One of the great aspects of tea that, for me, elevates it to the heights of wine and cheese is its variety, and the fun to be had in the exploration of its fascinating sub-genres.
Long-suffering readers (bless you) may recall my encounter with one of the corners of the tea-map, the 2006 Huangzhixiang dancong from TeaCuppa. Today's tea was obtained by CB [thanks again] from Royal Tea Garden, and makes for a potentially informative repeat visit to this most curious instance of the dancong area.
Was the TeaCuppa tea an oddity in itself, or is the huangzhixiang genre really that unusual? This "second opinion" is of great interest to me, in building up a so-called tasting memory for the various dancong types.
For notes on huangzhixiang [Cape Jasmine scent] dancong itself, I refer you to the previous link.
Caledonian Springs @ 90C in 10cl dancong pot; ~5g leaf; 1 rinse
Twisted, 3-4cm, with a few stems. This is the "second grade", sold by Royal Tea Garden. Mostly dark, with some more lightly-oxidised parts. A light, sweet, floral scent hangs about the chahe.
12s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 30s, 35s, 40s:
Remarkably, this does in fact behave similarly to the TeaCuppa example: it has a sweet, caramel beidixiang, followed by a candy, white-sugar lengxiang - I rather like it. The soup is bright and yellow.
This has none of the frontal ku of the TeaCuppa leaf - here the power remains at the back of the throat, and it makes for a more enjoyable tasting experience. However, the unusual combination of dainty flowers and punchy ku is very much still present, making me wonder if this is the true characteristic of the genre.
It is lightly floral in flavour and scent, reminiscent of small, unforceful flowers of which the huangzhizi is a type.
It has a smooth body, which is quite thin. It turns a corner after the third infusion, which gradually fades gracefully, without the feeling of breaking apart that afflicts so many lesser teas.
I notice that my tendency to get impatient with floral dancong is abating, and by consistently being conservative with my infusion times, this tea stretches well to seven infusions. Usually, I start increasing the brewing time once it "turns the corner", and invariably end up with a fairly strong finish which often cracks apart. I'm learning to treat these end-stages of dancong more carefully.
Not the best grade, nor the worst. Quite fragile.
Good for the price, because this is a very inexpensive tea - it's not outstanding, but it's pleasant. A fascinating extension to my tongue's ability to navigate through the maze of dancong varieties.