Another of the teas I finished during my recent hong cha binge, I originally purchased this tea to make up for the fact that I missed out on a similar tea from another seller. When Whispering Pines Tea Company introduced an imperial gold needle dian hong, I kept balking at the opportunity to purchase some. I figured that it probably wouldn’t sell out quickly, so there was a good chance I could still get a pouch when the prices dropped or during a sale. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. When I finally decided to pull the trigger, I discovered that the tea was out of stock. Shortly thereafter, I discovered this tea on the Yunnan Sourcing US website. It seemed similar, so I figured I would order some and try it to make up for missing out on the other. No disrespect to the Whispering Pines tea (which I still haven’t tried, by the way), but I probably should have just opted to go with this one first.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 ounces of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 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, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of baked bread, malt, and honey. The rinse released new aromas of smoke, caramel, and baked sweet potato. The first proper infusion produced a near identical bouquet. In the mouth, the liquor offered incredibly slight, delicate notes of baked bread, honey, malt, and caramel underscored by a hint of butter. Subsequent infusions brought out the baked sweet potato impressions, while butter appeared on the nose and started to really pop in the mouth. I also noted that a slight smokiness made its way to the palate. The baked bread notes started to gradually transform into yeast roll impressions. New notes of orange zest, vanilla, brown sugar, chocolate, pine, eucalyptus, fennel, roasted peanut, roasted chestnut, marzipan, camphor, menthol, and minerals appeared as well. The later infusions mostly featured notes of minerals and malt balanced by a cooling herbal presence, a slight breadiness, and a touch of brown sugar sweetness.
A very nice and very complex dian hong, this made for a truly lovely drinking experience. I loved the way the aroma and flavor components kept shifting and changing. My experience also suggested that this tea had more than respectable longevity. I’m not sure if I would recommend this to dian hong neophytes considering that I found it to be the sort of tea that actively encourages quiet analysis and contemplation, but I would definitely recommend it highly to experienced dian hong drinkers.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Chestnut, Chocolate, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Malt, Marzipan, Menthol, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Vanilla, Yeasty