, red grape, malt, minerals, wood, umami, and popcorn hull appeared as the liquor turned more bitter and more astringent. The final few infusions were dominated by mineral, umami, and wood notes backed by hints of grass, blueberry, roasted almond, and a late-emerging menthol-like quality.

This was such a strange and challenging tea. In terms of both smell and taste, there were numerous points where it reminded me more of a Dancong or Wuyi oolong than any kind of traditional green tea. The texture of the tea liquor was also something else. It was rather full-bodied, yet displayed an alternately grainy and slippery texture that made it hard for me to focus on the flavors it presented. In the end, I did not find this tea to be bad, but it most certainly was not for me. As mentioned earlier, it did not offer enough of what I tend to enjoy in a Chinese green tea, but then again, I doubt this tea was intended to compete with most other Chinese green teas. If you are into really quirky teas, this will probably be your thing. I, however, will likely be sticking with more traditional Chinese green teas for the foreseeable future.

Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Bitter, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Coffee, Cream, Grain, Grapes, Grass, Lemon, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Popcorn, Roasted, Spinach, Umami, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
apefuzz

I’m glad you reviewed this one. Purple teas can be interesting – they certainly have a unique flavor – but they are fairly bullyish and tend to dominate the flavors you would expect from the processing, as you note.

After trying white, black, and sheng purple tea processing, I think sheng pu’erh is the most successful vehicle for its flavors. I was curious how green processing would carry the flavors, but I don’t enjoy purple teas enough to have committed to a purchase. Sounds like it tastes about how I expected it too. Quirky teas for sure.

Togo

Personally, my favourite purple tea I have tried is the Feng Qing Ye Sheng Hong Cha from YS. Do you have any particular sheng in mind apefuzz?

apefuzz

2014 Dehong Ye Sheng white wrapper mini cake from YS was my favorite. Flavors were complex but balanced. I also have the 2013 autumn ye sheng, which wasn’t as much to my liking – less smooth, more punchy and smokey. Of course, I haven’t had either for a while, so I need to check in and see how they’re doing. I think I prefer purple sheng because the flavors make more sense. Finding fruity flavors like dried apricot, etc, is common, so the whallop of fruitiness from purple teas is a bit more normal. Plus the other powerful flavors of sheng can stand up better to the purple tea flavors.

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72

This green tea was something of a curiosity buy for me, as it was produced from a cultivar normally reserved for the production of Wuyi black teas. As everyone who reads my reviews is likely aware, I am a huge fan of traditional Chinese green teas. I, however, also have a big soft spot for odd and/or experimental teas, thus I simply could not pass on this one. In the end, I found it to be a rather likable, if somewhat delicate and temperamental, green tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. What-Cha recommended a water temperature of 167 F for this tea, but I normally brew Chinese green teas around 176 F, so I opted to go with my usual water temperature. The initial infusion was chased by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of grass, hay, malt, and corn husk. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of smoke, straw, and roasted chestnut. The first infusion then introduced a slight creaminess to the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented corn husk, grass, hay, straw, roasted chestnut, and cream notes chased by hints of sugarcane sweetness. Subsequent infusions saw a citrus presence develop on the nose alongside hints of spinach, herbs, and sugarcane. New flavors of butter, lemon zest, spinach, hazelnut, seaweed, and minerals appeared in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging malt and smoke notes and hints of fennel and umami. The last few infusions were dominated by mineral, cream, spinach, and seaweed notes, though some underlying impressions of sugarcane, roasted chestnut, and fennel could still be found.

