90

Wow, I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I’ve been on here. Took a tea like this to get me typing up online again, hahaha.

Considering some of the sampes of tea I’ve gotten from this company, I was not really expecting this tea to be quite worth the cost they are charging for it ($22.40 per 28g plus just shy of $5 shipping) but I had to give it a try as I’ve been searching for this tea for quite some time. I had a pure bud Ceylon once before, about six years ago, and have only seen a couple here and there since. Dunno if it is a matter of actual rarity of production or more a matter of rarity of companies shelling out the cash to procure and offer it with potentially dismaying results, but it is hard to find retailers that’ll sell it.
I’m really happy I got it!

I bought this looking at it as a blend component but after screwing around with it I feel it’s a shame to not simply enjoy it on its own even if it can work very well alongside other (similarly priced and quality-ranked) red teas. It is very tasty and provides a rich impression in terms of tactile balance, flavor, and aroma. Very satisfying.

The image doesn’t really do it justice… These are pure buds with occasional additional leaf scales (no fully developed leaves anywhere) processed in such a way that a tremendous amount of golden down is preserved. Looks a whole lot like the Imperial Yunnan Gold at Imperial Tea Court but with a bit narrower shape and slight curl to each bud. Most pure bud teas are not this small – four to five laid down end-to-end make up the length of a typical good grade Fuding Da Bai Hao Yin Zhen bud. Think Keemun leaf size.

Made my typical mistake of trying to take in the dry fragrance of the leaf directly and almost sneezed from sniffing up the hairs from the leaves. Fragrance when placed in a warm cup is cocoa, caramel, apple pie crust, hardwood, and fresh bread out of the oven. Wet aroma is chocolatey with maltiness similar to scotch (minus any acohol tang) and barley. Liquor is deep amber to brown, very much (again) like Yunnan buds. Liquor aroma is malty and sweet.

First impression is actually in the nose, conveying wheat toast and malt notes with a bit of a vegetal spike similar to corn on a barbecue grill (not far from the smell of roasting coffee pre-first crack). Comforting. There’s great, front-heavy mouthfeel that somehow is a little less weighted in the back of the mouth. Flavor has hearty characteristics similar to baked apples, sweet potato, fresh toasted croissants, and a little bit of honey, cumin, coriander, and saigon cinnamon over a smooth woody base. Spice notes turn more towards true cinnamon in the aftertaste, which is pretty darned reminiscent of the aftertaste of homemade baklava. Overall very buttery and full bodied with a mouthwatering effect and lingering sweetness.

Works really well in brewing with a gaiwan, but I actually enjoyed drinking this most in a cupping setup using western brewing ratios and a long steep in almost boiling water. Using 2.8g per 160ml water and 4min, 4min30sec, 5min each infusion with fresh water just before a full boil I got three very nice, relatively consistent infusions with a steady petering of flavor. Most sweetness in the third infusion. Fourth infusion at 5min not quite worth the trouble, but I still enjoy three long brews a tad more than ten short ones at higher concentration.

This is a great alternative to Yunnan Gold Buds, carrying more body and slightly more sweetness and a more refreshing yet toasty progression through to the aftertaste. Certainly right in league with the Yunnan, Sichuan, and Fujian golden bud teas, just with a slightly different face and perhaps a little more comforting on a cold day and works as accompaniment to slightly heartier foods like stew or oatmeal while being refreshing enough to be a draw on a hot day. Lucky me, my weather just swung from 87 degrees to 31 degrees in just over a week so I got to see how this guy applies to different weather, hahaha.

Were it not for the price, this would supplant Golden Monkey for me for a rich, smooth, sweet go-to red tea.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 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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