I was going to wait to do this review until this weekend, but when I saw all of the others coming in this morning, I thought- why not? I’ve got my notes; I’ll throw my hat in the ring.
I talk about my notes alot, so I thought with this one it would be worth sharing a scan of them.
You’ll notice my extremely terrible handwriting. Usually, it’s not that bad! (see the sample at the top of the image) But when you’re sitting up late with friends in a marathon drinking session, and your pen is of a certain style… handwriting goes out the window. Aren’t you glad I don’t just post these scribbles? This’ll be a little bit easier to understand (hopefully).
I am really loving this 2nd batch of the Autumn harvest. Notice my first note towards the middle (and I quote):
“Humina humina humina!”
It tastes like the Autumn LS we’ve come to know and love… but taken up another notch or four. How do they do that? However it happens, it’s been thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve done this gong-fy style in my gaiwan (big and tiny), my yixing pots, the big western pot, even combining gong-fu steeps into big mugs. Basically everything but cold-steep (and it’s been too chilly to try that out). I don’t know what my favorite way to do this is. Probably gong-fu, because it’s more fun for me to see flavors changing over time. Tea in a pot is a drink, but drinks are just that… to fill a need or quench my thirst. I can enjoy things so much more if I set out to do that.
So what does this new batch taste like? My first impression was of something called Nyou Beng.. it was an herbal tea my friends made for me in China, and I miss it dearly. It’s a kind of burdock root, but though I’ve tried to make it from Burdock here in the states, it’s just not the same. Basically, Nyou Beng tastes kind of like liquid graham crackers, plus a lot of other delicious things. Warm and caramelly, and perfect for drinking under a blanket or in front of a fire. The taste of this LS Black really reminds me of Nyou Beng.. if NB were a really fine and refined tea. Lip smacking good..
In the tasting where I took notes, we actually had the black tea after trying selects from a delicious Wuyi care package. The similarities between this and the Rou Gui called to me.. cinnamon goodness, but it was more of a smooth smooth sweet base note of cinnamon, rather than the pop and spicy bite of it. Other Steepsters here today have made comparisons to Da Hong Pao, which I can see. The black tea is almost like an oolong sometimes.
As steepings progress, there’s a nice chewy, bark-y quality at the bottom of the flavors that I don’t recall before. It adds a complexity I can’t quite put my finger on.. Usually, woodiness in teas feel very high energy and rambunctious, but this one seems to add to the fine quality. It’s like the little woody child has grown up into a fine young person with composure and knowledge tempered from experience.
As my notes remind me, I get a giant marshmallow-y feeling from this tea. Puts me in mind of s’mores and the North Shore of Lake Superior. Specifically, it really calls to mind those awesome seven layer bars!!
Another dessert this reminds me of? Whipped chocolate mousse with dark chocolate shaved on top. Yum.
My notes from here get less about the taste and more about things the tea reminds me of. For example, later steepings called to mind apples covered in chocolate syrup with whipped cream.. or maybe an almod croissant.. or maybe both, on top of each other, at the same time! Gosh that sounds good- weekend project, maybe? Fat chance- we’re moving into our new place this weekend!
In later late steepings, the taste called to mind a childhood experiment of mine. One time, when a friend was sleeping over, we wanted to make some cool food experiment. We took a hand-full of M&M’s and soaked them in water (stirring until the water was a delicate shade of purple). Then, to be super fancy, we froze the mixture overnight in a tupperware. In the morning, we had the “invention” for breakfast.. we crushed up the block of ice into shavings and ate it out of bowls like sorbet.
Some sort of sweetness in here reminds me not of the chocolates themselves, but of that taste of their candy shells. The taste of the shells that steeped out into the water and turned it such a light and pretty color.
Conclusion? Part of this tea reminds me of frozen, cold-steeped M&M tea! I love that; it’s been many years since I remembered that experiment.. now I want to do it again.