Let me begin this review by saying that sometimes I forget what I have in my tea cabinets and storage totes. Literally, I sometimes buy something, put it aside, and then forget about it. I got so wrapped up in finishing off some of the aged oolong samples I had lying around that I totally forgot about this black tea. What’s worse is that I started working my way through this one a couple weeks ago, took a few preliminary notes, and then shoved it far in the back of one of the tea cabinets. I rediscovered it a couple days ago, tested it to make sure it was still viable, and made a point of taking the time to finish it before moving on to something else.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. I followed this infusion up with 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 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, the dry tea leaves gave off mild aromas of camphor, chocolate, and sweet potato. After the rinse, the camphor, chocolate, and sweet potato aromas intensified and were joined by scents of malt, toast, and wood. The first infusion produced a similar, though more balanced bouquet. In the mouth, I mostly picked up mild notes of toast, malt, wood, and sweet potato underscored by subtle notes of chocolate, cream, and camphor. Subsequent infusions were more intense and robust, offering stronger impressions of chocolate, malt, cream, wood, camphor, toast, and sweet potato. Impressions of molasses, baked bread, butter, wildflower honey, and orange emerged at this point. A subtle minerality also began to make its mark on the finish. Later infusions were dominated by impressions of minerals, toast, baked bread, and wood, though fleeting impressions of orange, chocolate, sweet potato, wildflower honey, and camphor lingered in the background.

This was a super nice, supremely easy-drinking black tea. I loved how refined the aromas and flavors were, and I thought the smoothness of the body was extremely appealing. This was definitely one of the better black teas I have tried in recent months. I would recommend it highly to anyone looking for a sophisticated Chinese black tea.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Camphor, Chocolate, Cream, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange, Sweet Potatoes, Toast, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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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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