Review: ThepuriTea Hong Jing Luo

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Raven’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The rich aroma lavishly sets a Thanksgiving table with its sweet potato skin and raisin toast depth. The amber hue continues the celebratory air inviting one to a full spread of cozy, baked potato skin flavours that have a light toasty sweetness and dryness to cheer."
Raven’s Teaview: 8.1/10
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Although tea is seldom associated with Thanksgiving, it should be. Despite the timing of harvest which for most teas is in the spring, save oolongs, I am certainly thankful for tea. Amidst all of them though, thinking of Thanksgiving inspired teas, several kinds vie for a choice quaff for bountiful Thanksgiving celebrations. Thepuritea’s Hong Jing Luo is just such an appropriate sip. It’s a bit out of the ordinary making it a holiday worthy treat but it actually derives from the more common Qimen from which, it was developed not too long ago at the Anhui Agricultural Institute. Hong Jing Luo means aromatic spiral but the tea may also be referred to as red snails with aroma or called Xiang Luo Cha due to its resemblance to the green Bi Lo Chun.
From the first gander of the leaves, one easily understands the name as the hairy curls of the tea are quite a delight in their spring like shapes. Almost glistening in their sheen, the tips have interlaced gold and dark brown hues, just like the top of little horns of plenty or cornucopias. The tight coils are quite darling from their near uniform size of about 4 millimeters in diameter with varying coils from one to three.
As the kettle does its doo deedledy doo, I divvied out two teaspoons of leaves, allowing me to feast in the medium aroma. Close one’s eyes to the scent and it could have you imagining a Thanksgiving dinner before you. The rich, sweet bouquet could please Indians and pilgrims alike, as it is laden with treasures of the harvest with an unique aroma that reminds me most remarkably of baked sweet potato skin from the sweet, pigment laden scent but its toastiness is also reminiscent of raisin bread. After a three minute grace with freshly boiled water, the resulting brew has a celebratory hue, with a gorgeous deep sienna amber tone that isn't quite clear. The richness of the leaves' bouquet acquiesces into a medium aroma with a corn syrup sweetness to a more diffuse sweet potato skin scent. Teasing out the bouquet further brings forth notes of roasted red peppers, tobacco and fig, reminding me a bit of aka miso.
Digging into the cup, the tea has a marvelous chew with an almost biteable texture. The plate is full with toasty, earthy flavours that have an appetizing appeal. Each sip dishes up a hearty taste of baked white potato skin and roasted eggplant seeds with only a light sweetness that mimics ale or scotch some in the balance of mellow grain and bitter as the tea plays on the mouth's table. The cozy, interesting palate is rippled with a medium astringency to give it a bit of bite back while the medium dryness has a nice sturdiness to it. The round presence is comforting as it fades into a medium finish, leaving a light to medium aftertaste of glazed sweet potato skin or raisin toast that builds through the cup.
The celebration ensues with a second steeping as the colour of the brew is just as opulent as the first, although now with a bit more haze. Its scent is still rich and sweet, bearing more roasted red pepper and tomato aromas than the first, yet still with a touch of molasses and a leafy hint like dark tobacco. The cup isn't as sweet and is drier with enough of the slightly gruff, bready, potato skin flavour to round out the nice structure. A third infusion is less colourful yet the tea retains an appetizing vigor and some astringency. The raisiny scent and potato skin flavours mellow into a looser round mealiness that is still satisfying as it finishes with a mild grainy, rye or boubon like aftertaste.
The bold, rich brew of thepuritea's Hong Jing Luo is meaty enough for a morning brew although the sweet flavours and sweetness may make it a nicer sip to linger over in the eve or to pass through an afternoon lull. Either way, its interesting flavour and rich colour will make one feel like they are getting thanked, after all that thanks giving.

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