Hello Tea Friends!
Today I will be reviewing some Dian Hong Cha from Teabook. If you are new to tea then here is some translating: Dian – Shorter version of Yunnan, a province in China known for tea growing. Hong means red which refers to it’s colour, in China it’s known as red tea but in Western countries it’s a black tea. Cha literally means tea. So it’s Yunnan Red Tea. This tea is also known as Yunnan Black or Yunnan Red but as there are many different types of black/red teas produced in Yunnan it can be a little confusing using the generic naming. This is why Dian Hong is most commonly used for differentiation.
Personally I do love a nice Dian Hong, they tend to have more tippy golden buds in general, assuming it’s of a nice quality. For this I have no idea until I open it, so let’s get to it. Actually first before I rip the top off the sachet like a monkey peeling a banana let me mention the sachet itself, Teabook sell these sachets in pre weighed bags to make it easier for drinking and transportation. Each sachet is 3g.
Opening the packet I can see some thin, dark leaves with a couple of golden tips. Altogether 3g is around 10 pieces of loosely broken leaves. They bare a dry, wooden scent with some sweetness. I say 3g but the sachet weight is included in that too.
Steeping this Western style: 2-3g into a 320ml glass cup with infuser for 3 minutes boiling water. Usually I do three steeps with Dian Hong in a teapot but 3g is not enough for me to do that to my desired strength.
Once steeped the tea is golden red in colour and bares a very mild malt and wood scent.
Flavour is very mild at first, further sips reveal a hint of sweet malt. There is some drying in the after taste that coats my tongue somewhat. The strength does not increase but the sweet, honeyed malt remains. It’s only noticeable really toward the after taste.
I am torn at this point. I do not want to write a negative review but I do need to be honest. While there was nothing wrong with the tea I personally (and I stress personally) believe that 2g loose leaf tea is not enough for a cup. If I had some Dian Hong whilst relaxing at home I would use 4-5g for a Western brew and 6-7 for a gaiwan. Both would be suitable for multiple steeps at that level of strength.
So the sachet idea is good but it should be at least 5g of tea in my honest opinion. That way it could be Western steeped or used in Gaiwan/Gong Fu Teapot and would be happy in both instances. Perhaps 2g is good for new tea drinkers adjusting to the taste of loose leaf, though even then I would recommend a higher dose.
Apologies to Teabook but that is my brutally honest opinion.
Until next time,
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Black/Red
Where to Buy: Teabook
Dian Hong Red (Black) Tea from Lincang, Yunnan. This Dian Hong tea is misty gold liquor has a lovely sweet aroma that resemble milk chocolate. The Dian Hong enters the palate full and brings soft flavors of cherry and red grapes and leaves a slight mouthwater with a slight dry patch in the center of the mouth making you thirsty for the next warm soft sip.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
Leaf Type: Black/Flowering
Where to Buy: Liquid Proust Teas
As my first batch of French Toast Dian Hong, I decided to go lightly on the flavoring because the natural cocoa taste from the tea is pleasant enough to keep the flavoring at a low amount. This tea proves to pull out different taste from different steeps from my experience and I am hoping you find the same to be true.
Learn more about this tea here.
Some of my favourite tea companies are the ones where you really get a feel for the owners as people; a hand picked sample, signed note added in to my order, and online interactions on sites such as Steepster are all touches that win me over quite a lot as a consumer; and something really cool about Liquid Proust Teas, a retailer which opened quite recently, is that I kind of got a feel for the owner, Andrew, before the company was even hatched since, first and foremost, he was a Steepster member himself and is a consumer as well as a seller too.
Recently, I did a swap with him and he generously included a few of his own blends. Personally, I thought this seemed the most interesting of what he sent me. A few other companies such as 52Teas, both under new and old management, have attempted French Toast teas but I’ve yet to be wowed by one and I think Andrew’s approach here is quite a bit different than the ones they’ve taken so I’m definitely excited!
I brewed this ‘Grandpa Style’ because that’s my typical approach with blooming/flowering teas. I knew that there was a possibility that it would get bitter because that’s a risk you always take when brewing Grandpa Style but this was unwaveringly smooth and silky. The entire time I spent drinking this (a few hours in total) there wasn’t even the slightest hint of bitterness OR astringency. I’m incredibly impressed by that.
The flavour was very fluffy and sweet, but reserved enough to not be cloying or make me feel like I was drinking syrup straight from the bottle. The rich notes of custard, cream, vanilla, cocoa, and, yes, egg hardly waned at all throughout the session. There were also lighter notes of cinnamon that I thought did fade towards the end of my session, and some pretty pronounced malt notes from the tea itself along with more muted floral notes. I likely could have continued to drink this for another hour or possibly longer with very little flavour deterioration. More than that, if it had not have been midnight I would have continued to drink this which is certainly high praise from me given that I dislike resteeping in general (drink as many teas as possible in one day is my philosophy).
My only criticism would be that the “toast” part of “French toast” was lacking; I’d have liked stronger bread notes contributed from the base tea to complete the illusion; but that’s just me getting hyper critical of one of the better flavoured teas I’ve had all month. If Andrew’s other teas are as tasty as this one I’m in for a real treat!
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: M&K’s Tea Company on Etsy
We don’t have a catchy intro for this tea. But it’s smooth, jolting, and flavorful. We consider this tea to be our flagship blend, perfect for the morning. Extra-strong Ceylon tea, Chinese Dianhong Gong Fu and Keemun tea, and Indian Assam tea: three continents in your cup! This blend is part of the Original 20 M&K’s Blends.
Learn more about this tea here.
Wow! The above description suggests that this is a jolting blend, and let me tell you, they got that right!
I was happy to find that the sample from M&K’s of this tea is just the right amount to brew 500ml of tea in my Breville One Touch! I poured the sample into the basket of the tea maker and added the water and then set the parameters for 212°F and 2 1/2 minutes.
The result delighted my taste buds! This Morningtime Blend is a great wake-me-up tea. It’s a bold, rich tasting black tea. Full-flavored and well-rounded. The sip starts out sweet yet bold. I notice notes of caramel and molasses mingling with malty tones, earthy notes and flavors of stone fruit and flower. There’s a lot of complexity beneath that robust, jarring flavor of WAKE UP!
Toward the tail, I pick up on light citrus tones and there is some dry astringency at the finish. The tea isn’t bitter, however, I suspect that it could very well become bitter if the tea were oversteeped, so don’t do that. I recommend no longer than 3 minutes brew time for this tea and from there, experiment a bit and find that right time for you and your particular tastes.
Another thing that I’m appreciating about the blend is that it really is a blend. A culmination of the four teas used to create the blend: I can taste notes of malt from the Assam, a wine-like flavor and hints of smoke from the Keemun, citrus-like flavors from the Ceylon and a rich Chinese DianHong rounds everything out with its rich, satisfying flavor. I can taste each of the components but they unite in this blend so well that it becomes almost seamless.
A really lovely breakfast blend type tea. It would take the additions of milk and honey well, but I like it straight up! It’s got just a little bit of edge to it that I like, but it isn’t too aggressive. It gives me the alertness I need and the smooth, rich, roundness I love from a well-crafted tea.
So far, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve tried from this new-to-me company. They have excellent customer service – they promptly reply to questions and my order arrived very quickly. And I love these samplers!