I think one thing that comes through when I review Vietnamese teas is that I tend to have a huge soft spot for them. To this point, I have been particularly impressed by the teas What-Cha sources, and this was yet another winner. Several other reviewers did not find this tea all that complex, but brewing this gongfu, I got quite a bit out of it.
Obviously, I gongfued this tea. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 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, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, I picked up aromas of malt, dark chocolate, prunes, and cedar coming form the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I detected emerging aromas of roasted nuts, caramel, and dark wood. I couldn’t detect any new aromas on the first proper infusion. On the palate, the liquor was surprisingly strong, astringent, and tannic. I found notes of cedar, dark wood, dark chocolate, malt, caramel, roasted nuts, and prune underscored by vague hints of spice. Subsequent infusions brought out impressions of butter, cream, dates, brown toast, and fig. The roasted nut notes became clearer and started to separate a bit, reminding me of a combination of chestnut, beechnut, hickory, and black walnut. I also began to note subtler impressions of pine needles, eucalyptus, camphor, minerals, red apple, and tart cherry, while the spice notes began to grow stronger and resemble a combination of ginger, black pepper, and clove. The later infusions mostly offered notes of minerals, malt, brown toast, dark wood, and cream underscored by hints of roasted nuts, cooling herbs, gentle spices, and touch of fruitiness.
It’s no secret that I love malty, rich black teas and this was that sort of tea. I found that it displayed admirable longevity in a gongfu session and brewed up with much greater depth and complexity than expected. All in all, I thought this was an excellent black tea and would not hesitate to recommend it to fans of such teas.
Flavors: Black Pepper, Brown Toast, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cedar, Cherry, Chestnut, Clove, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Dark Wood, Dates, Dried Fruit, Eucalyptus, Fig, Ginger, Malt, Mineral, Pine, Red Apple, Roasted Nuts, Walnut