White2Tea‘s reputation has been built mostly around pu’erh teas, but they also sell oolongs and black teas. When Paul, the owner, had a sale in the summer to clear out his stock before relocating his warehouse, I bought a whole bunch of his stuff, and was also given several freebies — most of which I still haven’t tried yet. But now that the weather is cooling down, it seemed like the perfect time to have the black tea that I got as a free sample from the sale: Bang Dong Hong.
(And yes, I’m aware there are double-entendres galore in the phrase “Bang Dong”. Let’s giggle now so we can get it out of our systems, OK?)
Funny name aside, this sounds pretty interesting:
The Bang Dong Hong is made from Puer large leaf varietal material, but is processed as Dianhong hongcha [black tea]. Chocolatey depth, with a sweet smooth body. Strong endurance, the Bangdonghong is intentionally priced to be a super affordable daily drinker, but nonetheless very high quality tea.
The dry leaves are long, dark, twiggy, and quite thick. When I opened the bag and inhaled, they smelled of malt, prunes, and raisins — sweet, fruity, dark. I think there might have been a bit of caramelized/burnt sugar in there too.
Into the gaiwan it goes! I used 5g of leaf with freshly boiled water. I have to admit that I wasn’t paying much attention to how long I let each infusion steep, but they ranged anywhere from 5-10 seconds to a minute or two. Very scientific, eh? I gave it a quick rinse before the initial steep, but I think now that it was unnecessary to do so.
The resulting tea was a rich, deep red. It tasted of raisins and spice, with a bit of malt, bread, and camphor thrown in there too. The taste was very true to the smell of the dry leaf, and the mouthfeel was thick, even somewhat smothering. It felt like being covered in a really comfy, but somewhat restrictive, blanket.
The colour was rich and clear, too:
However, the flavour didn’t last long. I would say that I probably got about 3 really good steeps, 1 decent steep, and 2 really bland, weak steeps out of the leaf. The colour and the flavour both peaked early and there was a quick drop down from that peak.
Once they were all spent, the leaves had expanded considerably in size and looked juicy and vital:
Plus, some of these leaves were huuuuge! Look at this sucker right here! This has to be the biggest tea leaf I’ve ever seen! I’ve noticed that I often get big individual leaves with White2Tea’s teas, but even this Bang Dong Hong leaf puts the others to shame. I mean, this thing is longer than my ENTIRE FUCKING PALM, people.
Bang Dong Hong also holds up well to western-style infusing, but I don’t have nearly enough fancy photos to show for that attempt. The flavour and lifespan (strong, but lasting only a few steeps) was similar between both methods of brewing.