Here is one of my sipdowns from September and a tea that was a totally new and very challenging experience for me. This was a purple yabao that was processed as a black tea. Though I tend to be a huge fan of yabao, this tea struck me as being disgusting the first time I tried it. That first sip of my gongfu session’s first infusion was rough. It was enough to put more hair on my already incredibly hirsute chest, but this tea rapidly grew on me from there. I went from hating it to greatly enjoying it in the space of a couple hours.
Clearly, I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of the loose tea buds 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 buds emitted aromas of smoke, malt, hay, cedar, blood orange, and nectarine. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of vanilla, oats, cinnamon, wheat toast, sugarcane, marshmallow, and peppermint. The first infusion introduced tomato and plum aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of smoke, grass, green bell pepper, sour plum, sugarcane, blood orange, hay, malt, lemon rind, tomato, and grapefruit pith that were chased by hints of vanilla, nectarine, marshmallow, oats, cedar, and wheat toast before citrus rind bitterness and a turpentine-like astringency completely overwhelmed everything else this tea put on display. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of earth, grapefruit, lemon, juniper, grass, and green bell pepper. Amplified and more immediate impressions of wheat toast, oats, and vanilla came out in the mouth alongside slightly stronger nectarine notes. I also picked up mineral, pine sap, earth, juniper, kumquat, black cherry, blackberry, artichoke, and sour apricot impressions in addition to a softer, smoother turpentine-like camphor note and hints of sea salt, peppermint, and cinnamon. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, malt, wheat toast, earth, kumquat, camphor, lemon rind, grapefruit pith, and grass that were complimented by hints of green bell pepper, blood orange, marshmallow, nectarine, pine sap, tomato, sour plum, and sour apricot.
This was a very unique tea, one that started out rough and prickly before quickly ironing out its rough edges in order to become incredibly drinkable. I can’t really compare this tea to anything else I have tried, though I do feel that it fell neatly between a purple yabao and a Yunnan purple black tea in terms of styling, perhaps leaning more toward the former than the latter. Even if you have tried both purple yabao and Yunnan purple black tea, this tea will still be a unique experience for you and one that you really have to be patient with and for which you have to maintain an open mind. I would have no issues with recommending it to experienced drinkers of Yunnan teas who are looking for something new and challenging. Newcomers to the world of Yunnan teas should probably wait to try something like this until they have at least one or two purple yabao and purple black teas under their belts.
Flavors: Apricot, Artichoke, Astringent, Bitter, Blackberry, Blood Orange, Camphor, Cedar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Citrus, Earth, Grapefruit, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Hay, Herbaceous, Lemon, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Oats, Peppermint, Pine, Plum, Salt, Smoke, Sour, Sugarcane, Toast, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wheat