Let’s post a more positive review, shall we? This was one of my sipdowns from July. I had a couple sample pouches of this tea, both of which I received free with two different orders from Old Ways Tea. I finished one during the second half of the month and ended up putting the other in storage. I’ll probably drink it sometime next year to see how much greater aging will affect it. Though this tea was labeled as a Da Hong Pao, it was actually a Rou Gui, albeit a Rou Gui that was given a roast intended to mimic the qualities of some of the more floral Da Hong Pao blends. This treatment worked quite well for this tea, as I would never have been able to tell that it was 100% Rou Gui without reading the product description in advance.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were: 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 13 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, and 7 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, rock sugar, pine, smoke, char, ginger, and orchid. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond and roasted peanut that were accompanied by stronger cinnamon, char, and smoke scents. The first infusion brought out aromas of black cherry, strawberry, and blackberry alongside a more amplified ginger scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, pine, ginger, orchid, smoke, char, rock sugar, roasted peanut, blackberry, and black cherry that were balanced by hints of roasted almond, black raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, and red apple. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of blueberry, red apple, Asian pear, and black raspberry that were accompanied by subtle grass and cannabis scents. Notes of tobacco, minerals, cannabis, grass, nutmeg, rose, butter, baked bread, and cream appeared in the mouth alongside hints of cocoa, orange zest, roasted walnut, and Asian pear. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, pine, char, roasted peanut, grass, and cream notes that were underscored by hints of butter, smoke, roasted almond, roasted walnut, baked bread, tobacco, black cherry, cannabis, cocoa, and rock sugar.
This was both a very interesting and satisfying Wuyi oolong. I’m curious to see whether or not additional aging will bring out any new aromas and flavors or soften some of the tea’s rougher edges. Regardless of how it holds up down the road, this was a very good tea at the time I tried it. It was clearly coming into its own, perhaps even peaking. Fans of Da Hong Pao and some of the heavier roasted Wuyi oolongs would probably get a lot out of it.
Flavors: Almond, Blackberry, Bread, Butter, Cannabis, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Ginger, Grass, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Raspberry, Red Apple, Roasted, Rose, Smoke, Strawberry, Sugar, Tobacco, Walnut