This was one of my sipdowns from earlier in the month. I’m not sure why, but I have been craving Chinese black teas like crazy and have gone through several this month. Honestly, this was one of the weaker black teas I have finished off recently, and I was surprised to discover that considering that I am a huge fan of Yunnan black teas with a particular soft spot for some of the Simao black teas making their way to the West these days.

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 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 produced aromas of chocolate, pine, sweet potato, honey, malt, and cinnamon. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, brown sugar, cream, black cherry, and butter. The first infusion brought out a little smoke on the nose and a subtle cooked green bean scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of malt, cream, cooked green beans, chocolate, cinnamon, honey, and sweet potato that were chased by butter, brown sugar, roasted almond, and pine hints. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of earth, toast, fennel, black pepper, leather, camphor, and eucalyptus. Hints of smoke appeared in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging black cherry and roasted peanut notes. I also picked up stronger and more immediately noticeable impressions of pine, roasted almond, and brown sugar. New notes of minerals, fennel, black pepper, toast, and leather appeared, and I was also able to detect hints of leather, camphor, eucalyptus, and earth. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, malt, roasted peanut, cream, and chocolate notes that were chased by hints of black pepper, camphor, roasted almond, eucalyptus, and pine. A smooth malty, nutty, creamy character was left in the mouth and throat after each swallow.

Compared to many of the other Yunnan black teas I have consumed over the last 3+ years, this one did not offer anything new. It did, however, produce a very nicely textured, mellow tea liquor, and it proved capable of displaying very respectable longevity in a gongfu session. Honestly, I could see this tea working really well in a blend due to its easygoing nature and pleasant texture. On its own, it wasn’t bad, but it also was rather dull and predictable.

Flavors: Almond, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter, Camphor, Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Green Beans, Honey, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Peanut, Pine, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Toast

6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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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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