This was my most recent sipdown. I finished my 50g pouch of this tea last night while I was staying up and watching goofy horror films. At this point in my tea journey, I am no stranger to Yunnan golden needle black teas, so I pretty much knew what to expect with this one, but I am happy to report that it did not prove to be a carbon copy of the autumn 2016 and spring 2017 imperial golden needle offerings from Yunnan Sourcing. This tea produced a liquor that was a little thinner and sharper in the mouth and also leaned a little more heavily on fruity and spicy aroma and flavor components.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 18 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, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea buds produced aromas of malt, baked bread, sweet potato, and molasses. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of banana, chocolate, cinnamon, ginger, roasted almond, and sugarcane as well as subtler scents of pine and eucalyptus. The first infusion coaxed out a stronger eucalyptus fragrance and clear aromas of butter, vanilla, oats, and honey. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of baked bread, honey, malt, butter, and roasted almond that were balanced by hints of pine, sweet potato, marshmallow, molasses, banana, and chocolate. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of black pepper, camphor, fennel, orange zest, plum, red apple, marshmallow, roasted walnut, roasted chestnut, and coffee. Stronger and more immediately detectable impressions of marshmallow, pine, and sweet potato came out in the mouth alongside coffee, oat, ginger, molasses, sugarcane, eucalyptus, mineral, caramel, orange zest, black pepper, cinnamon, camphor, red grape, red apple, plum, fennnel, roasted chestnut, roasted walnut, and Asian pear notes. I also detected some hints of vanilla and peach here and there. As the tea faded, the liquor shifted and emphasized mineral, malt, baked bread, roasted almond, butter, and marshmallow notes that were chased by fleeting hints of sweet potato, orange zest, honey, sugarcane, pine, roasted chestnut, red apple, red grape, and caramel.

This was an interesting and endlessly fascinating Yunnan black tea with a ton of appeal on the nose and in the mouth. I liked that it had some new characteristics to offer compared to the previous two productions and also found it to be incredibly drinkable despite its depth and complexity. My only knocks were that it seemed to fade a little quicker than I thought it should have, and the liquor was slightly thin for my liking. Still, those were very minor issues. This was a great tea overall.

Flavors: Almond, Black Pepper, Bread, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Chestnut, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Coffee, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Ginger, Grapes, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Oats, Orange Zest, Peach, Pear, Pine, Plum, Red Apple, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Walnut

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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