In case anyone who reads my reviews has missed it, I have been focusing on polishing off a lot of the spring 2018 black teas and Dancong oolongs that I purchased that year. I spent way too much money on tea in 2018, and quite frankly, I only realized how many 2018 teas I still had when I recently went through my tea hoard. I’m trying to finish them all prior to the end of spring 2021 since they will likely be more or less at or near their peak up until that point in time. That being said, expect many more reviews of 2018 black and oolong teas over the next 5-6 months. This was one of my last sipdowns of September. At the time I was working my way through what I had of this tea, I recalled liking the spring 2017 version of this tea quite a bit. Fortunately for me, this production had not seemed to have been impacted by its lengthy time in storage and was about as impressive as the previous spring’s offering.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea buds emitted aromas of smoke, malt, pine, cedar, and butter. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of banana, sweet potato, roasted almond, cream, and vanilla. The first infusion introduced aromas of geranium and baked bread as well as a more subtle roasted peanut scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, roasted almond, cream, and butter that were backed by hints of baked bread, smoke, roasted peanut, sweet potato, caramel, and molasses. There was also a bit of a meaty impression left on the palate after each swallow. It reminded me of smoked or barbecued pork, as crazy as that may sound. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of caramel, dark chocolate, orange zest, plum, red grape, roasted hazelnut, sugarcane, and roasted walnut. Stronger and more immediately detectable impressions of baked bread, caramel, sweet potato, molasses, and roasted peanut appeared in the mouth alongside notes of earth, minerals, dark chocolate, red grape, pear, plum, roasted hazelnut, roasted walnut, orange zest, cooked green beans, and sugarcane. I also picked up on hints of pine, red apple, cedar, banana, vanilla, and geranium. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, malt, cooked green beans, roasted peanut, cream, earth, and roasted walnut that were underscored by hints of smoke, dark chocolate, roasted almond, roasted hazelnut, sweet potato, caramel, baked bread, orange zest, and sugarcane.
Overall, this was a great Yunnan black tea. I tend to be a huge sucker for any sort of high grade Yunnan golden bud black tea anyway, but this one really did strike me as being a great offering. I was especially impressed by how well its aroma and flavor components worked together. There were a few things in there that could have easily thrown the liquor off-balance, but they never rocked the boat.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, banana, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Geranium, Grapes, Green Beans, Hazelnut, Malt, Meat, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plums, Smoke, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Walnut