This was either my last sipdown in September or my first sipdown in October. I can’t remember which is the case. I finished a bunch of teas right around that time, so my confusion is perhaps understandable. Anway, I’m normally not huge on Yunnan bi luo chun black teas for whatever reason. Even when I like the regular loose leaf/bud offerings, I often find myself less impressed by the formed versions. I’m also normally a huge fan of Feng Qing black teas, and though I am not sure whether or not there is an unrolled/unformed version of this offering, it is still almost always the one regular Feng Qing black tea offering to which I have difficulty warming up each year. That trend continued with this spring 2018 tea. It was not bad, but it also just did not excite me all that much.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea buds in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed 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 emitted aromas of malt, pine, cocoa, marshmallow, and smoke. After the rinse, I detected aromas of sweet potato, honey, cream, and sugarcane. The first infusion brought out aromas of caramel, baked bread, butter, and banana. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented delicate notes of malt, cream, butter, sweet potato, cooked green beans, and cocoa that were backed by hints of cinnamon, caramel, baked bread, roasted almond, banana, and sugarcane. The majority of the subsequent infusions brought forth aromas of roasted almond, eucalyptus, orange zest, and earth. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of roasted almond, baked bread, caramel, and sugarcane appeared in the mouth alongside notes of marshmallow, minerals, cocoa, and orange zest. I also picked up on hints of smoke, pine, honey, eucalyptus, grass, earth, and horehound. As the tea faded, the liquor served up notes of minerals, cream, cooked green beans, malt, marshmallow, and butter that were chased by lingering hints of baked bread, honey, orange zest, roasted almond, sugarcane, and sweet potato.

This was a very sensitive and subtle tea. It seemed to not react well to infusions that were conducted in rapid succession. It also seemed to hold back a lot throughout each session I conducted with it. Though the body and texture of the tea liquor were nice, the tea’s bouquet was a little more simplistic than I expected, and it was a bit too stuffy and reserved in terms of the way it expressed its flavor components. In the end, this was a pretty good tea, but it was not the sort of Yunnan black tea I typically enjoy. Out of all the regular Feng Qing offerings, this is the one that I will continue to look forward to the least each year.

Flavors: Almond, Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Grass, Green Beans, Herbaceous, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orange Zest, Pine, Smoke, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes

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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