94

Alright, here comes the second and final review of the day. I’m sure some of you who read my reviews have noted that I have been moving away from black teas over the course of the previous 2-3 months. That is the result of a deliberate decision on my part. I find oolongs more challenging and more appealing at this point in my life, so I have made more of an effort to focus on them. That, however, does not mean that I will no longer be drinking and/or reviewing other types of tea. All of the above brings us to this tea. Until this afternoon, I had been putting it off for months. I only had a sample pouch and finally got sick of looking at it. If I had only known what I was missing…

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. I followed this infusion up with a ridiculous series of 14 additional infusions. I did not want to give up on this one. Steep times for these infusions were 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 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, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of roasted grain, buttered yeast rolls, wood, and honey. After the rinse, the woodiness was amplified, while aromas of vanilla, ginger, and chocolate began to emerge. The first infusion saw a hint of sweet potato appear. In the mouth, I detected notes of buttered yeast roll, wood, vanilla, ginger, chocolate, roasted grain, and honey. Subsequent infusions grew more intense and complex. Impressions of cracked black pepper, minerals, mandarin orange, bergamot, pine, and cedar began to express themselves both on the nose and on the palate just as the impression of sweet potato finally made its mark in the mouth. The later infusions were heavy on the minerals, though subtle notes of wood, pine, cedar, and yeast roll still provided a semblance of balance. Every time I thought the tea was done, however, touches of honey, ginger, and vanilla would come back swinging just before the finish.

This was a truly beautiful and intriguing tea. Like most of Li Xiangxi’s offerings, it started to fade rather early, but clung to interesting combinations of flavors, a taut, lean body, and a wonderfully sharp, focused Wuyi rock texture as it faded. Normally, I am all about teas that peak early and maintain consistency over a controlled and extended fade. Even though this tea’s peak was shorter and its fade longer than most, it had so much to offer. This was definitely the kind of tea that rewarded patience and focus. If you are a fan of Jin Jun Mei, you owe it to yourself to try this tea.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Bergamot, Black Pepper, Cedar, Chocolate, Ginger, Grain, Honey, Mineral, Orange, Pine, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Wood, Yeast

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Daylon R Thomas

Verdant’s black teas this year just look fantastic in general.

eastkyteaguy

Daylon, I know. It’s kind of crazy, right? Every time I think I’m ready to move on from Verdant’s stuff, they bring in something new that blows me away. I know I tend to be a big defender of their Wuyi offerings, but man, this was just a really good tea. What’s worse is this sample was from last year’s spring harvest. I’m beginning to find that a lot of Wuyi and Guangdong teas last like no other. I’ve even heard of dedicated Wuyi black/oolong and Dan Cong enthusiasts ageing their teas at home for anywhere from 1-3 years from the point of acquisition just to see how the roast settles.

Daylon R Thomas

I know that Alistair ages his some of the Wuyis and Guangdongs he’s picked up. One of the best blacks was a Tie Guan Yin varietal processed as a black. I’m finding that I prefer black, white, and greener oolong teas on the Fujian side of the Wu Yi’s myself, and I’ve always liked Dan Congs in general.

eastkyteaguy

Everyone I know raves about black/red Tieguanyin. I’ll have to investigate further. For me, I tend to focus mostly on Wuyi, Anxi, and Taiwanese oolongs. I’m still getting into Dan Cong, but I’m much more open to them now than I was just a month or two ago. I’ve got a Feng Huang Pomelo & Flower Aroma Dan Cong from Yunnan Sourcing that was a product of the Spring 2015 harvest. I just started it a couple days ago and hope to have a review session in the books by the end of next week at the latest. I am not sure how I feel about it at the moment, but it seems promising.

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Daylon R Thomas

Verdant’s black teas this year just look fantastic in general.

eastkyteaguy

Daylon, I know. It’s kind of crazy, right? Every time I think I’m ready to move on from Verdant’s stuff, they bring in something new that blows me away. I know I tend to be a big defender of their Wuyi offerings, but man, this was just a really good tea. What’s worse is this sample was from last year’s spring harvest. I’m beginning to find that a lot of Wuyi and Guangdong teas last like no other. I’ve even heard of dedicated Wuyi black/oolong and Dan Cong enthusiasts ageing their teas at home for anywhere from 1-3 years from the point of acquisition just to see how the roast settles.

Daylon R Thomas

I know that Alistair ages his some of the Wuyis and Guangdongs he’s picked up. One of the best blacks was a Tie Guan Yin varietal processed as a black. I’m finding that I prefer black, white, and greener oolong teas on the Fujian side of the Wu Yi’s myself, and I’ve always liked Dan Congs in general.

eastkyteaguy

Everyone I know raves about black/red Tieguanyin. I’ll have to investigate further. For me, I tend to focus mostly on Wuyi, Anxi, and Taiwanese oolongs. I’m still getting into Dan Cong, but I’m much more open to them now than I was just a month or two ago. I’ve got a Feng Huang Pomelo & Flower Aroma Dan Cong from Yunnan Sourcing that was a product of the Spring 2015 harvest. I just started it a couple days ago and hope to have a review session in the books by the end of next week at the latest. I am not sure how I feel about it at the moment, but it seems promising.

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Bio

My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.

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