Here’s my last Laoshan black 5g sample, divided into 2 different tastings.

2017 harvest. Dry leaf smelled like chocolate syrup, caraway and red fruit.

First go was gongu with 2.5g, 60mL, 190F, no rinse, 8 steeps at 12/20/30/40s and 1/2/3/5m.
I just could not pull any significant flavor out of this tea prepared gongfu. It was nice and light with a taste and consistency of thin rice milk with some chocolate, an undertone of raspberry and subtle high notes of vanilla and honey, all drizzled on a slice of almost-burnt wheat toast. The raspberry devolved into a generic sourness. In my attempt to extract more flavor, I increased the temperature to 200F in the third steep but that turned the tea quite astringent, so back down to 190F.

I decided to do a western brew with the remaining amount. 2.5g, 8oz, 190F. Two steeps based on color. The wet leaf after the first steep smelled very strongly of raspberry and chocolate syrup. The aroma of the liquor was similar albeit lighter. The tastes were basically the same deal as gongfu but with the loss of the high notes. There were additions of mouth-watering minerals, a lingering sweetness and astringency in the throat and a very light minty effect that opened my sinuses. Definitely enjoyed it more this way. It tasted very clean. Western was the winner preparation for me.

190 °F / 87 °C

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Eventual tea farmer. If you are a tea grower, want to grow your own plants or are simply curious, please follow me so we can chat.

I most enjoy loose-leaf, unflavored teas and tisanes. Teabags have their place. Some of my favorite teas have a profound effect on mind and body rather than having a specific flavor profile. Terpene fiend.

Favorite teas generally come from China (all provinces), Taiwan, India (Nilgiri and Manipur). Frequently enjoyed though less sipped are teas from Japan, Nepal and Darjeeling. While I’m not actively on the hunt, a goal of mine is to try tea from every country that makes it available to the North American market. This is to gain a vague understanding of how Camellia sinensis performs in different climates. I realize that borders are arbitrary and some countries are huge with many climates and tea-growing regions.

I’m convinced European countries make the best herbal teas.

Personal Rating Scale:

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.

89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again.

79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.

69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.

59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possess off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.

Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s pu’er, I likely think it needs more age.

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