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Recent Tasting Notes
Spring 2019. Easy to over brew and turns sour but with quick steeps the liquor is full bodied, sweet, and viscous. My favorite part of this tea is the lasting finish and exhale through the nose. True to the description it has hints of coffee, malt, and honey. Great everyday tea for me. I feel alert and can’t help but smile with this one. :)
Flavors: Coffee, Honey, Malt, Wood
Tastes like a slightly weaker and more astringent Drunk on Red, which isn’t a terrible place to be. Chocolate is prominent, but it’s drowned out by a somewhat camphorous taste I associate with Taiwanese blacks, as well as a very strong hibiscus note. I picked this up from the .us site when pickings were slim, and all things considered I’m happy with it.
I enjoy this tea and its formerly bitter flavor has mellowed considerably over the years. There is a floral bamboo fragrance to the tea with hints of olive, and orange. There are also some foresty flavors as well. Kind of light bodied, it is nevertheless complex and flavorful. I see that Yunnan Sourcing has a 2019 version as of this writing.
Flavors: Bamboo, Floral, Orange
From the TTB
I’ve tasted smoky oolongs before and floral oolongs before, but I cant quite remember when an oolong was both smoky and floral at the same time. I did short steeps to start, and the first few steeps had lots of smoky notes and a few floral, orchid notes. The subsequent steeps were mostly floral. This was an interesting, complex tea, almost like two different teas rolled into one.
Flavors: Char, Floral, Smoke
Another single serving of tea I removed from the Discovery tea box. I really had to look for those single servings in their own pouches so I would actually have room to add teas to the tea box. The leaves here are like those sickle shapes. I was a little worried that they wouldn’t have too much flavor, since the counterpart white tea that looks like these leaves also never has much flavor. But the flavor is fine enough. Light on flavor, yet complex for what is there. The mellow gold brew has flavors of sweet potato, plenty sweetness. The second steep at just boiled is even more deeper, even more sweet sweet potato flavor. I haven’t actually had this type of leaf yet from YS, so it’s a nice tea box find. This is like a not-too-light, not-too-dark black tea. It’s nice for a change of pace when I’m drinking black tea after black tea after black tea. My poor other teas are so neglected from my black tea addiction.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 23 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 minute steep
Flavors: Sweet Potatoes
Reading the other reviews here, the one on Yunnan Sourcing’s website and comparing with my experience, this tea is a complex trickster.
I think I bought this tea in late 2017. First few attempts in early 2018 were terrible. Nothing but peanut shell in taste in aroma. I thought, “How odd to retain such an off-putting roast since this was processed in 2016.” I’ll be honest here. I played with the thought that was this was a fraudulent tea due to that, ugh, smell and it being touted as grown in Zhengyan reserve. I also have no problem admitting I’m a noob and forever learning, so a lot of my assumptions are probably wrong.So I transferred the tea from it’s shipping envelope into a glass jar with a cork stopper and moved it to the back of the drawer. I recently decided to try the Qi Dan again since I was finishing off older or unfavorable teas for new orders. Precious jar space, you know.
I don’t know if it was the result of storing the tea in a cork-topped glass jar or what, but this tea had a complete turnaround since the last time I brewed it in January.
According to Yunnan Sourcing, this Qi Dan is a cross between Qi Lan and Dan Gui, which is supposedly a cross of Da Hong Pao and Rou Gui. I’ve had a few different rou guis but neither has had the cinnamon aroma that the tea experts claim it should have. This Qi Dan definitely hit that mark, though. Mostly broken leaves released highly aromatic nutmeg, cassia, cinnamon, minerals and dry woodiness which all flowed through into the taste. Kind of a mission-figgy-sweetness and dried green herbs in afterthought. Camphor on the swallow. The qi lan comes through with a specific, strong aroma of orchid that quickly fades into some flower I don’t recognize. On the lid of the gaiwan I got that milk chocolate scent I frequently find in medium-roast yanchas but that passed after a few steepings
The visual light-medium roast and oxidized leaves produced an interesting juxtaposition to the taste. Wires in the brain crossed but the resultant shock was pleasant and intriguing. Do I want to purchase more? It would be a great digestif following a heavy meal once the winter rains come.
Of note, I didn’t time or keep track of the number of steepings beyond the initial steep of 20 seconds. Water just off boil, roughly 8 grams in a 100 mL jianshui gaiwan. Very forgiving on timing. Had a handful of steepings ranging upward of 30 minutes with no unpleasant results. I wonder how the taste would change with lower temperature water or a different brewing vessel. I guess I’ll have to order more to find out.
