This tea was such a pain for me. First, it was one of those teas that I opened and then forgot about for a longer period of time than was appropriate (I noted a few small punctures at the top of the pouch, so I ended up sealing it in another pouch. That’s probably why I forgot about it). Second, I just never got to a point where I was comfortable brewing this one. I tried two different gongfu sessions, and one was pleasant, yet not exactly consistent, while the other just yielded exceedingly bland, boring tea. I then started brewing this tea Western and got much more desirable results compared to the second gongfu session. When this tea was good, I enjoyed it, but I never quite felt that I got it right.
[Note: Of the three preparations, the initial gongfu session was my favorite overall, so that is the one that will be described below.]
When it came to preparing this tea, I opted to gongfu 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water. After a quick rinse, I steeped the leaves for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 11 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 15 seconds, 18 seconds, 22 seconds, 28 seconds, 35 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes. I know this was a weird way to do things, but it was rather late and I kept messing up my timing, so I had to keep making little adjustments until I got to the longer infusions.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves offered muted aromas of flowers, ripe plums, and sweetgrass. After the rinse, I picked up stronger floral scents (orchid, but there were other flowers there too. I kept thinking of both plumeria and geranium, but I wasn’t sure about either) and hints of roasted almond. The first infusion yielded no real difference on the nose as far as I could tell. In the mouth, the liquor offered delicate notes of roasted almond underscored by plum, sweetgrass, and orchid impressions. Subsequent infusions brought out a very smooth liquor without the expected dancong soapiness/slickness. I found emerging impressions of cream, butter, wood, and marshmallow joining stronger plum, sweetgrass, and orchid notes. There was definitely some geranium in there, and in places, I could find underlying impressions of minerals, rock sugar, cherry, malt, and toast. The later infusions were quick to wash out, offering very fleeting notes of minerals, cream, butter, and marshmallow with some distant, lingering hints of orchid, stone fruits, and sweetgrass.
I know most of the other reviewers rather liked this one, and while I did as well, I found it to be an odd tea. It was not exactly unpleasant, just rather different and difficult in my opinion. I know I should have gotten to it sooner after opening its pouch and then transferring it to a different storage vessel, but I still found a lot in this tea that held my interest. This intrigued me enough to want to give a fresher, more recent harvest a try.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Cherry, Cream, Floral, Geranium, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orchid, Plums, Sugar, Toast, Wood