93

I finally got around to starting on a sample pouch of this tea last night. On that note, I really must get out of the habit of drinking tea in the evening as it is starting to interfere with my sleep patterns. Fortunately, I still work for my family and I’m in charge of my own scheduling, so it’s not that big of a deal right now. Anyway, I greatly enjoyed this tea. It was perhaps one of the smoothest black teas I have had in some time.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 subsequent 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 malt, molasses, honey, and wood. After the rinse, I found new aromas of cocoa and toast. The first infusion then brought out hints of smoke and spice on the nose. In the mouth, I detected smooth notes of malt, toast, cocoa, cedar, and pine underscored by hints of black cherry and plum. What-Cha described this as being a very fruity tea, but my experience to this point suggested that it was going to be more malty and bready. Subsequent infusions brought out hints of honey and molasses in the mouth that were accompanied by slightly stronger notes of plum. The black cherry remained subtle throughout. Black pepper and smoke began to appear on the palate while new impressions of baked bread, cream, butter, caramel, minerals, and orange zest began to appear. The later infusions mostly offered lingering impressions of minerals, butter, baked bread, and cream with hints of cocoa and orange zest in the background.

Although this tea did not change a great deal from start to finish, it was very appealing. I loved how smooth it was and all of the aromas and flavors it displayed worked well together. Surprisingly, it was lacking in astringency, which struck me as being very unusual for a Vietnamese wild black tea of any sort. I would definitely recommend this tea to fans of Vietnamese black teas and Yunnan black teas alike. It made for a pleasant break from the usual assamicas on offer.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Cherry, Cocoa, Cream, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Pine, Plums, Smoke, Toast

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.

Location

KY

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