I have, “A definitely good hongcha, this one is,” written in my tea journal for one session with this Dian hong. While I can’t comment on my Yoda-esque prose I seem to have adopted that day, it adequately sums up this tea. It’s a mid-grade Dian hong, possessing fair amounts of both black leaves and golden budsets, and it certainly shows in the cup. While I prefer the all-buds Dian hongs, I both enjoy and respect the qualities brought out with the blend. That Yunnan “peppery” flavor often becomes lost with the higher grades or mutates uncontrollably with the lower grades, shows up in just the right amounts in this tea to blend nicely with the strong sweetness and dark, fruity aromatics. For the last session, I used the remainder of my sample, which took up between a third and a half of the gaiwan. It produced a far more complex brew, but most notably intensified the pepper-fruit interaction. I was excited about this, because I am usually unable to receive decent results with a large amount of leaf when it comes to Dian hongs. The texture usually ends up being too thick and muddles the more subtle tones somehow.
The aftertaste and mouthfeel are thick and starchy, giving rise to that “yam-like” perception often received from this type of tea. It’s always something I look for with Dian hongs, and this one does it fairly well. The aftertaste in this one, however, often becomes a bit salty and it if overbrewed at all, it is difficult to get past the maltiness, especially in later steeps when many of the initially interesting flavors have considerably declined in intensity. The liquor is also noticeably murky, but seems to clear up after the first few steeps.