1161 Tasting Notes
Not likely to ever be my favorite, but after tinkering I have learned to really enjoy this. I keep the first steep at about 1minute. That is low enough to hold the smoke down to a pleasant level, for my tastes, and long enough for the wonderful black tea to bring forth its flavor. 2nd and 3rd steep I go 2 and 3 minutes respectively.
When TeaVivre offered their latest round of very generous samples, I asked for this one specifically. This is the lowest priced level of the 3 Dian Hong black teas they sell. Even at the low cost this is still a quality loose leaf tea with a fair amount of golden tips mixed in with darker leaf. The dry leaf is a bit malty and has some tobacco leaf scent. I used about 3g (a healthy spoon) and just below boiling water, steeping for 3 minutes in my French press. The liquor is a dark and clear caramel. The wet leaf scent reminds me of brownies. Like baked caramelized sugar and chocolate. (yeah, I know – Yum! Right?)
Comparing this to Golden Tips or Sun Moon Lake is unfair, but I can’t help it as I just tasted tested the latter. So let me get this out of my system – This does not have the wonderful sweet potato notes of the Golden Tips, and it does not have the amazing honey and mint of the Sun Moon Lake. So in this unfair comparison it starts off sounding a little bland. Yet it is $6.90/100g compared to $16.90 and $29.00 respectively. This is a really good tea on its own strengths. It is smooth and malty. I don’t know how this is processed and fired but I detect a light amount of smoke in the cup. That adds character and depth. The cooler the cup gets the more the flavor pops.
At the price point of this tea, having a nice Dian Hong for everyday would be enough. Yet, I haven’t even gotten to the reason I requested this sample. I had a hunch about this tea that I just had to try. I brewed the second cup and poured it over ice. As I suspected, this made a refreshing light glass of iced tea. Where as the mighty Golden Tips faltered over ice, this frugal version took it in stride. No sweetener or lemon required. There was one problem with it – my glass emptied way too fast :)
One last thing, I steeped this 3 times and it was still going strong. Let’s see Twinings do that.
My rating is higher than the others based on the iced tea option.
This is the first sample I grabbed out of box provided by Fong Mong Tea. It is also my first black tea from Taiwan, at least that I am aware. First, about the packaging. The samples are packed in very heavy silver pouches. Once cut open the first thing I notice is the oxygen absorber in this pouch. That’s different. The tea type is listed on the label but there are no steeping instructions. I went online to locate this information.
The leaf is dark and thick. The smell is similar to a Yunnan Dian Hong but more wine like. Kind of like a chocolate wine would smell. Very nice. I brewed for 3 minutes with just below boiling water in my French Press. The resulting liquor is a beautiful clear dark caramel. Fong Mong calls the color carmine, which is a vivid red. Scent is the same as the dry leaf.
With the first sip the sensation was instantly caramel, then grapes, and then Yunnan black (I now understand Bonnie’s reaction). There is a healthy dose of malt in the smell and in the taste. While I don’t detect it in the scent, I noticed the cooling sensation of mint in mid sip and can taste it on my breath. This tea has a natural sweetness to it that tastes like honey on the lips. Strangely, considering the sweetness, it seems slightly drying like a red wine. There is not even a hint of bitterness in this cup. This is so good.
I find I have been programmed by years of English breakfast teas to expect a black tea to taste strong with a heavy bite that verges on and often surpasses bitterness. Not even close to what you’ll get from this tea. The China blacks and now this from Taiwan have shown me I have been missing an entire delicious side of black tea. This is excellent. I know reviews often read like propaganda written by an advertisement department, but this tea really is as amazingly good as it sounds. I am honored to have experienced it.
Backlogging from Wednesday. Tuesday night my son and I took our telescopes to the state park to help a friend do a public outreach program during the Venus transit. If you missed it, sorry it won’t happen again in your lifetime. It was well attended and a lot of fun. Wednesday I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a truck. Apparently I am a wimp. Flash forward to bedtime. I want tea. This has decaf in it. A pleasant ending to the day.
Before I get to this tea – I went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch. They used to serve Golden Peak iced tea. It wasn’t bad. Whatever they switched to was awesome for restaurant tea. Great depth. Great bite. Made my tongue tingle. The tamale was good too.
On to this one – still can’t figure out why the name on this one. I can lightly pick out the lavender today. I can also taste something sort of like pumpkin spice – is that what safflower tastes like? Can’t really pick out the black tea. It’s pleasant enough but is kind of one of those teas for people who don’t really like tea. The dry leaf looks like my cockatiel would love it.
I get to work this morning all blurry headed and pull open my tea drawer. There are over 50 different choices. Only about four of which are not sample sized. Too many options. I can’t decide. I don’t want to open something new. I don’t want to think that hard to prepare it or taste it. I am not awake enough anyway. I don’t have time for that one. Not in the mood for that one. Arrgh! If I don’t get caffeine soon I will shrivel up and d… ooh, Earl Grey. Nice. A blast of bergamot. The bite of a Ceylon. The first cup is nice and harsh just like I need it. The second, sweet and mellow, like everyone around me needs it. I may make it through this day yet without pulling someone’s arm off.
I tried to not open my latest round of samples from Teavivre until I had finished a few of my open teas. I tried. I really did. I plan on a longer review for my blog later. Let me say here that the dry leaf looks as gorgeous as the picture. It smells like horse barn. Others had a nicer way of saying this. I like the smell. Call me crazy.
The sip is smooth horse tack along with the sensation of mint with out the taste of mint. I didn’t catch a mint scent as Bonnie reported, though I did this 12oz at a time in my French press. It has a natural sweetness of its own. I added sweetener halfway through the cup anyway. It really didn’t improve the flavor. That’s interesting. Usually I find it amplifies notes I was missing. Not this time.
I did 4 mugs on one scoop of leaf (guessing 2.5g). It started turning lighter and a bit mushroom toward the end – still tasted good. Teavivre’s touchas are simple, easy to use, and have a similar flavor but this is so much smoother with no sharp edges. Just a good leathery shu.
A sip down. I had more than I really needed for one last cup but not quite enough to stretch it into two. The dance of the leaf was an awesome event. Pulled the top off the press and holy cow the peach scent was strong – reach out and grab you strong. I added my usual yellow packet. The sip is nicely peach – not over the top. You can taste the green base and it is good, except I got the water a little too hot or I steeped too long as it is a bit bitter. That was not my experience with any previous cups. I am catching interesting pepper notes in this as well. I am thinking I should have used more leaf all along and just gone for a shorter steep time. Nice. Thank you again to Fusion Teas for the sample.