David very kindly included this, at my request, as a sample in my last Verdant order. I’m not sure I’ve ever tried a straight black loose-leaf tea before, so this will be a new experience! I really felt like trying it tonight because of the Chocolate Chamomile Curiousity Brew I had yesterday and today that has Laoshan Black as an ingredient.
I accidently brewed this with less-than-boiling water; hopefully that won’t be an issue. I’m not sure what the temperature was exactly, but somewhere around 200F. ~5g of leaf in my 250mL infuser.
The aroma of the steeped tea is very malty and bakey. Perhaps slightly sweet, but only just. I’ll admit that when I initially smelled it steeping, it almost smelled icky and fermenty to me. I’m not sure where that was coming from, and I still get a hint of it, but I can deal with it.
The flavour is definitely very baked-goodsy, ending with a sweetness that reminds me of… malted barley? Beer? Oh, perhaps that roasted malted barley they use for “chocolate” beer? (I did try some, on a recent brewery tour.) Actually, that’s kind of what the whole sip tastes like. I’ll say that there are some hints of flavour that remind me of, say, a standard bagged black, but it is much different, and a pleasure to drink unaltered.
Oh – I should note that there is not a hint of bitterness or astringency. None.
Also just realized I lied :D My first loose leaf straight black was actually from the DavidsTea advent calendar – David’s Organic Breakfast. Although I think that was a blend.
Anyways, this exceeds my expectations for a straight black tea! It’s complex and interesting, malty and a bit sweet. I don’t think I’d be likely to order this or keep it on hand; I’d more likely go with a flavoured black, but I’m SO glad I had the chance to try it and know what all the hype was about! I can definitely see why black tea lovers like it; my palate just prefers oolongs and greens :)
ETA: Figured I’d go for multiple infusions the next day. Why not! Second – boiling water, 3 minutes. The flavour is pretty similar, just a bit weaker, but still quite tasty. I’m definitely getting a burny sort of flavour this time; don’t recall it from last time, but my memory isn’t great. This is also still quite smooth, except at the end of the sip there’s a lingering sharp bitterness in the back of my tongue/roof of my mouth. Haven’t experienced that before. It’s a little odd. Third infusion – boiling water, 4 minutes. Considerable loss of flavour, although it’s still the same flavour that’s there. Same weird lingering bitterness. I should note that it’s not a problem though, and it’s nothing like the bitterness from oversteeping, although that could be the cause? I don’t think this tea has anything left now though, but I think it’s good for two solid infusions!