While I’m at it, here is a review of a tea that I’m sure I drank late last year. I had a ton of sample pouches of various teas from Old Ways Tea that had accumulated from 2018 to 2020 just sitting in a box in my bedroom. I rediscovered it while cleaning last year and made a point of trying to go through anywhere from one to three sample pouches per week from that point forward. I finally finished all of them last month. I think I drank this one in either November or December of last year. The Wild Style Black Tea is a regular offering from Old Ways Tea, and until I placed a moratorium on tea purchases, was a tea I purchased yearly. In my experience, it tends to be tremendously variable from year to year. I greatly enjoyed the 2016 and 2017 offerings. I recall the 2018 version not being as good. I thought I had reviewed it on Steepster, but looking back through my notes, I must have never gotten around to it. This production did not rival the 2016 and 2017 teas, but it was rather enjoyable overall.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse (about 5 seconds), I kicked things off by steeping 6 grams of the 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 minutes, 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 honey, cinnamon, pine, straw, cedar, bread, plum, black raspberry, and red grape. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted almond and roasted peanut. The first infusion added a pronounced green wood aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of roasted almond, bread, green wood, cinnamon, pine, and cedar that were balanced by hints of honey, straw, red grape, oats, pear, cream, and butter. The bulk of the subsequent infusions added aromas of minerals, cream, oats, butter, roasted cashew, chocolate, caramel, grass, orange zest, and malt. Stronger and more immediately detectable impressions of straw, cream, oats, butter, and pear emerged in the mouth alongside notes of roasted cashew, minerals, roasted peanut, chocolate, grass, caramel, orange zest, and lemon zest. Hints of plum, black raspberry, earth, malt, raisin, and nutmeg were also present. As the tea faded, the liquor shifted to primarily emphasize lingering notes of minerals, cream, butter, bread, straw, roasted almond, grass, lemon zest, and orange zest, while hints of roasted peanut, oats, raisin, pine, green wood, earth, malt, pear, and cinnamon remained to provide balance.
This was undeniably a tea with considerable depth and complexity. It started off a little uneven, but it quickly found its footing. If I had one real gripe about it, it was that some of its most interesting and enjoyable components were too muted and/or too short-lived. In the end, this was a somewhat flawed but still quite likable offering. I’m not sorry that I gave it a go.
Flavors: Almond, Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cashew, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Grapes, Grass, Green Wood, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Oats, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Raisins, Raspberry, Straw