545 Tasting Notes
1.5 tsp for 300mL water @90C, steeped 8 minutes 45 seconds.
Yeah, 8:45. I got a phone call.
However, this tea stands of beautifully to a long steep.
Colour on my usual 4:30 steep is much the same as what I have here now, a medium copper that looks like a light Ceylon tea. This is a darker oolong than I usually drink, and it’s got a lot going on: molasses, figs, plums and a few other nots I can’t quite define. Nuanced. No bitterness, not even at 8:45. The shorter steep is much sweeter, but this robust beauty remains pleasant and complex. Well worth a try for anyone who likes oolong, and it might make a lovely foray into oolong for a tea drinker who likes the lighter black teas, like Darjeelings (though this has no astringency).
1.5 tsp (approximate — leaves are long and twisty) for 300mL water @95C, stepped 4 minutes 45 seconds.
Oh oh oh.
First off, I love the name of this tea. I admit it; I pretend I am a dagger-wielding warrior queen when I drink this.
Dry leaf is black and gold, long and twist. Scents of dark honey, earth, a bit of sweet potato, and leather.
Wet leaf yields up copper and brown, like pennies. Scents are stronger.
Liquor is copper with some down.
Aroma is unmistakeable: some leather, buckwheat honey, fresh bread, and spicy trees. I know that last one sounds odd. Spicy trees, green incensey almost — cedar perhaps?
Flavour matches the aroma with some sweet potato notes as well. No bitterness.
I just love this tea.
1.5 tsp in 300mL water @95C, steeped five minutes.
An excellent basic Darjeeling. Everything that’s good about Darjeeling — the clean astringence, the tending towards almost a green tea in body and taste, and that glorious muscatel — is all here. This is a blend from one grand, Pussimbing. I find it benefits from a slightly longer steep than I usually go for with a black tea, five minutes versus four or four and a half, and with the lower water temp of 95 vs 100. The price is more than reasonable — a bargain, I’d argue, with 250 grams costing only $18.00 — the leaf organic and tested for hundreds of different residues, and, best of all, Tea Campaign is committed to improving the lives of tea workers.
1.5 tsp (roughly — big leaves) for 300mL water @85C, steeped 3 minutes 30 seconds, Western style, first infusion.
Dry leaf: dark and giving a scent of earth and — uh — incense. Something spicy. Mineral notes.
Wet leaf is green and smells of toast and sun-warmed rocks.
Liquor is pale golden-green, much like a tieguanyin would be.
First aroma notes are earth and sunshine and rocks. The earthiness seemed more pronounced in the cup I made last night with warmer water, 90C. Today I’ve got something close to an autumn tieguanyin, those sorts of florals, with toasted grain and minerals. Yeah, I keep mentioning rocks: lots of rocky notes here, and that’s great. I think I prefer tieguanyin, on the whole, but this is lovely and complex, invites meditation — perhaps it’s the faint, faint reminders of incense doing that.
Flavours continue to open up as the tea cools.
1.5 tsp for 300mL water @95C, steeped four minutes 30 seconds.
Dry leaf smells of rocks, pine, woodsmoke, salt, cream, and something sweet. The smoke does not overpower. Leave are long, dark, and twisted (like my favourite stories).
Wet leaf remains twisted, if less so, and smelling more of minerals than anything else.
Liquor is bronze with some down.
Smoke, yes, but a gentle smoke, with lots of China black tea characteristics coming through. There’s an elusive taste of cream, too. Plenty of sweet mineral notes. I know thi sis a smoked black tea, but it behaves much more like a dark sweet oolong.
This is really frigging good.
1.5 tsp (more or less, very long leaves) for 300mL water @95C, steeped 4 minutes 30 seconds.
Oooohh, the Zhu Rong is strong in this year’s blend. I adore Zhu Rong. It dances with the Laoshan, and the Big Red Robe is very clear, too. I am not a pu’er fan, but I do like how it works in this blend, and I have a sample of Master Hans 2002 Shu Pu’er on hand this time, to see if I can educate myself.
Liquor is light bronze. First aroma notes are smoke (very subtle), leather, cedar, and chocolate. Then everything else kisses you. The Zhu Rong leaves a note of sweet potato this year. An excellent blend. I wish I could drink this every day.