What Black Are You Drinking

Oxidized tea
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Victoria
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Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:34 pm

Finished a 2016 pack of Sun Moon Lake Ruby 18 from Floating Leaves. Wow, it’s been a while since I had Ruby 18, a super sweet aromantic and complex black. Knocked me over with aroma swirling around, accompanied by a rich medium body, combined to produce a complex flavor experience. Smooth, great value too. Steeped western style; 4.5gr/230ml/195f/3min in porcelain Inoue Arita-ware kyusu.

For those who are not familiar with Ruby 18, it is a hybrid developed by TTRES (introduced in ‘99 after decades of research), that brings together a wild local Camellia varietal from Sun Moon Lake, with Burmese larger leaf Assamica brought over during the Japanese occupation earlier in the 20th c. Apparently this particular hybrid was developed to enhance its unique flavor, while others were developed primarily to increase yield.

Some sources for your reading pleasure:
The confirmation of Camellia formosensis (Theaceae) as an independent species based on DNA sequence analyses
&
Global Tea Hut March 2016, Ruby Red
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Victoria
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Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:57 am

Has anyone had great 1st flush Darjeeling from this year’s production? Any recommendations...
YatraTeaCo
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Mon Jul 15, 2019 4:02 pm

On a recent trip to India I was able to source a FF Darjeeling from what is fast becoming a preferred estate to source from, for me: Puttabong Estate.

I have a strong liking for FF Darjeelings and last year I came across an end March/early April invoice that was exceptional. This year I opted for an early invoice from March which is equally good. Intensely fragrant and floral. After tasting a few invoices from various estates I decided to settle on this tea from Puttabong and another early invoice from Rohini which I hope will be with me soon (fingers crossed!).

I have been guilty of doing myself a disservice and not saving enough for personal consumption, but I am putting an end to it. Needless to say I have been drinking this tea a fair bit.
mael
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Mon Jul 15, 2019 4:22 pm

I had only two FF darjeeling this year :
Darjeeling Namring Upper EX 18 F.T.G.F.O.P.1 Special Clonal : great tea geranium + citrus, had to brew it 4 min at 85° in a mug to get that strong floral aroma
Darjeeling Puttabong DJ 10 S.F.T.G.F.O.P.1 China Supreme : super good, more lemon + floral
Both from very good and from Palais des Thés. I went to the shop and they had something like 6-7 different darjeeling, I like strong floral FF darjeeling and I left the shop with those two teas that seemed the more strong/complex scent.

Palais des thés got good darjeeling, often expensive and my biggest problem is that they only pack 50gr mini, reason I have chosen only two teas.

For those familiar to darjeeling, do you know if namring upper garden Always got this striking geranium perfum ?
YatraTeaCo
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Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:09 pm

mael wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 4:22 pm
I had only two FF darjeeling this year :
Darjeeling Namring Upper EX 18 F.T.G.F.O.P.1 Special Clonal : great tea geranium + citrus, had to brew it 4 min at 85° in a mug to get that strong floral aroma
Darjeeling Puttabong DJ 10 S.F.T.G.F.O.P.1 China Supreme : super good, more lemon + floral
Both from very good and from Palais des Thés. I went to the shop and they had something like 6-7 different darjeeling, I like strong floral FF darjeeling and I left the shop with those two teas that seemed the more strong/complex scent.

Palais des thés got good darjeeling, often expensive and my biggest problem is that they only pack 50gr mini, reason I have chosen only two teas.

For those familiar to darjeeling, do you know if namring upper garden Always got this striking geranium perfum ?
Just looked at their website and man their teas are expensive! Puttabong is almost $60/100 gms! Are these considered normal prices in Europe? I know Mariage Freres is very pricey.

Not too sure about Upper Namring.
Tead Off
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Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:51 pm

mael wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 4:22 pm
I had only two FF darjeeling this year :
Darjeeling Namring Upper EX 18 F.T.G.F.O.P.1 Special Clonal : great tea geranium + citrus, had to brew it 4 min at 85° in a mug to get that strong floral aroma
Darjeeling Puttabong DJ 10 S.F.T.G.F.O.P.1 China Supreme : super good, more lemon + floral
Both from very good and from Palais des Thés. I went to the shop and they had something like 6-7 different darjeeling, I like strong floral FF darjeeling and I left the shop with those two teas that seemed the more strong/complex scent.

Palais des thés got good darjeeling, often expensive and my biggest problem is that they only pack 50gr mini, reason I have chosen only two teas.

For those familiar to darjeeling, do you know if namring upper garden Always got this striking geranium perfum ?
i did not have the same impression of the Puttabong FF. My batch was from LC-3. I felt the tea was picked too early and not processed in a way that brought out its capacity for full flavor and aroma. I have even been waiting patiently for a couple of months to see whether the tea would 'settle' and reveal its identity. No such luck. I bought the tea from Tea Emporium which praised both of the teas that you list and they were also the most expensive. It could be that the difference in the invoices is the difference in what you describe as super good and what I describe as super disappointing. Sounds like we are talking about two very different teas. This is why I always say that you can't judge the quality from the invoice #'s.
mael
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Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:47 pm

Are these considered normal prices in Europe?
Palais des Thés and Mariage Frères have to pay for their shops, their teas will be more expensive than an online shop.Their 2019 FF darjeeling selection goes from 17€/100gr to 52€/100gr.
They are the biggest companies in France when it come to select darjeeling, but they may not be as heavy in the business than japanese, english, dutch or german companies that put more $ when it come to select the best batchs.
Sounds like we are talking about two very different teas.
Sure different batch different tea.
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Balthazar
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Fri Jul 26, 2019 4:52 am

Picked up 900 grams of Xiaguan's Dian Hong last time I was in China, it's as reliable and solid as affordable "office teas" can get, but it's all been consumed in less than six months. Will need to significantly up my order size next time I visit.

