Amazingly I’ve only had this once in spite of apparently having enjoyed it the first time. I suppose it’s a question of forgetting what it was and what I thought about it and therefore assuming that it was as of yet untried. Untried teas require a bit more effort than tried once, what with the posting on Steepster and all.
So I was just reading the other post I made about it and since that one was western style, I decided to semi-gong-fu it this time and see what happens. The last time I did that was with the Da Hong Pao and you may remember that I noted how the whole tasting experience feels vastly different between the two, western giving a general overview of the big picture and gong-fu providing a more detailed study, layer for layer. In the Da Hong Pao, you may remember, there were even things which I found was missing in the gong-fu-ish session.
Interesting if I’ll have the same experience this time.
So far on the first steep the aroma seems to be quite similar to what I noticed in the western style cup. It’s wooden and oolong-y and it has a strong note of cocoa, revealing its Fujian origins. I think Fujian is the region I think brings out the biggest cocoa notes. There are others that do as well, of course, but for me Fujian just does it stronger. There’s something sweet underneath, which may or may not be a honeyed note. I’m not sure about this yet.
This is one of the teas that tastes exactly like it smells. Wooden and oolong-y and with a lot of cocoa. It gets slightly floral towards the end of the sip, and again, there is something sort of sweet underneath, but I still can’t tell if I think it’s honey-y.
But again I find myself thinking, ‘I should have liked a touch of caramel notes here…’ Just like with the Da Hong Pao. What is wrong with me? Myself, you can’t have caramel in everything. You just can’t; it’s not on.
The second steep is much sweeter in the aroma than the first. Now I’m getting those hints of caramel that I apparently so desperately crave in oolongs. The cocoa is rather missing, though, so I suspect it that particular note which has now transformed. I still can’t shake that honey thought though, even if I can’t actually identify it.
This is really all there is to the aroma. Almost all of the cocoa is missing or has been transformed, whichever way you look at it, and the wooden oolongness is greatly diminished as well.
The flavour still has that woody note, though. However, it strikes me as a fairly weakly cup, because that’s really all I get. Around it there is a little bit of vaguely floral sweetness, but mostly the flavour of warm water.
On the third steep only the aroma has really changed. It’s a bit floral now and definitely honey sweet. There is a little of the wooden oolongness left, but it’s still at the same level as the second steep. Very little.
Flavour wise, it’s the same as the second steep again. A little more vague, but otherwise identical. I believe it’s time to use larger increases in steep time now.
For the fourth steep the aroma has gained a little of the wooden note back, but that’s really all there is to it. It’s hiding in the steam, but it’s there. All by its lonesome.
The flavour has the wooden note back again as well, but it’s desperately thin tasting, Like a cup of tea which hasn’t actually been allowed to steep for more than a small part of the time it wants to. Again, there is nothing here but the non-descript wooden note apart from the hint of something cocoa-y just before the swallow. Even the second and third steeps with their hot water flavours seemed fuller than this because there were other notes in there to find. Here? Nothing.
So, as this is not supposed to be a stress test of the human bladder, I’m not going to waste any more time with this and go straight for the fifth steep now with an even larger increase in steep time. For the first steeps I started at 30 seconds and raised the times 15 seconds at the time. Then I raised it by 30 seconds and have no raised it by a whole minute.
Now the aroma has gained a floral note, which has an ever so slightly sharp aspect to it. In fact, it now reminds of the aroma of a random generic greenish oolong. No woodenness, no cocoa. Just something kind of floral and something vaguely butter-y. It’s like the leaves have completely changed character.
I was not expecting this.
I wish that I could say the flavour followed suit. Alas, this is still a transparant sort of hint of wood surrounded by a whole lot of nothing.
I think we’ve come to the end of the line with this one. Western style or semi-gong-fu, this was only really interesting on the first steep anyway. I don’t think I’m losing out on anything in this one by doing it western style like I’m used to. Quite the opposite, it seems. The rating stands.