Okay, I’m finally back on here to post some reviews. It feels like it’s been forever. My spring coursework is finally winding down, and I’m supposed to be starting my new job next month. I also went ahead and reapplied for the graduate assistantship I turned down last year, and from what I understand, I am being considering for it once again, so if I get a wild hair and decide to move, that might be an option for me. Anyway, I wanted my return to reviewing tea to begin on a positive note and decided to start with a tea that I tried early in the year that impressed me tremendously.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of the loose tea leaf and osmanthus flower blend in 3 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 20 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, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaf and flower mix emitted aromas of bread and osmanthus. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of minerals, butter, and roasted almond accompanied by an even clearer, stronger osmanthus fragrance. The first infusion brought out aromas of pear and apple with subtle undertones of cinnamon. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of cedar, pine, bread, butter, roasted almond, and surprisingly light, delicate osmanthus that were balanced by somewhat subtler impressions of straw, grass, beeswax, and honey. The tea’s bouquet did not change much on the remainder of the infusions, though I was able to pick up a subtle mossy scent in places. Notes of minerals, moss, caramel, sweet potato, pear, red apple, plum, and earth emerged on the palate and were accompanied by hints of cinnamon, leather, tobacco, peach, green wood, and juniper. Each swallow then revealed subtle impressions of blueberry, birch bark, and wintergreen that lingered on the back of the throat for some time. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, bread, roasted almond, cedar, moss, pear, and earth that were chased by lingering hints of honey, osmanthus, peach, pine, beeswax, green wood, caramel, blueberry, straw, and wintergreen.
Normally, I am not a huge fan of osmanthus black teas, but this one came closer to getting a perfect rating from me than one might imagine. Had some of the tea’s more interesting flavor components balanced the osmanthus in the mouth a little more, and had there been a few more aromas emerge over the course of my gongfu session, I would have had no problem assigning this tea a score of 100. Even with those minor flaws, this was still an exceptional offering. The base tea and the osmanthus blossoms played off of one another beautifully.
Flavors: Almond, Bark, Blueberry, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Cinnamon, Earth, Grass, Green Wood, Herbaceous, Honey, Leather, Mineral, Moss, Osmanthus, Peach, Pear, Pine, Plum, Red Apple, Straw, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Wax, Wintergreen