Packaging-Comes in a sealed foil pouch placed inside Rishi’s traditional zip-lock type resealable pouch. I think it’s a tight squeeze to put the inner foil pouch back inside the Rishi outer pouch-so consider whether you need alternative storage for the inner foil pouch.
Dry buds-are about 2/3 golden, remaining dark green to dark brown. Buds are thin and fairly straight with small curves on some-but not curls.
Dry leaf Aroma-sweet potato is prominent, faint notes of orange citrus, malt can sometimes be detected.
Brewed leaves- turn dark brown and straighten the curves a touch.
Liquor-is a beautiful coppery color.
Steep info-I steeped this at as low as 195/3min to as much as 205/4min on first infusion (and various combos in between). I have steeped as many as 4 times, but for me, it gives me 2 satisfying steeps. Because it’s so expensive, I generally take a third steep out if it, but I think it’s losing its delicate flavor by then.
I was very excited to try this tea. It won first place in the Yunnan category at the North American Tea Championship last month. A Rishi rep told me it was “kind of an upgrade” over their Organic Fair Trade Golden Needle-which won the same category in 2010. I loved that tea, so needless to say, I was anxious about tasting something similar, but even better.
I have brewed this about 5 times in the last 10 days. My first cup was really delicious. I noticed the sweet potato notes very distinctly. but the rest of the flavor was nondescript to me (however, I feel am generally not capable of detecting many of the more subtle and complex notes others detect in teas). I did not notice that faint orange and malt notes that I detected a bit in the dry leaves. That was a disappointment because I loved those notes in their 2010 Golden Needle. I steeped 4 times to see how many it would hold. For me, two is probably the most I would prefer, but 3 is definitely doable.
A day or two later, I brewed again and the tea seemed a little weaker, less flavorful. I thought it was me. I played around with the steep times and temps a bit, but I could never recreate the first cup. The sweet potato flavor had weakened a little bit. On occasion I did notice a bit of a sugary note (palm sugar?). But not much.
Then I read somewhere about certain teas losing their flavor really fast and I wondered if this is one of those teas. For about 3-4 days, I just rolled up the inner foil (but not sealing it) and putting it inside a standard tea tin. After that, I put a clamp to seal the inner foil while it’s inside the tea tin.
I don’t know that was a problem or not. Anyhow, I like this tea, but it’s just missing something. Just not a lot of flavor for what is to me a medium-bodied tea. Maybe an all bud tea is more delicate in flavor-I would not know. I’ll definitely finish this, but it’s expensive, so I won’t buy it again and it won’t make me forget their Fall 2010 Golden Needles.
The rating number? Oh, I’m not sure. I may play around with that a bit until I think I get it right.