This is one seriously strong cup of tea.
The color to which it brews is a brazen reddish-bronze. Sitting on my desk in a clear glass mug, looking down into the bottom from the top, I can almost not even see through the tea…and my cup is sitting on a white napkin on top of a blonde desk.
Trying to describe this one is going to be difficult. It’s a very savory tea, but slightly bitter. I’m not talking about the sort of bitterness that comes from oversteeped black, though I’ll readily admit that after my first sip I wondered if I hadn’t overdone the amount of tea steeped or the steep time (given this one says it can go up to 5 minutes, that seemed unlikely). It’s more like the bitterness you get when you try bittersweet chocolate or high-percentage cacao dark. That bitterness connects to a very notable taste of earth and soil and, in a development that reassures me that my impending confrontation with my fear of pu-erh may not be a total disaster, I like that earthiness. It isn’t a dry earth, it’s a moist and humid and black rich earth…and fortunately, it seems to want to do little more than play foundation for the raisiny sweetness responsible for the tea’s umami deliciousness. Rolling the tea over my tongue, I’m able to get different sensations toward the back and the sides of my tongue, flashes of sweetness or bake-y malt.
There is a slight pinch at the back of the throat that hasn’t decreased as the cup has cooled, and I’m again not sure if that’s my steeping or just the briskness of the cup itself, as this is my first time sitting down with this tea, but it doesn’t seem to want to go away. Not scratchy, not completely scratchy, but pinchy. Just a bit. It’s a very strange finish to have when the flavor profile of the cup is so completely dark and smooth.
I don’t think I would have this every day, but there are certainly mornings where I want a cup of tea that seems like it could dissolve a spoon. This one qualifies. In fact, the longer I sip it, the more I feel as though…
…you know, if tea were chocolate and not tea, then this tea would be the dark chocolate to the milk chocolate of the Golden Spring that I’ve made my staple go-to black tea. They both share the raisin-sugar mouth-watering umami deliciousness, but this tea is darker, bittersweet, earthy, full-bodied, stiff and smooth and the Golden Spring is lighter, brothy, full-bodied and made for downing in mass quantities.
Not sorry that I bought this at all. Looking forward to trying it with milk and sugar for sure…something I think the Golden Spring doesn’t quite hold up to as well as this could.