We have another sipdown here. I had been working on a sample pouch of this tea for a couple of days and finished the last of it this morning. I used to really enjoy teas like this when I was younger, but had not had one in several years. I was delighted to find that I still enjoy this type of black tea, though I remembered this specific tea as being a little better than I found it to be.
I prepared this tea two ways. The first was a one step Western infusion. I followed Adagio’s guidelines here. I steeped 1 heaped teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 5 minutes. The second preparation was gongfu. I started off by steeping 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 5 seconds. I then followed this infusion up with 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 11 seconds, 14 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
The Western infusion yielded a smooth and subtle brew. I noted mild aromas of cocoa, oak, and toast on the nose. In the mouth, I noted integrated notes of cocoa, oak, cream, toast, malt, and cinnamon in the mouth. The gongfu session yielded a more complex brew. Prior to infusion, I noted a soft, subtle aroma of cocoa coming from the dry leaves. After infusion, I noted slightly more pronounced aromas of toast, malt, cream, oak, cocoa, and spice. In the mouth, I picked up on a strong flavor of cocoa underscored by cinnamon, oak, pine, toast, malt, and cream. Subsequent infusions introduced aromas and flavors of juniper berry, honey, leather, and black peppercorns. Later infusions were very mild with a slight mineral tinge, though honey, wood, malt, and cocoa notes remained. I noticed that this tea started off strong in the gongfu session, but faded quickly. The first 5 infusions yielded a strong, flavorful liquor, the next 3 infusions were decent, and the final 4 infusions were mostly a wash with very subtle aroma and flavor sensations.
This was not a bad golden monkey, but I have had better. Gongfuing this produced more interesting results, but the Western brews were smoother and more consistent overall. In the end, I could see this being a solid all-purpose Chinese black tea or a good introductory Chinese black tea.
Flavors: Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Honey, Leather, Malt, Oak wood, Pine, Toast