Review of Classic Laoshan Black Tea from Shandong

8 of 105 of 55 of 588 of 100

Wow, I've been reviewing teas for all these years and this is the first tea I've ever tried from Shandong, and I am a fan!

The leaf is tightly curled and has a dusty gray appearance, with small but somewhat thick leaves, and smells very potent: strongly malty with a hint of smoke and dark chocolate. The maltiness is a bit bolder and "cooler" smelling if that makes any sense, than most Chinese teas.

The cup brews up dark and robust, less reddish in color than most Chinese teas, with an aroma that is surprisingly meaty, literally, it smells a little like ground beef, somewhat like meatloaf or hamburger. Flavor is strong and balanced: there is a pleasant bitterness along with strong sweet and savory qualities, and significant sourness as well. Pleasantly astrigent, making this tea quite full-bodied. I don't find Yunnan Sourcing's description to be particularly accurate or even do this tea justice. Although there is some sweetness in the flavor, I wouldn't describe the tea as sweet overall.

This tea has a more cooling quality than most Chinese black teas; both in this regard and also in its color, it resembles Indian or Sri Lankan teas more. Although I enjoyed drinking it in cold weather, I think I would enjoy this in summer more than most Chinese black teas. This tea left me feeling really refreshed. The aroma is rich and busy, but it leaves a clean, fresh feeling on the palate.

Resteeps quite well. I found it worked best if the first infusion is a little briefer, at most 2 minutes, unless you want the second cup to be slightly weaker.

Although this tea was quite novel relative to other Chinese teas I had tried, it was not particularly outlandish or unusual when compared to the broader categories of black teas from other countries. The price though is a steal; exceptionally reasonable price for a tea of such quality. I highly recommend this tea, especially to people who are a fan of both Chinese and Indian/Sri Lankan black teas. That said, I still think my favorite teas from Yunnan Sourcing have been those from Yunnan.

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