I kept putting off writing a tasting note for this tea, because after 3 different western-style brew sessions I was really not feeling it. Every cup I drank just had this totally overwhelming olive oil flavor. The tasting notes on the site and here indicated there should have been something more, but it wasn’t coming through at all for me.
Finally I decided to bite the bullet and try brewing this gongfu style. I have always brewed western style for convenience sake — I don’t have a tea set or an instant tap, so it’s easier to make one big cup less often — but this tea really demands to be brewed gongfu style.
Brewing it as it was meant to be the depth of flavor really starts to come through. The overtone is still olive oil, but there’s more lurking beneath. Early steepings have notes of wine-grapes, a crisp mouthfeel, and a very subtle earthiness. A few steepings in the grape starts to give way to a more honey-like sweet flavor, but with a similar wine aftertaste.
By the fifth steeping I’m shocked by the almost spicy smell that wafts up from the cup. This cup is overwhelmingly reminiscent of baked goods. There’s now a strong flavor of apple that’s looking to take over the olive oil dominance and the aftertaste is reminiscent of clove with a molasses sweetness.
By the end of my time with this tea the leaves are absolutely beautiful. The leaves that started off almost black and tightly twisted have unfurled into large, deep brown leaves. It’s really quite a sight.
I’m happy I gave this tea a try gongfu style. It’s a very unique tea with a lot of depth to offer and a flavor that really evolves as you go. However, its still not my favorite tea around. That olive oil flavor is still a bit much for me. I’m glad to have some waiting in my cabinet for the day I’m in the mood for something really different, but its not something I see myself reaching for very often.