This was another of my sipdowns from last week. I remember finishing what I had of this tea the day after I finished the sample pouch of Old Ways Tea’s 2017 Huang Guan Yin-Electric Roast. Their Premium Old Tree Black Teas are usually great offerings. I recall the 2016 offering being fantastic and the 2017 offering being very good, but not quite as good as the 2016. This tea marked yet another step down in terms of perceived quality. It was still a more or less very good offering, but it did not have the depth that made the other two teas so enjoyable.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 194 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 malt, pine, roasted almond, cinnamon, baked bread, straw, honey, and nutmeg. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut and green wood. The first infusion brought out a subtle smoky scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, baked bread, roasted peanut, roasted almond, and butter that were chased by hints of green wood, pine, nutmeg, cinnamon, and honey. The following infusions gradually brought out aromas of minerals, orange zest, leather, butter, lemon zest, and grass as well as stronger smoke aromas. Notes of smoke and straw came out in the mouth with a slightly amplified cinnamon presence as well as notes of minerals, leather, lemon zest, orange zest, grass, and cream. I also detected hints of brown sugar, raisin, red apple, and pear. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized notes of minerals, malt, baked bread, green wood, orange zest, butter, roasted peanut, and lemon zest that were underscored by fleeting hints of grass, straw, roasted almond, pine, leather, cream, and smoke.
This tea shared many characteristics with its counterparts from the previous two years, but in my opinion, it lacked some of the quirks that made those teas so appealing. It also lacked the smooth, cooling finish that was especially enjoyable and pronounced in the 2016 tea. Overall, it did not come off as being as deep or as captivating as the previous offerings. Still, it was a mostly very enjoyable black tea and just suffered in comparison to those older teas. I don’t regret trying it at all, though I would by lying if I were to state that I am not hoping that Old Ways Tea’s 2019 Old Tree Black Tea will represent something of a step back up in terms of quality.
Flavors: Almond, Almond, Baked Bread, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Brown Sugar, Butter, Butter, Cinnamon, Cinnamon, Cream, Cream, Grass, Grass, Green Wood, Green Wood, Honey, Honey, Leather, Leather, Lemon Zest, Lemon Zest, Malt, Malt, Mineral, Mineral, Nutmeg, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orange Zest, Peanut, Peanut, Pear, Pear, Pine, Pine, Raisins, Raisins, Red Apple, Red Apple, Smoke, Smoke, Straw, Straw