Let’s start catching up on this backlog of mine. Also, let’s go ahead and state that I have a sentimental attachment to this tea. It was the first Yunnan black tea I ever tried. It was also maybe the second or third loose leaf tea I ever had. I have been familiar with this one since I was sixteen years old. This tea was a friend to me through both high school and college. With all that out of the way, understand that this tea played a formative role in my appreciation of tea, thus it is unlikely that I will be able to review this one entirely objectively.
I brewed this one two ways. The first preparation was a one step Western infusion. For this session, I simply steeped 1 teaspoon of loose leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 5 minutes. The second preparation was gongfu. I steeped 6 grams of tea leaves in 4 ounces of 212 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 8 second, 10 second, 12 second, 15 second, 20 second, 25 second, 30 second, 40 second, 50 second, and 1 minute infusions. I will comment on both.
The 5 minute steep produced a tannic and slightly spicy tea. I detected aromas of chocolate, vanilla bean, leather, wood, malt, spice, caramel, and molasses. In the mouth, there were notes of chocolate, malt, caramel, molasses, leather, tobacco, wood, orange peel, vanilla bean, and spice. The gongfu preparation was slightly different. Prior to infusion, the leaves revealed aromas of spice, chocolate, leather, malt, and molasses. In the mouth, the first three infusions produced increasingly rich notes of molasses, chocolate, malt, caramel, orange, fig, spice, wood, leather, tobacco, vanilla bean, toast, and menthol. From the fourth infusion on, the tea began to soften, offering increasingly malty and toasty aromas and flavors underscored mostly by chocolate, vanilla bean, orange, tobacco, caramel, and molasses. A slight minerality started to become evident around this time as well. The final infusions offered mostly mineral, toast, and malt notes, though I could still detect fleeting impressions of chocolate, caramel, and molasses.
This tea was not quite as good as I remembered it being. It lacked the smoothness and depth of some of the Yunnan blacks I have tried over the course of the past year. Still, I would not call it bad by any stretch of the imagination. I could see this tea being a good starting point for those new to Yunnan black teas.
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Fig, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange, Spices, Tobacco, Vanilla, Wood