This was my most recent sipdown. Of the Yunnan black teas I have consumed over the course of the last two months, this was easily one of the most impressive. I especially appreciated this tea’s depth and complexity. It had so much to offer. The degree of complexity it displayed was sometimes capable of boggling the mind.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 18 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, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves revealed aromas of raisin, tobacco, honey, malt, cream, cedar, pine, and autumn leaves. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of sugarcane, butter, baked bread, and roasted almond. The first infusion revealed aromas of roasted peanut and sweet potato as well as subtler scents of black pepper, camphor, and anise. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of malt, cream, raisin, sweet potato, butter, pine, baked bread, sugarcane, and tobacco that were chased by hints of roasted almond, honey, cedar, orange zest, and geranium. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of chocolate, nutmeg, orange zest, earth, mushroom, caramel, fig, date, geranium, cinnamon, vanilla, and red grape. Notes of autumn leaves and roasted peanut came out in the mouth alongside stronger and more immediate impressions of cedar, orange zest, honey, and geranium and very subtle hints of anise, black pepper, and camphor. I also detected notes of roasted walnut, minerals, nutmeg, chocolate, tomato, caramel, plum, fig, date, vanilla, leather, cinnamon, red grape, earth, and mushroom that were accompanied by some subtle smoky hints. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, earth, mushroom, raisin, malt, fig, roasted almond, cream, and baked bread that were balanced by hints of camphor, tobacco, leather, orange zest, butter, vanilla, pine, sweet potato, chocolate, red grape, and plum.
There was a ton going on in this tea. Even though I do not drink a ton of pu-erh, I have had a few Mengku area teas, so I am at least somewhat familiar with the characteristics imparted by that terroir, and I was able to get a ton of those characteristics out of this tea. To be clear, I associate Mengku teas with fruity, zesty, earthy, woody, and floral characteristics, and I found tons of them in this tea. I would be willing to bet that the material used to produce this black tea would have made a great pu-erh, but since I am not much of a pu-erh guy, I am glad that did not happen. The only real issues I had with this tea were that I thought it faded a little sooner than it should have and I found the mouthfeel of the tea liquor to be just slightly too thin in places. The liquor could also sometimes be a bit pungent for my liking. Otherwise, this was a near perfect Yunnan black tea.
Flavors: Almond, Anise, Autumn Leaf Pile, Black Pepper, Bread, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Dates, Earth, Fig, Geranium, Grapes, Honey, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Mushrooms, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Plum, Raisins, Smoke, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Vanilla, Walnut