I have, “A definitely good hongcha, this one is,” written in my tea journal for one session with this Dian hong. While I can’t comment on my Yoda-esque prose I seem to have adopted that day, it adequately sums up this tea. It’s a mid-grade Dian hong, possessing fair amounts of both black leaves and golden budsets, and it certainly shows in the cup. While I prefer the all-buds Dian hongs, I both enjoy and respect the qualities brought out with the blend. That Yunnan “peppery” flavor often becomes lost with the higher grades or mutates uncontrollably with the lower grades, shows up in just the right amounts in this tea to blend nicely with the strong sweetness and dark, fruity aromatics. For the last session, I used the remainder of my sample, which took up between a third and a half of the gaiwan. It produced a far more complex brew, but most notably intensified the pepper-fruit interaction. I was excited about this, because I am usually unable to receive decent results with a large amount of leaf when it comes to Dian hongs. The texture usually ends up being too thick and muddles the more subtle tones somehow.

The aftertaste and mouthfeel are thick and starchy, giving rise to that “yam-like” perception often received from this type of tea. It’s always something I look for with Dian hongs, and this one does it fairly well. The aftertaste in this one, however, often becomes a bit salty and it if overbrewed at all, it is difficult to get past the maltiness, especially in later steeps when many of the initially interesting flavors have considerably declined in intensity. The liquor is also noticeably murky, but seems to clear up after the first few steeps.

205 °F / 96 °C

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I’m fanatic about all things tea-related. Lately, I’ve been fascinated with Wuyi yancha, aged Taiwanese oolongs, and sheng pu’ercha. Nearly all of my sessions as of late are performed gong fu, with pu’er tastings comprising probably eighty percent of them. My collection of pu’ercha is small, but growing steadily. Much of the specimens I drink daily are various samples, although I dig into a cake every so often.

I love trying new teas and I am always learning all I can about the world of tea. Hence, I spend a majority of the time I devote to tea either drinking, writing notes in my journal, or reading. But mostly drinking, as I think it should be. Since I have handwritten logs of everything I drink, I cannot usually find the extra time to log my notes here, and unfortunately my online log is underrepresented.

When drinking, I look for a tea that presents a unique experience, something that involves every sense and provides intrigue in every aspect throughout steeps. I search for teas with balanced complexity and something that makes me keep reaching for my cup. I yearn to find all the positives a tea possesses and every subtle nuance hiding among the leaves. I try to be detailed in my notes and deliver a more comprehensive view of the tea, paying attention to things other than simply flavors and qualitative aspects of aroma, such as the form of the liquor and its development in the mouth. Things like this are much easier to compare between teas, as I find them to be more consistent between sessions, and also make distinctions between a good and mediocre tea easier to make.

Adagio UtiliTEA electric kettle.
For gong fu, a 100 mL porcelain gaiwan and a 100mL Yixing di cao qing xi shi pot dedicated to mostly young sheng pu’er.
I drink all green teas in small (maybe 450mL) glass tumblers in the traditional style, with off-boiling water.


Fort Myers, Florida

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