Here is another of my sipdowns from December. The pouch of this tea I had was purchased back in November 2016, not that I clearly recall buying it. Tealyra always puts an expiration date of one year from the time of purchase on each pouch of tea they sell, so who knows when this tea was actually produced. If I had to guess, I would say Spring 2016, but I cannot really be sure. All I know is that the expiration date on my pouch was November 2017. It had been sitting in its sealed pouch on top of my dresser for at least five or six months. I had been cleaning out one of my tea totes when I found the pouch, noted the expiration date, and decided to throw it out. And then I changed my mind. I decided I wanted to at least try the tea to see if it was still worth drinking and then placed the pouch on top of my dresser. Though it was sitting there in plain sight for months, I totally forgot about it until I was putting some laundry away. I literally looked up and there it was. Curiosity got the better of me at that point. Upon cracking the pouch open, I was greeted by this lovely, complex aroma, realized that the tea was still totally drinkable, and started brewing some immediately. I went through the pouch quickly, only spending about two days with it, but in that time I got a couple of great gongfu sessions out of what I had and even brewed up a killer pot of tea Western style, though I unfortunately did not take any notes when I brewed this tea in that fashion. Even with some age on it, this was still a great Taiwanese black tea with tons to offer. I wish I had gotten around to trying it sooner.
Both of the gongfu sessions were conducted in identical fashion and produced identical results. I started by flash rinsing 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 205 F water and then steeped them for 5 seconds. This initial 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 emitted aromas of honey, cinnamon, pine, roasted almond, and tobacco. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of baked bread, brown sugar, dark chocolate, blackberry, and blueberry. The first infusion then introduced aromas of cream and malt. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of honey, cinnamon, pine, roasted almond, cream, and earth that were chased by hints of tobacco, brown sugar, dark chocolate, raisin, and baked bread. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of rose, raisin, butter, menthol, and black cherry. Hints of blackberry, blueberry, and malt appeared in the mouth alongside stronger and more immediate notes of dark chocolate and brown sugar. I also found new notes of minerals, butter, rose, menthol, black cherry, and smoke, with cooling impressions of menthol and tobacco lingering in the mouth after each swallow. As the tea faded, the liquor began to emphasize notes of minerals, cream, and baked bread along with somewhat amplified malt notes. These impressions were backed in the mouth by hints of butter, brown sugar, raisin, smoke, pine, and black cherry.
Well, this was an awesome black tea. Its liquor peaked quickly in the mouth and faded just as quickly, but I am guessing that was more due to the age of the leaves with which I was brewing than anything else. Even though it had clearly lost a step in storage, this tea still had a ton to offer both on the nose and in the mouth, producing a long, satisfying session. Apparently, Tealyra has not offered this tea again in the last couple of years, and that is truly a shame. I would love to know which farm produced this tea so that I can try to find a more recent harvest offered by another vendor.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Pine, Raisins, Rose, Smoke, Tobacco