I’m still posting reviews of samples I finished in late 2020 and early 2021. There were so many of them. This was yet another. It was the first sample from Old Ways Tea that I finished during my second attempt at reducing the number of them. Prior to trying this tea, I had never tried a Bai Ji Guan from this particular vendor. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first, but luck was on my side. This tea was a winner.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed 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 leaves produced aromas of roasted carrot, custard, dandelion, orange zest, hay, honey, and longan that were underscored by a subtle roasted parsnip scent. After the rinse, new aromas of grass, straw, roasted peanut, roasted chestnut, and coriander emerged with touches of cannabis. The first infusion introduced aromas of watercress and dandelion greens. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of butter, cream, baked bread, longan, honey, dandelion, roasted chestnut, grass, hay, coriander, roasted carrot, and roasted parsnip that were balanced by hints of straw, pear, roasted almond, plum, watercress, custard, dandelion greens, and cattail shoots. The majority of the subsequent infusions added aromas of minerals, plum, roasted almond, parsley, basil, cream, butter, spinach, mushroom, and baked bread to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of straw, roasted almond, pear, plum, watercress, dandelion greens, and cattail shoots emerged in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, parsley, basil, caramel, lettuce, violet, orange zest, spinach, and mushroom. Hints of roasted peanut, vanilla, licorice, green onion, cannabis, and green apple could also be picked out in places. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, grass, hay, coriander, pear, baked bread, cream, butter, dandelion greens, and roasted almond that gave way to a swell of subtler parsley, green apple, lettuce, caramel, mushroom, licorice, spinach, straw, watercress, roasted carrot, roasted parsnip, longan, and violet impressions.

Generally, Bai Ji Guan is a complex, vegetal tea with a sharp, crisp texture to its liquor, so this tea ticked all of the boxes. What I did not expect, however, was for it to be so superbly layered and balanced. There were actually some impressions present that I did not expect to perceive. Overall, this was a tremendously enjoyable and memorable tea and a very fine example of a traditional Bai Ji Guan. It was the equal of some of the more expensive teas of this type that one can find on the international market.

Flavors: Almond, Basil, Bread, Butter, Cannabis, Caramel, Carrot, Chestnut, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Dandelion, Fruity, Grass, Green Apple, Hay, Honey, Lettuce, Licorice, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Parsley, Peanut, Pear, Plum, Spinach, Straw, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet

5 g 3 OZ / 88 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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