Once I finished my 80s action movie binge, I decided to wind down further with a gongfu session. I also decided to challenge myself by picking a tea that was wholly new to me. I ended up picking this one. I had been curious about this tea and felt like I had been trying to come up with both time and a reason to try it for months. I had never had an African oolong before, so this was unexplored territory for me. I ended up finding it to be a very mild tea with an odd texture and unexpected layers of flavors that tended to dance in and out of focus throughout the session.
Obviously, I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in a 4 ounce gaiwan filled with 185 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of ripe plum, fig, honey, and peach. The rinse brought out touches of hay, malt, black grape, and nectarine. The first infusion brought out a slight butteriness, as well as touches of damp grass, huckleberry, elderberry, and red raspberry. Oddly, the mouth, however, was disappointingly bland. I picked up touches of malt, hay, and butter, as well as slight undertones of plum, honey, and fig, but otherwise, there was not much for me to discover. Subsequent infusions brought out slightly stronger aromas and flavors of plum, fig, honey, malt, hay, and butter. The red raspberry, huckleberry, black grape, damp grass, peach, and nectarine also made appearances. Furthermore, new aromas and flavors reminiscent of cinnamon, autumn leaves, sugarcane, almond, minerals, raisin, spinach, and pomegranate emerged. The later infusions were mild and somewhat sharp. I mostly detected minerals, hay, malt, autumn leaves, and almond underscored by faint wisps of stone fruits, honey, grapes, and berries.
This tea was interesting and displayed some complexity, but I don’t think I would go out of my way to try it again. The aromas and flavors were just so uneven throughout the session. What was perhaps most frustrating for me was just how subtle and timid many of the aromas and flavors were. I was constantly hoping something would really pop out of the mix and grab me, but it never happened. I was also a little nonplussed by how thin and sharp the tea was in the mouth. There was an astringency that built throughout the session that I found somewhat offputting. Overall, this tea was not horrible, but it was an uneven, often confounding experience from start to finish. The other reviews back that assertion up too. I noticed that opinion on this tea was divided. No one seemed to know how to take it and the flavor notes were all over the place. I guess at this point all I can say is that I’m glad I tried it, but it wasn’t for me.
Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Butter, Cinnamon, Fig, Fruity, Grapes, Grass, Hay, Honey, Huckleberry, Malt, Mineral, Peach, Plums, Raisins, Raspberry, Spinach, Sugarcane