|2001 Jasmine Liu An|
This tea turned out to make for a fun, if different, tea session. I was surprised to pour it and find it very light in color. A real contrast to the shu-like Liu Bao I'd just finished. The same contrast showed up in taste, as well. The Liu An lacked the dark smooth creaminess of the Liu Bao and carried instead a surprising dark roasted oolong-like flavor. In fact, with it's chocolatey roasted aromas and aftertastes it seemed to echo a few aged shui xians I've had. A good cleanliness to this tea, as well. It seems to have been nicely stored.
All in all, a very different and surprisingly fun tea experience today. I'm tempted to pick up some more of this Jasmine Liu An just to set it aside and see what continued aging does to it.
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So it seems that Red Circle Tea doesn't have a big following among certain tea drinkers, hm? I don't like to put vendors in a bad light and usually just keep mum about teas and vendors I don't like, but we reap what we sow and this vendor certainly isn't alone in certain practices. Claims such as "rare tea," "hard to find," "ancient tea," not to mention questionable prices, seem quite common among tea vendors. Occasionally (rarely is probably the best word to use here) these are merited but often they are not. It's definitely a buyer-beware market. For most of us, it's necessary to educate ourselves by tasting lots of tea, including teas from vendors whom we know little about. It's all part of the process. No shame in tasting, testing and learning. Never let anyone tell you otherwise!
Just as with this 2001 Jasmine Liu An tea, the Orchid Black tea from Red Blossom (which was listed among their puerh selections) was advertised as being extremely rare and a unique and special find, a claim which turns out to be more full of holes than that frustrating ball filter. Apparently these teas are quite common and inexpensive in China, a point which MarshalN made and which others I've since talked to have confirmed. Yet another good lesson in "buyer beware."