Got this in a trade with Auggie a little while back and am pretty happy with it. First Japanese red tea I’ve had.
2g/100mL with 95C water at 3-4-5 minutes followed up with 9g/450mL at 95C and three infusions of 3 minutes each.
I was honestly a bit off-put when checking out the leaves. Very irregular in size and shape (think poorly graded FOP Nilgiri or mid- to high-elevation Sri Lanka) with some disconnected yellow twigs. Dry fragrance is hay like, creating this unshakable thought of those twigs being bits of straw. The leaves are a nice glossy black, though.
In a larger pot (9g/450mL) the brewed leaves in the first infusion smack of Douglas-fir tips. I actually wish some of that came through in the flavor or liquor aroma, as I love Douglas-fir tips as a tea alternative. Citrusy, refreshing and laced with resinous piney aromatics. None of this comes through in the cup, neither in a smaller cup nor larger one.
Liquor is bright red-orange (Qimen-like) in the first infusion and much lighter orange (Second Flush Darjeeling-like) in the second and third brews. Aroma is very similar to orchids in the second and third while the first is more like the smell of multiple cherry trees in bloom.
Very sweet, very smooth.
Woody with a bit of underripe fruit. At this concentration I’m not getting the tartness I would if I bumped it a little higher, and I feel this is a bit more approachable. Rather than cherry, I get not-quite-ripe white peach. The first and second infusions are laden with cinnamon when brewed in a larger pot at the same concentration, while more flowery expressions come out in a smaller pot/gaiwan. The florals are a comforting mix of tulip, cherry blossom, and (especially in the second infusion) a resounding Cymbidium orchid aroma. Each subsequent brew is sweeter than the last. Light citrus notes come out as it cools and also are more obvious in the secondary brews. I want to say the third brew is like lemonade, but it’s much lighter than that – more like citron-laced water with a sprinkle of white sugar, a drop of honey, and some orchid petals stirred with a stick of Saigon Cinnamon. There is a woody-malty undercurrent shared by all, but it is only a light base flavor that sort of turns to a sweet barley tea aftertaste.
Overall, this does have some similarity to a mellow Second Flush Darjeeling or a very good and lighter Autumnal Darjeeling or Medium Elevation Ceylon with very little astringency at all, but the body and smooth mouthfeel is more akin to a Taiwanese red… The closest tea to this that I’ve had would actually be Sun Moon Lake Assam-cultivar Taiwanese red. Mouthwatering, smooth, full-bodied goodness with a definite sweet side.
Not the most spectacular tea around, but very tasty. I’ll be looking to buy more of this next time I see it offered.