This is my first time trying pressed tea! Thanks, Derk, for sending me something I had previously considered buying from the TTC website. If there’s a trick for breaking these things without making a mess, I don’t know what it is, but I eventually took about a gram off my big piece of this cake so it was around 6 g. After a rinse, I steeped it in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, and 60 seconds, then 1:15, 1:30, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 10 minutes.
The dry aroma is of faint berries, honey, and malt. The giant piece of cake stuck out of my teapot, so I did a 15-second rinse to try and soften it up enough to make it fit. It had faint notes of tart gooseberry, honey, and dried fruit. I could smell menthol in the teapot but couldn’t taste it. The first real steep has notes of menthol, autumn leaf pile, dried fruit, honey, and minerals, plus a long wintergreen aftertaste. This is absolutely a Red Jade tea! I get more of the tart cranberries and gooseberries in the next three steeps, along with menthol, tannins, lemon, vague florals, and increasing bitterness.
By steep five, this tea is asserting its black tea character, with the menthol predominating and malt, autumn leaf pile, cream, and hints of fruit in the background. By steep seven, I get woody and incense notes, plus sassafras, raisins, berries, and dried fruit. Near the end of the session, the menthol notes disappear, leaving malt, dried fruit, wood, minerals, autumn leaves, and lots of tannins.
I found this tea to be a fascinating expression of the Red Jade cultivar, with the typical menthol and sassafras notes but a lot more fruit than the standard black tea. Although it did get bitter at times, I think the short steeps helped tame it somewhat. (However, like my last white tea, all those short steeps made for a longer-than-usual session.) Although I’m not sure I need an entire cake, I might keep my remaining sample to see if it changes with age.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Berries, Bitter, Cranberry, Cream, Dried Fruit, Floral, Honey, Lemon, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Raisins, Sarsaparilla, Tannin, Tart, Wood