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Autumn 2017 Wuyi Zhengshan Xiaozhong (Souchong) Hongcha / Red Tea (8g)

Autumn 2017 Wuyi Zhengshan Xiaozhong (Souchong) Hongcha / Red Tea (8g)

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This Zhengshan Xiaozhong is the unsmoked version of lapsang souchong, and considered to be the first black tea! This is a lovely tea at a good price and it's a surprisingly good example of an unsmoked xiaozhong!

When dropped into a warmed teapot, I get notes of osmanthus, almond and malt (in that order of prominence). I recommend brewing this tea at 90 Celsius (like all Chinese hong cha). I get a hint of agarwood from the liquor in the first infusion, as well as the osmanthus from the dry leaf aroma. Even when pushed for slightly longer infusions (20 seconds or so), astringency and bitterness are both mild. The flavor is deep and complex and I get malt and almond in the cup as well. This tea tastes like it smells, but there is definitely a difference between the aroma and flavor. This tea exhibits no flaws at all, which makes it really good value compared to premium Wuyicha!

Good zhengshan xiaozhong has an alluring floral aroma that I can never quite put my finger on, but it is distinctive to this type of tea. This aroma is present in each and every infusion. I went seven infusions with this tea and the last was still plenty flavorful. I suspect this tea is good for ten or more infusions, but I really can't handle all of that caffeine! 

Short infusions (5-10 seconds) are suggested early on, but I went twenty seconds and found the tea perfectly palatable, which is a good indicator of quality material and processing. This is a great tea and I am very happy with the price to quality ratio! I don't suggest grandpa brewing this tea (longer brews in larger vessels): this is definitely gongfu-grade tea!

This tea is sold in individual 8g vacuum sealed pouches. I store this tea in the fridge. It should be good for one-to-three years at room temperature, and it will mellow and soften with time. If you enjoy the flavors this tea has to offer when fresh, however, I would also suggest storing this tea in the fridge.

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