Samples provided for review. Thank you, Angel! This review is based on the second session.
Brewed with a gongfu session, in a 120ml porcelain gaiwan. The dragon ball weighed 9.7g. I used 190 degree and then 200 degree water since my kettle does have a 195 setting. I gave the ball a rinse and a quick rest to open up. Steeping times are pulled from the website: 25 seconds, 20, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 80 (etc.)
The dry leaf aroma has notes of rose and typical Dian Hong (malt and chocolate). After I let the ball sit in the pre-heated gaiwan for a bit, I smell freshly baked brownies – incredibly fresh. Makes me want to make brownies. The wet leaf, in order from strongest to weakest, smells of rose, malt, and brownies. As the session when on, an allspice note took over.
The liquor, a clear golden orange, has a full body and smooth texture. The flavor doesn’t evolve; it’s constant. Comparing this to the loose rose-scented Dian Hong that Teavivre also carries, the dragon ball is much more balanced. The rose doesn’t overwhelm the typical Dian Hong notes, which are, again, malt and chocolate, plus a hint of allspice and black pepper. It’s as if the rose is naturally steeped from the leaf rather than an addition. Speaking more the Dian Hong’s overall quality, it’s a very nice quality. Very few broken leaves or buds. It’s delicious, clean, and comforting. Additionally, whole rose buds and petals are pressed into the ball. WHOLE. I like that touch.
I’m not very big on rose when it comes to the tea and flower combination. It’s OK. I do, however, adore Dian Hong. Since I’ve sampled both the dragon ball and the loose leaf, I can say that I prefer the dragon ball. I felt like the rose-scented loose leaf comes off as overpowering. If you prefer a flower “flavored” tea in which the flower isn’t too strong, this is something to try.
However, as someone who watches caffeine intake, I don’t like the idea of dragon balls much because there are so many grams crammed into one piece. Both of these dragon balls provided weighed nearly 10 grams – double my typical maximum. Another thing to consider. At least with the loose leaf I can control leaf amount more easily.