Here is a review I have dreaded posting for a couple weeks now. Though I really hate posting uniformly negative reviews, truly mixed or mediocre reviews can be much worse for me because it is so hard for me to figure out what to say in them. That is the situation this tea put me in, as I didn’t find it to be truly bad. Instead, it was more boring and mediocre to me.
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 15 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, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of malt, baked bread, honey, sweet potato, molasses, and smoke. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of brown sugar and butter along with significantly more amplified sweet potato, malt, smoke, and molasses scents. The first infusion then brought out aromas of ginger, earth, black pepper, and orchid. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of malt, butter, baked bread, roasted almond, honey, molasses, and earth that were chased by hints of orange zest, black pepper, orchid, honey, and brown sugar. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of pine, orange zest, moss, minerals, roasted almond, violet, and cocoa. Notes of smoke, sweet potato, and ginger came out in the mouth along with much heavier honey and orange zest notes and slightly amplified impressions of orchid and brown sugar. I also found notes of minerals, moss, lemon zest, violet, cocoa, heather, caramel, and pine that were accompanied by fleeting traces of nutmeg. As the tea faded, I continued to note impressions of minerals, roasted almond, malt, baked bread, pine, and lemon zest that were balanced by hints of earth, caramel, ginger, heather, honey, and sweet potato.
While the floral impressions this tea displayed were nice, there was really nothing else that was all that interesting to me about this Jin Jun Mei. To be fair, Jin Jun Mei is not normally one of favorite Wuyishan black teas, and it is not as if I have had a ton of them by any means, but still, I have had enough to know what I like and what I don’t. In my opinion, this tea went a bit too heavy on the malty, earthy, citrusy, and buttery notes without enough floral characteristics and honey, caramel, molasses, and brown sugar sweetness to properly achieve balance and bring everything into focus. It also faded rather quickly on me. In the end, I could not make up my mind about this one. It was drinkable and certainly was not terrible, yet it was also not all that inspiring or captivating either. A meh score a little below 60 feels about right to me.
Flavors: Almond, Black Pepper, Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Cocoa, Earth, Floral, Ginger, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Moss, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orchid, Pine, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Violet