After reading What-Cha’s description of this tea, I was expecting it to be minty or at least a little more herbal, but I found it to be more grassy and nutty with a pleasant sweetness and pronounced seaweed notes. That may have just been me, or it may have been due to my decision to use a water temperature that was higher than the vendor’s recommended water temperature. I cannot say for sure. What I can say, however, is that this was a pleasant enough green tea. If it were ever to be restocked, I have no clue if I would go out of my way to acquire more of it, but I did enjoy it for the most part. The only real complaints I had were that it faded rather quickly, and it was neither unique enough to consistently hold my attention nor powerful enough to hold its own against some of China’s other Bi Luo Chun green teas. Honestly, I am glad that I took the opportunity to try this tea, but I doubt I would ever rush back to it. Others who enjoy milder, nuttier, and/or more marine green teas may love it though.

Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Corn Husk, Cream, Fennel, Grass, Hay, Hazelnut, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Seaweed, Smoke, Spinach, Straw, Sugarcane, Umami

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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95

Here is yet another review from the backlog. I finished a sample pouch of this tea back around the start of May, and at the time I started working my way through it, I had been looking forward to reviewing this tea for some time. The white teas produced by the Kangaita Tea Factory seem to enjoy a great reputation, consistently garnering high reviews on Steepster and elsewhere. After being highly impressed by Kangaita’s White Rhino back around the start of the year, I knew that I had to make time for this tea at some point. I finally managed to do that in May, and honestly, I ended up finding this tea to be better than the White Rhino. I’m just throwing this out there, but this may be the best white tea I have tried to this point in my life.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea buds produced lovely aromas of hay, straw, eucalyptus, puff pastry, and sugarcane. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of butter, wood, and wheat toast. The first infusion did not strike me as presenting anything different on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered very mild, delicate notes of hay, straw, sugarcane, butter, wheat toast, and puff pastry chased by an unexpected note of sweet corn that popped out briefly on the finish. The subsequent infusions saw the nose turn fruitier as well as more savory and more herbal. Wood and eucalyptus emerged in the mouth while new notes of vanilla, malt, cream, minerals, cucumber, honeydew, cinnamon, tangerine zest, wintergreen, menthol, celery, and fennel also appeared. The final infusions offered mineral, cream, butter, sugarcane, celery, and fennel notes backed by fleeting hints of hay, straw, wintergreen, and eucalyptus.

A beautifully complex and satisfying tea, this is one of those teas that just has to be tried. Even if you are not the hugest fan of orthodox white teas, there is a good chance that you will find a lot to appreciate about this one. The Kangaita Tea Factory truly hit a home run with this tea. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Flavors: Butter, Celery, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cream, Cucumber, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Hay, Herbaceous, Honeydew, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Pastries, Straw, Sugarcane, Sweet, Toast, Vanilla, Wheat, Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Daylon R Thomas

That one is one of my favorites too. If I didn’t spend so much on oolongs, I would probably make that one a staple.

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92

Going into the posting of this review, not only did I need to take a break from reviewing black teas, but I also needed to make additional progress on clearing out the backlog. Due to these two factors, I decided to move ahead in my review notebook and complete a Steepster review for this oolong. I finished a sample pouch of this tea back around the end of May or the start of June. Naturally, I did not date the notes from my review session, so I cannot pinpoint a more precise date. I suppose I’m kind of a veteran when it comes to reviewing jade Tieguanyin oolongs at this point since I have tried a fair number of them over the years. That being said, this struck me as being an excellent example of a jade Tieguanyin. The mouthfeel of the tea liquor was rich and thick, and the tea’s floral, fruity, savory, and vegetal qualities were very admirably balanced.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of butter, lilac, violet, and sweetgrass. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of saffron, cream, honeysuckle, parsley, watercress, and cinnamon. The first infusion then brought out aromas of baked bread and vanilla. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, sweetgrass, watercress, and parsley that were quickly chased by saffron, cinnamon, and vanilla hints on the swallow. I even thought I detected a hint or two of osmanthus accompanying them. Subsequent infusions saw baked bread, lilac, violet, and honeysuckle notes somewhat belatedly emerge in the mouth. The nose became a bit more vegetal and buttery on many of these infusions, as impressions of sesame and roasted barley appeared. I also noted some subtle impressions of pear, apricot, and tangerine on the nose. In addition to the previously listed flavor components, the tea liquor introduced impressions of tangerine, pear, sesame, roasted barley, and apricot to go along with simultaneously emerging notes of lychee, honey, and minerals. The final infusions were dominated by mineral, cream, and butter notes, though some lingering impressions of sesame, pear, and apricot could still be found, contributing the expected pungency to the tea’s finish.

