Sunday, June 14, 2015

An explanation for my absence, as well as an in depth review of YunnanSourcing's Spring 2014 "drunk on red" mini black tea cake

I feel bad about not posting, but I have a good reason. When my husband and I left on our "vacation" we had no real knowledge if we were going to move permanently or not. So, we decided to not bring our heavy, bulky desktop computers to Texas, and as it turns out, with my husband finding a new job, we are moving back to Texas, and as such, except for the rare chance when I feel like I can beg/borrow a laptop from my husbands family, I have no real way to write blog posts. (And I am completely sure they would let me borrow their laptops more often, but I'm pretty shy about asking.)

So please forgive my sporadic posts until my computer is returned to me later this month (my mom-in-law is bringing it and my husband's down from Arkansas with a little help. I hope you all can understand my predicament.

Now, ON to the review of Yunnan Sourcing's spring 2014 "drunk on red" mini cake, (this is the one without snow chrysanthemum, I have that one as well, but that will be a separate review.

 The way this tea is packaged is almost exactly like a cake of pu'erh, I have not seen many black tea cakes, but this line seems to have been quite a hit for YS, so I thought I would break down and buy myself a couple (one with and one without snow chrysanthemum), at just over 4 USD a cake, it isn't too big of a risk.

According to YS the tea is "The tea is picked, wilted, fried, bruised by rolling, wet withered under the sun and then finally sun-dried completely." To me, that is a lot of trouble to go through for something being sold by the cake for a lot less than a lot of people spend daily at cafes and coffee shops.

 The cake is a very pretty mottled brown/black with hints of gold tips sprinkled throughout.

 I am still learning how to break into tea cakes, so forgive the large amount of dust, I am sure much of it is due to user error.

 10.8 grams went into my 120 ml gaiwan, which comes out to just under a tenth of a gram per ml.

195ยบ F water, trust me on this, any hotter and to me black teas turn astringent and foul far to quickly, even when brewing gong fu.

And, I am being lazy with my gong fu today, I am not using a tray, which is kinda scary as just below my Zojirushi sits all of the tea I have with me. a spill could spell disaster. That's me, crazy and living on the edge.

 15 seconds of steeping, and into the pitcher. I really need to work with the lighting in this kitchen, as this photo doesn't nearly to the light maple-y color of the tea justice.
 First steep was astoundingly fruity, as if I had taken a big bite of a honeycrisp apple. Sweet and bright. with no hint of astringency's awful bite. ( I do love it in sheng pu'erh and green tea, just not in black, oolong, white, or shou, there is a difference in the feeling between astringency in a green and that in a black, just sayin'.)

2nd Steep- this time for 25 seconds.

Lookit how pretty the tea is in the cup. It is still very fruity, but now with a slightly acidic undertone, more pear than apple perhaps?
I have a feeling that this would snack well with a small fruit and cheese plate. Extra sharp Irish cheddar, and maybe some good swiss with a green pear and maybe a nice Braeburn apple, prehaps with melba toast if making it a meal.

Third steep: 35 seconds

This steep disappointed me a little bit. I was so hoping that it wouldn't turn astringent on me, and I was very careful to try and keep it from happening, but it did. Not horribly, mouth puckering, dry throat astringency either. Just enough to let me know that the tea was turning from fruity and bright, to bitter melancholy. I might just start brewing this one western style from now on, because, bang for buck wise, I would get more out of doing this in a big mug with quite a bit less tea. Of course that's not to say it wouldn't go bitter that way too, but that's no reason not to try.

I give this a 5/10, and at $4.20 a cake, that's not a bad deal.

I can't stop listening to that song Uma Thurman by Fall Out Boy recently. I don't know why, it's not as good as many of their other songs, I'll chalk that up to hype.


  1. This tea is intriguing. I might just have to pick some up. You might want to dial back the amount of leaf as it sounds like that might be what caused the astringency. I'll usually go with about 5 to 8 grams for a gaiwan that size.

    1. You really should pick some up! I will try less leaf next time, you are most likely correct. (^_^)