I thought drinking this hei cha when I was sick would be a good idea. I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. It tasted like dust. :(
But it’s not the tea’s fault.
“I thought drinking this hei cha when I was sick would be a good idea. I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. It tasted like dust. :( But it’s not the tea’s fault.” Read full tasting note
“From Dark Matter 2016: Anyone remember that “hangover cure” concoction from the movie Heathers? I kept thinking that’s what this would taste like if I added some OJ. My palate is definately...” Read full tasting note
“Dark Matter 2016 number 7. Does anyone here also drink scotch? This is like if Laphroaig Quarter Cask was a tea. I really love the smokey flavor and the thick liquor this tea offers. Definitely...” Read full tasting note
“I got some Lapsang Souchong a couple of months ago and tried it once and couldn’t finish my cup. I assumed it was because I just didn’t like smoke flavored teas, but this tea has proven me wrong. I...” Read full tasting note
2010 Bai Sha Xi “Tian Jian” An Hua Hand-Roasted Hei Cha * 50 grams
A relatively rare production from the Bai Sha Xi tea factory in An Hua county of Hunan. Tian Jian tea is created through a special fermentation process that takes longer than black tea but considerably less time than ripe pu-erh. The tea is then roasted over pine fire by hand to dry it. Tian Jian is one of 7 types of “Jian” class hei cha produced in An Hua county of Hunan.
The taste is strong and full in the mouth with hints of tobacco and pine smoke, but with a heavy thick sweetness and a golden viscous tea soup.
Company description not available.
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From Dark Matter 2016:
Anyone remember that “hangover cure” concoction from the movie Heathers? I kept thinking that’s what this would taste like if I added some OJ. My palate is definately sensitive to smoke flavors so that’s a bit understandable, but there is some other flavor to this that I dislike as well.I brewed this in a gaiwan with a first steep of about 15 seconds or so (longer than I intended of course) and it was pure ashtray. Okay, I thought the same with the Iron Arhat and I ended up enjoying it once all the flavors harmonized. So I kept going, and going, and eventually it started to get so unpleasant that I started to throw out my cups after drinking half. It seemed to steep forever. Eventually the smoke subsided a bit and I started to get a really bitter front note. It also left my mouth dry and coated with a chemical flavor I can only describe as “oh god I hope I don’t get mouth cancer”.
So yea, sample this tea before buying…
Flavors: Smoke, Tar, Tobacco
Dark Matter 2016 number 7.
Does anyone here also drink scotch? This is like if Laphroaig Quarter Cask was a tea.
I really love the smokey flavor and the thick liquor this tea offers. Definitely interested in teas like this/would buy more.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Pine, Salt, Scotch, Smoke, Wood
I got some Lapsang Souchong a couple of months ago and tried it once and couldn’t finish my cup. I assumed it was because I just didn’t like smoke flavored teas, but this tea has proven me wrong.
I don’t have any fancy gaiwans or anything so I just steeped this tea Western for like a minute with nearly-boiling water and it’s really nice. I think maybe a slightly shorter steep at first would have been helpful for tasting the underlying notes, but oh well, live and learn. So the main flavors that I’m catching are the “roasted” smoke flavor and the “post-fermented” hei cha flavor. There’s also a bit of sweetness in the back of the mouth, which is interesting, and it has a very friendly aftertaste. We’ll see how future steeps go, but for now I’m all in favor of this tea!
Gah! I lost my review notes mid-review. Sooooo in a noob nutshell.
LP Dark Matter 2016
Full Sample – 120ml Gaiwan, boiling water
starting at 5 sec steep, then gradually ramping up the time
11+ steeps, I lost count as usual :P
Nice thick viscosity, lurve this
Taste – slightly smokey, thick fruitiness and a light tobacco finish. Reminds me of a few shengs that I have tried, but without the sourness that I associate with them. I quite like this and am considering getting more. Can’t wait to try the other two YS Tian Jian and get a better handle on this kind of hei cha.
This is the 5th Dark Matter sample that I’ve tried and so far its been fun and very educational, not only am I having the opportunity to try many different teas, this is really helping me to understand my own personal likes and dislikes. Also having so many people reviewing these samples and having different opinions REALLY underscores the importance of ordering and drinking samples, because while its fun to read reviews and see what other peeps think, it’s obvious that steepsterite palates are very diverse. :)
The first from the Dark Matter 2016 series from Liquid Proust.
I’ve worked this tea for 13 sessions before calling it quits. I was on the fence before even giving it a try or smell, due to the mixed reviews. However, I decided to go ahead and try this one first, so that I can form my own opinion instead of relying on others.
