I was intrigued to see this relatively uncommon tea on Teabento’s website. This seems to be part of the trend to turn varietals that are usually made into white or green teas into blacks, sometimes with mixed results. Thanks for providing a sample for me to try!
The leaves aren’t pressed flat as in the green version of this tea, but are your standard spindly, somewhat fragmented hongcha. Upon opening the bag, I understand why Teabento decided to call it Plum Rooster, as the scent of plum skin and barley sugar hits my nose. I followed their steeping directions for infusions of 1 minute, 30 seconds, and 3 minutes at 185F, although I used a 120 ml vessel and about 3 grams of tea.
The first steep has that plummy note, combined with barley sugar and florals. The aftertaste is kind of starchy, reminding me weirdly of raw potato. There’s no astringency or bitterness present, and if I didn’t know better, I’d swear someone had added sugar to this.
In the second steep, the plummy note seems even sweeter and more berry-like, maybe like blackberries or cranberries. This is a very sugary tea! It’s also smooth and easy to drink.
The third steep of three minutes is less fruity and a bit drying; maybe I used too much leaf and should have shortened it. The sweetness, though, persists. An attempted fourth steep of six minutes was similar and I think the tea is finished at this point.
While I enjoyed trying this tea, I don’t think it’ll be replacing my Yunnan or Taiwanese staples anytime soon. It’s kind of similar to a black Dan Cong I tried from Camellia Sinensis, leading me to wonder whether these “non-traditional” varieties tend to produce very sweet black teas. (Clearly, more research is needed!) That sweetness is also the main point of similarity between it and regular Long Jing, as it lacks the typical nutty flavour. All in all, I’m pleased to have expanded my horizons.
Flavors: Berries, Burnt Sugar, Floral, Plum, Potato, Sugarcane, Sweet, Tangy