232 Tasting Notes
First off I should give a bit of personal history with this tea which dates back to my freshman year of college and the start of my interest in teas. At the time when I started college I was used to drinking mainly soda but being cheap I soon realized that tea (and sugar) was a lot cheaper than soda to have around the dorm room and I soon found that Twinings was not only the best brand of teabag tea in the grocery store but also frequently went on sale for 3 boxes for $5. At first I focused upon English Breakfast and especially Irish Breakfast tea but when they added it I got a Twinings variety pack which included Prince of Wales. Prince of Wales was my first exposure to Chinese black tea and was what initially lead to my lasting bent on favoring Chinese teas over Ceylon and Indian teas. So when I happened to be at a tea shop that had tins of loose Twinings teas I could not resist picking up a tin of Prince of Wales for old times sake.
My initial taste of the brew in over half a decade was surprise at it being higher quality than I had initially expected. The taste of the Prince of Wales blend is indeed light and smooth as described and it is clear that a good part of the blend is Keemun black tea. Clearly it could be better especially if it was blended using higher quality whole leaves instead of the broken leaf grade, but while it lacks any slight traces of natural semi-sweetness found in some blacks I also would not call it bitter either. The Keemun that it was made from is a good mild variety without any traces of smoke. Finally to complete the experiment of duplicating my early tea experience after finishing half of the contents of the mug of tea I emptied 2 sugar packets into the remaining half cup of tea to make it in the style that I drank my tea during my college days. Wow I never realized how much sugar can destroy the more subtle notes of tea before this experiment not to mention it is no wonder why I gained so much weight during my college years with all that sugar in my tea all the time.
Brewed gongfu style in a yixing pot. This is a very fine example of a good jade oolong at a very reasonable price. Light smooth oolong taste with buttery notes. This tea is also amazing at how many times it can be reinfused to the point that it frequently outlasts me which is very rare considering that tea tends to have a very short lifespan around me.
The leaves are fine with some golden tips which are not only on the outer layer of the cake but mixed in throughout the entire cake. When brewed it yields a very nice medium strength shu puerh with a nice clean taste without any musty earthy aroma or flavors present. The brew has a nice mellow taste with a pleasant slightly smooth edge and the expected “Menghai scent” taste associated with good Menghai ripe puerh. The second infusion got away from me and ended up a bit stronger than I usually brew my puerh but luckily Adorned in Red is a very forgiving tea which took on a slight maltiness to the brew but not one that was overwhelming enough to destroy the smooth mellowness experienced in the first round. The third round I paid better attention to the brewing times and was just like the third round and for the fourth round I went for a long brew to finish off the leaves and successfully squeeze out one more yummy round of ripe puerh.
The first thing that stood out to me about this tea was the very fresh and green aroma of the dry leaf. The dry tea leaves are flat and needle light and appear to be all buds which show signs of opening up slightly when brewed. The taste overall is is light and sweet with flavor notes that are a tad fruity and woody but not grassy. A taste which is fairly consistent with what I remember bamboo tasting like so it is not by any means a stretch to call this a bamboo leaf green tea even though I’m confident that it lacks any bamboo. The tea also has fairly good multiple infusions for a green tea. As expected the first two infusions were clearly the best and the third was still very good. The fourth infusion started to go down hill but was still fair before the tea died on the fifth infusion.
The first round I initially confused the rinse water with tea and it was a very musty brew that was best fit for being dumped out upon the ground. The first real infusion after the double rinse had a medium body with an earthy edge to it. Not that much more to say about this brew as the earthy edge is the only thing really worth mentioning as if this brick were to mellow out more with age I think it would go downhill as it lacks any apparent depth. Overall I tend to avoid earthy puerhs which I typically bash as musty but I must admit that with a proper rinse this is one of the very few good earthy puerhs that I have experienced and one that the price is right as I have to admit that it is better than some of the bad cakes that I’ve had. Still in the end the brick is no value as its quality is still too low to result in a high level of enjoyment.