What a great week, a new book and now Fresh Cup has arrived, along with a catalog from the Republic of Tea. I usually only buy their stuff as gifts, although I did get a very nice Yunnan from them for Christmas last year. One of the nice things about them is they always include a sample with the catalog. This one is Comfort and Joy, which I did not like, but I will pass it on to someone else.
I am trying Adagio's Yunnan Noir today. It smells wonderfully of the very best tobacco before I brew it and then of tobacco and bracken, with a touch of dried corn silk and fresh wash on the line as it brews. It is a very attractive tea, crinkly and rolled, in a combination of brown, black and gold to enliven the combo. I brewed it my standard 3 minutes, 212, watching the time, as Yunnans can get bitter if you go much past this. It's a great tea for sniffing on a dull day. But I'd best get on to the taste.
This doesn't seem to be the best year for Yunnans, none of the ones I have had have been top-flight and from what I've been reading, that seems to be true with everyone who writes about them. That is one of the adventures of tea, like all good things to eat or drink, it is dependent on many variables and one must take the bitter with the sweet, as when it is sweet, it is marvelous. This is a case in point. It is unmistakably a Yunnan, earthy in a good way, mouth filling but missing some of the great notes of spice. I am not sure how to describe a “Yunnan” but once you have it, you can tell that is is not a Darjeeling or Assam or Ceylon. I can sometimes confuse Assam and Ceylon and those from Nilgiri. For me this Yunnan seems to have an almost herbaceous quality, not green, but more a browned sort, with a pleasant metallic note to it. It is a very smooth tea and I like it. It's good, but just not great.
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