Alright, I’m getting around to reviewing this tea earlier than planned. I usually wait until I have finished what I have of any given tea before editing and organizing my session notes and then posting a review at some point afterwards. Well, I am not doing that with this tea. I think I have around 5 or 6 grams left in my 50 gram pouch that I plan on polishing off later in the evening. I have a pretty good grasp on what this tea has to offer right now, though, so I am going ahead and posting a review here. I think everyone knows that I love Yunnan black teas, but I can actually be pretty picky about them. I tend to look for lots of aromas, lots of flavors, and clearly defined texture, and if something seems out of whack or too timid, then I can get pretty critical. I can’t do that with this tea though. There just really wasn’t much for me to criticize about it.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased 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 buds emitted aromas of chocolate, baked bread, smoke, pine, sugarcane, molasses, malt, and sweet potato. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, marshmallow, honey, banana, and caramel as well as subtle scents of eucalyptus. The first infusion saw the emergence of stronger eucalyptus aromas as well as the emergence of a buttery scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of chocolate, baked bread, honey, malt, sugarcane, pine, and smoke that were balanced by hints of molasses, butter, and eucalyptus. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of vanilla, fennel, roasted walnut, black pepper, sweet cherry, and orange zest. Marshmallow, roasted almond, sweet potato, and caramel notes appeared in the mouth alongside stronger molasses and eucalyptus impressions and hints of banana. New notes of minerals, cream, vanilla, fennel, black pepper, roasted walnut, nutmeg, ginger, orange zest, sweet cherry, and cooked green beans also appeared along with subtle hints of roasted chestnut and earth. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, malt, baked bread, roasted almond, chocolate, marshmallow, caramel, and sweet potato that were chased by hints of butter, vanilla, orange zest, molasses, honey, sugarcane, black pepper, ginger, roasted chestnut, fennel, pine, and eucalyptus.

This was an incredibly complex tea with wonderful body and texture in the mouth. If I have one complaint about it, it is that some of my favorite aromas and flavors faded slightly sooner than I would have liked. That is really nitpicking though. This was a great Yunnan black tea, and it did not seem to have lost any vigor in storage. If you have yet to try any of Yunnan Sourcing’s Gold Needle black teas, you really ought to do so at some point in the near future.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, banana, Black Pepper, Butter, Caramel, Cherry, Chestnut, Chocolate, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Ginger, Green Beans, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Pine, Smoke, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Walnut

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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