When Yunnan Sourcing sells a tea online, the teas are usually named after their place of origin and time of harvest rather than being given a fancier, more recognizable name. Sometimes, this can lead to a mouthful, like today’s tea: Da Hu Sai Village Wild Arbor Black Tea Autumn 2015.
Of course, that’s what tea is supposed to be: a mouthful.
I got a free sample of this as part of my Black Friday order from last year. After letting it sit for 6 months in the cupboard, I finally dragged it out for a taste.
The tea leaves are long, black, and kind of gnarled, with visible golden tips throughout. Courtesy of it being cooped up in its little foil packet for six months, the initial smell upon opening it wash rich and thick: chocolaty, malty, biscuity, and with a fruity undertone that reminded me of figs. After it had a chance to air out a bit, it smelled like dark chocolate, kinda. Yum!
I measured just over 6 grams of dry leaf for a gongfu session and steeped the whole thing using boiling water. First, though, I gave it a rinse of 5 seconds, and then lengthened each successive steep. By the end, the final steep (the 7th) was about 30 seconds long.
After rinsing, the leaves smelled rich and malty, with that fig note deepening to remind me of fig newton pastries. The opening steep was a rich, dark amber and had a similar scent: brisk, malty, figgy, with a hint of citrus on top.
The first sip was pretty bold! There was that expected maltiness and citrus flavour, but the texture was really thick in my mouth. Near the end of the steep, I started to notice a dry, herbal note in the back, like resin or camphor.
That resinous note really got kicked up a notch on the second steep. Oddly enough, I started to sense other herbal notes coming out to play, like basil and oregano — which is a first, when it comes to tea that doesn’t actually contain those ingredients. Steeps 3 through 5 were pretty similar.
I should note that the briskness of the first steep faded quickly, and the dominant notes of the subsequent steeps were much drier and less malty. By the final steep, which was a pale amber, I even detected a note of honey amid the dry herbalness. How lovely.
But wait! I wasn’t done with this tea yet! I decided to brew it again the following day using western steeping parameters. No fine measuring on the scale or anything, but I took about 2 heaping teaspoons of dry leaf and steeped them in boiling water in my regular teapot for 3 minutes to see what would happen.
What I got was some pretty standard, orange-pekoe-ish tea: dark, malty, a little citrusy, somewhat bitter. The dry, herbal notes I sensed before were noticeable in the back and sides of my mouth. The flavour wasn’t as sharp or well-defined here as on the previous day’s gongfu brew session, but I find that in general the body/depth of flavour isn’t as noticeable when you brew tea western-style. At least it was heartening, comforting shade of black.