With this review, I am moving on from something strange to something a little more traditional. This black tea was produced from the same plants that also produced the material for the spring 2017 Yi Mei Ren black tea, which I loved, but this tea was produced later and from older, larger leaves. I found it to be a timid, subtle tea that retained some of the aromatics and appealing flavor components of the Yi Mei Ren, but with a stuffier, more heavily textured feel that did not quite do it for me on any sort of consistent basis.
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 chocolate, malt, baked bread, grass, orchid, and minerals. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of plum, red grape, butter, and roasted almond. The first infusion introduced even more minerality to the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented watery notes of malt, butter, grass, roasted almond, and baked bread that were chased by hints of plum, orchid, red grape, and chocolate. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of orange zest, caramel, violet, and straw. Slightly amplified and somewhat more immediate chocolate impressions appeared in the mouth alongside clear orchid and mineral notes and hints of date, nutmeg, and sugarcane. I also detected notes of violet, orange zest, caramel, earth, cream, oats, and straw. As the tea faded, the liquor started emphasizing lingering mineral, malt, earth, roasted almond, baked bread, and straw notes that were balanced by hints of cream, butter, orchid, violet, red grape, and orange zest.
This was not a terrible tea, but it was not for me. I prefer my black teas to be robustly aromatic and flavorful, and this tea was very subtle, clean, and timid, consistently emphasizing body and texture over any flavor component it had to offer. Drinkers who approach tea based more on feel would probably be satisfied with it, but for people like me who appreciate aroma and flavor more than anything else, this tea would probably come off as boring. I’m glad I took the opportunity to try it, but I also recall being very happy to move on to something else after I finished what I had of it. This one would certainly not be for everyone.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Butter, Caramel, Chocolate, Cream, Dates, Earth, Grapes, Grass, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Oats, Orange Zest, Orchid, Plums, Straw, Sugarcane, Violet