Alright, I’m back with some new reviews. This was one of my late 2020/early 2021 sample sipdowns. Starting around November of last year, I noticed that I had a miniature mountain of samples from Old Ways Tea and started sporadically working my way through it. This was one of the first samples I drew out of the pile, but at this point, I cannot more precisely date my notes from the review session. As derk noted in the only previous review of this tea, it was very similar to the 2016 Smoked Black Tea offered by Old Ways Tea. I, however, found more nuances and less of an overpowering smokiness, since my sample had been rested longer.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 19 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, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of smoke, pine, ash, and charcoal. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted peanut, roasted almond, butter, cream, and tar. The first infusion introduced subtle aromas of cannabis and malt. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of smoke, pine, ash, charcoal, tar, roasted peanut, roasted almond, malt, and baked bread that were chased by hints of butter, cream, cannabis, and raisin. The bulk of the subsequent infusions added aromas of raisin, hay, juniper, and roasted barley to the tea’s bouquet, though infrequent scents of straw and an amplified maltiness could also be found. Stronger and more immediately detectable butter and cream notes appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, straw, grass, hay, juniper, and roasted barley. I also detected hints of caramel, vanilla, and earth. As the tea faded, the liquor started emphasizing notes of minerals, pine, smoke, malt, baked bread, tar, charcoal, roasted barley, grass, roasted almond, and cream that were chased by subtler notes of butter, raisin, roasted peanut, ash, caramel, and juniper.
This tea surprised me because I was expecting it to be less smoky than it ended up being. I would have thought that 2+ years would have been more than enough time for the smoke to fade, but that was not the case. Still, this tea was not unpleasant to drink. It was very similar to the 2016 Smoked Black Tea from Old Ways Tea, but with a deeper, stronger, and more vibrant smokiness. Fans of smoked black tea would very likely love it.
Flavors: Almond, Ash, Bread, Butter, Cannabis, Caramel, Charcoal, Cream, Earth, Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Malt, Mineral, Peanut, Pine, Raisins, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Straw, Tar, Vanilla