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93

I was absolutely elated to find this as my free sample with my last order. Dan congs are a special favorite of mine. They always seem to have something hiding in them that burst out when you least expect it. And this tea was no exception. The flavor profile began like most other good mi lan xiangs do: a nice honeyed sweetness, middle tones of orchid, some stone-fruit or citrus flavors near the top, and roasted, woody undertones. It had great body, an excellent finish, and a clean, sweet and warm aftertaste.

Into the sixth and seventh steep, spicy notes came through, which was a pleasant surprise. From then on to steep 10, nothing changed much. Still great flavor, great body, good character. But then I came across steep 11. This was some crazy voodoo. I could have sworn someone swapped the leaves in my gaiwan for those of another tea. The flavor profile changed so drastically I could not even believe. It turned completely on its head. Heavier flavors like a new earthiness, a stronger wood flavor, and a bark-like flavor swam to the top, while the more delicate flavors of honey, florals, and stone-fruits either vanished or became undertones. The aftertaste became heartier, more “beefy,” and the mouthfeel which was not very interesting to me until this moment, became thicker and fuller.

To explain this, I’m going to guess that the leaves finally opened fully at this point, which released a ton of flavor previously trapped. The leaves had still been, until around this point in the session, twisted very tightly, still having the appearance of the dry leaf. Whatever the reason, it was a pretty fun sample to try. One thing I did notice about the leaves, though, is that there were a ton of empty stems. I won’t complain about them, because it didn’t seem to affect the tea much, but it was something I don’t find as much in other dan congs.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C

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Bio

I’m fanatic about all things tea-related. Lately, I’ve been fascinated with Wuyi yancha, aged Taiwanese oolongs, and sheng pu’ercha. Nearly all of my sessions as of late are performed gong fu, with pu’er tastings comprising probably eighty percent of them. My collection of pu’ercha is small, but growing steadily. Much of the specimens I drink daily are various samples, although I dig into a cake every so often.

I love trying new teas and I am always learning all I can about the world of tea. Hence, I spend a majority of the time I devote to tea either drinking, writing notes in my journal, or reading. But mostly drinking, as I think it should be. Since I have handwritten logs of everything I drink, I cannot usually find the extra time to log my notes here, and unfortunately my online log is underrepresented.

When drinking, I look for a tea that presents a unique experience, something that involves every sense and provides intrigue in every aspect throughout steeps. I search for teas with balanced complexity and something that makes me keep reaching for my cup. I yearn to find all the positives a tea possesses and every subtle nuance hiding among the leaves. I try to be detailed in my notes and deliver a more comprehensive view of the tea, paying attention to things other than simply flavors and qualitative aspects of aroma, such as the form of the liquor and its development in the mouth. Things like this are much easier to compare between teas, as I find them to be more consistent between sessions, and also make distinctions between a good and mediocre tea easier to make.

Teaware
Adagio UtiliTEA electric kettle.
For gong fu, a 100 mL porcelain gaiwan and a 100mL Yixing di cao qing xi shi pot dedicated to mostly young sheng pu’er.
I drink all green teas in small (maybe 450mL) glass tumblers in the traditional style, with off-boiling water.

Location

Fort Myers, Florida

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