It’s after midnight, and I’m somehow still keeping the tea review train rolling. I have no clue when I finished my lone sample pouch of this tea. It was probably either late 2021 or very early this year. After being slightly disappointed by the 2018 Old Tree Black Tea from Old Ways Tea, I was not sure what to expect of the 2019 production. Well, it turned out that this was a noticeably better offering overall.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 5 second rinse, I started my review session by steeping 5 grams of the loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 20 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, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of honey, grass, straw, malt, bread, cinnamon, pine, and cedar. After the rinse, I picked up on fresh aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, green wood (oak?), and butter. The first infusion then added a delicate creamy scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, grass, malt, bread, straw, butter, green wood, and roasted almond that were chased by hints of cinnamon, raisin, pine, honey, and sugarcane. The subsequent infusions primarily added aromas of minerals, smoke, raisin, and moss to the tea’s bouquet, though subtler scents of earth and chocolate also made themselves known. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of cinnamon, raisin, pine, honey, and sugarcane emerged in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, roasted peanut, red apple, orange zest, moss, earth, and lemon zest. Hints of caramel, pear, plum, smoke, cedar, and chocolate were present as well. Once the tea started to fade, the liquor began more heavily emphasizing notes of minerals, malt, bread, cream, pine, roasted almond, orange zest, green wood, and sugarcane that were chased by subtle hints of grass, straw, honey, lemon zest, cinnamon, earth, moss, raisin, butter, pear, and caramel.

A very complex and heavily textured black tea with tremendous longevity, this tea was both a challenge and a joy to sample. It retained some of the dryness of the 2018 production, but it offered better texture and depth, coming off as being somewhat more akin to either the 2016 or 2017 offerings. The Masu Old Tree Black Tea is clearly a must-try offering from Old Ways Tea in most years. It’s definitely a regular offering to check out if you are looking for a balanced Wuyi black tea with tons of complexity, depth, and texture.

Flavors: Almond, Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Grass, Green Wood, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Moss, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Raisins, Red Apple, Smoke, Straw, Sugarcane

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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