It seems that I’m starting to fall behind on my reviews once again. I did a multi-step Western session with this tea a couple days ago and then a gongfu session with it last night. I was not at my best during either of these sessions. For one, I have been extremely busy with work, I’m preparing myself to go back to school in the fall, and I have jury duty about to start, so my review sessions have been a little rushed as of late. Second, I have been a bit stuffy for the past two or three days, so neither my nose nor my palette have been at their best. I also did not take notes during either session (very unlike me), so I have to do this exclusively from memory. This review will likely not be representative of my best work.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After an approximately 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was followed by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes. I normally start with a 10 second infusion when I drink Tieguanyin, but I decided to try to shake things up a bit here.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of dark wood, banana, coffee, vanilla bean, and char. After the rinse, the aforementioned aromas intensified and I began to pick up touches of wet stones and graham cracker. The first infusion produced a similar bouquet. In the mouth, I detected strong notes of caramelized banana, vanilla bean, coffee, wet stones, char, and dark wood underscored by fleeting sensations of spices, cocoa, and fruit. Subsequent infusions brought out impressions of cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, cream, butter, ginseng, minerals, and bruised mango. The later infusions were dry with dominant mineral, dark wood, stone, and char impressions balanced by touches of vanilla bean, cream, coffee, butter, and spice at various points.

Everyone who has seen any of my reviews of similar teas to this point undoubtedly realizes that I love traditional Tieguanyin variants. As a matter of fact, I tend to prefer them over jade Tieguanyins. This one, however, while good, did not entirely sustain my interest. Part of that is likely due to me spending so much time focusing on roasted oolongs this month and part of that is probably due to the circumstances under which I reviewed this tea, but I cannot shake the impression that this tea faded a little quickly and was missing a certain something. It did not seem to be quite as layered as some of the other teas of this type I have tried. It was still pretty tasty, but there have been other traditional Tieguanyins that have struck me as being more memorable.

Flavors: banana, Brown Sugar, Butter, Char, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Coffee, Cream, Dark Wood, Graham, Herbs, Mango, Nutmeg, Vanilla, Wet Rocks

195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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