91

Though I had already tried a 2017 Feng Qing dragon pearl black tea from What-Cha, I decided to try some of these 2017 Feng Qing dragon pearls from Yunnan Sourcing simply because I wanted to attempt to gauge how more or less the same tea can differ after being in the hands of two different vendors. In many instances, I find that formed teas, even those produced from the same harvest, can display significant variation from vendor to vendor and brewing session to brewing session. Sometimes it’s almost like drinking an entirely tea, and while the same can be said of loose leaf teas as well, I find that I get more variation out of formed teas for whatever reason. What really surprised me about this tea was how different from the presumably more or less identical What-Cha offering it struck me as being. The dragon pearls I purchased from What-Cha seemed slightly smaller and were also a little earthier and more mellow. These seemed slightly larger and also livelier and pricklier. Of the two offerings, I definitely preferred this one.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse (about 10 seconds) , I steeped two dragon balls (just shy of 7g in combined weight) in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 infusions in water of the same temperature. 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. I then steeped the remains of the dragon balls in 200 F water for 30 minutes, and then I ended the session by steeping them in 205 F water for 40 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry dragon balls produced aromas of malt, cream, chocolate, molasses, earth, brown sugar, and eucalyptus. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of baked bread, vanilla, butter, and sugarcane that were backed by subtler scents of banana and sweet potato. The first infusion brought out aromas of marshmallow and roasted almond. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented delicate, smooth notes of malt, cream, earth, baked bread, sugarcane, and vanilla that were chased by hints of brown sugar, banana, marshmallow, and roasted almond. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of pine, camphor, black pepper, honey, oats, cinnamon, and orange zest. Notes of sweet potato, eucalyptus, butter, and chocolate emerged in the mouth alongside slightly stronger notes of marshmallow and roasted almond. New notes of minerals, pine, camphor, black pepper, cinnamon, oats, and orange zest also appeared. In places, I also found subtle impressions of molasses, honey, clove, and tobacco in the background. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, earth, malt, cream, roasted almond, and baked bread that were underscored by hints of butter, tobacco, cinnamon, sweet potato, camphor, black pepper, pine, orange zest, and eucalyptus. There were also some fleeting, often just barely detectable hints of banana and marshmallow.

I was really impressed by the depth, complexity, liveliness, and longevity of these dragon pearls. Though I tend to not be a huge fan of formed black teas, this one was highly enjoyable for me. Compared to its sister offering from What-Cha, this tea consistently offered greater character in a gongfu session and also had a few highly enjoyable quirks that I either did not pick up in the other tea or did not pick up to the same extent. In summation, this was definitely a worthwhile dragon pearl black tea. I’m glad I took the opportunity to try it.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, banana, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter, Camphor, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Clove, Cream, Earth, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Oats, Orange Zest, Pine, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Vanilla

Preparation
7 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
derk

Would you say these would do well grandpa style? I’m looking for an easy, transportable, lively dianhong I can brew during fieldwork mornings in my thermos and especially when I’m staying in hotels for work. Open to other suggestions!

eastkyteaguy

Oh yeah! These would most definitely work well grandpa style. I grandpa brewed some of them myself. I found that they came off a bit earthier and more herbal when brewed that way, though they had some great, pronounced sweet potato, chocolate, sugarcane, and vanilla notes too. Be aware that these are usually threaded together, so if you actually want to closely inspect the leaves between refills or get them to fully expand, you will likely have to pick them out and remove the thread.

derk

Thank you :) Added to the wishlist for my next order with YS.

eastkyteaguy

No problem.