Matu mentioned that there was a “tobacco and maybe burnt grass” flavor, which I had tasted during the first two steeps, but it went away after that. I thought that the smokiness of the tea was more of a Lapsang Souchong kind of smokiness, but without the meaty/BBQ flavor. Rather, it had that burnt grassy taste as Matu mentioned.
Anyway, as the 8th or 9th steep settled in, the tea started having a corn (?) or some type of sweet vegetable flavor. It was a weird tea to have, but the overall flavors were uniquely refreshing and outstanding. I like to drink or eat weird stuff in general, so this tea was highly favored way before I decided to give it a try (this was decided by Matu’s review). I liked it, and just for the sake of the Dark Matter Series, I’ll rate this one!
Side Note: If you generally like oddball flavors, this is recommended. If not, then no.
Also, my wife isn’t a tea expert, but I wanted her opinion about the smell (she refused to taste it), and she thought it had “meaty ashtray” smell.
From LP’s Dark Matter 2016
After reading Matu’s review I decided to try this tea. After a brief rinse, the first steep had a really smoky nose. Taste was smoky with an underlying bitter astringency. 2nd steep pretty much the same. Third had some serious bitterness that I found unpleasant. The bitterness and smoke were gone by about the 5th steep, but what was left was unimpressive.
From Dark Matter 2016 :) I used the whole 6g sample in my 100mL gaiwan. I was worried about this one after reading some of the reviews, and then that worry only increased when I smelled the wet leaves and was hit with the aroma of a cigarette butt. Thankfully it tasted a lot better than it smelled! And the lid of my gaiwan did smell pretty decent, like tobacco.
The flavor of the first steep was of smoke, tobacco and maybe burnt grass (the roast showing?) and a sweet mineral finish. Next steep was more strongly tobacco which lingered in the mouth after a roasty finish. Next I got sweet mineral and tobacco with a more viscous tea soup. The next steep saw the mineral flavor change to become almost salty, and was followed with bittersweet pine sap finish. My next steep was vegetal and soupy, like a thick broth. Then I got pine with a sweet/salty finish – it kind of reminded me of seaweed. Unfortunately, this is where the finish started to go a little south. The last three or four steeps had a sweet brown sugar/maple front with a smoky finish that became kind of unpleasant and dusty feeling if that makes any sense.
My steep times were 10s rinse, 10s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 75s, 2m, 5m. I was surprised with how much I liked this tea until the weird finish started getting in the way of my enjoyment. I may consider adding a box of this to a YS order at some point. One of the more interesting aspects was how much this tea changed from steep to steep. I think I even missed some subtleties by increasing my steep times a bit too quickly. I can see how some would dislike this tea, and can even imagine how AllanK got a kind of chemical flavor from it. The taste was quite strong and unusual.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Mineral, Pine, Roasted, Salty, Seaweed, Smoke, Sweet, Thick, Tobacco, Vegetal, Wood
Thank you AllanK for sending me a sample of this prior to Dark Matter 2016.
I went ahead an rinsed this tea and then threw out the first steep just to be safe so I wouldn’t have the same experience as Allan. About four steeps in I am noticing one aspect that I dislike in general which is the dryness around the sides of my mouth. While that isn’t pleasant, the taste is rather interesting in a way that I enjoy. There is a touch of mossy grass hiding behind a light ‘ripe’ like taste. Lots going on with this tea is you take time to taste it all; hints of salt, scent of minor smoke that doesn’t carry over to the taste, and an odd taste of ‘old tea’.
I am already pretty certain that most people won’t enjoy this tea when they try it, but there really is a lot going on with tea all while keeping me interested in pinning down the mixture of these taste. Wishing that the dryness would not be an aspect, I still feel like this will be a tea for others to experience and be thankful that they did get to try a roasted hei cha regardless if it leaves positive or negative thoughts after.
In the end: I shall call this the roasted moss dashed with sugar and salt. :)
I can’t get away from one thing about this tea. It has a downright unpleasant taste to it, don’t know how to describe the note. The first thought that popped into my head was drain cleaner. While I’m sure that is an extreme exaggeration I didn’t like this tea. It was also very smoky in the first couple of infusions. I alternated between adding sugar to this and not adding sugar. Sugar did a fair job of covering up the unpleasant note. I’m glad I only bought 50g of the stuff. I wonder if all Tian Jian are like this or just this one tea. I am curious enough that I might try some of Scott’s other offerings the next time I order from the China site. I often find that Hei Cha is trying to imitate puerh and not doing a very good job of it. The one thing I will say about this is I didn’t really get any fermentation notes from it.
I brewed this eight times in a 120ml gaiwan with 7.3g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec.