As a fan of Tie Guan Yin oolong, I jumped at the chance to try a black version of this tea a few years ago. The product has been taken off the website, but I remember something about flash steeps, so I took this into account. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 7, 10, 12, 16, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma of the dark, spindly leaves is surprisingly Tie Guan Yin like, with grain, caramel, honey, and bananas. The first steep has notes of malt, toasted grain, caramel, and banana. I can understand why flash steeps are important, as the mouthfeel is scratchy and a little astringent. The second steep is like tangy honey-covered banana bread that somehow dries out your mouth. There are malt and tannins in there too. The next few steeps start off with notes of honey, grain, plum, and spice, but the sip ends with a less palatable punch of malt, cardboard, minerals, and tannins. Sadly, these less desirable flavours take over as the session progresses, until, by the eighth steep, it tastes like a high-quality generic black tea.
I don’t know whether it was its age, the brewing parameters, my palate, or just the tea, but this red Tie Guan Yin started promisingly but ended badly. I think I’ll stick to Tie Guan Yin oolongs in the future.
Flavors: Astringent, Caramel, Cardboard, Drying, Grain, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Plum, Spices, Tangy, Tannin