It is no secret that I am a black/red tea fiend. While I can appreciate the subtle taste adventures of white and green tea, nothing gets my bones a-rattlin’ more than a deep, bold black tea. Give me a flavor explosion! A big band burst of excitement, a one-two punch of malty and cocoa goodness! A little astringency is ok, too. 😛
White2Tea’s Big Tree Red is every black tea lover’s dream- a courageously strong brew that can be steeped an upwards of twenty times with flash infusions. I am so glad I had a chance to sample this tea (and have accordingly been hording it for months- I seriously need to break this habit!) and am really excited to share my thoughts about it with you! Put on your scuba gear, fellow teacats, and let’s dive!
This tea is flippin’ gorgeous! The leaves are absolutely gigantic and smell richly earthy with hints of red wine and dark chocolate. For proper steeping, White2Tea recommends 1g leaf per 20 mL of water (at 212 F)- using so much tea for one session makes my policy of hording tea quite difficult, but for the sake of this review, I figure I have to brew this tea the correct way at least once. 😛 I’ll be using my 100 mL rice pattern gaiwan! Yay!
1st Infusion (30 seconds): The brew is very malty with a light floral sweetness, slightly plummy aftertaste. I was hoping to taste a bit of that cocoa scent, but since we’re in for the long haul with this tea session, I figure I can wait for it. 😛 2nd Infusion (30 seconds): To me, this steeping is where I really got introduced to the tea’s primary flavors- you can see how much the leaves have unfurled already at this point. The taste has developed quite considerably as well, with strong notes of malt and molasses.
3rd Infusion (45 seconds): The tea tastes sweetly malty and gives a pleasant sugary aftertaste, yum!4th Infusion (45 seconds): Wow! Judging by the sudden darkness of this brew, I’d guess Big Tree Red is just getting started! 😛 The flavor is intensely malty and actually a bit astringent, will cut back on the steeping time with the next brew. Looks like I underestimated BTR’s potency!
5th Infusion (30 seconds): I really enjoyed this steeping! The shorter infusion time has definitely paid off- I can taste a lovely combination of slightly bitter dark chocolate and sweet molasses with a touch of malt.
It’s clear this tea still has MUCH more to give, but unfortunately at this point my stomach was completely full and just about ready to burst. 😛 I elected to throw the leaves into a pitcher and leave them to cold brew overnight for some lovely iced tea in the morning.
Thoughts: HOLY BOJANGLES. Drinking Big Tree Red is such a fantastic experience! I follow a lot of silly tea-themed Twitter accounts that do nothing but tweet about how much of “beautiful calming ritual for the soul” tea brewing is, and with BTR in mind, I’d have to agree. The way the leaves unfurled, the color of the brew darkened, and the flavor changed with each subsequent steep really brought me to appreciate each moment I spent involved with this tea. As far as multiple infusions go- I was ready to tap out before these leaves were! How often does that happen? 😛 I can imagine my leaves would have been good for at least 5 more steepings, maybe even five more after that. The way I see it, the smaller a gaiwan you use for brewing the better, to allow for even more control over the flavor and more infusions to truly experience the dynamic flavor of this tea.
BTR is a party tea. Invite a million of your friends over for a gongfu session and amaze all of them by pouring tea for them using the same leaves infusion after infusion! They’ll be amazed and perhaps mildly confused! Their bladders will be full! And I can pretty much guarantee you this tea will still have more to give. 😛 Thanks White2Tea!