Hou De Asian Art & Fine Teas
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Recent Tasting Notes
Just another love note to this interesting tea, which has such an interesting combo of sweet fruity (plum/peach/cherry) floral notes, and spicy herby backup (cinnamon, cloves, thyme). It is a bright light green deeply rolled tea that looks like it should be a new-style TGY, but when the water hits the leaves it’s much more Dan Cong-like. And the flavor varies and unfolds infusion by infusion, just delightful stuff. Today’s infusions deserve a higher rating—this is 95+ stuff.
Very nice session with this tea today, and shared some of the middle infusions—a little mellower than the first—with some of my tea-loving colleagues at work. I’m not sure the more aggressive early infusions are what I should be sharing with those mostly drinking jasmine and flavored blends…..but I love the spicy deep roasted flavor. Given how light and green the leaves are—I always am momentarily surprised by the deep wuyi/dan cong flavor profile of this one.
This is a very interesting tea. It is tightly rolled, unusual vs the other wuyi oolongs I’ve had, and looks fairly green in the rolled state, and unrolls to a deep green leaf. But the tea liquor reminds me more of a Dan Cong style of oolong—astringent, complex, toasted, sweet, spicy. And it has the ability to last through a dozen infusions easily, getting lighter at the end, but even the light infusions are still fruity/sweet/spicy.
I started this brewing with 3 grams of leaf in a 100mL red clay pot, water about 185 degrees, and infused at first for 30 seconds, and extended as long as 2 seconds by the end of the session.
This is probably the 4th time I’ve brewed some of this wonderfully delicate tea, but I goofed in a way that probably limited the potential of the infusions significantly: I used a too low leaf to water ratio, and I was let the water cool too long before the infusions—too much attention to the camera setup as I was working on photographing what I was doing. In spite of that, the tea was good!
Leaves are twisted, large, green to black, with a light sweet scent.
2.2 grams of leaf into my 6 oz glass pot, because the leaves are so pretty as they unfurl.
1st infusion 175°F/79°C 30", sweet, hay, floral, but too light, should have been longer.
2nd infusion water closer to 160°F/71°C (let it cool too long, misjudged), let it go nearly 2 minutes, again a very light, sweet, floral infusion.
3rd infusion 175°F/79°C several minutes, similar—light, sweet, floral.
4th and 5th infusions were with water just off the boil, several minutes’ steep, and were still lovely.
I’d try water closer to 195 and 30" steep with 3-4 grams of leaf for the same pot next time around; or 2 grams in my 2 oz gaiwans, same temp/time recs as above.
Finally, I may have used enough leaf to find this tea enjoyable. Packing my small gaiwan near to the top with these big twisted wires, I was able to get some really fun flavors out of this tea. The initial steep was a fruit and blossom bomb, with tons of white peach, papaya, and nectarine, all backed with subtle hints of cocoa powder, sandalwood, and white pepper. Underlying all of this was a subtle, silky texture and flavor of fresh, perfectly-cooked scallop meat, reminiscent of the really enjoyable pink shrimp flesh I found in a younger Hou De dan cong. Ramping up the amount of leaf and following Tea Habitat’s brewing guidelines (http://tea-obsession.blogspot.com/2008/01/how-to-brew-dan-cong.html) really produced a nice session this morning.
Based on the reviews of others, I’m fairly sure that my brewing of this tea was inadequate. I didn’t get nearly as richly colored a soup, nor was there really much depth to what I brewed. That being said, I was a bit bummed out. I found the tea a bit shallow. It’s aroma was excellent, however. It showed the bright spicy cedar-wood character that I found in 2007 leaf, but also had a nicely aged caramelized plum towards the end that made it rewardingly balance, at least in scent. I’ll have to work on brewing this tea better, to get better texture and more flavor depth. I’m sure it’s there.
I received the 2007 version of this tea in my recent DanCong sampler. Again, only my second DanCong, so my experiences may be a bit naive. The aroma on this tea is amazing. Rich, deep super spicy cedar wood and roast. Bark, smoke, and pith. In the aroma cup, it just pours out sage, burnt field grasses, and sauna. Wonderful. The soup is much more caramel, grayish brown. The flavor and texture is a bit harder for me to handle. I thought it was touch coarse and bitter right up front, then it smoothes out, gives some of the cedar, a bit of caramel roast, and then a harsh, biting ash character. Light sweetness balances it a little, but the flavor of this tea seemed a bit uneven, which is unfortunate, because the aroma is killer.
Received as a three-DanCong sampler, this tea was actually my first DanCong, so my impressions may not be entirely valid. Regardless, I enjoyed this tea, although the overall flavor seemed a little light. I used around 3grams in my 3oz gaiwan. Started with 20s, 30s, and 40s steeps, then just went by intuition. The aroma was very snappy and complex. A lot of woody spiciness, fresh mums and peonies. The depth of the flavor and aroma held a very creamy super-fresh pink shrimp meat character. A bit of old bay, and creole seasoning popped up in the back of the throat. It gave out around the fourth or fifth steep. Nicely sweet.
This is a great example of what the Da-Yieh cultivar can express as a green tea. There’s lots of honey, raw nuts, and orchid florals. Not as pungent as similar oolongs, but still very expressive and juicy. I wonder if this tea is basket-fired, because it has a distinct, but fleeting, charcoal character in the back of the throat. While this is a delicious tea, in the end, it may be a bit pricey for the overall experience.