This was another of my July sipdowns. I’ve been on a quest the last couple of years to develop a better understanding of Rou Gui. It is apparently a super popular oolong overseas, but I have had great difficulty seeing the appeal. To me, it often seems very woody and heavy, though I have managed to try several Rou Gui that have shown tremendous depth and character. This was one of them. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 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, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, rock sugar, mushroom, cream, vanilla, pomegranate, and blueberry. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted almond, black cherry, earth, and pine. The first infusion introduced aromas of smoke, char, and plum. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, rock sugar, cream, vanilla, roasted almond, and blueberry that were chased by hints of pine, smoke, char, earth, black cherry, nutmeg, and pomegranate. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of red apple, red wine, blackberry, and tobacco as well as stronger smoke and char scents. Stronger and more immediately noticeable smoke, char, earth, pomegranate, and black cherry notes appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of mushroom, roasted almond, and plum. I also found notes of blackberry, red wine, minerals, and tobacco as well as hints of grass, cooked spinach, cocoa, red apple, and orange zest. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, pine, smoke, black cherry, earth, cinnamon, and roasted almond that were chased by hints of grass, red apple, cocoa, pomegranate, tobacco, red wine, mushroom, and blackberry. There were even a few hints of roasted barley that emerged on the last two or three infusions.

This was a very nice Rou Gui. It was not quite as nutty or as woody as I was expecting, but it displayed tremendously enjoyable spice and fruit notes. It’s rather hard to get me to give an overwhelmingly positive review to a Rou Gui, but this one was delightful. Old Ways Tea continues to impress me with their offerings.

Flavors: Almond, Blackberry, Blueberry, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Fruity, Grass, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Pine, Plums, Red Apple, Red Wine, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Spinach, Sugar, Tobacco, Vanilla

5 g 3 OZ / 88 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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