What a glorious surprise this tea is! I purchased 50g somewhat blindly and I’m so happy that I did. It has such a unique smell, flavour profile, and energy about it. It tastes sweet and almost floral/fruity (like a wildflower honey), has a beautiful reddish-brown liquor that gives off a hint of the taste to come, and the cha qi is serene yet invigorating. You can’t go wrong with this bold black tea.
Flavors: Caramel, Cherry, Eucalyptus, Flowers, Honey, Malt, Sugarcane, Toffee
Here is another review from the seemingly endless backlog. I finished a 50g pouch of this tea a couple weeks ago, but I am only now getting around to reviewing it here. Prior to trying this tea, I did not have much experience with Chun Lan at all. It is not one of the more popular or common Wuyi oolong cultivars and it does not seem to attract the most favorable reviews from teaheads whose opinions regarding Wuyi teas I trust. In essence, this tea was uncharted territory for me, and I went into my review session for it with no expectations whatsoever. What happened? I ended up liking it.
Naturally, I gongfued this tea. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of mushroom, char, longan, black cherry, black raspberry, and cannabis. After the rinse, I found new aromas of roasted peanut and orchid. The first infusion then brought out some stronger roasted peanut and orchid aromas, but I otherwise noted nothing new. In the mouth, I found notes of char and roasted peanut on the entry that gave way to mellow notes of longan and rock sugar chased by hints of orchid. Subsequent infusions saw the nose turn fruitier and simultaneously vegetal. Cannabis, black raspberry, and black cherry notes emerged in the mouth alongside new impressions of minerals, earth, blueberry, peach, candied orange peel, roasted zucchini, and some odd hints of strawberry. The final infusions emphasized lingering notes of rock sugar, minerals, blueberry, strawberry, and orchid balanced by subtler notes of roasted peanut, black raspberry, cannabis, and char.
This was kind of an odd oolong, but a very rewarding one nonetheless. I would now like to try a more recent harvest of this tea just to get an idea of how it can change from year to year. I’m not sure people just getting into Wuyi oolongs would be pleased with this one since it presents such an odd, powerful mix of aromas and flavors, but those who are more experienced with these teas should find quite a bit to like. I will therefore recommend this tea with the caveat that it probably should not be one of the first Wuyi oolongs those new to such teas should try.
Flavors: Blueberry, Cannabis, Char, Cherry, Earth, Fruity, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange, Orchid, Peach, Peanut, Raspberry, Roasted, Strawberry, Sugar, Zucchini
My first aged sheng and first yi wu. Definite camphor aroma and taste in early steepings. This tea’s storage offers a dramatic change from brew to brew. Very slight asitringency and biterness, definitely vegetal and turns sweet in later steeps. Brews a deep gold/orange to start. Really gave me a deep appreciation for the journey a wet stored tea can offer. Definable cha qi, mellow and stoned.
Flavors: Broccoli, Camphor, Menthol, Spinach, Sweet
Thank you Evol Ving Ness for sharing. I made this to accompany my black sesame eclair and while the eclair had loads of caramel this tea is all chocolate. The end of the sip as it cools gets a touch more bitter (for lack of a better word). I’m also getting stone fruit which seems out of place. It’s very nice but I think I’ve preferred some of the other blacks I’ve had.
This is another review from the backlog. I finished a pouch of this tea sometime around mid-late February, but forgot to post a review here. I am now remedying that. At the time I was working my way through what I had of this tea, I recall thinking that it was very good, yet perhaps a little odd and a little difficult. Going back through my session notes, I still stand by that opinion. This struck me as being the sort of tea I would not mind having on hand, but would only drink occasionally.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
The dry tea leaves emitted aromas of char, cinnamon, burnt wood, dark chocolate, birch, and sweet cherry prior to the rinse. After the rinse, I found emerging aromas of roasted almond and rock sugar underscored by a hint of rose. The first real infusion brought forth aromas of smoke, roasted peanut, and honey as well as a stronger rock sugar scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor initially offered a smooth mouthfeel with notes of char, cinnamon, burnt wood, sweet cherry, birch bark, rock sugar, and roasted almond. The finish, however, brought out fleeting impressions of roasted grain, grass, and smoke. Subsequent infusions brought out notes of cream, cannabis, leather, minerals, apricot, orange, peach, toasted sesame, pine, and grilled zucchini. In addition to the new impressions just listed, the notes of roasted grain grew stronger while flavors of rose, honey, roasted peanut, and dark chocolate also belatedly appeared. The later infusions emphasized lingering notes of minerals, cream, rose, honey, and roasted nuts underscored by toasted sesame, char, roasted grain, sweet cherry, and rock sugar.
