I almost forgot about this tea. I started working my way through a pouch of this a couple weeks ago and had yet to get around to doing a serious gongfu session with it until yesterday evening. With my allergies suddenly going crazy, I had been holding off on reviewing any new teas due to exhaustion and a less than sensitive palate (smells can still somehow work their way into my poor nose), but I could not hold off any longer. I decided to work around my limitations as best as I could. It took a lot more time than usual and I had to really push myself to identify flavor components, but I was able to get a complete session in before my evening exercise session. Even under the circumstances, I found this to be an extremely pleasant tea.
Obviously, I gongfued this one. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in a 4 ounce gaiwan filled with 200 F water for 5 seconds. At this point, I have to admit that I had no clue how to brew this tea. With most Yunnan black teas, I use a water temperature of either 195 F or 205 F, so I just split the difference with this one. The initial 5 second infusion was followed by 15 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 15 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, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, I picked up nice aromas of nectarine, peach, honey, and wood from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I picked up emerging scents of roasted nuts, leather, toast, and malt. The first infusion brought out scents of fresh baked bread and chocolate. In the mouth, the tea was dominated by well-integrated notes of chocolate, malt, baked bread, toast, leather, roasted nuts, honey, wood, nectarine, and peach before a smooth fade that really emphasized the stone fruit and honey flavors. Subsequent infusions brought out aromas and flavors of caramel, cream, butter, minerals, apricot, wild strawberry, blood orange, smoke, and rose. The later infusions were dominated by mineral, wood, and roasted nut notes, though I could still detect underlying flavors of caramel, cream, butter, and chocolate. One interesting and incredibly appealing aspect of this tea was that the stone fruit and honey notes kept popping up on the tail end of the finish long after the tea had peaked, so no matter how little the tea had left, it still kept reeling me back in again and again.
This tea was not all that deep, but it had a lot going on up front and it was extremely enjoyable. Even with my relatively impaired palate, I was still able to find a lot to like. I would definitely recommend this one to fans of traditional Yunnan black teas who are looking for something a little different.
ADDENDUM: I did another session with this tea on 08/03/2017. I increased the water temperature to 205 F this time and picked up interesting herbal aromas and flavors that I did not find before. For me, it was like a mixture of eucalyptus and menthol.
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Blood Orange, Blood Orange, Butter, Caramel, Chocolate, Cream, Eucalyptus, Honey, Leather, Malt, Menthol, Peach, Roasted Nuts, Rose, Smoke, Smoke, Stonefruit, Strawberry, Toast, Wood