This was a free sample that I received with an order. The bulk of my sample consisted of a large 20g piece of the cake, from which I gently separated 8.7g into my 130ml gaiwan being able to keep any additional breakage at a minimum thanks to the seemingly rather loose compression similar to Bitterleaf’s 2016 Xigui that I reviewed last time. I gave the leaves a brief five second rinse followed by a ten minute rest while I sipped the rinse. The taste was still very light, but quite floral.
I proceeded to do a total of nine infusions, timing for these being 5s, 5s, 7s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s and 75s. The flavors themselves in the first steep were light, while the extraction itself was perhaps even a hair on the stronger side. Similar to the rinse, the tea was floral, or at least that’s the only word in my vocabulary to describe it, but also sort of… earthy? The taste reminded me of something food related, but I couldn’t put my finger on what. The steeping that followed was similar. Floral, but also now mineral. It was pretty much a bolder rendition of what had come before.
In the third steep the flavor had advanced. It was now mineral on the front while being metallic in the finish. Again it reminded me of something food related, but something different this time. There was perhaps some mouth cooling going on now as well. While there was less going on in terms of taste in the next infusion, the tea was getting a bit better than before. There was what I perceived as growing astringency, but it lay somewhere between drying and astringent without really being either. The cooling effect was now much more pronounced than before. This steep was nothing amazing, but pretty good.
The fifth brew was softer, brighter, very mineral. There’s still the same sensation at the back of my tongue similar to the last steep and I realize it’s actually bitterness and not astringency that I took it for. I’m so used to most young raw pu’er that I drink being astringent but not bitter, so I often forget that sheng can also be bitter. As the tea cools down, the bitterness becomes much more pronounced.
The tea was finally mildly bitter up front in the sixth infusion while the general taste was still mineral. The bitterness bordered on being almost pleasant. It certainly added to the flavor rather than detracts from it. The finish was perhaps slightly vegetal and the lingering aftertaste it left in your mouth was rather nice. The cooling also made a slight comeback. Quite interestingly, the next steep had a finish similar to the finish of cream. The tea was bitter on the front, but the bitterness went away right after you swallowed. The taste itself was pleasant, but hard to describe beyond that. Nothing spectacular, but not a bad infusion.
Curiously, the bitterness seemed almost absent from the eighth steeping. There was now some more body thanks to the extended brewing time. In place of the bitterness you now got some astringency, which grew in your mouth over time. There isn’t much to say about the taste; the tea was simple, nice. The final infusion I did was notably more bitter than before, so I decided to call it there.
After reviewing Oz, I pretty much set myself up for disappointment no matter what I was going to drink next, because very few teas are going to compare. I found Take My Breath Away to be a decent tea. It’s not the kind of tea I would personally seek to acquire a bing of, but in terms of quality and value it represents about what you’d expect. There are probably people to whom it appeals as it is, but I would expect most people to be seeking to age it. On that front, although I’m hardly anything more than a novice, I have a feeling this tea has good aging potential. The already very manageable bitterness is only desirable in that respect and should serve the tea well along the years. The biggest problem for this tea is that this particular price point of mid-to-high midrange is very competitive and the upper limit of what a lot of people are willing to pay for tea, so they are very careful about what they buy. If you’re not seeking a drink-now tea and have your sights set on this one, give it a shot and see what you think.