I just let myself down really hard with this tea. I’ve had such wonderful experiences with it in the recent past, but totally flubbed it this time. That’s what I get for following my usual methods while using 2/3 the amount of leaf concentration I normally would.
Still a very nice tea, just not nearly as exciting and more astringent than it ought to be. First brew was downright insipid and the first sets the stage for those to follow. I feel like I should dump and start again, but at $14 per 25g I don’t think so…

I used 6g with 130ml water in a barely-seasoned zhu ni clay rong tian style yixing teapot. This pot pours in 10 seconds, so contact time on each steep should be considered accordingly. Started with 87 degree water for the 10 second contact rinse and first infusion. Infusions progressed with time-temp: 30sec-87C, 35sec-86C, 35sec-85C, 45sec-83C, 55sec-81C, 10min55sec-96C… Liked the third infusion best, followed by the absurdly long one.

Dry fragrance is “DaHongPaoish”… A sort of herbal-woody, caramelized pie crust, toasty-roasted nut quality with old cardamom husk+rhubarb spiciness, a grape+nectarine skin not-quite-fruit phenolic note and dried apricot “ripe” quality. I get this note in some coffee and chocolate sometimes and I just think of it as “Da Hong Pao-like” as a base reference note. Compared to others, this one is lighter and not as edgy in the roastiness as some almost-medicinal ones I’ve had and loved. Leaves look dark umber brown with a gray reflection and some accents of brick red and very dark green-brown. Wet leaves are forest green with deep dark green folds and some yellow and reddish brown accents. Wet leaf aroma is somewhat tannic, like wet oak leaves. Liquor is yellow-orange and has a honey and dry wheat aroma. A touch of egg and canola oil in the aroma.

I definitely screwed up brewing this time. Shoulda gone longer or hotter or used more leaf… or not rinsed and kept the variables the same. Also, the water had been boiled once before.
Wussy shade of what Da Hong Pao is about. Some charcoal, tannic leaf, underripe peach, and celery flavor. Imbalance with the astringency that grips the back of the mouth. Poor body. With the ten minute infusion, I get a lot more body and aroma/flavor I expect, but the expression is thrown off and the aroma has been driven off relative to the flavor. Good example of how the aroma can be removed at a different rate in comparison to the taste elements. This is sad, I normally love this tea (as in, the same bag in my cupboard, not just the fact that I love DHP – I like roastier ones better).


190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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Tea Geek.

My focus is on Chinese Wulongs and Pu’er but I’m all over the place. I tend to follow a seasonal progression of teas, following the freshness curve of greens through summer and rounding the cooler months out with toastier teas and Masala Chai.
With the exception of Masala Chai milk tea I’m a purist at heart. While I was originally snagged by Earl Grey with bergamot and make blends for gifts, I very rarely go for scented teas or herbals and can’t remember the last time I bought a tea that was blended. Pure tea is just more interesting to me than the product of mixing flavors. I do understand and appreciate their existence, though.

I upload some blends I make or special prep teas I nab under the company name “Green Raven Tea and Coffee” and the vast majority of these posts will be blends crafted to create flavors/characteristics not inherent in any one particular tea.
I’ve worked as a tea buyer for a smallish cafe and try to keep apprized of shifts in offerings even when not selecting for a business so I wind up sampling a ton of wholesale samples from a couple companies in particular but try to branch out to as many companies as I can find. Until Steepster integrates some form of comparative tasting feature, none of my cupping notes will make it onto my reviews unless wrapped up into something I feel compelled to drink multiple times on its own.

Since all the cool kids are doing it, here’s my big fat ratings scheme:

0-12…..Ugh, don’t wish on anyone
13-25….Bad, won’t touch again
26-37….Huh, not worth the effort
38-50….Meh, unremarkable
51-62….Okay, good tea
63-75….Tasty, really good tea
76-87….Yum, wonderful
88-100…Wow, really spectacular

There shouldn’t be many postings at all from me ranked 26-50 since unremarkable teas are unlikely to make me remark on ’em but to “earn” a score 37 or below I have to be disappointed to the point where others may ask for a refund or turn down offers even when free or offered as a gift (beyond stale).

I’ve got a ton of respect for anything rated 63 or higher.

For a tea to get 71 or more, it has to be pretty special and kinda blow my socks off.

The 90s are reserved for wonders that make me reevaluate my views of the world of tea as a whole.


Santa Rosa, California, United States

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