This fine Chinese black tea is from Fujian provence, the same region that gives us ti guan yin oolongs and lapsang souchongs.
It’s a pretty good tea, and, true to Upton’s description, it has a chocolate taste, kinda like unsweetened dark chocolate, balanced by a very slight smoky aspect. I’m not sure why panyangs aren’t spoken of with the same reverence as Keemuns and Yunnans, but this tea is quite a decent congou. While I’m generally not a big fan of smoky teas (I loathe lapsang souchong), this tea’s smokiness is subtle enough to let the leaves speak — and they have some nice things to say.
Upton’s description also talks about a sweet berry note. Um, I’m not getting that, but the chocolate thing is definitely there. Panyangs are similar in some ways to Keemuns, but I haven’t been particularly happy with the Keemuns I’ve had lately, which have been too tarry/smoky, so this is a better brew than most of the Keemuns I’ve had, with the possible exception of Keemun Mao Feng.
This tea didn’t do quite as well on the second steep. The chocolate taste wasn’t as pronounced the second go-round, while the smokiness was just as strong, so the balance that was present in the first cup, wasn’t there on the second.
Upton’s Panyang Congou Select is organic, so you’re not getting a mouthful of pesticide residue and are, hopefully, supporting more sustainable farming practices, too.
Nice tea. And after sampling a bad bunch of teas lately — really weak Ceylons and tarry Keemuns — this was a pleasant surprise.