If I were to seriously sit down and list the components of what I feel make a strong example of a jade Tieguanyin, I would be more or less describing this tea. As autumn jade Tieguanyin oolongs go, this was very nice. It did not skimp on anything, as everything that I would expect to find in a tea of this type was there. Lately, I have noticed that a lot of jade Tieguanyin seems to go out of its way to avoid the pungency typically associated with the oolongs produced from the cultivar, but this one thankfully did not shy away from it. An excellent example of a jade Anxi Tieguanyin, I will definitely be acquiring some of the more recent productions for the sake of comparison.

Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cream, Floral, Grass, Honey, Honeysuckle, Lychee, Mineral, Osmanthus, Parsley, Pear, Roasted Barley, Saffron, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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80

Alright, I have once again returned after a break that was longer than expected. School has been eating up an unbelievable amount of time. My internet access has also been spotty due to terrible weather, but here I am. This was yet another one of the black teas I finished while on my recent black tea kick, but unlike the others, I actually finished this one earlier in the month. The last of the What-Cha Jingmai teas I got around to trying, I found this tea to be rewarding, but I also found it to be perhaps the least appealing of the bunch. I associate floral sweetness with Jingmai teas, and this tea quite simply didn’t have it, instead presenting a range of fruity, malty, nutty, savory, woody, and herbal/spicy notes.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves offered aromas of cedar, pine, raisin, fig, and honey. After the rinse, I found new aromas of roasted walnut, cream, and malt underscored by hints of cocoa. The first infusion brought out a somewhat stronger cocoa aroma as well as somewhat smoother, more balanced roasted walnut and cream aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented very subtle notes of raisin, fig, malt, cocoa, roasted walnut, honey, pine, and cedar before a somewhat buttery presence emerged on the finish. Honey and raisin sweetness lingered in the mouth after the swallow. Subsequent infusions saw the nose quickly turn woodier, spicier, and more herbal, while something of a buttery presence also emerged. Stronger butter notes appeared alongside new flavors of black pepper, minerals, camphor, eucalyptus, caramel, and orange zest in the mouth. In addition to these new flavors, subtler impressions of toast, dried tobacco, smoke, and roasted chestnut also emerged. The final infusions presented lingering mineral, malt, roasted nut, orange zest, and cream notes balanced by subtler impressions of camphor, tobacco, caramel, honey, and raisin.

Most of the Jingmai black teas I had tried prior to this tea were notable for their floral, fruity sweetness, yet the roast that was applied to this tea decreased the sweetness and brought out a range of other flavors while eliminating any obvious floral characteristics entirely. A drier, subtler black tea than many of the other Yunnan black teas I have tried over the course of the past several years, this would be a great tea for someone who has perhaps grown tired of the typical Yunnan black tea profile. I, however, love the fruitier, sweeter Yunnan black teas, so this tea was not quite what I was expecting. Even though it did not offer everything I look for in teas of this type, it was still a very nice black tea and an excellent change of pace from the Yunnan black teas to which I am more accustomed.

