80

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.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Bio

Tea Geek.

My focus is on Chinese Wulongs and Pu’er but I’m all over the place. I tend to follow a seasonal progression of teas, following the freshness curve of greens through summer and rounding the cooler months out with toastier teas and Masala Chai.
With the exception of Masala Chai milk tea I’m a purist at heart. While I was originally snagged by Earl Grey with bergamot and make blends for gifts, I very rarely go for scented teas or herbals and can’t remember the last time I bought a tea that was blended. Pure tea is just more interesting to me than the product of mixing flavors. I do understand and appreciate their existence, though.

I upload some blends I make or special prep teas I nab under the company name “Green Raven Tea and Coffee” and the vast majority of these posts will be blends crafted to create flavors/characteristics not inherent in any one particular tea.
I’ve worked as a tea buyer for a smallish cafe and try to keep apprized of shifts in offerings even when not selecting for a business so I wind up sampling a ton of wholesale samples from a couple companies in particular but try to branch out to as many companies as I can find. Until Steepster integrates some form of comparative tasting feature, none of my cupping notes will make it onto my reviews unless wrapped up into something I feel compelled to drink multiple times on its own.



Since all the cool kids are doing it, here’s my big fat ratings scheme:

0-12…..Ugh, don’t wish on anyone
13-25….Bad, won’t touch again
26-37….Huh, not worth the effort
38-50….Meh, unremarkable
51-62….Okay, good tea
63-75….Tasty, really good tea
76-87….Yum, wonderful
88-100…Wow, really spectacular

There shouldn’t be many postings at all from me ranked 26-50 since unremarkable teas are unlikely to make me remark on ’em but to “earn” a score 37 or below I have to be disappointed to the point where others may ask for a refund or turn down offers even when free or offered as a gift (beyond stale).

I’ve got a ton of respect for anything rated 63 or higher.

For a tea to get 71 or more, it has to be pretty special and kinda blow my socks off.

The 90s are reserved for wonders that make me reevaluate my views of the world of tea as a whole.

Location

Santa Rosa, California, United States

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