We’re coming to one of my more recent sipdowns now, as I finished the last of my pouch of this tea back on Friday. It had been some time since I had tried a Jingmai Mountain black tea when I first decided to tear into this one, and it reminded me of why I have such a soft spot for Jingmai blacks. This tea yielded a very complex liquor that was also very approachable and balanced.

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 followed by 18 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, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cedar, raisin, pine, prune, cinnamon, and honey. After the rinse, I detected aromas of malt, roasted almond, baked bread, brown sugar, and tomato. The first infusion added aromas of cocoa, grass, straw, and green bell pepper. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of malt, roasted almond, cedar, pine, and cinnamon that were backed by hints of grass, straw, tomato, baked bread, green bell pepper, and brown sugar. I also picked up some vague impressions reminiscent of stone fruits, citrus, and flowers. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of rose, butter, lemon zest, blood orange, violet, plum, and red grape. Impressions of raisin, prune, honey, and cocoa came out in the mouth along with stronger and more immediate notes of tomato, straw, and baked bread. Impressions of rose, violet, minerals, plum, blood orange, butter, sour cherry, lemon zest, red grape, pear, cream, and nutmeg also emerged in the mouth. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, roasted almond, butter, cream, lemon zest, blood orange, pine, red grape, and rose that were underscored by hints of violet, cocoa, brown sugar, pear, cinnamon, and raisin before a stronger baked bread note re-emerged on each swallow.

This was a very nice, very likable Yunnan purple black tea that fell just a step or two short of greatness. I would have liked to see a slightly stronger, thicker tea liquor and a little more integration of the flavor components in some of the earlier infusions, but these are fairly minor quibbles overall. To be clear, this was a very good tea. There are better Yunnan black teas out there, but one could do far worse than giving this one a shot.

Flavors: Almond, Blood Orange, Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cedar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Dried Fruit, Grapes, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Pear, Pine, Raisins, Rose, Straw, Violet

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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