My trusted old hongcha teapot (my first one, likely of not too good quality) - what a surprise to open it after two years and smell hongcha!
Feng Qing Diang Hong Golden Tips goes first:
This tea comes originally from teavivre and is not really a cheap, considering it is a red tea. A personal downside is that I do not enjoy Dian Hong that much, I find it often too meaty and heavy, being lighter in means of thickness and taste "wideness" (sort of similar to some heavier Beaujolais) and I do not feel that well after drinking.
This one certainly looks beautiful:
Taking my first sip from the cup with, the tea is distinctly dianhongish. It is quite meaty, chocolate and roses, rather intense - surprisingly so, considering the tipsy nature of the tea. Compared to the previous Dian Hongs I have tasted, this tea is more interesting, with more tastes jumping out of the cup and surprising me (peachiness which appeared in the aroma sometimes appears in taste too). It makes me feel slightly hollow, but it is not that unpleasant so that I would stop drinking. We made it to 8th brew together, parting as friends.
It did not have a really good stamina. I kept the brews shorter, not wanting a too strong liquor, but 8 brews is not much.
I think that the enjoyability of this tea (at least its taste, if not longevity) largely depends on your attitude to Dian Hong. If you like it, I think you may enjoy this one a lot.
Further reading: Half Dipper
The second piece... Premium Lapsang Souchong
Among hongcha, Lapsang Souchong (LS) is one of my favourites. The issue with it is, that most of it being sold is weird Laphroaig-style smokiness (not that the original LS would not have a sort of smokiness in it, but it is quite different). The more original style LS is somewhat difficult to obtain. However, thechineseteashop looked trustworthy enough to me (and it, by the tasting so far, is solid). This tea is even more expensive than the previous one. What does "premium" grade mean? I think that the following scale is often used: "Premium" or "Superior" (no one except crazy westerners would drink it); "King" or "A" (basic level), "Emperor" or "AA" (possibly good tea), "AAA" (generally quite good).The premium grade is especially lethal in case of premium shu minituocha. Luckily, in the case of this LS, the premium actually means that the tea is good.
The leaves are tiny and somewhat cut:
The aroma is slightly smoky too, but only very gently - and dried fruit in the aroma sings "I love being a genuine Lapsang Souchong" (the name suggests why it has not become a hit song).
The color is amber and the liquor is clean. It smells beautiful - there is a gentle mix of a hint of smoke, dried fruit, coconut and a bit of lychee in the back.
The aroma reflects the taste well. The first brews are slightly more smoky than the rest (but nowhere near the usual smoke of fake LS). It is quite complex and well balanced, definitely very enjoyable. Actually, contrary to the official description, I can not find longan in it, but lychee instead - a pleasant taste anyway. But the main body of the taste is dried fruit and coconut I'd say.
The aftertaste is reasonably long and there is some interesting mouthfeel.
I would personally enjoy more sweetness in the tea. It has a rich taste, but it feels a bit dry - thick sweetness could elevate this tea into a really great thing. Maybe I'll blend it with Cheng Guang He Tang's 2006 Ye Cha some day - that one is basically pure sweetness without much taste.
Today's winner is, for me, Lapsang Souchong because I simply prefer its taste spectrum and the feeling it gives. But these teas are very different and any real comparison would be hard to do.