One small western cup left so it’s time to write a note! July 2020 harvest.

Off the bat, the dry leaf scent recalls a memory. Pulling English ivy down from eucalyptus trees growing on steep slopes in one of the coolest and dampest forested areas in San Francisco. A gem of a place, unvisited beyond a handful of local residents and the homeless who carved caves out of the Himalayan blackberry that had overgrown the lower slope of the area.

Do yourself a favor and brew this gongfu. Western steeps for me were too fickle. Some days they’d be a little too ‘tea’-like. Another time was one of the richest, sweetest cups I’d ever had. Every other time I was like, “This is some good tea, but it’s missing something?”

Gongfu is more consistent and offers a more explosive ginger/chili/menthol heating-cooling and intense honey-brown sugar returning sweetness. I find the aroma is more complex than the taste, especially so when it comes to the retronasal activity of the aftertaste, but not to any detriment. It all works together very well. There’s a ton of bug-bitten (is the elevation too high for this to happen?) juicy richness to this tea being a summer harvest, along with some classic baking spice-cinnamon. Plenty of rosewood and a hint of smooth malt in the bottom notes and rose florality higher up. Enough tannins to keep the flavor from being a sugar bomb. The aftertaste really blooms with those spiced honey notes and fruity muscatel-grape must tones. The session ends on a bright note with plenty of lemon pulp and malt-wood to the taste. I feel like I’m drinking an actual tea bush from the misty slopes of Shanlinxi (there goes my imagination again). This tea has terroir. Sorry for using a tea snoot word, but it’s true.

Dang. Taiwan puts out some amazing black teas.

Flavors: Bark, Blackberry, Brown Sugar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Eucalyptus, Floral, Forest Floor, Geranium, Ginger, Honey, Lemon, Lemongrass, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Muscatel, Nutmeg, Orange, Osmanthus, Pine, Rainforest, Raspberry, Rose, Smooth, Spicy, Spring Water, Sweet, Tangy, Tannin, Tea, Vanilla, Wood

Leafhopper

You’ve made me want to try my 25 g package of this tea!

gmathis

This does sound nice.

derk

Hope you enjoy, Leafhopper :)

Daylon R Thomas

Now you’ve encouraged me to write about this one too. I’ve been avoiding it because of the fickleness and I’m not sure how to write about it without it being boring. I personally liked the Li Shan Black more since this feels more like an early fall kindof tea than an everyday one. The tannins are a little too strong or drying for me western if I over leaf it, but works out okay if I am careful with the leaf when I tumbler it for 4 g. Gong fu was a lot more complex-I would get a mix of blackberry, honey, spices, wood and a weird “orange and purple” vibe with it-like there’s a mix of orange and purple fruits in the taste that I couldn’t peg down exactly. Either way, your note nails it and was fun to read!

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Leafhopper

You’ve made me want to try my 25 g package of this tea!

gmathis

This does sound nice.

derk

Hope you enjoy, Leafhopper :)

Daylon R Thomas

Now you’ve encouraged me to write about this one too. I’ve been avoiding it because of the fickleness and I’m not sure how to write about it without it being boring. I personally liked the Li Shan Black more since this feels more like an early fall kindof tea than an everyday one. The tannins are a little too strong or drying for me western if I over leaf it, but works out okay if I am careful with the leaf when I tumbler it for 4 g. Gong fu was a lot more complex-I would get a mix of blackberry, honey, spices, wood and a weird “orange and purple” vibe with it-like there’s a mix of orange and purple fruits in the taste that I couldn’t peg down exactly. Either way, your note nails it and was fun to read!

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Always open to gifting or swapping teas. I do send international when feasible. Please follow and send a message if you see a tea in my notes or cupboard that piques your interest.

Tea became a hobby and my daily drink of choice some time late in the last decade. My introduction to loose leaf came in the form of dumpster-dived Wuyi oolong packets that somebody left upon moving out of an apartment building. From there, my palate expanded to teas from across China and the world. I used to focus more on taste and still harbor the habit, but after trying sheng puer, I tend to focus more on how a tea feels in my body. Does it complement my constitution? Does it change my mood or does it enhance my current mindstate? Flavored teas are not a favorite but I do drink them intermittently.

In terms of who I am, you could consider me a jill of all trades. Specialty is not my strength, as can be seen in the spread of my tea notes. I might have attention issues. One thing I will always love is riding a bicycle.

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Sonoma County, California, USA

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