Monday, November 26, 2007

Imperial Tea Court Dian Hong

For me, when it comes to black tea, its dian hong cha or gtfo. These three come from Imperial Tea Court, Yunnan Black, Select Yunnan Black, and Yunnan Gold Rings. These are the first teas I have purchased from ITC. I had been hesitant, because they source The Republic of Tea's Imperial tea; I find that line to be very overpriced for the quality. However, these three ranged from decent to quite good with comparable prices, so I am not displeased with my purchase.

First up is the Yunnan Black (3 g/8 oz-ish/3.75 minutes).

Of the three this is the least expensive and has the lowest percentage of khaki buds. It is also the most unlike any other dian hong I've previously tried. It smells more like some puerh. At first I didn't like it because it was different, but I've come to enjoy its uniqueness.

Note that the actual leaves do not look as good as the picture on the website, but I guess that is to be expected.

The liquor is more orange than brown or red. It has a rather thin mouth feel, the malty depths I find typical of this type are not there. No innate sweetness, kind of bland, suitable for adulteration. I prefer my daily black tea to be strong and sweet, sweet with the benefit of a judicious allotment of sugar, so while this one is clearly not a sophisticated variety, it will not go unused by me.

The Zarafina didn't like it.

Next is the Select Yunnan Black (3 g/8 oz-ish/3.5 minutes).

This one has a much higher quantity of those golden, khaki leaves that equal deliciousness. The aroma is more typical.

The tea has more depth to it, notes of the sweet amber/honey that I find so endearing. As it cools it becomes more flavorful, though I still can not taste the "pepper" that I often see attributed to Yunnan hong cha.

Of the three, this is the closest to my regular dian hong.

I saved the best for last, the Yunnan Gold Rings.

As the name indicates, the leaves have been rolled into rings. Attractive and interesting yes, but don't worry, I'm not easily drawn in by such frippery. The aroma makes me think of mead in that it makes me think of fermented honey, or what I imagine fermented honey should smell like. In reality fermented honey may smell most foul, for all I know.

This time I tried a different approach with the brewing parameters, using 4 g of leaf for 3 minutes. I did not prefer this way. The flavor did not increase, and it became unpleasantly astringent.

So I made a fresh batch with my standard 3 g/4 min. This was not the best pure bud Yunnan I've tried, but it was very good. Naturaly sweet, malty, and smooth. The "honey" lingers in the mouth for several minutes after.

Wet leaves, clock wise from top: Gold Rings, Black, Select Black.

1 comment:

Steven Dodd said...

"For me, when it comes to black tea, its dian hong cha or gtfo." made me lol or rofl or some other derivitive.

Now I'm thirsty for some dian hong.