Wow, life! I finally had time for a gongfu session tonight.

This tea has really evolved into something special for me after unintentionally aging it (heh) for a few years. Spicy with sandalwood and camphor atop a thick, mellow, sweet and fruity base that’s almost like red apples and raspberries mixed with soymilk, white mushroom broth and cacao. Initial steep is still a tad drying in the throat, or as Togo mentioned, constrictive. That feeling fades out into a persistent warming, bitter, woody spice like Saigon cinnamon mixed with dark chocolate as a lighter layer in the aftertaste of red apples and lychee blooms ever bigger into osmanthus. At first the tea was very warming and caused me to sweat but that camphor cooling took over in the mouth about midway through the session.

What a damn delight! Interesting, engaging but not difficult or fussy — fun texture, forward top layer of spice and incense, subtle and complex with mid/base tones and notes, bright minerality, with every steep a slight change and nothing out of place. Still a soothing buzz, alert yet relaxed despite using a ton of leaf. Wonderful cooler weather, after-dark tea.

Speaking of leaf, I’m as in awe of these leaves as last time. They had been twice lightly roasted and before brewing look darker than other baijiguan I’ve tried; the spent leaf though is clearly baijiguan — very pale compared to other Wuyi oolong cultivars or varietals and possessing some beautiful oxidation.

After tonight’s performance, I’m not concerned about clearing one of the oldest teas from my stash. This one can obviously sit around longer if I can keep my hands off it!

[8g, 100mL clay gaiwan, 205F, 10s rinse (drank — yum!), uncounted steeps starting at 10s]

Song pairing: Biz Markie — Just a Friend

Flavors: Apricot, Broth, Cacao, Camphor, Cinnamon, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Flowers, Lychee, Milk, Mineral, Mushrooms, Nectar, Nutmeg, Osmanthus, Raspberry, Red Apple, Soybean, Spicy, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Thick, Wet Wood, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This place, like the rest of the internet, is dead and overrun with bots. And thus I step away.

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 Georgia, 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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