Ok – I almost gave this tea a not so favorable rating, but I gave it another shot. Turns out it’s just a little finicky. As in I had to lower my water temp to 200F and flash steep it for the first 8 or 9 infusions. I don’t want to give the impression that this tea is horrendously bitter or astringent, but I found that when I increased the steep time too quickly, it took on an odd mineral bitterness, which really reminded me of the softened tap water at my house that I don’t use for tea because it overpowers the flavor of the tea. Oddly enough, at lower steep times/temps, that mineral note was still present but came across as more of a sweetness. I’ve never experienced something like that in a tea before. On to the meat of the review – the dry leaf didn’t have much of an aroma, and after a rinse there was a thick and creamy straw aroma with a cooling note on the gaiwan lid.
The first three steeps are decently light with a very minor cooling effect in the mouth – light enough that I suspect I wouldn’t notice it if this tea weren’t called “Mint Condition” with pictures of mints on the packaging. The flavor in these steeps is mostly straw with just a slight bit of mineral sweetness.
After the first three steeps, a light and tasty fruity flavor starts to appear and grow more prominent. It becomes the dominant flavor in the beginning of the sip, followed by the punchy mineral note on the finish – sweet as long as it’s not oversteeped. The body thickens up a little bit, but doesn’t get particularly creamy or viscous. This flavor lasted through around steep 8, when I finally started increasing the time from flash steepings.
The rest of the session was a little more watery tasting, with the mineral note receding some so the light apricot note could shine just a bit more. There was a bit of a nice throat feel with these late steeps that wasn’t present through the rest of this session.
Other than the 24K huangpian (I just don’t like huangpian much) this has probably been my least favorite tea from Bitterleaf so far. That is not to say it’s a bad tea however, just not to my tastes. I find the mineral and fruity combo to be inferior to that of the 2016 Year of the Monkey Yiwu, and the bitterness that it possesses to be inferior to most Bulangs in which I like the bitter notes. The cooling effect is minimal and didn’t add much to my experience with this tea. Maybe it was just the weird association with my nasty tap water – I don’t know. Not bad – but to me there’s much better tea to be had for the money Mint Condition commands.
Flavors: Apricot, Fruity, Mineral, Straw