244 Tasting Notes
It was still raining today. And it was cold. REALLY COLD. And it was windy, so my umbrella was pretty much worthless. I desperately needed something bold and warn to help recover from my brief trip through the elements, and this tea fit the bill.
I was generous with the amount of leaves I used (As much a one can be when using a tea ball), and I let it sit for a good five minutes for the first infusion. the result is a deep red, bordering on black, and with a taste that was a nice creamy, yet strong, malt. Anyway, I’m sitting here writing, this, and it’s already starting to warm me up, so it looks like this was the right decision.
Yesterday I started the weekend with decadence, today I went with something a bit simpler. That, and I need to use up my green tea before it’s shelf life ends. As usual, I used water that was putting off steam, but only just, which usually results in a very pleasant sweet tea. Today was no exception, with the first infusion being a perfect sweet grass and vegetables. Hopefully the next infusion will be just as good.
Ah, such a great tea to wake up with. The first infusion is extremely dark, with the flavor completely dominated by malt. This is probably because I steeped it a bit longer than usual, and I was a bit generous with the amount of leaves that I used today. Regardless, it was a great way to wake up, and I know that this tea develops pleasantly, and eagerly await the more complex flavors of the later steeps.
The second infusion has developed nicely. The flavor is more subdued, and the honey flavors are starting to emerge, thus sweetening the tea. The malt is still the dominant flavor, but the undertones of honey help bring out the best of the malt, smoothing its rough edges. And this is why this tea is going on my “always have in stock” list.
The third infusion was much sweeter than the previous two, and seems to have started to develop the pepper flavor earlier than expected. It was a pleasant surprise, to say the least. Other than that, the flavors are pretty thoroughly muddled right now, but the next infusion should clear this up a bit.
The forth infusion is one of the best cups of black tea I’ve ever had. the perfect balance of malt and honey, with delightful accents of pepper to round of the flavor. I have to say, this tea developed really well this time, and it definitely topped its previous performance.
More to come later
This is exciting for two reasons: It’s the free sample that came with my most recent Verdant order, and it’s my first Dancong Oolong. My first impression of the armoa is that this tea is way different than my usual fare. The aroma is both fruity and spicy, completely different than my usual Wuyi Oolongs. In a way, it’s refreshing. The taste of the first infusion is also very different, bu also amazing. A mineral taste – similar yet different than the signature Wuyi aftertaste – dominates, and after a bit, apricot flavors make themselves known. The tea reminds me a bit of these cookies that my grandmother makes, which made the tea more enjoyable.
The second infusion has some sort of spice present. The tasting note on Verdant’s website say that it’s cinnamon, but it’s overpowered by the mineral and apricot right now, so I can’t verify that. This cup was also a bit sweeter, which made the apricot more assertive.
Quick word of advice: DON’T LET THIS TEA GET COLD! Man, astringent apricot and cold water does not work.
Anyway, the third infusion was much less fruity/mineral, and the cinnamon has developed nicely. This was much more like the Oolongs that I am used to, but it is still uniqe, with a fruity aftertaste that is less subtle and most.
The fourth and final infusion continued to develop complexity, but things were still in transition, and flavors were a bit indistinct. Sadly, I can’t drink more tea, or I won’t go to sleep early enough. In the end, this is an interesting tea, with new flavor profiles and intriguing development patterns, but it’s not really my thing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very good, but I don’t think I could drink it regularly.
What is it with everyone today? Three people drinking Laoshan Northern black on the same day is too many to be a coincidence o.O
Regardless, I’ve been wanting to get some of this tea for months, and it just came in the mail yesterday, and I will not be deterred! The first infusion is simply sinful. It tastes like potent dark chocolate, something that I have a bit of a weakness for, competing with sweeter flavors to create something greater than the sum of its parts. It also has a kind of roasted quality to it, which reminds me a bit of more Big Red Robe, which is another bonus as that is one of my favorite teas. The tea finishes with a sweet aftertaste to round off this delightful tea. And now I’m torn between finishing this cup quickly to try out the next infusion, or taking my time and savoring the tea…
The second infusion is maltier and sweeter than the first, and the chocolate is not quite as strong. The chocolate is about 50% of the flavors of the foretaste, competing with floral and fruit flavors. As already stated, a maltier taste has developed, which is a pleasant surprise, as I though that it would take longer. So far, no sign of the spices that are said to develop, but I don’t really expect them to show up until the 4th infusion.
The third infusion has begun to develop the cinnamon flavor that Verdant talks about in their description of this tea. It’s still pretty weak, but it blends nicely with the other major flavors, and adds a great deal to the complexity of the tea. As a side-effect of this, the tea has also gotten quite a bit sweeter, but it remains quite pleasant. Once again, I’m anxious to see what developments the next infusion brings.
Forth and Fifth infusions are generally characterized by an increase in the strength of the cinnamon flavor. Nothing else changed, and it’s starting to bet a bit bland, so five was the limit.
The bottom line is that this is a very good tea, with interesting flavors that are uncommon at best. The best part is there isn’t anything that you could call bad about it, and that’s why it tied for the highest rating of teas I’ve tried.