This was my second sipdown of the month. It was a tea I wanted to get out of the way more than anything, but that’s not because it was a bad tea. I’ve had a lot of Jin Jun Mei this year, and since Jin Jun Mei is not one of my favorite Chinese black teas, I did not want this tea hanging over my head as the year drew to a close. Actually, it was pretty good as Jin Jun Mei goes. It was definitely less challenging and more approachable than quite a few of the others I have tried, but that being said, it also lacked a bit in terms of body, texture, longevity, and depth.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea buds produced aromas of baked bread, malt, sweet potato, pine, and cinnamon. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of butter, roasted peanut, and roasted almond. The first infusion brought out a molasses aroma and a subtler scent of honey. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, malt, butter, molasses, sweet potato, and baked bread that were chased by hints of cocoa, roasted peanut, pine, honey, and cinnamon. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of orange zest, cocoa, cream, earth, and marshmallow. Stronger and more immediate notes of honey, cocoa, and pine appeared in the mouth alongside hints of roasted almond, black pepper, and eucalyptus. Notes of orange zest, earth, grass, minerals, red grape, and marshmallow also emerged. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, malt, baked bread, sweet potato, roasted peanut, butter, and cream that were balanced by hints of roasted almond, marshmallow, grass, cinnamon, pine, orange zest, and red grape.
I liked what this tea had to offer and was surprised I was able to pick up as much as I did. If I had been going solely by aroma and flavor, I would have scored this tea higher. Unfortunately, the liquor was a bit thin, and the texture was not as sharp and defined as one would expect of a Jin Jun Mei. I also noticed that this tea peaked early and faded rapidly. Still, this tea had a lot to offer for what it was. This was clearly intended to be treated as a basic offering, and for anyone looking for a quality introduction to Jin Jun Mei or a solid daily drinker, this tea would fit the bill. Did it hold up to more expensive Jin Jun Mei? Well, yes and no. I have had worse higher end Jin Jun Mei, but I also have had better, and this tea didn’t threaten the positions of those higher quality offerings. Again, for what it was, it was good. I doubt I would go out of my way to acquire it again, but I am certainly glad I took the opportunity to try it.
Flavors: Almond, Black Pepper, Bread, Butter, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Grapes, Grass, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Sweet Potatoes