Recently Rivers And Clouds, a tea company from Germany focusing on Chinese teas, sent me a trio of Dianhongs, a well-known favorite (read: major obsession) of mine! The first one I looked at was the Roasted Honey Black, it comes from the same trees as the Golden Tip Honey Black but with a different roast using a higher temperature and shorter roasting time. This is a fascinating Dianhong, with expected notes of yams and toasted peanuts. There are also notes of chocolate, but specifically chocolate that has been burnt about, like the edge of a s'more. Along with that are notes of roasted wood and toasted walnuts with a brown sugar finish. It definitely has a stronger roasty note, which works really well with the Dianhong notes. After steeping the tea smells of peanuts, yams, roasted cocoa, and brown sugar with a touch of mineral at the finish.
This is a solid Dianhong, strong notes of malt and roasted peanuts blend with cocoa and brown sugar at the beginning, it has a strong start, which I appreciate. The really fun part starts around steep two, the dominant taste becomes almost identical to malted milk balls or a malted chocolate shake. I've had plenty of both chocolatey and malty Dianhongs, but I have never had one that tasted so much like malted milk balls. Later steeps take on stronger notes of roasted peanuts and a touch of walnuts, but the brown sugar and malt taste remains strong. This tea has quite decent longevity too, lasting a whopping nine steeps before calling it quits, and I am sure you all know by now how much I love it when Dianhongs go the distance.
Next up is the Golden Tip Honey Black, a very pretty leaf with gentle golden fuzzy trichomes. The aroma of the long leaves is very malty with strong notes of sweet potatoes and pine resin. The more I sniff this tea the more earthy notes pop up, with undertones of brown sugar. This tea is not as sweet smelling as the others, being stronger in starchy sweet potato and earthy peanuts. Brewing the leaves makes the tea sweeter, the notes of sweet potatoes and roasted peanuts blend with pine resin and much stronger brown sugar, reminding me a bit of sweet potato casserole...man I must have been hungry when I was taking notes on these teas!
Ben was around when I was tasting this tea, and before I get into my impressions of it, he loved it. After sniffing it and then tasting it, he asked if I would be getting more and I am pretty sure was sadder than I was when the tea finally called it quits after six steeps. This is unusual since usually I outlast him on steeping. The taste is really good, strong notes of pine resin, sweet potatoes, cocoa, and malt with a slight baked cherry note at the finish. I found that the tea didn't have a ton of difference between steeps save strength, but the notes that were present were strong and tasty. One thing that really stood out to me is the nice thick mouthfeel.
The last tea might have been my favorite, because ANTHOCYANINS! Yes, Red Leaf Black is a purple tea, I might have more purple Dianhongs in my collection than not, though I haven't counted lately...I am obsessed with the unique way the tea tastes when compared to other Dianhongs. Notes of red wine, stewed plums, mulberries, cooked cherries, and baked pears blend with gentle malt and cocoa. It is very sweet and fruity with a level of richness that is off the charts...have I mentioned how much I love purple tea lately? Because I do, it smells like a fruit compote. Once steeped the leaves retain their strong stewed fruit notes, but also pick up a hint of tobacco and mineral, which calls to mind some of those oh so yummy Yanchas.
So where Ben was sad over the finish of the Golden Tip Honey, I did a sad little pout when this one called it quits after eight steeps, a sad little sigh could be heard from the tea desk. It starts strong and ends abruptly strong, not something unique to this tea, something I have noticed with purple teas is they don't really slowly fade they just abruptly stop, it is a little funny to be honest, like suddenly the tea is like 'I am done with you, go do something else.' Drinking tea is delightfully thick, and velvety in the mouth, with long lasting sweet fruity aftertastes. And oh what a fruity tea this is! Gentle notes of malt blend with intense notes of cooked plums and cherries, mulberries, and a heady red wine and red grape finish. Purple teas always remind me of late summer, mostly because of the fruity notes, though the slightly redder color of the tea itself also helps.
This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.