88

This is another of my summer sipdowns. I think this one comes from June. I know it was one of the first black teas I finished this summer. At the time I was drinking this tea, I recalled trying the spring 2017 version and coming away with the distinction impression that I didn’t quite get it. I wanted to give this tea another crack, so I jumped at the opportunity to try another version of it. At first, I did not get this tea either. It actually struck me as rather unpleasant, but then it started to grow on me, and by the time I finished my 50g pouch, I realized that it was actually a very good tea despite a few notable quirks.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 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, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of malt, cedar, stewed tomato, pine, sweet potato, and sugarcane. After the rinse, new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, butter, and baked bread emerged. The first infusion brought out aromas of cream and banana. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of roasted peanut, roasted almond, baked bread, butter, malt, pine, and stewed tomato that were chased by hints of cream, oats, sweet potato, banana, pear, sugarcane, and cooked green beans. The subsequent infusions coaxed out scents of camphor, black pepper, earth, honey, chocolate, and grass. Stronger and more immediately detectable impressions of cooked green beans, sweet potato, banana, and sugarcane came out in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, cedar, earth, caramel, grass, chocolate, orange zest, camphor, and black pepper. I also detected hints of honey, plum, and red apple. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, roasted peanut, cream, butter, and malt that were balanced by delicate hints of roasted almond, sugarcane, chocolate, camphor, sweet potato, pine, and cedar.

This was something of a prickly and intense black tea. Even though the aromas and flavors I picked up were nothing new for a Yunnan black tea, they frequently expressed themselves in rather challenging and unpredictable ways. The tea liquor was also alternately sharp and starchy in terms of texture, and that required some time and effort on my part to appreciate/tolerate. Overall, this one was a grower for me. I found myself appreciating what this tea had to offer more and more the longer I spent with it, but as of now, I can also easily imagine that the odd texture of the tea liquor and the boldness and/or sharpness of some of the aroma and flavor components would be huge turnoffs for a large number of people. In the end, I would recommend this tea, but I would also recommend it with the caveat that it is very likely not suitable for beginners. More experienced drinkers of Yunnan black tea would probably get much more out of it, but even among that crowd, I think this is the sort of tea that would be very polarizing.

Flavors: Almond, banana, Black Pepper, Bread, Butter, Camphor, Cedar, Chocolate, Cream, Earth, Grass, Green Beans, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Oats, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Red Apple, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Vegetal

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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