Overall, this was an interesting and rather intense tea. There was a lot to process about it, thus making it more suitable for situations that allow for quiet, patient, highly focused sniffing and sipping than anything else. There were times when I found the constant multi-directional tug of war among the tea’s flavor components to be a little overwhelming. Also, this is a minor quibble, but given the name, I was expecting a much more overtly floral tea. In the end, I guess I can sum this tea up by stating that I see why some others thought so highly of it, but I found it to be the sort of tea for which I would have to be in the mood. Ultimately, I would recommend that curious drinkers, especially those familiar with Wuyi oolongs, give this one a shot, but do not expect a tea that will avoid challenging you.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Bark, Burnt, Cannabis, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Grain, Grass, Honey, Leather, Mineral, Orange, Peach, Peanut, Pine, Roasted, Rose, Smoke, Sugar, Wood, Zucchini
Gongfu in a 70ml glazed pot, boiling water into a thermos, so probably about 207F. Malty sweet potatoes with a layer of chocolate. Delicious and very nicely balanced with very low bitterness. I usually find hong to be too bitter potato skin or bitter malty/astringent, this is much better ratio of those aspects. Does tend to go a little sour by the third steep. Thanks for the sample, steph!
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Sour, Sweet Potatoes
This 2006 cake of yiwu area leaves was wet stored in xishuangbanna for 10 years, and then I assume in Oregon with Scott until I ordered it (Jan 2018). This tea hints scents of
chrysanthemum and camphor. The first few steeps have some damp tastes to them. The liquor was immediately sweet upon sipping. It has a very mellow flavor, and the tea soup is extremely smooth. There was a very light aftertaste of honey and some ripe melon. Warm hay scents and flavors were abundant throughout the tasting experience. Overall this is a soft and mellow tea, and a great introductory humid stored tea to try. This pu’er handled being overbrewed well, and would likely be inoffensive to most drinkers, even those who don’t normally drink puer teas. If you’re looking for an extremely vibrant tea, this one could be a pass, but as a soothing after-dinner drinker, I am happy to have this regularly.
Flavors: Hay, Honey, Sweet, warm grass
This review marks another Dancong sipdown. Prior to trying this tea, I was wholly unfamiliar with Ba Xian Dancong. I was aware that Ba Xian was popularly referred to as “Eight Immortals,” but aside from that tidbit, I could not tell any of you anything else about it. It took a couple days to grow on me, but for the most part, my first impression of this type of Dancong oolong was thoroughly positive. I found this to be a mellow, aromatic, and flavorful tea with more than enough complexity and depth to satisfy.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced curious aromas reminiscent of flowers and stone fruits. After the rinse, I was able to pick out somewhat clearer aromas of orchid and some emerging scents that were simultaneously citrusy and vegetal, yet I still could not place the stone fruit aromas. The first proper infusion brought out touches of pear, magnolia, and jasmine on the nose. In the mouth, the liquor offered pleasant notes of orchid and magnolia on the entry that were quickly balanced by impressions of pear, peach, and lychee before a subtle grassiness emerged on the finish. Subsequent infusions brought out hints of jasmine in the mouth and a little more pronounced grassiness. New impressions of apple, almond, lemon, orange zest, violet, orange blossom, plum, honeydew, and minerals also appeared. The later infusions retained subtle impressions of minerals backed by fleeting notes of pear, grass, citrus, almond, violet, and a belatedly emerging maltiness.
An interesting and satisfying Dancong oolong, I could not find much to fault about this one. For me, it ended up being an exceptional introduction to Ba Xian-I am now looking forward to trying at least one or two more in the coming year. Though the leaves in my gaiwan were not as long and intact as those in the photographs provided by Yunnan Sourcing/Yunnan Sourcing US, I would not display much hesitation in recommending this tea to anyone curious about some of the less heralded Dancongs.
