552 Tasting Notes
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.
1.5 tsp for 300mL water @85C, steeped 3 minutes.
Dry leaf is pretty. I’m not sure what the blackberry leaf is doing there – maybe it’s meant to look like a full tea leaf. The white tea itself scant and twiggy. Liquor is a cloudy light bronze. Decent nectarine/apricot flavouring, with none of the sharp nastiness we now find in DavidsTea Long Life Peach Oolong, but the flavouring does dominate. I cannot detect any white tea notes at all.
I used a cooler water tempt than the 90C recommended.
1.25 tsp for 300mL water @98C, steeped four minutes.
I love a second flush Darjeeling.
This gorgeous offering gives tiny and tight dry leaves with an earthy, slightly peppery scent. Wet leaves are small and cut, mostly tan with some green, with a sharp scent: astringency. Liquor is coppery with some down and a deep, very satisfying aroma of muscatel and other Darjeeling notes. There’s also a quality to the scent here that I can only call “Indian tea.” Some Assams have it, too. This is fairly assertive for a Darjeeling, almost muscular — not your classic delicate Darjeeling to serve with fine cakes and little sandwiches, the sort Buzz Lightyear mocks. A restorative cup of tea. One of my favourite Darjeelings yet
1.5 tsp for 300mL @95C, steeped 4 minutes 15 seconds.
This is Tea Campaign’s “budget” Darjeeling, and it’s a steal. Dry leaf smells of muscatel. Some twigs. Wet leaf is green and bronze and smells strongly of Darjeeling. Liquor tends to a darker bronze with some down. Bright and astringent, lots of first flush notes and a assertive muscatel finish. Light body. Smooth mouth-feel. A sweetness that reminds me of a true Dragonwell.
This is a blend, but it comes form the one garden: Pussimbing.