Saturday, July 12, 2014

Kedoçay: Wuyi Yancha Da Hong Pao, A Tea Review

Yours truly has been doing so much writing/typing lately that my poor wrists have been in constant pain. Instead of my usual excitement to write my blog, I have been feeling a bit of dread because ouch. No worries though, probably this week I will be investing in some wrist braces meaning I can go back to being excited at the prospects of writing.

Today's tea is the other sample sent to me from Turkish (really, I cannot get over how cool it was to have a package arrive at my door from Istanbul, but I always get giddy when something from far away arrives) company Kedocay. Wuyi Yancha Da Hong Pao (or Big Red Robe) is an oolong tea from Wuyi, China. I find I am becoming more enamored of Yancha (or rock teas) the more I have them, there is a reason I devoted a Yixing teapot to them. The aroma of these long, curly leaves is an interesting blend of smoke and sweet. There are notes of coal, honey, orchids, a tiny touch of cocoa, and a finish of yeasty bread. I absolutely love teas that have a smokey or empyreumatic (if you want to impress your friends) aroma, to me they are one of the most comforting aromas you can get.

Into the Yixing it goes for a nice brief steeping. I belong to the school of 'stuffing the pot or gaiwan with a lot of leaves and do hot, quick, steeps' it gets my favorite results from this type of tea. The aroma of the now wet leaves is very rich, it has a blend of charcoal and smoke that is there from the beginning to the end of the sniff. Underneath this aroma is faint notes of orchids, almost like someone tossed an orchid on a dying coals, it is a neat effect. The liquid once it has been set free from the teapot is the exact opposite of the leaves, it is creamy with rich notes of orchid (almost like perfume) honey and cocoa. There is a tiny hint of coal at the finish, but it is more of a ghost than a complete scent.

The first steep puts me in a happy place, it is one of the big differences between curly leaf and rolled leaf oolongs, their first steep usually has a much stronger presence, even if you do not always get as many steeps. The mouth feel is very smooth, it starts off with an intense coal taste and that turns into a faint coal taste that will last through until the end. After the initial coal-splosion (totally a word now) there is a creamy honey taste and a strong, almost perfume like orchid taste. The finish has a hint of cocoa that mixes with coal into the aftertaste.

Onto steep two! The aroma this time is more of a balance of coal and honey, one does not overpower the other. There is also a finish of cocoa giving a bit of smoothness to it. The taste, like the previous steep, starts out with a strong presence of coal that lingers for the entire sipping experience. The initial coal fades to a cooling slight bitterness that almost immediately switches to caramel sweet. At the end is a touch of cocoa, the aftertaste is mineral and coal.

The aroma of the third steep is mostly sweet with undertones of coal and smoke. The taste is much lighter, having more of a smoke taste then coal. It fades to a gentle orchid and honey that lasts up until the end where it switches back to coal and mineral. The aftertaste is mineral and is refreshing, like spring water.

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