31 Tasting Notes
This versatile and flavourful black satisfies plain or with milk. The aroma wafting around the teapot catches the nose immediately. The amber brown liquor is lighter than to be expected from the black leaves, but it is not short on flavour. Taken black, it has a pleasant, malty sweetness that is free of astringency and does not dry the palate. To get a satisfying dark brew when taking with milk, it is necessary to make it stronger, but the splendidly full-bodied, almost syrupy flavour of molasses, malt and caramel is delightfully heady and aromatic.
Oh là là! This is a very nice oolong tea. Upon opening the pouch, the nose is presented with the scent of freshly mown grass, with a hint of spice. The tea liquors to a cloudless and radiant amber colour that is appealing to behold. The flavour is light, of delicate fruit and flowers. There is no hint of grassiness, which often mars lesser green oolongs, nor of astringency. Because this tea is so light, it benefits from gongfu steeping that brings out a sweet peachy flavour. This tea is refreshing and delightful: it could easily become a favourite.
I generally turn up my nose at the bitter and nondescript jasmine tea served at Chinese restaurants, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this tea. I opened the pouch and was immediately greeted by the potent perfume of sweet jasmine blossoms. The floral scent is no less striking when steeping and drinking the tea. The jasmine flavour does not overwhelm the palate, not even after a few cups. The tea is neither bitter nor astringent, but sweetly perfumed. It is truly a bouquet in a cup. The second steeping is lighter, but still decidedly jasmine. This is the finest jasmine tea I have ever tried.
When steeping for 60 seconds, I get about four steepings in small cups and am able to minimize the unpleasant tannins. Still, it retains a hint of astringency, which makes me wary of increasing the steeping time. Nevertheless, I do also steep this tea for 2 minutes for a full mug without it becoming bitter and astringent. The flavour and colour are light, similar to green tea, but without grassiness and with characteristic Darjeeling tartness.
Steeping this tea for about 45 seconds, I discerned a honey-like aroma with a similarly sweet, but weak, taste. I steeped for 60 seconds each for two subsequent steepings and it became astringent and bitter. On the fourth steeping, again at 60 seconds, it was nearly flavourless. I have tried it a number of times and have always been dissatisfied, finding it either bitter or watery, with no discoverable sweet spot.
Taking a whiff of the dry tea, I discerned a smokiness, much like smoked salami. Oddly, there is no smokiness to the taste, but there is a pronounced metallic aftertaste. This tea does not respond well to Western steeping: it is always bitter. Gongfu steeping improves it to almost the level of palatability. The taste is still acerbic, repelling the tongue and mouth, no longer with a shove, but still with a push. It’s astringency hits the stomach like a heavy weight, producing a lingering malaise.