Here is a slightly more recent sipdown of mine. This one came from either early or mid-September. Considering that many of the reviews I had seen were mixed, I did not expect to like this tea all that much. Well, it ended up surprising me. I found it to be an excellent offering overall.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This 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 buds produced aromas of baked bread, hay, malt, sweet potato, sugarcane, and chocolate. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted peanut, roasted almond, and banana as well as a subtle camphor scent. The first infusion brought out more camphor on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of baked bread, malt, cream, butter, sweet potato, hay, sugarcane, and roasted almond that were chased by hints of chocolate, roasted peanut, maple syrup, brown sugar, and banana. The bulk of the subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of black pepper, cream, butter, eucalyptus, honey, clove, red apple, red grape, and orange zest. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of chocolate, roasted peanut, and brown sugar appeared in the mouth alongside mineral, black pepper, camphor, earth, eucalyptus, red apple, pear, honey, plum, clove, orange zest, and red grape notes. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to offer up notes of minerals, malt, roasted peanut, baked bread, roasted almond, butter, and orange zest that were balanced by lingering hints of sugarcane, red apple, pear, hay, honey, sweet potato, chocolate, and black pepper.
For me, I think the biggest issue with this tea was its name. There was a honey aroma present, but I found the tea’s overall bouquet to be nuttier, creamier, spicier, and more herbal. The honey aroma was not particularly consistent or dominant. I have that complaint a lot with so-called “honey aroma” teas. Ignoring that quibble, though, left me with a very pleasant, balanced, and complex Yunnan golden needle black tea. My advice to anyone interested in this tea would be to ignore the name and do not expect an overwhelming honey aroma. Approach it like you would any other golden needle black tea, and you will likely find it to be a tremendously rewarding offering.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, banana, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter, Camphor, Chocolate, Clove, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Grapes, Hay, Honey, Malt, Maple Syrup, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Plums, Red Apple, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes