It would be wrong to say that I was a Black/Red tea virgin, all those cups of tea with milk and sugar - family, friends, school during the 50s and 60s and rugby club after the match to replace blood sugar levels in the 70s and 80s, not to mention hot and sweet when camping out or climbing mountains in the 90s and 00s - But since I started on Oolong 4 or more years ago, I have not been tempted to try Hong Cha the non - western way, or even without milk and sugar.
A bag of samples from http://www.teatheatre.co.uk/ has come into my possession. Matthew had given them to his website designer [who does not frink tea ] they were passed on to me. Matthew urged me to try some of them and tell him what I thought.
No Dan Cong or Yan Cha samples - so I opened the Margaret's Hope 1st Flush Darjeeling.
No sign of it on the embryonic / incipient website and my views on it are not greatly worthy so, I post here!
I was not going to add milk or sugar
I browsed these pages for a little help - and despite favour for western style brewing, I opted for a Gaiwan and multiple infusions.
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The dry leaf had a slight mustiness, but some interesting aromas poking through.
Only 2 gm so I chose a 75ml Gaiwan. I have long since stopped bothering with temperature with Oolong (boil or just off nearly all the time), so because it seemed important to many posters here, I paid some heed after a fashion.
1. 1 minute after boil, 1 min 20 secs
Nice fragrance, but a bitter edge
- re checking a couple of posts here, I think I jumbled 2 recommendations and that this should have been shorter -
Interesting enough for me to be keen to push on.
I was shocked by how green the leaves were
2. 1 minute after boil, 1 min 5 secs
Superb fragrance, bitterness negligible and supplanted by some interesting spicy edges and a good bacbone structure that supported the fragrance well. A layered experience in the mouth.
3. 30 seconds after boil, 1 min 25 secs
A Fantastic Fragrance, but a slight green, bitter edge returning.
The winning factor on this infusion was a pronounced aftertaste lingering long. I had not noticed any aftertaste on the infusions 1 and 2, but may not have been paying attention. Now there were soft tannins backing it all up, but a strange taste in the tannins and my mind is still unsure whether or not they appealed to me.
4. 20 seconds after boil, 2 min 30 secs
A softer version of 3, more like a mellower version of 2 except a uniform palate rather than layers. very easy to drink. No strange tannin tastes, but something that reminds me of opening the tea caddy back in the 1950s
There seems to be plenty of life left in the leaves, but I am sated.