I have several samples that I have saved for a time when I can pay them special attention. This is such a time, and such a sample, from the generous and venerable Bonnie!
I put my kettle on to boil and carried my eight ounce pot to the stove with the leaves in it. As I set it down, I caught a whiff of what I thought was peaches. I looked around. No peaches in the house right now. Hand lotion? No. Must be the ae leaves, but straight black tea that smells like a stone fruit? Verdant, you have some amazing and unique teas!
I gave it a quick rinse and then steeped for 25 seconds, keeping on the low end of their recommendations. The resulting brew is light in color for a black tea. The first sips are so milky. “Are we sure this isn’t a milk oolong?” I find myself thinking. A dark, baked milk oolong is how I would describe the first steep.
On the second steep, a metamorphosis is occurring. The liquor is now a little darker – I let it steep for 35 seconds this time. Okay, now I taste what I think of as light black tea with an unsweetened cocoa profile that is very light, but it is mixed with a slight milkiness and also quite a bit of green tea flavor. This is very hard to pin down as a black tea as it seems to behave so much like a oolong!
Third steep: What? Color remains a medium light brownish yellow, but the milkiness has increased, most notably on the front of the sip. The impression of a dark oolong has increased on the swallow, but the aftertaste is that of a well rounded green tea and a slight drying is taking place as an after effect, not unpleasantly.
The fourth steep was my favorite. It was even creamier and the unsweetened cocoa has given way to a soft, buttery vegetal flavor. At first I thought the slight drying effect was gone, but as I kept drinking it was still there, though very light. Steep number five: lighter, maybe a little dryer and the milkiness is lifting a bit now. There is more flavor here than I would have expected from a black tea resteeping so many times.
Thank you, Bonnie, for an enjoyable afternoon tea experience!
Tunes: Luc Baiwer/Symphony des Ages – Prelude for a Century, in Memoriam. Remembering the families, the innocent, the broken, the heroes. And praying.