Anyways, I thought this would be a good opportunity to revisit Jing Tea Shop's Ying De Hong. Last time I had it was back in 2015, and if memory serves it was spring tea from the same year. I found it extremely good for its price, probably one of my favorite black teas, with it's thick fruity and chocolaty flavors.

I ordered 250 grams of the 2017 version they currently sell and had my first session with it today.

Unfortunately, this is a much less interesting tea than the one they used to sell. There's not really anything wrong with it per se, it's just lacking the thickness and strength it had back then. Not really anything to separate it from, for instance, a run-of-the-mill affordable Dian Hong.

The price has remained unchanged since 2015. At USD 38,50 it's around CNY 260 with today's exchange rate, so by no means expensive, but it's also not a great deal for what you get.

Since I bought 250g I received the original package (props to Jing Tea Shop for not trying to hide the origins of the tea by transferring the contents to a custom bag). It's the 二级 grade from 广东 鸿雁茶业有限公司. A quick check on Tmall shows that 250 grams of the spring 2019 production (same factory, 二级 grade and the 英红九号 varietal) can be bought from anywhere between RMB 68 and RMB 188.
Ethan Kurland
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Fri Jul 26, 2019 8:58 am

Balthazar,

Thank you for your post. Some members don't mention prices often or ever; but, I think prices matter to some of us.

I stopped drinking Yunnan black teas several years ago, but before that I found them to vary from wonderful to somewhat ordinary from year to year. My memory is that that variation was general, not just the tea of one vendor; &, quality of all types changed together. So, if the tea is exceptionally good one year, stock up!

You used 900 grams of 1 tea in 6 months! Wow!
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Bok
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Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:01 am

@Balthazar apart from the price, could it be that your palate just matured over the last four years?

If I drink now what I considered good flavour four years ago, it has become a just ok-ish tea by now...
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Bok
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Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:04 am

RMB 188 is rather low for what is considered good quality tea in China and that is retail on the web, would not expect much from it to begin with...
Ethan Kurland
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Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:28 am

Bok wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:01 am
Balthazar apart from the price, could it be that your palate just matured over the last four years?

If I drink now what I considered good flavour four years ago, it has become a just ok-ish tea by now...
I would have written that in addition to my comments, because I think that is the case with my palate. However, I sell black tea & already mention my teas too often. Oops, I did it again :D !
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Balthazar
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Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:16 am

Ethan Kurland wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 8:58 am
Balthazar,

Thank you for your post. Some members don't mention prices often or ever; but, I think prices matter to some of us.
For me price is more important for my office teas than the teas I enjoy at home. Not quite sure why, but I think it comes down to the quantities ...
Ethan Kurland wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 8:58 am
I stopped drinking Yunnan black teas several years ago, but before that I found them to vary from wonderful to somewhat ordinary from year to year. My memory is that that variation was general, not just the tea of one vendor; &, quality of all types changed together. So, if the tea is exceptionally good one year, stock up!
Yup, good advise. Of course there's also different levels of quality to consider, but I feel red teas (and perhaps Yunnan reds in particular) is one of the categories where the difference between mid- and high-range is not always large enough to justify the price difference.

This is a Guangdong tea, btw.
Ethan Kurland wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 8:58 am
You used 900 grams of 1 tea in 6 months! Wow!
Haha, it's rare for me to consume that much of a single tea in 6 months though. Dian Hong's have a malt quality I really like and don't seem to tire of, so I've had the Xiaguan almost every morning (until I ran out a few weeks ago) this year.
Bok wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:01 am
Balthazar apart from the price, could it be that your palate just matured over the last four years?
Perhaps, but I doubt that's the main reason. I reordered some lapsang souching from the same store (which it's also been four years since I last had), and it's still phenomenal. With 10+ years of daily gongfucha, I don't think my palate has been changing all that much in the last few years, and definitely not enough to explain the big difference.
Bok wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:01 am
If I drink now what I considered good flavour four years ago, it has become a just ok-ish tea by now...
Do you experience this with all teas, or just certain types? I kinda envy this, would have made to easier to avoid hording good teas (puer in particular) :D
Bok wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:04 am
RMB 188 is rather low for what is considered good quality tea in China and that is retail on the web, would not expect much from it to begin with...
Right, but then there's "good quality" in absolute terms and "good quality" adjusted for price range.

This is definitely an affordable tea, in "daily drinker for the office" territory for someone with my budget. Four years ago, it pretty much blew everything else in its prince range (from "western facing vendors") out of the water in terms of quality. Back them I remember I used to think it would have been worth buying even at twice the price Jing charged. Today it really didn't stand out even within it's price range.
sqt
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Sun Jul 28, 2019 11:59 am

I think I average about 100g of dianhong per month as well. It's my go to morning tea and most of what I drink at the office grandpa style. And since I don't brew with precise measurements and am often distracted while drinking, I too look for what I consider better value for money teas. I've tried shopping around on tmall but have to admit that I am yet to come across something I consider to be really good value and acceptable quality.

The Xiaguan honghca I tried was decent. Other regulars include the Black Gold from Yunnan Sourcing ($39 for 1kg) or their Da Hu Sai which they seem to have stopped making the autumn flush of, which was better value for money.
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Victoria
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Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:05 pm

@Balthazar and @sqt I just had a pretty smooth, aromatic and flavorful Dianhong Jinya from Feng Qing, in southwest Yunnan. It is from Bessa Tea House. She’s in Guangzhou and on facebook has a pretty big following. Don’t know much about her though we have many mutual friends on FB for what that’s worth.. Anyone else know of her?
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