This was my most recent sipdown. I finished what I had of this tea a couple days ago. Unfortunately, I only had 10 grams to play with since I received this tea as part of Taiwan Tea Crafts’ Aged Tea Sampler back in either the spring or summer of 2017. This and the three other teas in the sampler were left sitting undisturbed in their tin at the back of my tea cabinet until curiosity got the better of me. I never rush to try aged teas because I figure there is no real best by date for them; they are already old, and I have teas in my cupboard that really need to be consumed within 12-36 months of harvest. A tea that is processed with aging in mind and that is already more or less a decade old when I receive it can wait until I finish some of the younger, more sensitive stuff. With the way I have been plowing through Dan Cong oolongs, however, a break was necessary in order to avoid burnout, and I ended up choosing this tea simply because I wanted to see if it was still worth drinking. Well, it most certainly was. This was a very heavily roasted oolong, one clearly processed for aging. As I tend to love many heavily roasted Taiwanese oolongs, there was never much doubt in my mind that this tea would go over well with me. Those who do not tend to favor teas to which a heavy roast has been applied, however, may want to steer clear of this one because the roast that was applied to this tea was almost ridiculously heavy.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 18 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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 produced aromas of cedar, pine, char, smoke, old paper, raisin, black cherry, and blackberry. After the rinse, I detected stronger smoke on the nose as well as aromas of char, cream, and roasted barley. The first infusion saw the smokiness dissipate just a bit as scents of toasted rice, burnt toast, malt, and butter emerged. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, roasted barley, toasted rice, char, smoke, cedar, pine, old paper, butter, malt, and burnt toast that were underscored by raisin, brown sugar, blackberry, and black cherry accents. Subsequent infusions introduced aromas of cinnamon, roasted peanut, tar, black currant, caramel, vanilla, cocoa, and blueberry. New impressions of minerals, cinnamon, roasted peanut, tar, fig, vanilla, blueberry, plum, black currant, caramel, and cocoa appeared in the mouth along with subtle hints of black pepper. As the tea began to fade, the tea liquor settled and emphasized lingering impressions of minerals, malt, roasted peanut, pine, cedar, cream, butter, toasted rice, char, smoke, and roasted barley that were underscored by hints of brown sugar, black cherry, raisin, blueberry, and vanilla.
By the time I ended my review session, this tea clearly had more to give, but it was very late at that point, and I was not prepared to take it any further. Honestly, I probably should have gone with a higher water temperature for this session, but my throat was a little sore and I was trying not to burn myself. The 195 F water still worked, so I cannot complain about the results I got. This was an excellent aged oolong, but from the description above, it should be apparent to anyone who reads this review that this tea was full of the types of aromas and flavors one tends to find in more heavily roasted Taiwanese oolongs. If heavily roasted oolong is not one of your things, then I doubt this tea will appeal to you in the least, but if you are the sort of person who loves what such teas have to offer, you will find a ton to love about this one.
Flavors: Black Currant, Black Pepper, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Burnt, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Fig, Malt, Mineral, Paper, Peanut, Pine, Plums, Raisins, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Tar, Toast, Toasted Rice, Vanilla