Flavors: Black Pepper, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cedar, Chestnut, Eucalyptus, Fig, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Orange Zest, Pine, Raisins, Smoke, Toast, Tobacco, Walnut

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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86

This was yet another of the Wuyi black teas I reviewed in May and then did not bother to review here until now. I think this was the last of the four black teas from Old Ways Tea that I tried. I recall rushing to try it because I was so smitten with the 2016 Premium Old Tree Black Tea. Unfortunately, I did not find this tea to be quite as good as the 2016 version, but that is not much of a knock considering how great I found that tea to be. All things considered, this was still a very good and very satisfying Wuyi black tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, I detected aromas of honey, malt, butter, baked bread, and pine coming from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I noted emerging aromas of roasted almond and roasted peanut. There was something of a green wood presence too. The first infusion then introduced a slight hint of smoke to the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of roasted almond, roasted peanut, butter, malt, and baked bread that gave way to impressions of green wood, honey, pine, cream, and vanilla. After the swallow, I noted a subtle smokiness and an unexpected note of cinnamon in the aftertaste. Subsequent infusions saw the nose turn a little smokier with cocoa, citrus, and mineral aromas also emerging. Impressions of minerals, cocoa, leather, and orange zest emerged in the mouth alongside stronger impressions of cream and cinnamon. Towards the end of the session, I also managed to pick up some subtle ginger and brown sugar notes. The final infusions offered notes of minerals, baked bread, orange zest, and malt backed by subtle leather and roasted nut notes and a cooling herbal presence on the swallow that was reminiscent of tobacco.

This was an extremely deep and complex black tea with tremendous texture in the mouth. Compared to the 2016 Premium Old Tree Black Tea, this tea did not display quite as sharp or clean of a mineral presence. I also did not find it to be as spicy, complex, or energizing as its forebear. Despite these minor quibbles, this was still a very good Wuyi black tea that only suffered a bit in comparison to a truly exceptional tea from the previous year. Try both this tea and the 2016 version if you get the chance. If you are into Wuyi black teas, I’m willing to bet that you will enjoy them.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Ginger, Green Wood, Honey, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Smoke, Tobacco, Vanilla

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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78

Here is yet another of the reviews I have been sitting on since May. I finished what I had of this tea sometime during the first half of the month. I was on a huge Wuyi black tea kick at the time and ended up drinking this and four black teas from Old Ways Tea over the course of like 4 or 5 days. Of the bunch, this was actually my least favorite, though all were quite appealing. To be honest, I kind of expected to like this one the least because I have yet to warm up to the idea of Dancong cultivars being used for black tea production. Since this tea was produced from a Dancong cultivar grown in Wuyishan, I sort of knew that there was at least a possibility that this tea would not do as much for me. In the end, I liked it somewhat more than expected, though I was right about it not quite being my thing.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, I detected aromas of lychee, apricot, honey, rose, and baked bread coming from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I picked up a stronger rose aroma and emerging scents of wood and hibiscus. The first infusion then saw the nose turn a little woodier and hints of cherry emerge. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of baked bread, lychee, apricot, and honey that quickly gave way to rose and wood notes backed by hints of vanilla and malt. Subsequent infusions saw the nose turn smoother, fruitier, and more floral before gradually turning woody once again. Stronger notes of vanilla and malt appeared in the mouth along with belatedly emerging cherry and hibiscus notes. Candied orange, mineral, strawberry, cream, and peach notes emerged as well, and I also picked up hints of caramel in places. The final infusions offered lingering mineral, baked bread, and honey impressions that were balanced by subtle notes of rose, vanilla, lychee, and candied orange.

I know I am the outlier with regard to my rating of this tea, but I was more than a bit taken aback by this tea’s intense fruity sweetness. It seems that the black teas produced from Dancong cultivars always either strike me as being incredibly sweet or oddly herbal, and to be completely honest, they are always a bit much for me either way. Personally, I found this tea to be a bit too sweet in a number of places. It is obvious, however, that I am the only reviewer to this point that has had that particular complaint. While I enjoyed this tea’s complexity and did not find it to be bad by any means, it is doubtful that I would go out of my way to reacquire it. In the end, I can understand why other people might have liked this tea, but it was not really for me.

Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Caramel, Cherry, Cream, Hibiscus, Honey, Lychee, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Peach, Rose, Strawberry, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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Bio

My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.

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