May 15, 2012
This tea is a mystery perhaps not even Nancy Drew could solve…
Well, that’s being hyperbolic, but I have no idea what the deal with this tea is besides it being a Dan Cong (strip-style dark oolong from Guangdong Province) and it being from 1994.
Now, the above is what I wrote before doing the most cursory of research. Gingko still has this tea for sale and it clears up where this tea is coming from in terms of taste and origin (specifically Chaozhu in Guangdong). This should serve as a lesson to you all: being lazy results in bad tea.
I wish I’d done this research before brewing it this morning, because as Gingko’s write up of this tea states:
“This tea is very sweet, and less dry leaf can be used in brewing to yield rich flavor…”
Now, I prepared this tea like one would a yancha, that is, stuffing the gaiwan about 2/3rds full of leaf. According to Gingko, I probably should have used just about 1/2 a gaiwan’s worth:
So, working with very little information, I began to brew.
After a flash infusion to wash the tea, I brewed the first four infusions at about ten seconds each, with boiling water.
The first three infusions were dominated by “roast”, that is, the flavour of the roasting of the leaves rather than the leaves themselves. Roast can be good in moderation, but in the case of this tea I’d say it was way too forward.
Things got better in infusion 4. The roast mellowed out, but didn’t leave much in its wake. Something lightly fruity and chewy, like raisins, but nothing really stood out. I’d compare the mouthfeel (and overall taste experience) with a mellower red wine: sharp bite followed by chewy fruit and chocolate and tobacco (though much less if any of the latter two in this particular tea).
I had to give up by infusion 7. By then the tea had become sort of characterless. I’m pretty sure I exhausted it before it really had a chance to shine, but maybe not, maybe it was just not a very good dan cong. I’m going to give it one more go with less leaf. We’ll see if I change my mind.
I just might. I detected some things in the aftertaste that give me hope for these old geezer leaves yet.