Well, it’s been another nightmare of a day here, and since I feel like garbage, I’m blowing off steam by flopping on my couch and writing tea reviews. This was another of my late 2020 sipdowns. At the time I was working my way through a 50g pouch of this tea, I recalled being absolutely over the moon for the spring 2017 production. This spring 2018 version was not quite as good, but it was still a more or less excellent offering.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse (about 5 seconds), I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed 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 emitted aromas of malt, baked bread, molasses, sweet potato, hay, and caramel. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, pine, eucalyptus, banana, and black pepper. The first infusion added cream and butter aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, cream, baked bread, roasted almond, sweet potato, butter, and molasses that were balanced by hints of cedar, hay, caramel, sugarcane, banana, horehound, and red apple. The majority of the subsequent infusions introduced new aromas of camphor, cinnamon, clove, cedar, chocolate, lemon zest, and marshmallow. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of red apple, hay, and caramel appeared in the mouth alongside flavors of pear, minerals, earth, chocolate, plum, cinnamon, camphor, lemon zest, orange zest, eucalyptus, and marshmallow. I was also able to detect hints of pine, clove, black pepper, apricot, and roasted peanut. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, cream, baked bread, malt, butter, sweet potato, and roasted almond alongside an amplified roasted peanut presence and fleeting hints of red apple, orange zest, caramel, and lemon zest.
Compared to the spring 2017 production of this tea, this version was lighter, smoother, thinner, and less persistently herbal. It was also subtler, more reserved, and generally stuffier. Honestly, I frequently found myself missing a pronounced herbal presence and more substantial body in the tea liquor, but this was still a very high quality Feng Qing black tea even without those characteristics. One thing this tea had going for it compared to the previous version was that it had more of a pronounced nuttiness, which was nice. Of the two, this one was not quite as fun or as interesting, but it was less filling, easier to drink, and more approachable. To me, both were obvious winners, though I still prefer the spring 2017 version to this one.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, banana, Black Pepper, Bread, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Clove, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Hay, Herbaceous, Lemon Zest, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Red Apple, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes