Thanks to Teavivre for the sample.
I use seven pearls (a whole sample pack) per gong fu session with flash infusions. This is twice the amount suggested for gong fu brewing on Teavivre’s website, but I prefer my hongcha to be robust. The pearls are very well compacted and fairly consistent in size, but there are some that are much smaller than the others. A good amount of golden bud material can be seen in the layers of the pearl, much more so than those of Teavana.
I wasn’t expecting much from this tea, but as it turns out, it is actually pretty tasty and okay for lazy drinking. The liquor’s depth is nice, with a malty smoothness, and resounding “pure tea” flavor. The lengxiang (cold scent) in the empty cup is subtle, and has characteristics of roasted barley and cooked sugar. Infusions don’t move past five, though, and even that is pushing it. The aftertaste is weak and slightly drying. There is also a faint soapy flavor right on the opening sip and at the end of the finish and seems to be paired with a slightly oily texture, but it isn’t all that apparent unless focused on it.
Looking at the spent leaves, I notice that some seem over-processed. They are totally black, difficult to unroll, and have a “carbonized” look to them, similar to spent shu pu’ercha leaves.