6 Tasting Notes
Just what the doctor ordered.
This tea came to me at the perfect time. Winter is settling in, my second seasonal cold is taking hold of me, the pollution of my Chinese city is intensifying as the winter coal burning begins, and my country seems to be digressing centuries. I needed medicine, something thick and rich and warm to soothe my aching heart, and this Hot Brandy is exactly what the doctor ordered.
First of all, the mere idea of this tea was more than enough reason for me to try it: white and Black tea, not loosely mixed, but pressed indelibly together into a cake. The withered black tea leaves mix with the whole, unbroken white leaves to make a kind-of camo patterning. Beyond the aesthetics with which the tea was produced, I trust the producer to blend these teas responsibly. I’ve drunk a lot of White 2 Tea’s offerings, and they have never steered me wrong: always straight foreword about their knowledge of the tea, always trying provide real tea with real facts; therefore, I was confident that this tea would not just be an interesting gimmick or a clever idea, but beyond that, a great tea.
First impressions: as soon as I wake the tea with hot water, the name comes alive, Hot Brandy, rich, complex, with plenty of malt from the black, and a subtle floral aroma from the white. The brew is instantly a rich amber, as I pour it from my gaiwan after a flash infusion of 5-10 seconds. (I have already brewed this tea several ways, including in the gong-fu fashion, the western fashion, and in the old Chinese grandpa style – throwing leaves loose in a cup and pouring boiling water in after them, adding more hot water throughout the day). While the brewing styles change the experience of the tea, the flavors and aromas stay very much the same. The soup stays thick, rich and reddish; the aroma starts off with a lot of malt, but slowly subsides into the more floral, sweetness of the white tea. The taste starts off strong but not bitter, heavy and instantly sweet, as the intensity of the black tea dies down after the first few steeps, I arrive at the heart of the tea, a blend of white tea flavors and black tea flavors. These two tea flavors don’t merely exist side-by-side, but they serve to intensify and complement each other, I taste my favorite aspects of each in these brews and see where the bridge that connects the two flavors lie, a connection I never knew existed, but obviously White 2 Tea could taste and wanted to explore.
This is currently my favorite tea, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Beyond the unique experience of trying something a little crazy, but still classy, the blend is masterfully done, the tea leaves are very high quality, and the taste is on point: rich, thick, malty, sweet, floral and heavy, like papa’s own Brandy.
Flavors: Brandy, Butterscotch, Malt, Maple Syrup, Medicinal, Mineral, Oak, Rum, Smooth, Sugar, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Thick, Whiskey
Assuming that this Golden Monkey is the higher grade variety that Silk Road offers, this tea is really quite a find. Most gold-bud black teas will have about 20% gold buds; however, this tea is closer to 50/50 on the tea leaves to tea buds front.
I was initially brewing this at 200-boiling, however after accidentally brewing it at 180F I realized the true potential of this tea. The lower brewing temperature allows for more of the soft maltiness of the roasted teabuds to shine through, while not allowing the black tea leaves to oversteep and exude their bittering astringency. As a teadrinker who tends to stray away from black teas, this Golden Monkey is one of a kind in the class of gold-bud teas.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Malt
This is a very high quality bouquet-style Dancong oolong. Some times I will brew this tea perfectly and it gives me the chills. The second infusion is always a little better balanced than the first, but the fourth infusion is the prime of this tea.
The infusion yields an amber and gold liquor, the aroma is woodsy and nutty and the taste is creamy like honey and butter, yet also pleasantly minerally with an allusion to tasteful astringencies.
I would highly recommend this bouquet style dancong oolong
Flavors: Butter, Honey, Mineral, Orchids, Raisins, Wood
A very standard jasmine pearl green tea, not an overpoweringly synthetic aroma, but floral and subtly, though very quick to bitter if over-steeped. The pearls will begin to unfurl after the first steep, and be fully unfurled by the second. Once unfurled one will see the relatively whole leaves and tea bud unfurl with no visible jasmine flowers. The fact that there are no jasmine flowers in this jasmine tea is a good thing, as that means the grower properly infused the scent into the tea by drying them together, rather than adding it to the tea later.
Even after the third or fourth steeping, this tea is still rich and creamy with buttery notes of roasted nuts, a nice amber paling slightly with each brew, the roast reminds me of huojicha but this oolong is much soother than that green tea.
The leaves i received in my container were rolled lengthwise and for the most part whole and unbroken, though they did not fully unfurl until my third or fourth steeping. Very Good quality if you are looking for a medium to high oxidized, dark roasted oolong.
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Mineral
Honestly I tend to prefer loose leaf tea; however, this tea is my favorite variety of bagged green tea. I can steep this tea for ever and it never gets bitter, simply amazing. With the addition of the matcha, and in consuming the whole leaf of that green tea variety, it leads to much greater yield of the L-Theanine amino acid, that is so coveted by tea-drinkers for its profoundly calming and yet focused influence over the mind. By the time there is just a single sip left in the mug, it is mostly some slightly sweet matcha and after it is drained, the ensuing mental clarity will follow you around for hours.