I slowly grew to love this one. A black Shan Lin Xi or ANY black version of an oolong was a knee-jerk YES for me, so the tea made Chapter 4 all the more appealing. I was underwhelmed, however, the first time western.
It was a good black, and for those who live by Taiwaneese Teas, the taste and aroma is like a cross between a #18 Ruby Assam and a Shan Lin XI’s crisp florals. I got three solid cups western using 3 minute steep time, but they all generally tasted like the drying plum malt you get in any other Assam, save for a minty aftertaste.
Gong Fu was were this tea really shined, sweetening the fruity and herbal mint notes even more. The second steep was the sweetest after 40 seconds, though the 15 minute rinse and 30 min. first steep were excellent. Purple and red plum is the best descriptor for the fruit, but blackberry and grape are not far off. The minty aftertaste was mega pronounced in steep three, transforming into more subdued tulsi and blackberry leaf in the later steeps. Steeps 7 and 8 were faint but flavorful like a hipster homemade jam, and timed out at 5 and 7 minutes in the end.
I know it’s not really original to use the company’s notes, but Teaful’s are very spot on. It is more fruity than cocoay compared to other blacks, but I could argue a case for some cocoa notes amidst the soft malt of the black tea. Plum, even sugar, and mint supersede it overall.
While it is a solid tea Western, I recommend this tea to soft black tea lovers and I especially recommend those getting into Gong Fu styling of tea to try it out with this one. It does decently with sugar, though I prefer the tea simple and straight. I do not know if I would recommend cream because it is a softer tea. I see it being flexible, but if you want it with sugar and cream, go for it strong and for yourself.
The terroir is also something that makes the tea all the more welcoming, and the price is a little high for this one, but it is worth it for the rarity and quality. I’m tempted to pick up more of this one, or at least something with the kind of profile this tea offers.
Flavors: Cocoa, Drying, Floral, Herbs, Jam, Malt, Mint, Plum, Sugar, Sweet