I felt like having a black tea this morning, but thought I should stick with the Chinese teas since I’ve been focusing on those samples recently. This one is the last of my Chinese black tea samples, the rest coming from Teavivre.
I like Teavivre’s way of recommending not just the steeping temperature, but also amount of tea (particularly in grams) and the length of time for each steep. It just gives me a little more confidence that I’m treating each tea right. And at least with this Fujian Baroque, I think I’m justified in thinking so.
Adagio recommends one heaped teaspoon in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Okay, this may sound a strange question, but how much water? Teavivre will prescribe for both a 3oz gaiwan and an 8oz teapot. A “cup” of water in the tea world seems to be anything up to 250ml. There’s no mention from Adagio about how many steeps this will handle. So I did my usual 200ml, using my tea scoop that is 1.5tsp, and it weighed out at 2.6g. I did two steeps, 3 and 5 minutes respectively, both ends of Adagio’s listed times.
1st steep: The dry leaf looked nice with long twists of charcoal brown and some golden buds. There were gentle scents of cocoa, a little malt and freshly baked bread. The wet leaf smelled of that same bread and the Southern-style cooked-to-an-inch-of-its-life green beans that I’ve noticed before in a couple teas of this type. Not a bad thing, seems similar to those, though a good bit weaker. In the cup it was a dark mahogany color with a smooth but thin texture. It had both a bitterness and a slight semi-sweet taste. I could notice the freshly baked bread flavor, but I had to search really hard to find anything else. As the cup cooled (significantly) I could taste some cocoa and maybe some dark fruitiness like plums and berries. Overall, the feel and flavor was very thin, and not terribly interesting, certainly not compared to Teavivre’s Bailin Gongfu or Keemun Hao Ya.
2nd steep: Uh oh. This steeped for 2 minutes longer than the first cup but it’s lighter this time. The first cup felt weak; what of this one? It’s now a medium mahogany color. I take a sip while it’s still much too hot, and it feels just as thin as the first cup, but at least there are some notes of cocoa and spice. As the cup cools to drinking temperature, the fresh bread flavor returns to join the cocoa and spice, but really it doesn’t leave much of an impression.
I need some help here. I’ll ask a question in the forums, but you can answer me here, too. Did I not treat this tea right, as I was wondering earlier in this review? I’ll compare this to Bailin Gongfu. Teavivre recommends 7g for 250ml, and steeps of 1, 2 and 3 minutes. That one was wonderful. I didn’t use half that amount of tea for this one but steeped for 3 and 5 minutes. So was this “my” fault, even though I used Adagio’s (sparse) recommendations? Or have I simply spoiled myself by having Teavivre’s offerings first? The evidence here on Steepster is that Teavivre would have higher quality tea than Adagio in most cases. Please, correct me if I am wrong. I am happy to accept the student position for a good TEAcher. (Sorry, once that came to me, I couldn’t think of another way to write that.)
Note: Despite how it reads, I was in a good mood prior to tasting (I’m not in a bad mood now, either), ready and eager to be pleased. I just feel let down by this particular tea session.