Here is another sipdown from very early in the year. This was actually the tea I finished immediately before the Yi Mei Ren I just reviewed. I tend to like the Jingmai purple needle black teas offered by Yunnan Sourcing, and this one struck me as being a more or less excellent one. I always feel like offerings of this type are some of the most underrated in Yunnan Sourcing’s portfolio.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 fluid ounces of 194 F water 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 raisin, pine, cinnamon, malt, straw, and black cherry. After the rinse, aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, cream, sugarcane, strawberry, and blood orange appeared. The first infusion added juniper, pear, and red apple aromas in addition to a subtle grassy scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cream, malt, earth, butter, strawberry, straw, pine, roasted almond, and blood orange that were supported by subtler impressions of sugarcane, red pear, red apple, cinnamon, raisin, blueberry, blackberry, plum, oats, honey, baked bread, and cooked green beans. The majority of the subsequent infusions added orange zest, lemon zest, blackberry, earth, nutmeg, violet, plum, mineral, baked bread, and cedar aromas to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately detectable impressions of plum, blackberry, baked bread, blueberry, sugarcane, and cooked green beans emerged in the mouth alongside notes of black cherry, minerals, lemon zest, cedar, violet, orange zest, and caramel. I also found hints of roasted peanut, grass, juniper, chocolate, nutmeg, and grapefruit. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, malt, cream, roasted almond, orange zest, caramel, baked bread, sugarcane, and lemon zest that were chased by lingering hints of grass, blueberry, blackberry, blood orange, pine, raisin, grapefruit, plum, red pear, and violet.
This was an extremely complex black tea with an absolutely lovely mix of aromas and flavors. It was truly impressive how harmoniously every aroma and flavor was integrated into the whole and how superbly balanced the tea liquor felt. If I had to point out any notable flaws, I would point out that I found this tea to be a bit busy and somewhat filling, but aside from those two relatively minor issues, I would be hard pressed to find anything negative to say about it. This was very much an offering worth digging into and savoring. I now wish that I had gone ahead and picked up at least one of the two most recent productions.
Flavors: Almond, Blackberry, Blood Orange, Blueberry, Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Grapefruit, Grass, Green Beans, Herbaceous, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Oats, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Raisins, Red Apple, Straw, Strawberry, Sugarcane, Violet