This review will probably end up being a little unique among my most recent reviews. For one thing, I have not reviewed anything from Adagio Teas in a long time. For another, this is the first negative review I have posted in a considerable amount of time. I generally do not like to post negative reviews and tend to steer clear of things I dislike, but at the time I purchased this tea (not all that long ago), I had no clue I would react to it the way I did. I mean, I love Yunnan black teas, so how would I have known I would not care for this one?
I prepared this tea gongfu style. For this session, I went with a fairly thin-walled 5 ounce easy gaiwan with a relatively slow pour. After a quick rinse, I steeped just over 7 grams of dragon pearls in 5 ounces of 212 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, I caught aromas of cedar, toast, and malt from the dry dragon pearls. After the rinse, I began to pick up roasted nuts, vanilla, pine, and chocolate on the nose. The bouquet after the first proper infusion was virtually identical. In the mouth, I found subdued notes of cream, malt, chocolate, toast, and cedar. Subsequent infusions brought the cream out on the nose and flavors of pine, roasted nuts, and vanilla out in the mouth. At times, I also picked up caramel, orange, raisin, plum, smoke, leather, and minerals. The tea washed out quickly. It had very little staying power. By the end of the session, I was mostly just picking up a wash of pine, minerals, malt, cream, and toast, occasionally with a touch of very vague lingering fruitiness.
While I used to like Adagio Teas quite a bit and will likely always hold a place in my heart for several of their offerings (Adagio Teas introduced me to the wonderful world of loose leaf tea as a teenager), I have been far from thrilled with the last couple of teas I have tried from them. This tea, in particular, was a disappointment for me. While using a bit more leaf and a different vessel may have boosted this tea’s longevity somewhat, its strangely slick, thin body and its almost soapy texture would have still been off-putting for me. Furthermore, I am willing to bet that its aromas and flavors would still be sorely lacking in depth. I know I’m being very hard on this tea, but it struck me as being somewhat off at the start of the session and it only got worse from there. I would even venture to say that something about it struck me as almost artificial. There was an almost chemical, detergent-like edge to its smokiness and cedary, piney qualities that really struck me as odd. All in all, I was just not a fan of this tea in the least.
Flavors: Caramel, Cedar, Chocolate, Cream, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Pine, Plums, Raisins, Roasted nuts, Smoke, Toast, Vanilla