This red tea is deep, dark, and rich, and the red liquor it creates is definitely alluring. I’ll come right out and say that I am usually more drawn to lighter, fresher tasting teas than to dark highly oxidized ones, so keep that in mind while reading my review.
The scent really captivated me from the start. There’s a heavy aroma of malt and a fruity sweetness that to me most resembles dried apricot. I brewed this Gongfu Cha style, with the first infusion yielding a very up-front taste of cinnamon backed by flavors of dried apricot and date, finishing really malty and astringent. Definitely a dry finish to this tea. By second steeping, the cinnamon taste had nearly disappeared and was replaced by a very evident minty quality like unsweetened wintergreen, still underscored by the apricot. By the third brew, the flavor was similar to the second but sweeter and mellower overall and rather than gradually changing throughout a sip the flavors all blended together at once and I could taste them all throughout the sip.
I believe I may have overbrewed this tea. I used 203F/95C water and put 2.5g of leaf per 100ml of water into my porcelain gaiwan. Steeped for 3 minutes like the package suggests. I’m noticing in Eco-Cha’s notes also posted here they recommend much less time for the Gongfu method, which is making me wonder if the strong astringency at the end of a sip is because I brewed this tea too strong. I will say that the flavors didn’t seem overpowering at all until the aftertaste, and the brew color looked correct, so maybe this tea just has a naturally astringent finish.
I’m trying to remain neutral in my review because I’m not too into heavy bold red/black teas like this one. The complex flavor really impressed me at first, but I felt myself waning in enthusiasm as I drank more simply because the brew was a bit overpowering to me in its dry, malty finish.
Some more experimenting took place and I believe I’ve hit the sweet spot for brewing this tea! I went with my usual guidelines for brewing red tea gongfu style. Try 2g leaf per 100ml water and steep 3 minutes at 203F/95C, add 1 minute for each steeping after. This combo results in an orange liquor, not quite the deep red-orange that is so beautiful, but the flavor has a wonderful balance between the dark and light, letting those spicy notes come through with the fruity tones and that hint of mintyness. There’s little astringency to the finish this way, though it still finishes a bit dry. I feel this tea had very enjoyable qualities when brewed this way. It’s still not entirely my tastes, but I could see other tea drinkers really enjoying it.