Flavors: Almond, Apple, Floral, Grass, Honeydew, Jasmine, Lemon, Lychee, Malt, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Violet
It turns out that I had a few more of these spring 2016 Dancongs than I thought. I’m now prioritizing finishing them before I move on to some of my remaining 2017 teas. Those of you who read my reviews should expect a steady stream of Dancong reviews with a few breaks here and there for at least the next two weeks. As of this writing, I am down to my last 3-4 grams of this tea and have come to the conclusion that this is an exceptional Dancong oolong.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, I detected an orchid scent coupled with hints of stone fruit and something like caraway. The rinse brought out a much more intense orchid aroma as well as aromas of pomegranate and citrus. The first infusion then brought out a peach-like scent. Yunnan Sourcing’s description mentioned something about dried cannabis flowers, but I did not get anything like that. In the mouth, the soft, smooth tea liquor offered a dominant orchid note with some underlying stone fruit hints. Subsequent infusions retained the strong floral character, but also added impressions of peach, honey, plum, candied orange peel, pomegranate, tangerine, malt, toast, minerals, and marshmallow underscored by hints of caraway and damp grass. The later infusions were heavy on mineral notes, though I could still detect infrequent impressions of toast, marshmallow, orchid, citrus, and damp grass.
A surprisingly refined, mellow tea with admirable complexity and a respectable layering of aromas and flavors, this reminded me of a somewhat less fruity Mi Lan Xiang. I loved the way the alternately sweet and pungent orchid impressions filled the nose and mouth, and I also appreciated the fact that the liquor never turned all that soapy. If you are a fan of floral oolongs, make a point to give this one a try. I doubt you will regret it.
Flavors: Citrus, Fruity, Grass, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orange, Orchid, Peach, Plums, Toast
Prior to trying this tea, I had kind of established the idea that Ya Shi Xiang was just not my thing and never likely to be. I’m still at a point where I am learning about Dancong oolongs as I go, but so far, teas like Mi Lan Xiang and Da Wu Ye have been consistently more satisfying for me. This tea, however, convinced me that it was absolutely necessary for me to be more open-minded about Ya Shi Xiang Dancong oolongs. I found it to be a wonderfully mellow, subtle tea with an absolutely fantastic texture in the mouth.
Naturally, I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, I found that the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cream, vanilla, and flowers. After the rinse, I noted emerging scents of roasted almond, butter, rose, violet, and orange blossom. The first infusion brought out some scents of toast and caraway. In the mouth, I noted mild flavors of roasted almond, cream, butter, vanilla, toast, and orange blossom. Subsequent infusions brought out the caraway, rose, and violet notes in the mouth. I also began to catch emerging impressions of minerals, steamed milk, earth, pomelo, lemon zest, watercress, damp grass, cattail shoots, banana leaf, and toasted marshmallow. The later infusions were predictably mild, offering lingering notes of cream, vanilla, toast, and minerals up front and fleeting nutty and vegetal characteristics on the swallow.
I’m rather used to Ya Shi Xiang Dancongs that offer a blast of caraway, rye, and muddy vegetal and earthy notes through the majority of a gongfu session, but this tea was much more mellow and displayed a greater integration and a more sophisticated layering of aromas and flavors. Unlike many Dancongs, this tea was also neither soapy nor slippery in the mouth. Instead, it displayed a wonderfully creamy, milky mouthfeel. In the end, this tea just struck me as being so nice that I cannot help but recommend it highly.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Citrus, Cream, Earth, Grass, Lemon Zest, Marshmallow, Milk, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Rose, Toast, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet
I had to take a few days off due to illness, but I’m back again and ready to post some more reviews. This last week has been so frustrating. I interviewed for a new job, but I ended up not getting it. Has anyone ever had one of those interviews where you can tell the interviewer has already made up their mind and isn’t taking you seriously? This was definitely one of those interviews for me. The interviewer did not even bother to show up on time for the interview. It was that bad. Then the brakes blew out on my car. Then I ended up once again dealing with sinusitis when the cold weather broke. It’s been a struggle. This was the tea that kept me company through most of the week. Like my week, I found it to be difficult and frustrating. Unlike my week, however, it was not necessarily bad overall.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was followed by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas reminiscent of char, dark wood, cream, and stone fruit. After the rinse, I found aromas of wild mushroom, cooked spinach, and some sort of roasted vegetable. The first proper infusion brought out hints of burnt sugar on the nose. On the palate, the liquor expressed elusive notes of burnt sugar, cream, wild strawberry, peach, and pomelo backed by hints of dark wood and char with a ghostly floral quality on the finish. So, the first infusion was not all that much like the nose. Subsequent infusions brought out impressions of rose, honey roasted peanut, roasted almond, orange zest, sweet cherry, earth, minerals, and slightly stronger impressions of wild mushroom and dark wood that belatedly managed to show up in the mouth as well. The char notes started to recede into the background while the nose started to take on some citrusy qualities. I also started to note emerging impressions of roasted green beans, watercress, cooked spinach, and collard greens. Interestingly enough, the finish on each of these infusions started off with hints of char, burnt sugar, earth, and vegetables before a blast of floral notes took over, dominating the aftertaste. To me, it was like a blend of rose, chrysanthemum, and dandelion. There was also something of a cooling presence in the nose, mouth, and throat after the swallow. The later infusions were mostly dominated by notes of minerals, dark wood, earth, and a stronger char note up front, though fleeting underpinnings of wild mushroom, cooked spinach, honey roasted peanut, and roasted green beans were still just barely detectable before cream, burnt sugar, and those odd cooling sensations once again took over on the finish.
