Laoshan Black: Laoshan Village, Shandong China.
Source: Verdant Tea.
Laoshan black has been one of those teas that I don’t immediately grab when having tea, because it’s the kind of tea I want to save for a special occasion. This isn’t because it is super expensive or rare. It’s because it drinks like something that should be. It is simultaneously a robust wake up tea and a sweet desert tea. I have trouble placing it in the spectrum of black teas. It is made with small, delicate leaves; the same trees that Mr. He of Laoshan uses for his green tea, but I find that it offers different notes than other small leaf blacks.
My steeping parameters are: 205 degree water, 10 second steeps gradually lengthening to 30 seconds as you see fit, and then minute long steeps. For this steep I used 3.1 grams of dry leaf, but I would recommend 4 grams of dry leaf in about 80ml of water. The leaves don’t expand too much, where you would be faced with an overstuffed gaiwan that could make controlling the early steeps a little more difficult. That being said, this is a very forgiving tea to steep.
Tightly rolled and twisted small leaves. Dark charcoal brown.
Scents of sweet, dark chocolate. Dark berries. Toasted, buttered, rustic, wheat bread.
Dark chocolate colors come out.
Scents of molasses. Dried, tart cherries. Sourdough bread.
Scents of molasses, butter, caramel.
Lush mouth coating. Flavors of molasses, honey, malt, cocoa. Subtle strawberry rhubarb. Raisins and other dried fruit. Balanced astringency.
Laoshan black’s early spiciness and robustness slowly gives way to a gentler, sweeter tea. As the mild astringency starts to disappear, a very subtle creaminess melds with the rising sweetness to offer caramel marshmallow nuances.