First point of advice for this tea: DON’T LISTEN TO THE COMPANY’S STEEPING SUGGESTION! I had a momentary flash of insanity and steeped the first cup of this for 3 minutes, per the suggestions on the bag. How could I have been so silly? I mean, look at these lovely leaves (See? http://flic.kr/p/cSiS9C Lovely! Well, okay, a little luster-less but I still find them pretty – long and twisted in a way that reminds me of roll your own cigarettes). So if you want to take these pretty things and turn them into a big one-note cup of acidity and harshness that is basically an attempt to be coffee instead of tea, then sure, go ahead, steep for 3 minutes (or more). But that wasn’t what I was looking for with this. Cutting down the time drastically for the second steep didn’t give me what I wanted either, so I decided to give this another go with fresh leaves.
This time I went for one minute. The overall result was much better but still not quite what I was hoping for. Let me explain: the dry leaf smells so lovely. Like when I visited the brew store with the husband and got to smell (and sample) all of the lovely malted grains used for home beer making. Sweet, musty, grainy and just delicious! So I had this marvelous smell – and I wanted it to come across in the taste. It definitely doesn’t at three minutes – it’s harsh and almost burnt tasting and way too tannic.
At one minute, the taste more matches with the smell but it isn’t quite as light as the smell lead me to believe it would be. It’s definitely more of a stout Yunnan, but it has nice notes of sweet malt and a dab of honey. It’s enjoyable but for the fanciness of the leaf and of the price, I was expecting for something a bit softer.
Instead, this reminds me a lot of Adagio’s Yunnan Noir. Don’t get me wrong, I like Yunnan Noir. It’s kind of my go-to tea when I want something stout and energizing without needing to add milk or sugar. So I like this. But $19.50 for 3.5oz or $12 for 4oz. Well, I’m sure you can guess which tea will (continue to) be my go to stout Yunnan.
(I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll be sniffing the leaves a lot on this one, though.)