There was a lot going on with this tea, but it was all so hard to pin down throughout the session. Just to be sure I wasn’t making this harder than it needed to be, I brewed this tea Western and tried a slightly different gongfu preparation and got very similar results. Overall, this just struck me as being an odd and rather difficult tea. It was also a little rough around the edges; the aromas and flavors it displayed clashed in a few places, setting up some odd, awkward contrasts. Again, it was not bad, but it also was not great. I’m glad I took the opportunity to try it, and perhaps others will get more satisfaction from it than I did, but this did not offer everything I tend to look for in a Wuyi oolong.
Flavors: Almond, Char, Cherry, Citrus, Cream, Dandelion, Dark Wood, Earth, Floral, Green Beans, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Rose, Spinach, Strawberry, Sugar, Vegetal
Steepster really does not seem to want me to post this note. As I was typing the next to last paragraph of a review for this tea, it deleted my note as I was typing. It was literally there and then gone. Let’s try this again. I finished up a 50 gram pouch of this tea a little over a week ago, but opted to prioritize a few other reviews and didn’t get around to seriously thinking about posting a review for this tea until this evening. I found this to be a very good Yunnan black tea, but I seem to be something of an outlier in that respect because this does not seem to have been one of the more popular 2016 Yunnan Sourcing black teas.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cedar, pine, malt, molasses, and caramel. After the rinse, I found emerging scents of honey and roasted nuts. The first proper infusion brought out a stronger roasted nut scent. On the palate, the liquor offered notes of malt, caramel, and honey balanced by a touch of molasses and impressions of bitter roasted nuts (almost like black walnut and hickory). Subsequent infusions brought out notes of butter, cream, vanilla, cocoa, tobacco, pine, and roasted peanut, while the cedar finally started to show itself on the palate. Hints of smoke, marshmallow, minerals, ginger, toast, and orange zest also emerged fairly late in the session. The later infusions emphasized mineral, roasted nut, and malt notes balanced by hints of caramel, orange zest, ginger, and toast.
I’m not sure why, but I was not expecting much complexity out of this tea. Instead, I got a ton of it. Though this may not be one of Yunnan Sourcing’s more popular Yunnan black teas here on Steepster, I found this one to be extremely enjoyable. Your mileage may vary.
Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Cocoa, Cream, Ginger, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Roasted nuts, Smoke, Toast, Tobacco, Vanilla, Walnut
This tea was such a pain for me. First, it was one of those teas that I opened and then forgot about for a longer period of time than was appropriate (I noted a few small punctures at the top of the pouch, so I ended up sealing it in another pouch. That’s probably why I forgot about it). Second, I just never got to a point where I was comfortable brewing this one. I tried two different gongfu sessions, and one was pleasant, yet not exactly consistent, while the other just yielded exceedingly bland, boring tea. I then started brewing this tea Western and got much more desirable results compared to the second gongfu session. When this tea was good, I enjoyed it, but I never quite felt that I got it right.
[Note: Of the three preparations, the initial gongfu session was my favorite overall, so that is the one that will be described below.]
When it came to preparing this tea, I opted to gongfu 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water. After a quick rinse, I steeped the leaves for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 11 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 15 seconds, 18 seconds, 22 seconds, 28 seconds, 35 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes. I know this was a weird way to do things, but it was rather late and I kept messing up my timing, so I had to keep making little adjustments until I got to the longer infusions.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves offered muted aromas of flowers, ripe plums, and sweetgrass. After the rinse, I picked up stronger floral scents (orchid, but there were other flowers there too. I kept thinking of both plumeria and geranium, but I wasn’t sure about either) and hints of roasted almond. The first infusion yielded no real difference on the nose as far as I could tell. In the mouth, the liquor offered delicate notes of roasted almond underscored by plum, sweetgrass, and orchid impressions. Subsequent infusions brought out a very smooth liquor without the expected dancong soapiness/slickness. I found emerging impressions of cream, butter, wood, and marshmallow joining stronger plum, sweetgrass, and orchid notes. There was definitely some geranium in there, and in places, I could find underlying impressions of minerals, rock sugar, cherry, malt, and toast. The later infusions were quick to wash out, offering very fleeting notes of minerals, cream, butter, and marshmallow with some distant, lingering hints of orchid, stone fruits, and sweetgrass.
