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In view of the dealer info above, I possibly brewed my first mug of this too long. The above contains detailed brewing info, as opposed to the ‘Tea Brewing Info’ tab which simply says ‘3 – 6 mins’. I went on the latter, split the difference, and brewed for four and a half minutes. I used a well-heaped teaspoon (this is the correct amount as I actually weighed it at 3g, the instructions give 1g per 100ml, and I’m using a half-pint mug which is 284ml). I used boiling water.

In the mug it’s an intense, dark brown, quite opaque in its intensity.

It smells at least of cut grass and good basic tea and I think there’s something else in there, something darker and firmer, which I can’t quite pin down. I could possibly call it liquorice but it’s not quite that. I should note, as well, that you get whiffs of good, clean basic tea from this without bending down to the cup.

In the mouth it’s quite elusive – I think I’m getting different flavours with different sips and I think the flavour changes as the tea cools. I got basic tea and cut grass, possibly a hint of liquorice, butter, possibly vanilla or something similar – some sweet-smelling flower, perhaps.

Though it’s complex with good basic tea flavour, I wouldn’t describe this as a robust tea but as more delicate and refined – more like an expensive Darjeeling, but different.

Second infusion: as I’ve already probably overdone it with the first one, I’m giving this another four and a half minutes.

It’s not opaque like the first, but still an intense, dark brown and almost opaque in its intensity.

In the nose it was similar but I thought I was having hay rather than cut grass. There may be a yeasty or doughy hint, too.

In the mouth it’s just as complex and elusive. I don’t know what to think of it. There’s a hard edge in there, difficult to describe but perhaps somewhere between grass and metal polish; but then that’s balanced by a toffee- or butter-like softness. But I get little, fleeting ‘glimpses’ of flavour, both when drinking and as after-taste, which are really difficult to pin down.

This is one of three small samples of these expensive, Taiwanese, black teas I had from Imperial Teas and was actually the first I opened (I believe they’re called ‘Oriental Beauty’ teas but I’m ready to be corrected on that – wrong – I’ve just looked up the Oriental Beauty teas and they’re oolongs). The notes for this entry were made some time ago, but I forgot to post here. Since then I’ve opened the second, the ‘Buddha’s Hand’ Fo Shou Hon Cha, and I’ve been having so many adventures with that one (see my notes on it) that I’m not going to rate this until I’ve made at least two more tasting notes to experiment with quantities used.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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Bio

Happily retired male.

Started exploring ‘proper’ tea in March, 2010 after decades of PG Tips teabags. I was initially looking for ‘the perfect tea’; now I don’t want to find one – I’m so much more enjoying exploring the variety.

A confession: I take my tea with four sweeteners to a half-pint mug.
28/05/2012 – I’ve decided to wean myself off the sweeteners, starting this morning, so, three per mug instead of four (I’m getting a growing feeling that I’m failing to get the best out of some of the oolongs and greens I try and I intend getting a gaiwan and the appropriate little cups, and sweeteners don’t seem to be appropriate, there). 16/02/2013 – since New Year’s Day I’ve only been using two sweeteners. I’m struggling to get used to it, to be honest – some teas are more difficult than others.

How I make tea: either in a traditional teapot which holds enough for three half-pint mugs and has a removable infuser (London Teapot Company); or in a half-pint mug with an Agatha’s Bester filter. Sometimes I vaguely think about getting some nice, genteel cups and saucers …

Important: I measure the tea with plastic kitchen measuring spoons – teaspoon and half-teaspoon sizes – so when I say a ‘heaped teaspoon’, as the correct measure is a levelled one, I should probably be calling it ‘two teaspoons’!

Location

Derbyshire/Staffordshire, UK.

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