Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bi Luo Chun Hong Cha from Teaspring

Scent in package: malty, earthy, Yunnan-y…yummy, in other words
Brewed in: Tea for one
Steeped: 5 min@ boiling, 5 min@ boiling
Cup: café mug

I expected a stronger scent from this tea, from the reviews on the site. I was a bit wary from the comments about smokiness, but after smelling the lovely, soft malty scent wafting out of the package, I knew I had nothing to worry about. Some tea reminds me of oatmeal, and this one compliments those with a light undertone of raisins.

The dried tea looks like little snails – Yunnan tea leaves all rolled up, and when wet, they are unfurled but still maintain their distinctive “curl”, making for a beautiful display in the infuser as well. Something worth taking a picture of (though of course, I haven't yet).

It brewed up a very dark (almost black) liquor with very little scent in the cup. I waited impatiently for it to cool, anticipating what it could possibly taste like. When I took my first sip, the sensation of smoothness rolled over my tongue, and it was quite enjoyable. There is a slightly smoky taste, overlying the malt undertone, and truly, if you’ve ever rehydrated raisins in boiling water, this tea tastes like that smells…sweet, but thinner in the mouth than you'd expect from such a dark tea.

The only thing this tea is really lacking is complexity. I know it sounds contrary to what I’ve already described, but while there are several different tastes and sensations going on, when taken overall; the tea is almost “flat” in comparison to teas like Yunnan Gold and Sichuan Gongfu. But it’s still completely enjoyable, and the second infusion is far better, sweeter, and has a nicer texture than the first. I wouldn't go so far as to toss the first infusion out, but I bet a quick rinse of the tea leaves before the actual brew might really enhance the flavor of that first infusion.

For me, I think this tea would be a good one for drinking when the tea itself can't be the focus. It would be a great complimentary tea for drinking with a high-carb meal (noodles or bread), and will be lovely as a "must get work done - need to wake up" tea for it's strength. The taste is good, very enjoyable, but it doesn't call attention to itself like so many more flavorful's content to be a great backdrop for whatever is happening around it.

I'll enjoy what I have of it, and possibly buy more later, depending on how much room I have in my tea cupboard, but it's mainly an average tea, great for daily drinking, but not an attention grabber for me.

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