I finished the last of a sample pouch of this tea last night. I’m not quite as familiar with Taiwanese black teas as I would like to be. In particular, I have little experience with those from regions that typically stick to producing oolongs. I figured that this tea would make a good introduction to the black teas produced in such areas, but after researching it, I also noted that it seemed to divide opinion. After giving this one a go both Western and gongfu, I found a lot to enjoy. Unfortunately, I did not take notes during the Western session, so this review is exclusively concerned with the results of the gongfu session.
For this session, I used my newish and now more comfortable 4 ounce gaiwan. After priming the gaiwan, I filled it with 6 grams of loose tea leaves, gave the leaves a quick rinse, and then steeped them in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. This initial infusion was followed by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 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 pleasant aromas of brown toast, malt, and honey. The rinse brought out touches of wood, cocoa, straw, hay, and toasted marshmallow. The first infusion produced a similar, albeit slightly more buttery, bouquet. In the mouth, I detected gentle notes of butter, malt, wood, brown toast, honey, straw, hay, and toasted marshmallow. Subsequent infusions brought out the cocoa in the mouth, while I also began to pick up impressions of roasted almond, minerals, beeswax, baking spices, baked bread, cream, and something resembling camphor/menthol. The later infusions were dominated by very mellow touches of malt, butter, roasted almond, and baked bread, though I could still detect distant menthol/camphor, honey, wood, straw, and toast in the background.
This was a very gentle tea with an easygoing nature. It was not tremendously deep or complex and it also faded a little more quickly than anticipated, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It reminded me of some of the Japanese and Indonesian black teas I have tried. Overall, this was definitely worth trying. I could see fans of mellow, sophisticated black teas being pleased with this one.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Brown Toast, Butter, Camphor, Cocoa, Cream, Hay, Honey, Marshmallow, Menthol, Mineral, Spices, Straw, Wood