Well, a new year has arrived and I am still trying to get all of my backlogged reviews posted. Go figure. 2018 was a horrible year for me and just about everyone I know, so I’m hoping that 2019 will be better. I’m already making some progress on my New Year’s resolutions; I spent last night and most of this morning reorganizing my record collection and boxing up the records I don’t want anymore so that I can sell them. I’m about halfway done with that and would have gotten more done had my plumber not shown up to work on the outdoor faucets. I’ve also been working on keeping my house cleaner and have started a new workout regimen. I’m trying to get my sleep schedule back on track too and have started applying to graduate programs in earnest. Kids, really take the time to find a stable professional niche unless you want to end up like me and starting all over from scratch as a 33 year old. Getting back on track, this was the last of the black teas I drank in December. Of the bunch, it was one of the best and by far the most unique.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 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, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea buds emitted aromas of malt, hay, straw, marshmallow, and eucalyptus. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut, black pepper, cream, chili leaf, and bay leaf. The first infusion then introduced aromas of baked bread and green bell pepper. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, hay, straw, marshmallow, baked bread, and cream that were chased by hints of grass, watermelon rind, brown sugar, and roasted pecan. The subsequent infusions quickly introduced aromas of ginger, butter, orange zest, roasted pecan, sugarcane, cinnamon, and sweet potato. Notes of black pepper, green bell pepper, bay leaf, and chili leaf belatedly emerged in the mouth along with stronger and more immediate brown sugar and watermelon rind notes and hints of eucalyptus and roasted peanut. New notes of minerals, vanilla, orange zest, butter, cinnamon, sweet potato, honeydew, earth, and sugarcane also appeared along with hints of ginger and celery. Each swallow saw the eucalyptus, bay leaf, celery, and green bell pepper notes linger, leaving a unique herbal, spicy, vegetal aftertaste. By the end of the session, the faded tea liquor offered mineral, malt, cream, marshmallow, and baked bread notes that were chased by a slight woody note that I did not previously catch and hints of watermelon rind, sugarcane, roasted peanut, orange zest, earth, vanilla, and hay. Naturally, the swallow was still followed by a spicy, herbal, vegetal aftertaste, but it was subtler this time and the green bell pepper notes were absent.
This was a very complex tea with a ton to offer. Compared to some of the other Dian Hong I have tried recently, this one was much spicier, more herbal, and more vegetal. Like every other Feng Qing tea I have tried, it had a unique character that is hard for me to accurately describe. Established fans of Feng Qing teas would probably find a ton to like in this offering, but for those of you who have not tried as many Feng Qing offerings, this would not be the tea with which to start due to its complexity.
Flavors: Black Pepper, Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Celery, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Hay, Herbaceous, Honeydew, Malt, Marshmallow, Melon, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pecan, Straw, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Wood