Last night I decided that I needed to break up my ongoing oolong and green tea binge with something more fully oxidized, and in the the interest of trying something new, I settled on this Dancong black tea from Huang Rui Guang. Since I have only recently started to open up to Dancongs, Dancong black teas were totally unfamiliar to me prior to trying this tea. I figured this one would be enjoyable as I am a fan of Mi Lan Xiang oolongs. Fortunately, I was right.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. Verdant Tea recommends using 10 grams of tea leaves per 6 fluid ounces of water, but I only had 5 grams to play with which to play. After a brief rinse, I steeped my 5 gram sample in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 13 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, I detected aromas of nectarine, lychee, orange, cedar, and orchid coming from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I found emerging aromas of honey, pear, and pine. The first real infusion then brought out a hint of cocoa on the nose. In the mouth, I detected notes of nectarine, lychee, orange, orchid, cedar, honey, pine, and pear backed by notes of cream, malt, cocoa, and plum. Subsequent infusions brought out stronger impressions of cream, malt, cocoa, and plum in the mouth. I also found new impressions of leather, earth, sweet potato, brown sugar, sandalwood, peach, and minerals. The later infusions offered lingering notes of malt, cream, cocoa, and minerals with some lingering hints of honey and stone fruit sweetness on the swallow.

This was an enjoyable black tea that made me curious to try some other Dancong black teas. I especially appreciated the fact that the core characteristics of the Mi Lan Xiang cultivar were not lost in this tea. Though I could and would drink this tea regularly with no complaints, I usually prefer stronger, slightly more astringent black teas as they tend to leave more of an impression on me. Still, as an introduction to Dancong black teas, this was extremely nice.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cedar, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Honey, Leather, Lychee, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Pine, Plums, Stonefruits, Sweet Potatoes

Boiling 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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