Martin Bednář

I would not expect those fresh notes (pine, orange zest, eukalyptus et cetera) in black tea. Probably I should try them when I order something from What-Cha next time.

eastkyteaguy

Martin, it might just be me, but it also might be a combination of the black teas you’re used to and the way you brew them. In general, I find that many Yunnan black teas have a combination of fresh fruity flavors, vegetal characteristics, woody impressions, and spicy, herbal notes. The Feng Qing black teas and certain Mengku and Yiwu black teas are particularly known for them. You can acquire such teas from What-Cha every now and then, but your best bet is probably Yunnan Sourcing. Yunnan Sourcing was arguably the vendor primarily responsible for elevating the game with regard to sourcing Yunnan black teas and also increasing awareness of Yunnan black teas among key segments of the Western market. They have an unbelievable number of product listings from year to year, which can be overwhelming, but their offerings tend to be widely reviewed on Steepster by a number of users, and they tend to command a lot of attention and respect on other platforms. I’ve had quite a few myself and would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have, provide recommendations, or point you in the direction of resources for acquiring additional information.

Martin Bednář

eastkyteaguy – thank you for explaining it so widely for me. I know that YS is really great; but tthe shipping costs are the troublesome for me a bit. I tried to make some orders, but always stuck with it. As poor University student I can´t just pick anything I would like to try. That´s why What-cha is better for me, as their shipping prices are okay.

Anyway – it will be in my wishlist, and sometimes (maybe after some super money time) I will order something. At least I know that something like that can exist.

eastkyteaguy

Martin, I feel your pain. I’m getting ready to be a poor university student again. I have had to pass on purchasing any of the spring 2019 Yunnan Sourcing teas simply because I could not justify the shipping cost. I still have a ton of viable tea from the last couple of years sitting around, though, so I should be able to carry myself through the next year.

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Comments

derk

Would you say these would do well grandpa style? I’m looking for an easy, transportable, lively dianhong I can brew during fieldwork mornings in my thermos and especially when I’m staying in hotels for work. Open to other suggestions!

eastkyteaguy

Oh yeah! These would most definitely work well grandpa style. I grandpa brewed some of them myself. I found that they came off a bit earthier and more herbal when brewed that way, though they had some great, pronounced sweet potato, chocolate, sugarcane, and vanilla notes too. Be aware that these are usually threaded together, so if you actually want to closely inspect the leaves between refills or get them to fully expand, you will likely have to pick them out and remove the thread.

derk

Thank you :) Added to the wishlist for my next order with YS.

eastkyteaguy

No problem.

Martin Bednář

I would not expect those fresh notes (pine, orange zest, eukalyptus et cetera) in black tea. Probably I should try them when I order something from What-Cha next time.

eastkyteaguy

Martin, it might just be me, but it also might be a combination of the black teas you’re used to and the way you brew them. In general, I find that many Yunnan black teas have a combination of fresh fruity flavors, vegetal characteristics, woody impressions, and spicy, herbal notes. The Feng Qing black teas and certain Mengku and Yiwu black teas are particularly known for them. You can acquire such teas from What-Cha every now and then, but your best bet is probably Yunnan Sourcing. Yunnan Sourcing was arguably the vendor primarily responsible for elevating the game with regard to sourcing Yunnan black teas and also increasing awareness of Yunnan black teas among key segments of the Western market. They have an unbelievable number of product listings from year to year, which can be overwhelming, but their offerings tend to be widely reviewed on Steepster by a number of users, and they tend to command a lot of attention and respect on other platforms. I’ve had quite a few myself and would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have, provide recommendations, or point you in the direction of resources for acquiring additional information.

Martin Bednář

eastkyteaguy – thank you for explaining it so widely for me. I know that YS is really great; but tthe shipping costs are the troublesome for me a bit. I tried to make some orders, but always stuck with it. As poor University student I can´t just pick anything I would like to try. That´s why What-cha is better for me, as their shipping prices are okay.

Anyway – it will be in my wishlist, and sometimes (maybe after some super money time) I will order something. At least I know that something like that can exist.

eastkyteaguy

Martin, I feel your pain. I’m getting ready to be a poor university student again. I have had to pass on purchasing any of the spring 2019 Yunnan Sourcing teas simply because I could not justify the shipping cost. I still have a ton of viable tea from the last couple of years sitting around, though, so I should be able to carry myself through the next year.

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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.

Location

KY

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