Today I am looking at a new Tea Club from Immodestea, the month they sent me is all about one of my favorite teas, Dian Hong! Yes, all Yunnan fuzzy tea, all the time, in the box (which, might I add, arrived in brown paper, I am a sucker for packages that arrive wrapped like a vintage parcel) you get four different teas (three pre-packed servings of each, for a total of twelve sessions) a card filled with relevant tea lore and information, and a card with steeping information, feed your brain while drinking your tea. I tasted the teas in the order they show up on the card (ID'ed by colored stickers on their bags) so let's get tea'ing! I used the same Jian Shui gaiwan for all the teas, along with the same steeping paraments of 195° F 15-30-60 and so forth, basically how I always brew my Dian Hongs.
First up is the May 2016 Feng Qing, a machine picked late season Dian Hong, I call these daily drinkers, they are workhorses of teas with classic Dian Hong flavor profiles and a decent amount of longevity, this style tea is the one I like to toss in a travel infuser or have a session going when I am having a really long painting session. The aroma of the leaves are sweet and malty, strong notes of cocoa, cherry wood, yams, peanuts, and a touch of molasses. When I think of a classic DH aroma, these notes come to mind, and when I steep the leaves the aroma of the wet leaves has notes of yam, malt, cherry wood, cocoa, and a stronger peanut finish.
This tea goes for many steeps, starting with a sweet yam and pumpkin with a sprinkling of peanuts (mmm dessert) taste and building to malt and molasses in later steeps. There are also notes of dried cherry, cocoa at the finish, and gentle notes of woodiness that add a bit of briskness to an otherwise very smooth tea. Even though I prefer this tea in a gaiwan, you really can do just about anything to it, Ben had a mug (by a mug I mean four resteepings) of it, and I took one of the packets and drank it bowl style. It never gets bitter, it is super versatile, and it goes forever, in my opinion, a perfect daily drinker.
The next tea is April 2016 Feng Qing, same location but a month earlier, so I can do a real side by side comparison between this one and the previous. The aroma of this tea is subtly different from the May, stronger peanuts and instead of molasses there is caramel, it is also less yammy and sweeter with a slight earthier undertone that I usually associate with Dian Hongs that are nuttier. Once brewed the leaves take on a resinous quality, blending notes of myrrh with the peanuts and malt, the undertones of caramelized sugar and cocoa add a sweetness that lingers in the nose.
The tea starts thick in the mouth, and it stays thick throughout the entire session, which is not as long as the workhorse of the May tea, getting five steeps instead of the nine. Even though the session was quick by comparisson, it peaked really early, instead of using the first steep as a lighter version of what is to come in later steeps, it started very strong with notes of peanuts, cocoa, myrrh, yams, caramel, and a gentle cumin note at the finish. These notes stay with the tea until the end, just gradually fading until nothing. It is very balanced and has a fantastic mouthfeel, so I forgive its short stamina.
Onward to a different region of Yunnan, March 2016 Lin Cang, and before I get into the aroma of the leaves, let me point out how pretty they are! Loaded with golden fuzzy trichomes, this tea is a very visually appealing tea, especially if you find these golden leaves as appealing as I do. The aroma of this tea is very sweet and smooth, strong notes of chocolate and molasses with undertones of brown sugar, walnuts, distant flowers and a finish of delicate black pepper. Steeping the tea really brings out the chocolate notes, it is robust and very sweet, good for those who like their Dian Hongs as a dessert tea.
So I am going to get the only complaint I have with this tea out of the way first, it lacks longevity, I am not going condemn this tea because it only lasts four steeps, but if the tea tastes good I am fine with it lasting all day. And of course, it does taste good. This is one of those teas that tastes like a velvety molasses heavy brownie, very sweet and very rich. The smooth and velvety mouthfeel just adds a level of depth to the tasting experience, along with gentle notes of malt and toasted peanuts at the finish. Ah, I really did like this tea, I was sad when the session was over and it left me craving more, which is the mark of a good tea!
The final tea, March 2016 Lin Cang, and no I am not repeating myself, this one is from the same region and month but is hand picked and very uniform, according to the little info card it gives way to 'a flavor most refined.' This one is the exact opposite of the other Lin Cang, where that was rich and sweet, this one is resinous and a bit herbaceous with only an undertone of sweetness. Notes of myrrh, cumin, dried tomato, and malt blend with raisins and honey at the finish. I kinda love those teas that smell of resin, especially myrrh, it is one of my favorite smells. Once the leaves are steeped they become sweeter, the notes of honey and molasses over taking the dried tomato and cumin, though the myrrh is still quite present, as is a little bit of cocoa.
Like the previous tea this one is not as long lasting, sticking around for five steeps, I need to rummage through my various tea notes to see if maybe Lin Cang Dian Hongs don't last all that long, I know some regions last longer than others, but (and forgive me) I don't feel like filtering through my massive pile of tea notebooks at the moment. The flavors it does bring with its short life are pretty fantastic though, very strong notes of nuts (going in a hazelnut instead of peanut direction) and dark chocolate, the good stuff. The end of the sip brings in resinous pine and myrrh with a lingering aftertaste of honey Towards the end of the session the dark chocolate is sweeter and honey takes a more predominant place, it ends very sweetly and has an aftertaste that sticks around like a pleasant memory.
|Tea stains are all me, also the brush decided it needed attention|
This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.