VariaTEA was kind enough to send me a sample of this one, along with several other teabento blacks. I had a nice, relaxed session with it while watching The Office with my boyfriend.
I didn’t take detailed notes, as I didn’t expect the flavor to change much over time, which it didn’t. Honestly I’m not sure which types of red tea are most suitable for gongfu cha, but since I’m enjoying familiarizing myself with the ritual and exploring different steep times, I don’t really mind if the tea tastes similar throughout the steeps.
Anyway, this one was quite delicious. It has amazing brown sugar notes along with rich malt and deep dried fruit flavors. The rather small leaves are so flavorful! I found the sugary notes to be very sweet and decadent in the early steeps, and they became deeper, like dark burnt sugar, in the later ones. There was also a light musty hay flavor that began to crop up towards the end, and it reminded me a bit of white tea. The last steep had a lovely lasting sweet flavor, and I thought that was a perfect cup to end on.
Overall, very yummy. Smooth, malty, sweet, rich, and slightly fruity. Happily, I have a little bit left over, so I can try it as a Western-style cup next time!
5g – 110ml – 200°F – rinse/10/15/20/30/40/60/120/240s
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Dried Fruit, Hay, Malt, Musty, Plums, Raisins, Smooth, Sweet