I am a huge fan of this tea’s liquor. When using my gaiwan, as soon as an infusion is poured out, the liquor is a bright, vibrant red. Yet, intriguingly this tea oxidizes extremely quickly. If looked upon for fifteen to twenty seconds or so after the pour, the liquor darkens and fades into a more ruddy brown-red coloration. The transition is quite striking and has a color range that is much broader than most other hongcha I am familiar with.

Otherwise, I am also a fan of the aggressiveness this tea brings out in the flavor. It is both expected and consistent throughout steeps and reminds me of the ol’ Zhu Rong of Verdant Tea, but with smoke instead of spice. It provides a robustness that requires a certain mood from the drinker, when something brisk and perhaps a bit rude is desired. But it’s not a complete brute. The flavor transitions into a mouthfeel is nice and savory, with a salty feeling in the aftertaste.

My main complaint is that the leaves are far too potent and abrasive to enjoy their aroma properly. In this case, the smoke is exponentially more powerful than the leaves themselves, creating an imbalance. However, if I remember correctly, this tea was surprisingly lasting across multiple steeps, without a major loss of smokiness in the later steeps. I believe up to eight was common.

I had a few sessions of this Western style, but concluded that I preferred it much more in a gaiwan.


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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.

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.


Fort Myers, Florida

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