137 Tasting Notes
A pleasant surprise! I didn’t love the GABA oolong, but this does add something my black tea spectrum – as described, it IS warm and comforting, very smooth, maybe savory? It feels like a lazy/rainy morning tea to linger over while resolutely not going outside. Or maybe an after dinner tea to settle the stomach. I may just have to keep this one around. And it’s definitely worth trying.
So, from someone almost entirely new to pu’er, I’m a fan. And I can see why people become so devoted. We’re getting a lot of ‘light’ and ‘fresh’ type reviews from the pu’er devotee crowd, and that’s absolutely right, but from the ‘newer to pu’er’ perspective, it still has that pu’er funk in a way that leaves you wanting more. This is a bugger since I’m consciously putting off my anticipated future plunge into pu’er, and I can already feel the cravings coming on. For now, the plan is just to keep this one in stock as long as possible, since it’s hard to imagine being any happier with a single pu’er on hand.
I like this tea. I really, really like it. I’m pretty challenged at describing black teas, since my favorites all seem to be varying proportions of ‘sweet,’ ‘malty,’ ‘smooth,’ and ‘raspy.’ And I like all of those things. I guess the trait my top three have is that those qualities are also ‘balanced.’ I’ve started my black tea explorations with Mandala, and my top three are this, Golden Needle, and Black Beauty. I think I slightly prefer Black Beauty to this because it has less astringency, though Pure Bud is gentle too. I will absolutely finish up this deliciousness, but I think one of the others will be my house black tea, at least for now.
I’m not entirely sure this isn’t the Big Red Robe oolong. It was a sample and just said ‘Rock Oolong,’ and I don’t want to mess up the Big Red Robe reviews if this isn’t it. The first steeping brought to mind a very slightly burnt grilled cheese sandwich, which, it turns out, is a great thing in a tea. After that, it got a bit fuller and sweeter, and I’m in love. There is a definite but light smokiness to it, which works even though I don’t seek out smoky teas. For some reason, I want to eat sushi with it. Not exactly a classic pairing I suppose, but it sounds lovely.
Another reviewer noted this tea is between a legacy blend and smoother Chinese black tea, and I agree. In fact, if it were presented to me as a mix of the two, I’d have believed it. It seems to hit all of those notes in a really wonderful way. The dry leaf color gave me the impression it would be a lighter flavor, but it just goes to show that’s a really silly way to judge tea. I’ll keep this one around for guests looking for English Breakfast. It’s way better than anything I’ve found in that category, and I don’t think they’ll be disappointed!
I won’t try to describe the taste – that has been very well accomplished by others, so I second them all. What I can add is that in today’s black tea face off, it easily beats Black Gold for me, as the bold but sweet flavor/no astringency combination is knocking my socks off. This will have to square off against yesterday’s Golden Needle, and I suspect it will win there too. (I am not a huge black tea fan, so, with the exception of some flavored varieties, yeah, I’m really just looking to keep one or two black teas around.) UPDATE: Very strange. Most black teas make me feel stressed and panicky, but no such effect with this one.
The hunt for my house black tea continues. First up today is Black Gold, against yesterday’s winner, Golden Needle. Gah – they’re all so good! In comparison, this one seems a bit lighter in flavor and more astringent. I do think I miss that malty sweetness, and maybe it’s that I’m drinking too many black teas these days, but the astringency is starting to bother me a bit. I suppose if a black tea makes me crave white tea, it can’t be my winner.