This was my first sipdown of the week and a tea I had kind of been planning on trying for some time. I know I mentioned in a previous review that I am not usually a huge fan of dragon pearl teas, but I am a huge fan of Feng Qing black teas, and this was a dragon pearl black tea from Feng Qing. Naturally, I couldn’t pass it up. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from it, but ultimately, I found it to be a very good, very solid Feng Qing black tea.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of balled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 infusions at the same temperature. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes. After this series of infusions was completed, I steeped the mostly spent tea leaves in 212 F water for 30 minutes just to shake things up a bit.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea balls emitted aromas of malt, cream, sweet potato, honey, and pine. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, vanilla, and sugarcane. The first infusion introduced aromas of chocolate and baked bread. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, cream, sweet potato, vanilla, sugarcane, and pine that were balanced by hints of roasted almond, chocolate, and baked bread. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of fennel, eucalyptus, black pepper, caramel, and marshmallow that were accompanied by subtle scents of clove and cinnamon. Stronger and more immediate roasted almond, chocolate, and baked bread notes emerged in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging honey and roasted peanut notes. Impressions of minerals, butter, fennel, eucalyptus, marshmallow, caramel, black pepper, clove, and orange zest also emerged along with hints of cinnamon. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor started to emphasize notes of minerals, malt, cream, chocolate, caramel, orange zest, marshmallow, fennel, pine, butter, and baked bread that were backed by hints of eucalyptus, black pepper, clove, vanilla, and sweet potato. The final infusion brought back strong, muddled woody, spicy, and herbal flavors that were balanced by cream, malt, and chocolate notes.
This was a very nice Feng Qing black tea that was missing the pronounced earthiness and distinctive vegetal characteristics of many other such teas. On the one hand, I missed these characteristics, yet on the other hand, I greatly enjoyed the smooth, silky, and long-lived tea liquor these dragon pearls yielded. One issue I had with them, however, was that I could not get the pearls to completely crumble on their own. Prior to the final infusion, I noticed that there was what appeared to be white thread running through the middle of each pearl, so I picked them up to investigate, and sure enough, there was thread holding them together. I then pulled it out and went back to work, but I was surprised by this because I had literally never had dragon pearls with thread still in them. And I should also note that I was at least somewhat familiar with Feng Qing dragon pearls and had some experience with them prior to trying this tea. Oh well, the thread surprise did not take away from the tea. It was very nice overall, but I think this tea would probably work best for grandpa brewing on the go or as an introduction to Feng Qing black teas since it was missing some of the more challenging aspects that a number of other such teas bring to the table.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Butter, Caramel, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Clove, Cream, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla