Leaf Type: Dark Tea
Where to Buy: Tea Source
This loose Hunan dark tea is very fragrant and steeps up medium-bodied, slightly sweet, and meadowy. Good for multiple infusions. This is a great introduction to Hunan dark teas.
Learn more about this tea here.
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I am not sure exactly what the difference is between “dark” teas and pu-erh teas, but, Tea Source explains it like this:
The category of China dark tea is shrouded in mystery. They are almost never seen in the West. Dark teas from Hunan Province steep up medium-bodied, very smooth, and usually with a natural sweet note as opposed to the dark earthiness of puer. Technically, dark tea is a tea that has gone through a secondary fermentation process. Like puer, dark teas age well and are probiotic.
Since it would seem that it is similar to, but different from pu-erh, I have created a new category under the “parent” category of pu-erh called “Dark Tea,” and this Hunan Dark Tea from Tea Source is the first tea that is being categorized as a Dark Tea here on the SororiTea Sisters Blog.
However, since it is similar to pu-erh, I gave the leaves a quick rinse before I brewed the tea, just as I would a pu-erh.
I will say that this doesn’t taste as earthy as pu-erh, nor does it have that sometimes “fishy” taste that pu-erh can have. This tea is what I’d categorize as a medium-bodied tea and the additional fermentation has given this tea an almost “vinegar” like note. Not so much a sour taste like vinegar, but I can taste a fermented note, tasting perhaps like a grape-y balsamic vinegar that’s been thinned with wine. But that’s just one dimension in this complex tea.
There is also a sweet, creamy sort of taste to this, and that is something I can’t recall tasting in a pu-erh! It’s almost like a vanilla frosting note! Wow! Notes of sweet honey and molasses, but again … lighter than these. Almost like a thinned molasses. Notes of earth, but I like that the earth tones aren’t dominating the cup, instead, I’m experiencing more of the grape-y and sweeter flavors of vanilla cream.
What an enjoyable tea experience! This is remarkably smooth and mild.
My second infusion proved to be sweeter than the first. It was a little less creamy than the first infusion. Not quite as “vanilla frosting” as the first, but I still taste the honey notes and the fruit notes are emerging. I am also noticing a mineral-y sort of taste that imparts a slightly dry note toward the tail. I’m also noticing an ever so slight grassy tone to this cup.
The mineral notes seem to have replaced the “fermented” note that I tasted in the first cup, because I’m not getting that fermented wine/balsamic flavor that I experienced in the first cup, but, as I said, the fruit notes become more focused in this second cup.
It’s hard to say which cup I preferred – the first or the second! Both were delightful. This is a really good tea, I highly recommend it.