I bought a 100-gram package of this Yunnan Gen Ben Shi Imperial tea a couple of years ago, brewed it on three separate occasions, and then it sunk in my tea closet. I recently rediscovered it, and I’m finding it delightful.
I reviewed my notes for those earlier tastings, and my comments were generally favorable, but not overwhelmingly so. Then I noticed that I had used a 208° brewing temperature in those earlier tastings. That explains it. In the intervening two years, I have gradually learned to brew almost all congou teas at 195°F, regardless of what the vendor’s brewing instructions say. The only teas I brew at 208° are Lapsang Souchong and pu-erhs.
Anyhow, this tea is malty and lightly sweet — characteristics that are mostly obliterated by brewing it at higher temperature. (The 212° recommended by Upton is simply barbaric.) I brew 8 g. of dry leaf in 12 oz. of 195° water for 1:00 min. and 2:00 min. respectively for the first two infusions, and in 8 oz. of water for 3:00 min. for a third infusion. There’s not a lot of complexity in the liquor, but it’s a nice self-drinker with mellow flavor. No need for milk or sweetener.
It’s kind of a moot point now, though. Upton still has a page for this tea (“ZY47”), but the page contains a notice that the tea has been permanently removed from their catalog. Ah, well…it wasn’t a spectacular tea — just a nice Yunnan black at a very affordable price. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of other tasty Yunnan teas.