This was another of my sipdowns from the second half of 2020. I want to say that I drafted notes for this review in either late October or early November. I can’t be sure. Anyway, this was a typical high end Feng Qing Dian Hong with all of the depth and complexity such teas tend to offer.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This initial 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 presented aromas of malt, sweet potato, baked bread, sugarcane, and smoke that were accompanied by a subtle camphor scent. After the rinse, I picked up a stronger camphor aroma and scents of eucalyptus, roasted almond, roasted peanut, black pepper, and caramel. The first infusion brought forth aromas of straw and juniper. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of malt, baked bread, sweet potato, roasted almond, roasted peanut, and straw that were backed by hints of juniper, smoke, marshmallow, camphor, and black pepper. The bulk of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of lemon, plum, cinnamon, red grape, red apple, orange zest, pine, green bell pepper, and cocoa. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of juniper, camphor, and black pepper appeared in the mouth with impressions of minerals, cocoa, lemon, cooked green beans, caramel, eucalyptus, sugarcane, pine, earth, red grape, cinnamon, orange zest, and green bell pepper in tow. Hints of maple syrup, banana, coffee, plum, red apple, grass, celery and coriander were present too. As the tea faded, the liquor started emphasizing mineral, malt, baked bread, roasted almond, grass, and lemon notes that were followed by swells of subtler green bell pepper, sweet potato, cooked green bean, roasted peanut, sugarcane, cocoa, caramel, red apple, celery, red grape, camphor, and pine flavors.
This was one of the most complex and satisfying Yunnan black teas I have ever tried, but I would be lying by omission if I failed to note that I frequently found this tea to also be tiring and over-the-top. There was just so much going on with it that it was easy for me to get lost or struggle to keep track of what I was experiencing. So, while I would definitely classify this tea as a great offering overall, I would also opine that it would likely not be suitable for daily drinking or just a lazy, casual gong fu session. This was a tea that demanded to be taken seriously and for one to maintain constant focus while brewing and sipping it. For those of you up for a challenge, Yunnan Sourcing’s Imperial Feng Qing Dian Hong seems to be consistent in quality from year to year and will no doubt provide you with one.
Flavors: Almond, Black Pepper, Bread, Camphor, Caramel, Celery, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Coffee, Coriander, Earth, Eucalyptus, Grapes, Grass, Green Beans, Green Bell Peppers, Herbaceous, Lemon, Malt, Maple Syrup, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Red Apple, Smoke, Straw, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes