Wow! What a difference a little tea knowledge can make. I’m still sipping on this tea, after having purchased it several months ago. Fortunately, I ordered plenty of it. I’ve read that it’s one of the least forgiving teas to make gongfu, and so, is great for practicing. After reading some instructions from a tea master who specializes in this style of tea, I think I’ve finally mastered it. Thus, I’ve decided to include some tips for beginners, because I’ve decided that this is probably some of the best tea I’ve ever drank in my life. It does require some skill, though. So, here’s some useful information:
Using a 4oz gaiwan, it is not necessary to preheat your gaiwan for this type of tea. Leaf quantity should be between 4 and 6 grams. However, as you learn this tea, you’ll want to begin by using less quantity of only 5, or even just 4 grams, and work your way up. Start by using one short 5-10 second blanch, or wash. Then, steep for at least 20 to 30 seconds (5-10 seconds is insufficient to extract the subtle sweet taste and aroma), or longer to develop more body in the resulting liquor. Again, start with less time, and work your way up. Water temperature before pouring should be close to 90*C or 190*F, and should result in slightly cooler (about 185*F) as it settles in around the gaiwan. Always pour around the outer rim of the gaiwan so that the porcelain will absorb the heat, and not scorch the tea. Pour from height for the wash step, and pour low for the infusions. This will bring out the sweet and floral notes, while avoiding the bitter astringent qualities which this tea can be so unforgiving about. In order to prevent over-steeping, you should pour the tea out of the gaiwan somewhat quickly into a cha hai or aroma cup. Also, be sure to enjoy the lingering aroma left behind in your cha hai, or aroma cup, after decanting. Always decant the tea liquor as low as possible to avoid losing the aroma. Also, you should always use small gongfu tea cups, so that the tea will cool quickly enough to prevent loss of aroma and taste before it is safe enough to sip. Try to drink it all in 3 big sips, and get it all the way around the tongue and oral cavity. It’s not necessary to slurp, but doing so will help to cool the tea, and bring out more of the sweet flavor, and it helps to draw in some of the aroma to your nasal cavity. You should notice a delicious sweet taste with no bitterness present. I found it to be remarkably similar to blue agave nectar, yabao, or even dōngfāng měirén, but less fruity, and more like a burnt sugar.
Flavors: Apricot, Burnt Sugar, Dark Bittersweet, Honeysuckle, Marshmallow