I know most of the other reviewers rather liked this one, and while I did as well, I found it to be an odd tea. It was not exactly unpleasant, just rather different and difficult in my opinion. I know I should have gotten to it sooner after opening its pouch and then transferring it to a different storage vessel, but I still found a lot in this tea that held my interest. This intrigued me enough to want to give a fresher, more recent harvest a try.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Cherry, Cream, Floral, Geranium, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orchid, Plums, Sugar, Toast, Wood
Another of the teas I finished during my recent hong cha binge, I originally purchased this tea to make up for the fact that I missed out on a similar tea from another seller. When Whispering Pines Tea Company introduced an imperial gold needle dian hong, I kept balking at the opportunity to purchase some. I figured that it probably wouldn’t sell out quickly, so there was a good chance I could still get a pouch when the prices dropped or during a sale. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. When I finally decided to pull the trigger, I discovered that the tea was out of stock. Shortly thereafter, I discovered this tea on the Yunnan Sourcing US website. It seemed similar, so I figured I would order some and try it to make up for missing out on the other. No disrespect to the Whispering Pines tea (which I still haven’t tried, by the way), but I probably should have just opted to go with this one first.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 ounces of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of baked bread, malt, and honey. The rinse released new aromas of smoke, caramel, and baked sweet potato. The first proper infusion produced a near identical bouquet. In the mouth, the liquor offered incredibly slight, delicate notes of baked bread, honey, malt, and caramel underscored by a hint of butter. Subsequent infusions brought out the baked sweet potato impressions, while butter appeared on the nose and started to really pop in the mouth. I also noted that a slight smokiness made its way to the palate. The baked bread notes started to gradually transform into yeast roll impressions. New notes of orange zest, vanilla, brown sugar, chocolate, pine, eucalyptus, fennel, roasted peanut, roasted chestnut, marzipan, camphor, menthol, and minerals appeared as well. The later infusions mostly featured notes of minerals and malt balanced by a cooling herbal presence, a slight breadiness, and a touch of brown sugar sweetness.
A very nice and very complex dian hong, this made for a truly lovely drinking experience. I loved the way the aroma and flavor components kept shifting and changing. My experience also suggested that this tea had more than respectable longevity. I’m not sure if I would recommend this to dian hong neophytes considering that I found it to be the sort of tea that actively encourages quiet analysis and contemplation, but I would definitely recommend it highly to experienced dian hong drinkers.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Chestnut, Chocolate, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Malt, Marzipan, Menthol, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Vanilla, Yeasty
Yay! It’s time for another backlogged review! I recently went through three pouches of Yunnan black teas from the autumn 2016 harvest and this was one of them. Like most of the Yunnan black teas offered by Yunnan Sourcing/Yunnan Sourcing US that I have tried, this one was a keeper. It was quite complex, yet never lost anything in the way of approachability.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cedar, pine, malt, honey, tobacco, and sweet potato. After the rinse, I found aromas of baked bread, brown sugar, and eucalyptus accompanying a strong honey scent. The first infusion introduced sharply amplified scents of pine and cedar as well as a stronger eucalyptus aroma. In the mouth, I noted impressions of malt, pine, cedar, eucalyptus, sweet potato, and brown sugar. Subsequent infusions brought out impressions of cream, orange, vanilla, caramel, minerals, and black pepper backed by hints of menthol and smoke. Honey, tobacco, and baked bread notes also appeared in the mouth around this point. The later infusions offered notes of minerals, malt, baked bread, caramel, and sweet potato underscored by herbal, menthol-like touches.
A complex, yet balanced Yunnan assamica, this proved to be a consistently likable, adaptable tea. Even though it mellowed quickly, rendering the later infusions rather predictable after a point, it made for a very enjoyable drinking experience. If you are a fan of traditional Yunnan black teas, you may want to consider giving this one a shot.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cedar, Cream, Eucalyptus, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Orange, Pine, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Vanilla