Steeped this gong-fu style in a gaiwan, as usual.
The smell of this dry tea from David’s big bags is great- like sticking my nose into a bag of dark dark chocolate chips mixed with dried cranberries or pit fruits. The wet smell continues on the same them: a dark chocolate bar with currants or raspberries or tart hibiscus. In fact, the smell and the first tastes really reminds me of this delicious bar of chocolate from Rogue Chocolatier (try them! try them! try them!) called the Hispaniola: http://www.roguechocolatier.com/products-page/
Apart from the chocolate, this new picking just strikes me as particularly autumny. It seems leafy (fallen leaves), with lots of toasted grains. Notes of buckwheat and, of course, honey. Some may disagree with me, but I think this one is even more malty than the last spring picking (but maybe I was just really in the mood for that taste, and so I found it in abundance).
There is also the taste of brown sugar that, in a way, reminds me of aged Gouda. You know how aged gouda has these really awesome crystalline structures of salt that burst open as your eating a piece? This has that same feeling, but with brown sugar crystal-nuggets instead of salt.
As we steeped this out, I was reminded a bit of the jingling/ringing mouth-texture of Verdant’s big red robe, but this is accompanied by the brothy, honey full feeling. Later flavors remind me of honey nut cheerios, but with more honey. I like Geoffrey’s notes of creme brulee in this one; I taste that, too.. but a creme brulee that’s more complex than most, with cinnamon sweetness and carrots and raisins and cream. Final flavors are those of perfectly toasted marshmallows!
If I’m going to drink a black tea, it’s going to be Dien Hong, or it’s going to be this one. This tea gives me absolutely everything I want out of black tea. Yes, I’ll keep trying Indian blacks and I’m not going to turn down any opportunities to try other Chinese blacks. But here’s the thing: I really cannot stand bitterness at all. There have been times I couldn’t make it through house salads because the greens they used were just too bitter for me! So I have a feeling that when I drink Indian blacks, I’m going to say to myself.. HmmmmMm.. this would be really good if it just weren’t so bitter…Now where’s my LaoShan black? And recently when I’ve had Chinese black teas, their flavors seem to fall very clearly into the Dien Hong camp or the LSBlack camp, without offering something very distinctive all their own that helps me understand what makes that tea unique. When I find another Chinese black that really grabs me and shows me why someone can dedicate themselves to that tea, then you will be sure to see a happy review from me. Until then, I’m going to enjoy hunkering down for the winter with this Autumn Lao Shan black.
It’s so good. I am so very happy to have the opportunity to try this tea. Imagine: last year, no one outside of China had ever tried this village’s black tea. How lucky I am to find it in my cup now!