Just came back from visiting Saint Augustine, and when I thought I was just going to save up for my trip, I decided YOLO and got some tea samples that waited for me when I got back home.
This tea is probably one of the more expensive ones I’ve gotten from What-Cha, but I was really curious about it because One: I’m going through a Jin Jun Mei phase, and Two: Alistair described this one having honeydew notes, which is extremely unusual for a Fujian Black Tea. The single review also raved about it gong fu, and I figured this one would probably disappear.
Brewing it up western in my kyusu with 2 teaspoons and 195 F water, I pour a testing sip to see what I taste. Honeysuckle, milky texture and hot water. This tea is probably one of the most subtle blacks I’ve ever had, and the profile was identical to a Yin Zhin white. Interesting. I decided to let it sit for two more minutes, and the tea had a little bit more to it. It’s not flavor forward at all so far, but it’s not boring. The texture is heavily viscous, and the bitterness and astringency are nonexistent. There’s slight malt, but it’s barely there. The honeydew is there a little bit more dominating mouthfeel and texture rather than flavor. Honeysuckle is the main flavor through and through, bordering on being kinda like a chamomile. Sometimes, I got weird hints like incense or cardamom.
Not satisfied with that session, I decided to be heavily more generous with the leaves gong fu, and got more of the honey flavor and a denser after taste. Honeysuckle is still dominant with the flavor having more trademark black tea qualities like sweet potato. The thing that’s unusual is that those qualities are a lot more subdued, and again, the tea resembles a white tea more than what I think of a black one in flavor.
While I’m being pretty critical about the flavor, the tea definitely is not one dimensional. It resembles the Snow Tips a lot in its overall profile, whereas that one was more rosy, and this one is more “yellow” i n the florals and soft. It’s also extremely calming, which is a nice change of pace for a black.
I’m not fully decided on this one yet. There are cool things about the tea I really enjoy, though it’s too subtle for me so far. Out of all the teas I’ve reviewed, this one is what I’d personally rank as an expert’s tea because of it’s subdued nature and nuance. I know professional sommelier’s look for something that they can slirp without astringency or bitterness, and I can see this tea hitting high marks because of how dense in texture and lacking in abrasion it is. A newer drinker would think it tastes like hot water, and I intermediate drinkers who like blacks would be pickier. I do see white tea drinkers liking this one a lot though if they are exploring Fujian Blacks.
I hope my review didn’t disappoint you, Alistair. I’m going to try this one out again soon and am very happy I have it. I do have a descent sommelier book, and I am going to read it to see if I get any more insights. I am looking forward to a very leaf intense gong fu session!
Flavors: Chamomile, Floral, Honey, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Malt, Smooth