Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Xin Mu Cha: Nonpareil Taiwan ShanLinXi Black Tea, A Tea Review

Espeon is a total goofball! On New Years Day the local thrift stores all had a half-off sale, and I decided to go hunting teaware and more importantly go hunting a new desk chair, because my previous one was barely functioning. The arm grips were ragged messes held together with duct tape, it was missing bolts so it leaned precariously to one side, and it barely rolled right anymore...it was in a sad state. Luckily I found a fantastic new chair, it rolls like a dream, is surprisingly comfy, delightfully retro (it came from 1993 or so the sticker would have me believe) and has a nice high back. This high back has become a favorite perch for Espeon, especially when I am in the chair (I fear for the teaware behind me, her tail is a menace) except she has decided the best way to go about perching is to have her back half on the chair and her front half draped across my shoulder. This is all fine, except when I move she gets sooooo mad at me, she is a spoiled little tortie!

Cat drama aside, it is time to look at another tea from Xin Mu Cha, specifically their Nonpareil Taiwan ShanLinXi Black Tea. This tea is not on their website at this time, so I don't have much info for it other than it is a Black Tea and from Shan Lin Xi, a region that has produced many teas I have enjoyed. I always find Shan Lin Xi Oolongs to be very aromatic and crisp, so seeing the tea made into a black tea excites me, I have a weakness for teas that are usually processed a specific way being treated differently, it creates some exciting results. The aroma of the rather fluffy large leaves is intense, notes of molasses and malt, leather and apple wood, toasted peanuts, sweet potatoes, and a finish roasted beans. It has a starchy quality and a subtle sweetness.

Into the gaiwan the leaves go for their steeping, the aroma of the now soggy leaves is rich with notes of cocoa and malt, sweet potatoes, molasses. and underlying notes of gentle spice and sweetness. The liquid is quite sweet, malty and molasses notes are dominant with a touch of dry leather and cocoa. It is strong and rich, with a touch of briskness that acts as a good balance to the richness.

The first steep starts with a smooth mouthfeel, and a taste that is rich without being overpowering. The taste starts with starchy sweet potatoes and gentle spice, it has an autumnal feel to it. It then moves to malt and a lingering fruity tobacco finish, the aftertaste is honey and slightly woody and it lingers.

Onward to the second steep! The aroma is a blend of molasses and brown sugar with gentle notes of leather and cocoa. It is sweet and rich, with just the right amount of briskness to wake my nose up. The taste is very similar to the first steep, and just as smooth. Notes of ever so slightly autumnal sweet potato and pumpkin with baked fruit (specifically apple) and gentle spice. It moves to brown sugar and molasses at the finish and has a slight leather note in the aftertaste.

For the third steep, the aroma takes a bit of a creamy note with the notes of molasses and brown sugar, the leathery notes are gone and replaced with gentle fruitiness. The taste takes some notes from the aroma and has a creamy quality, any briskness from the previous steeps has left and it is all smooth sweetness all the times. It finishes with baked apples and sweet potatoes with a lingering molasses note.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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