Sunday morning gongfu session shared with the house.

I plopped a clump of the downy, golden curls into Housemate #2’s hand so she could feel it and smell it before having her first cup. She said it was just beautiful and so delicate and soft. There is no other tea whose appearance strikes such an appreciation of the skill that is needed to grow and process my favorite plant. Dry leaf has an alluring and comforting aroma of dark chocolate, light smoke, earth and peppered beef.

5g, 100mL teapot, 200F, flash rinse (drank) followed by 9 steeps at 10/12/15/20/25/30/45/60/90s.

The warmed leaf had the same aromas as the dry leaf with the addition of a honey-brown sugar sweetness. Rinsing brought out more notes including mushroom, wood and faint moss. After the first steep, a comforting addition of baked bread appeared. The liquor aroma was already thick, sweet and permeating with chocolate, orange and a whisper of ginger. Housemate #2, with her first cup, said that “It aromatically wraps its arms around me. Just delicious, beautiful. I’m starting to understand your appreciation for tea. This is much better than lattes.”

I tasted chocolate, earth and mushrooms with the same honey-brown sugar sweetness found in the aroma. Good body already with light bitterness and good astringency. The second steep brought forward the baked bread note present in the wet leaf aroma, along with malt and a very clear mineral expression, leaving me salivating. Housemate #1 at this point said, “It’s very clean and reminds me of a roasted oolong in its delicacy.” In terms of black teas, she’s pretty much only familiar with strong and malty breakfast-types and earl grey. She continued to sip several cups while cooking. By the fourth steep, the liquor lightened a little, allowing the expression of some orange and a similar tartness. Fifth steep brought a pleasant returning sweetness. The tea began its fade with the sixth infusion and I pushed it through until the ninth with the flavors slowly receding into a bright woodiness.

I’ve had this or a similar Imperial golden bud black tea before from another vendor, in which I prepared it western style only. It was one of the several teas responsible for opening me up to a new world of straight loose leaf. Based on Housemate #2’s reaction, I think it may be doing the same for her as she coveted each cup I poured for her. Nothing can compare to the friendly and comforting flavors and aromas in this wonderful dianhong. Highly recommended for tea drinkers of all persuasions.

Flavors: Bread, Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Ginger, Honey, Malt, Meat, Mineral, Moss, Mushrooms, Orange, Pepper, Smoke, Sweet, Tart, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

This is one of my favorites when it’s super fresh. The flavors tend to fade the quickest in these golden blacks.


Your review has me salivating, haha.

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This is one of my favorites when it’s super fresh. The flavors tend to fade the quickest in these golden blacks.


Your review has me salivating, haha.

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This place, like the rest of the internet, is dead and overrun with bots. Yet I persist.

Eventual tea farmer. If you are a tea grower, want to grow your own plants or are simply curious, please follow me so we can chat.

I most enjoy loose-leaf, unflavored teas and tisanes. Teabags have their place. Some of my favorite teas have a profound effect on mind and body rather than having a specific flavor profile.

Favorite teas generally come from China (all provinces), Taiwan, India (Nilgiri and Manipur). Frequently enjoyed though less sipped are teas from Georgia, Japan, and Nepal. While I’m not actively on the hunt, a goal of mine is to try tea from every country that makes it available to the North American market. This is to gain a vague understanding of how Camellia sinensis performs in different climates. I realize that borders are arbitrary and some countries are huge with many climates and tea-growing regions.

I’m convinced European countries make the best herbal teas.

Personal Rating Scale:

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.

89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again.

79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.

69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.

59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possesses off flavor/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.

Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s puerh, I likely think it needs more age.

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Sonoma County, California, USA

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