Thursday, November 12, 2015

Yunnan Sourcing's Old Arbor Mu Shu Hong Cha Black Tea

Yunnan Sourcing's Description
Tea infusion is grassy and slightly sweet taste with a pleasant bitterness and slightly astringent sensation that generally gives a very balanced taste. Strong fleshy leaves and stems with large tea buds allows brew this tea a huge amount of time!

My thoughts
I've been on a real Yunnan binge lately. Blacks, greens, puers, whites...I really have yet to find a tea from Yunnan that I dislike. I received a big box-o-leaves from YS last week, and I've been itching to dive into the many different dianhong teas they offer there. This one is the first from the pile of black teas to make it into my cup. YS states that this tea is made with the assamica variety, from the same leaves that are normally used to make their mu shu line of raw puer.

Dry leaves - They look like a fairly typical dianhong: dark flat black with lots of golden tips, all twisted into a loose pile. The aroma is an interesting one though. Dry, the leaves smell almost like a fresh bai mu dan white tea, with just a bit of grainy malt thrown in for good measure.

Brewing parameters - 200F, 10s first, +5s after. These leaves just screamed gongfu style to me, and while I'm sure they'll perform just fine when brewed western style as well, quick steep times worked wonderfully here.

Tasting notes - Malt, rock sugar, leafy, peony, mellow, clean

This is quite an interesting brew. The soup is naturally very sweet with a smooth, almost oily, mouthfeel. Malt is the foremost flavor, but it's not as pungent as many other dianhongs are, and is balanced nicely with a clean leafy vegetal element that reminds me a lot of a bai mu dan white. There is just a touch of savory graham cracker that hides beneath the graininess.

Steeps 4-8 are a bit more mellow and balanced. The maltiness faded a bit and is much more balanced with the mild leafy flavor. A lovely peony florality has cropped up that again, really makes this reminescent of a malty bai mu dan. At this point, it is truly a well-balanced tea. No one single flavor dominates, and even the lingering aftertaste is a sweet malty floral delight. Steeps 9-onwards are much like earlier steeps, but a bit more subdued and still wonderfully sweet.

And did I mention the qi? After two cups, this brew had me almost lightheaded and giddy. Despite the name of the blog, there are very few teas that can actually affect me like this one did.

This tea certainly stands unique among the plethora of other dianhongs available, and is a great choice for anyone looking to dive deeper into the world of Yunnan black teas.

You can buy this tea from Yunnan Sourcing here:

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