Prepared in a ceramic gaiwan. I followed the steeping times from the website: 15 seconds, 25, 35, 50, 80, 130, 210 (I tacked on a 10-minute last steeping to completely tire off the leaf).
I’m jumping on the bandwagon on having been taken by surprised by this hongcha. All of my expectations were flung out the window when I first evaluated the aroma, and then the taste of the liquor.
To begin, the aroma doesn’t undergo metamorphosis when the leaf is hit with heat and water. Overall it smells incredibly savory, like tomato sauce with dried oregano, rosemary, and basil. I’ve had wet leaf of black Bi Luo Chun smell like tomato and herbs, but this one has a much more complex aroma, and it was easy for me to pick out multiple specific notes.
The liquor – which is the color of deep gold – is clear, clean, and medium-bodied. For roughly the beginning two-thirds of the session, this hongcha resembles Oriental Beauty. Again, WHAT. I thought I would taste malt, sweet potatoes, and spice. But it has that fruity flavor that I associate only with Oriental Beauty. Very sweet and flavorful, practically like juice. Which fruit(s) I exactly can’t pick out since I haven’t had that many OBs. Later, the last few infusions taste more honey-like.
The session lasted only a morning but it was enjoyable. Nonpareil Yunnan Dian Hong Ancient Wild Tree Black Tea matched the mood created by today’s weather: gray sky, continuous rain, bright autumnal foliage, warm air.