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Black Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Thomas Smith
Average preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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  • “I get much better results on this tea using much higher concentration than recommended by Red Blossom. Using the suggested 2g/100mL and slightly cooler water makes this taste essentially like a...” Read full tasting note

From Red Blossom Tea Company

We first happened upon this tea in 2009, brewed for us as we were discussing that year’s Silver Needle Reserve crop in Fujian Province, China. When we inquired about the tea, we were given a small package, and told that there wasn’t enough available for sale that year.

What we were given amounted to two small brews, but it left an immeasurably deep impression on us. We are fond of describing some of our best teas as having finishes that remain long after the last drop. The finish of this tea would extend for a year, lingering on our tea-obsessed minds through summer, autumn and winter. We knew we wanted this tea. In spite of rising black tea prices and the severe scarcity of new crop white tea, we commissioned a small batch to be crafted last year.

In early spring of 2011, we paid the tea craftsman a visit and were told to expect more florals and balance. We were not disappointed. It is comprised of fully oxidized Yinzhen buds, gathered from the Da Bai tree. A very small amount of a Wuyi cultivar was added to the mix, and together the leaves were wilted, tumbled and then allow to fully enzymatically oxidize.

This is a unique tea. It follows traditional black tea crafting methods, but does so using cultivars that are normally not used for black tea. The result is remarkable: candy sweet, perfumed with aromatics of apricots and flowers with a creamy, almost soy milk base (all the characteristics one would recognize in our Silver Needle Reserve). To that base, the oxidation adds complexity and richness, with honey, muscatel and sweet cantaloupe notes. We hope you find this as satisfying on your tea obsessed palate as we found it to be on ours.

About Red Blossom Tea Company View company

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1 Tasting Note

93 tasting notes

I get much better results on this tea using much higher concentration than recommended by Red Blossom. Using the suggested 2g/100mL and slightly cooler water makes this taste essentially like a typical (albeit very tasty) Yin Zhen white tea with a tad more heft. Using 5g/100mL and near-boiling water puts this much more in the realm of special-prep Jin Jun Mei, adding a whole host of aromas and flavors while still retaining the characteristics of a lighter infusion.
For the purposes of this review I used 5g in 100-125mL near-boiling water ranging from 93-98C, though the high end was used when the gaiwan had cooled a bit and the low end was used when it was nice and preheated so it kinda evens out. Each infusion progressed by one minute, so first infusion was one minute, sixth infusion was six minutes.

This is a mild tea. Fragrance, aroma, taste, and even color are pretty light… but gooood.

I keep wanting to say cocoa when relating to this tea in most all aspects, but really the characteristics are those I associate with the accents atop a dark chocolate bar rather than the actual chocolate base character. Really, the biggest similarity in dry fragrance and flavor is stone fruit. Peach/nectarine skin is prevalent in the dry fragrance while the wet leaf has more black plum aroma alongside the typical bran or toasted wheat aromas most bud-heavy Fujian red teas possess. Liquor aroma is very comforting and similar to honey on toasted wheat bread and a bit of nectarine preserves (here I will admit to a touch of cocoa powder in the aroma).

Flavor is resoundingly similar to a white peach with all kinds of light toasty goodness. Warm wheat rolls not long out of the oven (again, with a bit of honey). Second infusion wraps in an odd but pleasant note of caramelized onions and body is actually right up there with a lighter-bodied puerh. Third brings out a mixed spiciness of clove and cassia and the bran flavor has swung toward the taste of Grapenuts cereal and the taste of honeysuckle has come to play. Fourth was spicier, bringing in a California Bay edginess that comes off as slightly (but pleasantly) metallic while balancing against a slightly raised aspect of honeysuckle. By the fifth infusion the body and flavor have started to seriously wane and the predominant flavor is woody with a slight astringency making for a juniper character overall. Sixth tastes like an overbrewed Yin Zhen white tea… Not much more than a cottony flavor up front with lingering light astringency but a light sweetness pops up a couple seconds after each sip, making it taste a bit like water with a touch of honey in it, though there is still a faint wheat toast base flavor. When gulped, the honey expression is a lot more obvious in these brews, bumping this from a light sweet expression in aftertaste when sipping to a nectar-like tea when glugged. The first three brews is incredibly reminiscent of white peach, particularly when larger mouthfuls are taken.

Yummy toasty goodness. Basically a beefed-up Yin Zhen that is a bit nicer in cool weather. Pricey and you need to use quite a bit to justify the cost flavor-wise in my opinion, but I think the cost to flavor ratio is justifiable (though if using the recommended parameters I wouldn’t think so).

200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec

Hey, surprised to see you back on here, Thomas. I found your notes a few months ago while I was researching good Dancong oolong. It was refreshing to find another person on here so articulate and serious about tasting, though from the looks of your inactivity I thought you might have abandoned Steepster for good. Where have you been? Hope to see more notes from you again. I really enjoy reading what you have to say.


really appreciate the effort to examine and describe your experience….wonderful way to navigate a tea

Thomas Smith

I’ve been tasting large spreads of very similar, largely unremarkable teas of late. Things that are unremarkable leave me less apt to attempt to remark upon them, hahahaha.

I’ve mostly just been tasting wholesale samples for work and then testing and re-testing the same limited selection over and over again. When I do have good teas, I’ve been tasting them in comparative lineups, which Steepster doesn’t accommodate well. Most of my written notes are going into the Tea App for iPhone I’m contributing to and have been way to short and wussy for my own liking. Would be really cool if Steepster could accept external shared posts as Facebook or Twitter can, so I could upload my tasting notes on the fly.

I get email notices, so I’m not abandoning Steepster. Every time I see an interesting-looking image from the folks I follow, I pop over and give a looksee. Thanks for the kudos – just for the likes and comments I’ve gotten for this post, I pledge to type up my tasting notes for tomorrow (I have the day off work) and toss them up. The level of depth will be on he pathetic side for me for each post, but it ought to give a glimpse into what my days off from working as a coffeeslinger look like.


“The level of depth will be on he pathetic side for me for each post…”

Ha! Really? I just found enough time to read through all the recent notes you posted. Compared to most folks, your posts are encyclopedic in scope and about as deep in detail as a professional style guide for people in the design or writing trades. Anyway, I’m very much enjoying reading these notes. Wish I had more time at present to comment on them as much as I’d like.

Thomas Smith

Yeah, I scrapped my initial plan to post my tasting notes on the Darjeelings and Assams I’ve been tasting through from International Tea Importer and decided to have some tastier tea and actually spend some time with it – put off the cupping lines for a day or two.


Oh How Romantic! It’s so sweet to see this kind of thing here. Poetry and all…(get a room lol) no, really, it’s lovely to read this. I do hope that things worked out for you boys. :)

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