Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Teasenz Da Hong Pao Review

I'm just getting over a cold but I'm guessing that I'm at 90% functionality for tasting, so I'll get back to it.  Reviewing a familiar type will make it easier, Da Hong Pao, one of the basics, the Wuyi Yancha type everyone knows about.  This version is from Teasenz, a sample provided by them.  I went over what that type is not so long ago, about how it's typically sold as a tea plant type and final version, or also commonly made as a blend of teas.

The flavors range is nice, and typical, what I'd have expected.  The roast stands out, maybe a bit upper medium related to level.  There's a nice woody basic flavor range.  The roast effect doesn't come across as char, as really heavy, just quite notable instead.  There is nice sweetness, and layers of flavors, also typical.

Two questions come to mind: how typical is this for the type, and how good is it compared to the range of other versions?  I'll get back to that.

More on separating out a flavors list:  dark wood does stand out.  There is complexity but it's hard to separate out other elements. A list would include stone fruit and spice but it's difficult to be more specific.  It might be harder to separate tastes due to my sense of taste being a little off.  It's also possible that the tea is a blend, which would lend it a balanced profile but at the same time give up specificity of aspects.

the typical look

A third infusion is consistent, not much transition, with that roast effect and clean wood tones still standing out. There is some aromatic range but that's balanced with flavor components,  not as pronounced as in tea types that emphasize that.

The feel is on the full side, and the aftertaste is pronounced, and lasts a long time, both nice aspects.  It brews a good number of infusions, a half dozen very consistently, stretching a little to go past that, but it will keep going.  Not fading quickly, as some related versions can, is another good sign.

I'm having trouble separating out the flavor aspects.  One could be a mild stone fruit aspect, but then it seems reviewers tend to say that in part to explain that they can't be more specific, since there is a range of different stone fruits.  It could be floral instead, or maybe a combination of the two.  It is possible to taste individual elements even when the basic tones are earthy, around dark wood, layered over mineral base, with other aspects mixed in, but it doesn't always work to.

Evaluating the tea, beyond flavors review

All of that is in the right range, just also all relative, both to personal preferences and to how those compare to other versions.  I think it's nice, but of course it's hard to pin down a range, how nice.

Part of judging how good a tea is overall relates to what it's being sold as, in a sense leading back to both the description and the price.  Lets check the Teasenz description (the summary version):

Enjoy a sophisticated, complex flavour with woody roast, aroma of orchid flowers, finished with subtle caramelised sweetness. Up to eight steeps when applying Chinese kungfu brewing as you can expect from a true Wuyi rock tea.

Sounds about right, I just had trouble separating out orchid.  It wasn't nearly as aromatic as Qi Dan and Bei Dou versions I've tried, more balanced between that effect and flavors, so at a rough guess it may not have been one of those plant types, or if it was perhaps blended.

My take on this tea is that it's a good example of an upper-medium level version, or compared to buying teas randomly in Chinatown shops probably a little better than that, a "good" tea (a term that is very relative).  For teas in this price range it's probably a great value, a very good example; for teas sold as rare versions that never typically make it out of China not quite as good.  That level of roast could be a bit much for some but it's typical of what I've tried of other versions, and per my understanding that is how Chinese people tend to prefer this tea type prepared.  A lot of tea enthusiasts seem to favor lighter roasts, but all that is really just personal preference.

Puakenikeni flower at the house (pronounced Poo-ah-kay-knee-kay-knee)

It might not be quite as nice as the blended version I tried from Cindy not so long ago, but that's not a fair comparison, judging directly across different tasting at different times, and against a tea from one of the nicer producers in that area (all relative, that).  It's in the same general range, which is a very positive judgment, perhaps just not quite as specific in terms of individual aspects.  Since her version was also a blend--the one I'm talking about; the Qi Dan reviewed in that post could be considered a single-type Da Hong Pao--that tea also showed less specific individual character than a single type would tend to.

I've recently tried another tea from them (Teasenz) that is something much more unique, a first for me within a general range I'm familiar with, something I'll get back to writing about.  But this tea is as it should be, a good example of a standard type.

hot season in Bangkok

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