I’m determined to get my 2019 and 2020 backlogs cleared by or before the end of the year, so I’m taking some time on this very slow, easy workday to get several reviews posted. This one comes from either late summer or early fall of 2020. Like the two previous Premium AA Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong black teas that I reviewed here on Steepster, this one was a high quality product with a lot to offer.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a short rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 fluid ounces of 194 F water for seconds. This initial infusion was followed by 17 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, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of malt, cinnamon, baked bread, hay, pine, dark chocolate, and brown sugar. After the rinse, aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, orange zest, and cream emerged. The first infusion introduced aromas of rose, banana, and butter. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, malt, hay, baked bread, brown sugar, cinnamon, and roasted almond that were balanced by hints of pine, butter, roasted peanut, rose, pear, orange zest, and lychee. The bulk of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of violet, plum, pear, red grape, red apple, lemon zest, and candied orange that were accompanied by a subtle grassy scent and an even stronger rose presence. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of butter, orange zest, rose, pear, and lychee appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, earth, red apple, plum, violet, banana, red grape, lemon zest, and candied orange. I also noted hints of wintergreen, grass, and dark chocolate that were most easily picked up after each swallow. As the tea faded, the liquor began to emphasize notes of minerals, malt, candied orange, baked bread, orange zest, violet, lemon zest, pear, red grape, and roasted almond that were chased by a belatedly emerging hint of leather as well as subtle flavors of plum, roasted peanut, rose, earth, and grass.

So far, of the Yunnan Sourcing Premium AA Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong that I have tried, this was arguably the most complex and enjoyable. It was never overwhelming or too busy though. The tea was very inviting and drank extremely easily. What was even more impressive to me was that after a little over two years of storage, it did not seem as if it had lost a step at all. When I do start regularly purchasing from Yunnan Sourcing again (kind of on a buying hiatus right now), I will definitely be visiting some more recent versions of this tea.

Flavors: Almond, Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Candy, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Grapes, Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Leather, Lemon Zest, Lychee, Malt, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Red Apple, Rose, Violet

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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