In appearance and character, this tea, for me, seems remarkably similar to Hao Ya. Among the cut, slender strips of black tea a few golden tips wink out. The scents of cocoa and malt are hard to miss. There’s a slightly-fermented smell as “subtle as the smell of malt on a brewmaster’s fingers,” my notes read. I swear. Sometimes I think tea alters my brain just enough for me to write things that sound ridiculous.

The soup, which might be the deepest and cleanest red I’ve ever seen, is crystal clear. I might as well be looking through the red eye of a pair of 3D glasses. The cocoa and maltiness that were apparent in the dry leaves have mostly vanished into tea heaven. The cup does bring a clean, cocoa flavor to the back of the throat immediately, but it isn’t strong or overpowering. The dominant taste here, for lack of a better descriptor, is tea. This tea is pretty good in the way pancakes are pretty good – it is plain, approachable, simple. If I ever needed a glass of comfort tea, I’d reach for this.

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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