|"A little bit of sweetener combined with the magic of the second infusion seem to have conspired together to produce a magical flavor that pops and coalesces into a creamy sweet dark caramel smokiness that is absolutely delicious."|
The Tea Palace website has impressed me so far with having very clearly delineated brewing instructions. I'm not normally a stickler for too many things, but tea is such a treat, and can be so easily spoilt by poor brewing, that for someone relatively new to the love as I am, clear instruction is a joy to behold! The website recommends a teaspoon per 8 ounces, brewed with boiling water for 4 minutes. I translated this for a shared breakfast pot and used one tablespoon to 24 ounces and I brewed for just under four minutes.
This treatment yielded a beautiful deep color with a nice smoky scent (when I say smoky, I mean a tobacco-y, light smokiness...dissimilar to the piney smoke that I've encountered in a Lapsang Souchong). This tea has quite a natural sweetness to it and is very kindly to drink without sweetener. It has a very smooth, non bitter flavor. A sweet, slightly tobacco-esque taste lingers in the mouth.
For a second infusion, steeped three minutes longer than the first, I added just under an eighth of a teaspoon of stevia. The result of a sweetened second infusion was astonishing to me. The scent of the tea took on a robustly caramel scenting, as did the taste.
The color of the second infusion was that of boiled sugar about two stages from burning. Deep dark and near black at the center of the cup, dark brown at the outer edges of the cup with a golden ring all around the very edges of the cup. Gorgeous!
The taste of the second infusion was more fully smoky but still had no harshness to it, only a full and pleasant flavor. The little bit of sweetener combined with the magic of the second infusion seem to have conspired together to produce a magical flavor that pops and coalesces into a creamy sweet dark caramel smokiness that is absolutely delicious. I would definitely recommend just a hint of sweetener with this tea. If milk or cream of any denomination (cow, soybean...other?) is something you enjoy, I suppose I'd recommend that as well. Myself, I would gladly take another cup right now with just a hint of sweetener and a nice long second infusion to draw out the magic of the leaf.
While the first infusion is certainly good, I didn't find it excellent or even so out of the ordinary that it would draw me back again. The second infusion, however, knocked my little knitted socks off! Don't miss it! I would recommend this tea highly just on the strength of the second infusion and even go so far as to say (or blaspheme!) that the first infusion is merely an infusion to undertake in order to achieve the best of the leaf's attributes - which blossom magnificently in the second. That would be going a little too far...perhaps.
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