I finally managed to finish the last of this tea yesterday evening. It was one I had been working on in my spare time for the better part of a week. It was also a rather difficult tea for me to rate, as I could find a lot to like about it despite a few shortcomings that I felt were rather obvious.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 12 additional 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 5 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves offered a strong aroma of chocolate underscored by hints of pine and vanilla. The rinse brought out aromas of malt, burnt toast, and honey. The first infusion brought out hints of char, spice, and caramel on the nose. In the mouth, I found mild, muted notes of chocolate that were balanced by fleeting impressions of malt, honey, and vanilla. Subsequent infusions brought out somewhat stronger malt, honey, and vanilla impressions, though I also found notes of apricot, peach, roasted walnut, cream, nutmeg, minerals, and osmanthus. Caramel, char, pine, and burnt toast also made themselves known on the palate. The tea faded fast, and by the time I got to the last two or three infusions, I was mostly noting minerals, malt, and cream underscored by occasional traces of nuttiness and chocolate.
This was a pleasant, drinkable tea with the pronounced chocolate aromas and flavors one would expect from just about any Laoshan black tea. Unfortunately, it also faded fast, even for a tea of this type (in my experience, Laoshan black teas do not always offer a ton of longevity). There wasn’t much in the way of depth, and I also found the mouthfeel to be a touch too thin for my liking. In the end, I would still recommend this to those looking for a smooth, easy-sipping black tea for regular consumption or those looking for an introduction to Laoshan black teas. Just don’t expect something particularly deep, complex, or otherwise awe-inspiring.
Flavors: Apricot, Caramel, Char, Chocolate, Cream, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Osmanthus, Peach, Pine, Toast, Vanilla, Walnut