This was one of my most recent sipdowns. I took some time focus on finishing off the remainder of the spring 2017 Laoshan teas I purchased from Yunnan Sourcing, and this was the last one I finished. In a lot of ways, it was the least memorable and satisfying of the bunch and the most difficult to get consistent results out of while brewing.

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 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 produced aromas of baked bread, dark chocolate, pine, sweet potato, black cherry, and cinnamon. After the rinse, I noted the emergence of a malty aroma as well as a stronger baked bread scent and some very, very faint honey undertones. The first infusion did not see the tea’s bouquet change all that much. Aside from the emergence of a faint sugarcane scent, there was nothing different about it. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of dark chocolate, pine, sweet potato, sugarcane, and cream that were accented by hints of roasted almond, baked bread, and cinnamon. The subsequent infusions revealed aromas of roasted almond, cream, butter, and caramel. Black cherry and subtle malt and honey notes came out in the mouth. Stronger and more immediate baked bread, cinnamon, and roasted almond notes also appeared alongside new notes of minerals, butter, orange, and caramel. I also noted hints of ginger, smoke, raisin, and lemon zest in a number of places. By the end of the session, the tea liquor was mostly offering washed out notes of minerals, dark chocolate, cream, baked bread, and malt that were chased by almost ghostly hints of sugarcane, raisin, pine, and lemon zest.

Compared to Yunnan Sourcing’s Classic Laoshan Black Tea of Shandong * Spring 2017, this was a much subtler and more restrained offering with something of an elegance that is hard for me to accurately describe. Unfortunately, it was also a less complex and flavorful offering, and it was not nearly as much fun to drink. I can appreciate sophistication, but I will also take a memorable and satisfying lower grade tea with stronger and more consistent aromas and flavors over a quality higher end tea with a bit of a stuffy, uptight, fussy feel to it any day of the week. All of that being said, I did still greatly appreciate this tea, but just to be clear, there are Laoshan black teas out there that are easier to get consistently likable results out of and more accessible. Seek those out before you spring for a tea like this one.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Ginger, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Pine, Raisins, Smoke, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes

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.



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