From the Regional Group Buy. I split the sample packet into two sessions.
Gongfu first in a 120ml ceramic gaiwan. Steeping times: 15 seconds, 12, 18, 25, 45; 1 minute, 3, 8. The dry leaf aroma morphs the more I smell it, changing from malt to pipe tobacco to beef jerky. After resting in the pre-heated bowl, the leaf aroma is smokier and more meat-like. The wet leaf aroma is evocative of deciduous tree wood.
The liquor has a full body. It is beautifully golden in the sharing pitcher. 15 seconds might have been too much time for the first infusion, which tastes malty and smokey with just a hint of honey beneath. Thereafter, all the way to the end of the session, I taste a lighter – not that much lighter – sweet potato note. The texture is thick and silky.
Second session was with an infuser mug. Steeping times: 3 minutes, 5, 8. The wet leaf aroma undergoes more change. At first it smells noticeably of tannins, then switches to honey, then to BBQ meat covered with honey BBQ sauce. (I did not have a dish like this recently.) Not surprisingly, this method produces a more intense liquor. It is darker, heartier, and more robust. Very tannic. Also a little astringent. The first cup tastes of smoke and red meat, and has a sweet aftertaste. These notes completely disappear after that, though. Compared to the first, the second and third cups are simple. Simply tannic. I had to finally add milk to the third cup since the temperature really warmed up by this point of the day.
You could go either way with Nandi Hills Black, depending on what you want out of it. If the season were winter, I’d go for the Western method. I did prefer brewing the leaf in the gaiwan. It was the first time I’d gongfu’d an African black tea. That session was more enjoyable all around. Reminded me of certain Dian Hong.