This was another recent sipdown of mine. Prior to drinking it, it was a tea I had meant to get around to for the better part of a year, but I kept finding other teas to drink and review. Curiosity got the better of me a couple weeks ago, so I went ahead and tore into it. Mostly, I think I just wanted to try it because Yunnan Sourcing’s Big Snow Mountain of Mengku black teas do not get the best ratings on this site and elsewhere, and I wanted to see whether or not I agreed with the majority of the other reviewers. Honestly, I found this to be a rock solid Yunnan black tea, but then again, this particular production has scored somewhat higher ratings than some of the other recent versions of this tea.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 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, and 7 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of honey, sweet potato, malt, brown sugar, and tomato. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted peanut, sugarcane, banana, and pine. The first infusion introduced a subtle molasses scent as well as stronger aromas of roasted almond, cinnamon, and eucalyptus. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cream, sweet potato, malt, banana, cocoa, and roasted almond that were backed by distant hints of cinnamon, brown sugar, and tomato. Subsequent infusions introduced stronger molasses aromas along with scents of cinnamon, cocoa, cream, and red grape. There were also some subtle hints of citrus and smoke on the nose. Roasted peanut, sugarcane, honey, and pine notes came out in the mouth along with slightly stronger impressions of cinnamon and new notes of minerals, red grape, baked bread, lemon zest, and orange zest. Interesting hints of smoke, eucalyptus, and black pepper also made themselves known. By the end of the session, I could still pick up notes of minerals, malt, lemon zest, and roasted peanut that were backed by baked bread, brown sugar, banana, sweet potato, and eucalyptus hints.
This was an interesting tea that had a lot to offer, but in the end, I could understand why some people may have trouble with it and/or teas like it. Though a lot of the aromas and flavors this tea offered were very similar to those offered by many other Yunnan black teas, the way they were expressed was very different. Whereas most Yunnan black teas are thick, rich, and lively, this was a smooth, mellow, and subtle tea with a certain prickliness in texture that likely will not be to everyone’s liking. I enjoyed this tea quite a bit, but it did take a couple days to grow on me. All in all, I would recommend this tea specifically to those who are looking for a Yunnan black tea that offers something truly different. If you are not that type of person, then you may want to avoid this tea.
Flavors: Almond, Black Pepper, Bread, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Eucalyptus, Grapes, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Smoke, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes