Review of High Mountain Red Ai Lao Mountain Black Tea

AromaFlavorValueTotal
7 of 104 of 54 of 586 of 100
Very GoodGoodGood Value

I was eager to try this tea based on its description. I love big-leafed black teas from Taiwan and also love Taiwanese oolongs, as well as Yunnan red teas, and this tea seemed to have something in common with all of these. It wasn't really like I expected though; it was quite good, but in a different way. It was my least favorite tea I've tried from Yunnan Sourcing in a while, but that doesn't say much because I tend to love everything I get from them.

The leaf is big, wiry, and fragrant. It's a fresh, clean garden smell: floral and herbaceous, with hints of earth and autumn leaves and toasty notes. The dry leaf has an extraordinarily complex aroma: as I stick my nose in the bag and breathe in, I notice fruity, minty, and malty notes that I didn't notice in the first whiff. There's even a hint of cocoa and cinnamon in there. The aroma is enticing and makes me so curious to try the cup.

For how dark the leaf is, it produces a surprisingly light-colored cup. The aroma is much more oolong-like, particularly resembling Wuyi rock oolongs more than others. Upon sipping though I find that the aroma is more like a pastry or sweet baked good. The cup is quite thin-bodied, even if I brew it more strongly.

When I brew very strongly, a strong sweetness comes out, tasting like I added both honey and cinnamon to the cup. I'm not as into these qualities, but I can see some people really liking this.

I enjoyed this tea and always found it pleasant, but found it a lot less satisfying than some. It was too light-bodied for me, and less of the dry leaf's aroma came out in the brewed cup than I would like. It was the kind of tea that I tired of quickly, I would enjoy it a lot only if I hadn't had it in a few days. This contrasts with many of the other Yunnan Sourcing teas which I can drink cup after cup of and never tire of.

I enjoy this more as an afternoon tea. Seems relatively lightly caffeinated, but is not as relaxing as some more strongly-caffeinated teas.

I found this tea tasted best if brewed strongly, using more leaf and long steeps (5 min for the first, then really long on the second, and only getting 2 steeps out of it.) Otherwise it came out too thin-bodied and the aroma was disappointing, not as complex as the dry leaf. The disappointment I felt with this tea was mild though; it's still good, just not quite as mind-blowing as some of the other teas from Yunnan Sourcing. I also felt like the aroma of the dry leaf built me up for a bit of a let-down. It was so incredibly fragrant and complex, but then the brewed cup didn't quite deliver.

I'd imagine most people would like this tea more than me. I'm less a fan of the sweetness and cinnamon notes.

That said, I still enjoyed drinking every cup of it!

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