Preparing this two different ways side by side in glazed gaiwans each with 115ml water.
4g using 3min-98C, 4min-90C, 4min-95C, 5min-100C decanted into a serving pitcher
3g using a continuous infusion more than 15min and starting at 90C, drinking from the gaiwan.
I groomed the leaf a bit for the continuous brew – the leaf bits were of a more uniform size versus the decanted infusions including some little broken pieces just a tad larger than fannings.
Really, though, if I had one served to me, I would not be able to tell which was which, as long as the infusion time went to four minutes or beyond. Seeeerious consistency. The continuous infusion picked up an “afterthought” astringency towards the bottom, but it’s pleasant and tannin-like, bringing in an oak leaf/acorn character I enjoy.
Above anything else, this leaves a silky impression. I don’t want to say “smooth” though that’s what jumps to mind, since there is a definitive crispness about it and a light astringency that trickles in from the throat up to the tip of the tongue a while after swallowing. Swishing it around in my mouth and letting it sit there is simply smooth and soothing, though a bit mouthwatering with a wood-like acidity… no astringency until it leaves the mouth. And it’s a fun astringency, at that – it’s prickly and stimulating. Ever walk along a creek in the redwoods on a cold summer evening and taken a deep breath? To those who haven’t, I’m sorry, come spend more time along Northern California’s coast. To those who have and can dredge the memory of the taste and smell up to the front of your consciousness, you have a good idea of what this tea tastes like.
Crisp, minerally, tannic, wet softwoods, mellow resin, moss, Douglas Iris, sorrel in bloom, ferns and horsetails, a mellow but steadfast background of white oak fires piping low smoke from distant wood stove chimneys, a touch of leaf litter dust dampened by fog drip, and fleeting notes of kelp washed up on coarse sand beaches in cold ocean water. I suppose this is wholly lacking in the must and mold smells that would accompany all this if you go farther north than Mendocino… but from Santa Cruz to Fort Bragg, it’s pretty darn close. I love it when teas are potently reminiscent of where I live.
This isn’t a particularly smoky Keemun, but the dry fragrance coming from the very pretty leaves is a low, slightly charred barbecue chicken fragrance. The wet leaf aroma takes on a light apple cobbler character (again, slightly charred edges). Liquor is bright red-orange in a shallow white cup and orange-brown in a deep, narrow cup and carries a copper and softwood aroma. In the continuous brew, this took on a tinge of sage brush while the decanted infusion held a more baked apple skin characteristic.
Silky, refreshing, warming but with a bit of a finishing tingle like you’ve been warmed from the cold. Love the play between the crisp and toasty dichotomy. Yummy when hot, but be sure to let a little bit of it go cold for a delicious twist that makes some sweet and spice notes jump forward (hard caramel, black pepper, and so much malt). There’s a good amount of greenery in the flavors and aromas, but the overall tacky nature announces this as a red tea with blaring horns. No bitterness. I want to say chocolate because of the texture, but it really isn’t there, mostly due to that lack of bitterness and only faint sweet aftertaste … more sandstone and sediment than anything else. The tackiness and spice notes remind me of sarsaparilla is some aspects. Third infusion in the decanted brews brings out a slight tangerine note and slicker mouthfeel – lighter body but still satisfying.
This tea can take a beating and shrugs it off like a rhino, but I feel like it would be sort of blasphemous to put anything in it. Just brew it lighter or heavier.
Down side… This tea makes me thirsty.