I’ve been sitting in front of my monitor for what feels like forever trying to think of a lead-in for this review. I’ve been distracted most of that time, spending much of it watching old Alice Cooper music videos on YouTube. Times like these remind me that I desperately need to work on being more focused and disciplined. I also need to sit down one of these days and make a sincere effort to finally clean out my backlog of reviews. This is yet another on which I have been sitting. I bought a 25g pouch of this tea shortly before it went out of stock, probably around the end of 2016 or the start of 2017, finally working my way through it near the end of April. I’m a big fan of Da Hong Pao, and this one was very good, though it ultimately fell just a little short of being one of my favorites.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 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, and 7 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of char, cinnamon, pine, and raisin. The rinse then brought out new aromas of roasted peanut, roasted almond, dark chocolate, pear, pomegranate, and lychee. The first infusion introduced a hint of black cherry to the nose as the pear and lychee aromas seemed to swell. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of char and pine on the entry before allowing notes of roasted nuts, cinnamon, raisin, pomegranate, and dark chocolate to emerge. Subsequent infusions saw the nose turn woodier, fruitier, and spicier, as new impressions of cedar, ginger, black pepper, sauteed mushrooms, minerals, smoke, caramel, tobacco, clove, nougat, and rock sugar joined belatedly emerging notes of black cherry, pear, and lychee in the mouth. The final infusions displayed a sharp, dominant mineral presence and lingering notes of dark chocolate, roasted peanut, pine, char, raisin, and rock sugar. I could also catch some background impressions of cinnamon, ginger, and lychee in places.
There was a lot to appreciate about this tea, but I felt that some of its most appealing qualities faded just a hair too quickly. As traditional Da Hong Pao goes, however, it was very good. The roast seemed heavy, but it had settled enough to allow the tea’s fruitiness and spiciness to shine. This has been out of stock for some time now, and though there are other teas of this type that I prefer, I would probably pick this one up again if it were ever restocked.
Flavors: Almond, Black Pepper, Caramel, Cedar, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Clove, Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Ginger, Lychee, Mineral, Mushrooms, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Raisins, Roasted, Smoke, Sugar, Tobacco