I’m still working on finishing up some of the black teas from last year. I ended up buying this one specifically to compare to another unsmoked Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong that, for whatever reason, I never got around to reviewing. Overall, I found this tea to be pleasant, though I have had more consistently enjoyable Wuyi black teas.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 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 powerful aromas of honey, wood, and chocolate. After the rinse, I began to pick up scents of baked bread, brown sugar, malt, toast, and citrus. The first infusion introduced subtle touches of minerals, pine, and sorghum. In the mouth, I detected notes of chocolate, malt, toast, honey, and wood underscored by citrus and minerals. Subsequent infusions brought out the citrus aromas and flavors. I began to detect distinct impressions of kumquat, candied orange peel, and lemon zest. The sorghum, brown sugar, and pine also began to make themselves known. Aromas and flavors of cinnamon, caramel, clove, nutmeg, butter, juniper berry, cedar, leather, red apple, and roasted nuts also appeared at various points. The later infusions were dominated by mineral, leather, nut, malt, wood, and spice impressions underscored by traces of tart citrus, juniper berry, and pine.
Despite the rating I have assigned, this tea came closer to being a knockout than it would appear. I loved the mix of aromas and flavors, but I felt the need to downgrade it heavily for two reasons. First, this tea peaked super quickly and faded just as quickly. Second, I found the mouthfeel of the tea liquor to be persistently sharp and thin, even for a Wuyi black tea. There was just no body whatsoever. All in all, I found this tea to be enjoyable, though there were definitely some negatives to it.
Flavors: Apple, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Clove, Herbs, Honey, Leather, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange, Pine, Roasted nuts, Toast, Wood