First of all, these Red Dragon Pearls are gorgeous when dry! They’re a deep black-brown with streaks of toffee brown. And with the size and roundness of marbles, they’re noticeably bigger than pea-drop Jasmine Dragon Pearls (which are lovely in their own right). I read somewhere that these pearls can contain between 20 and 30 leaves. It sounds like a lot, but it looks shockingly accurate once you see the huge pile of wet leaves in the strainer. I actually counted the leaves one time after they had cooled – and three Red Dragon Pearls contained over 70 leaves!
Despite having no additives, Red Dragon Pearls has a bolder, more complex aroma than other black teas. Along the usual tannins, I smell woods, cocoa, earth, even a hint of smoke. Ohhhhhh, I love it already! It makes me want to curl up by the fire and sip the night away. (Small problem, though: No fireplace in my condo!) The aroma subdues once the tea’s been brewed, but it still exudes a comforting warmth that’s perfect to offset a cold morning in autumn or winter.
Since I’m not a fan of strong black tea, I make my first brew by steeping two Red Dragon Pearls for 3 minutes. Out comes a beautiful, rich chestnut brown liquid that suits its fragrance. Each sip blooms with the flavors of cocoa, earth, and autumn leaves, with a hint of malt and a slightly sweet aftertaste. This reminds me of the fall-ish / outdoorsy taste of Dong Ding Ming Xiang Oolong, except deeper and fuller. Something tells me this isn’t the tea’s full potential, though. Maybe it’s the medium, slightly watered-down body. Well, I did use only two tea pearls for this first cup….
Let’s kick the next brew up a notch with three fresh Red Dragon Pearls. WOW! Now this is what I was looking for. A fuller body, with more flavor and a thick smoothness that blankets your mouth. The additional pearl enhances the tea’s maltiness without adding much bitterness. In fact, this tea isn’t bitter at all (possibly because of the short brew time). It’s scrumptious down to the last drop, even after it cools. This would be a wonderful way of warming my insides after shoveling snow – or, returning to my earlier metaphor, the perfect fireside companion.
Teasenz doesn’t offer resteeping options for Red Dragon Pearls, but I was curious to see how it would come out. So, I let the previously used three pearls worth of tea sit in newly boiled water for 5 minutes. Not bad! It’s weaker than the two-pearl cup, but still yummy. There’s also a touch of astringency that leaves a slight dryness on my tongue, and a headiness from having two consecutive cups of black tea. Or, maybe the latter is giddiness from finding what could be my new favorite black tea.
Read my full review here: http://bibliophilesreverie.com/2014/12/03/teasenzs-red-dragon-pearls/
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cocoa, Earth, Malt, Wood