Today's tea is the Dark Forest from Tea Urchin, a small production from a small region in Yiwu, near Wangong.
Before the actual tea, thank you, Tea Urchin, for the lovely wood-fired cup you've sent me!
It's actually a really nice cup, especially for roasted oolongs. Surprisingly, it seem to work well with young puerh too - I thought porcelain would be better, but the difference did not seem to be a major one to me when I did a side-to-side comparison.
Now, the tea:
We can draw two main conclusions here. First, the tea is as furry as a cat in winter - nice. Second, there is sometimes sun in Oxford. Especially the latter might come as a surprise to some, but it's true.
The first impression that struck me when drinking the Dark Forest was that it's fairly mature-feeling, given it's a 2015. You don't get that "fresh off the press" aroma/sourness from it, rather, it's clear it's nice and high-qualityYiwu right from the start.
The taste is indeed a lot like Dark Forest, I though this especially when brewing it competition-style. There is ample "dark green Yiwu" - the usual mixture of floral tastes, with an interesting component of apricots, which isn't that frequent in Yiwu teas. The most characteristic property of the taste would be the deep, powerful sweetness. Combined with the present astringency, I feel a bit as if somebody lined my mouth with super-fine sandpaper, where the crystals are of cane sugar.
While being fairly astringent, the tea is not very bitter. Slight sourness is to be found in the later phase of the aftertaste, but it's not off-putting.
The taste and aftertaste casually transform into coolness and buzz - it's cool indeed!
I thought the Dark Forest to be a fairly calming tea when you're inclined to be calmed; gaiwaning it along work did not give it enough justice, it's not like some teas that just take your attention no matter what. On the other hand, sitting in a sofa, listening to soothing sound of violoncello, warm amp valves being the only light in the room, I enjoyed Dark Forest immensely. Or, taking it outside, watching small bugs moving around in the grass and sipping DF, its close-to-nature character harmonised with the experience perfectly too.
I consider this to be a very fine tea, both in the quality being refined, as well as somewhat gentle and requiring attention to be fully appreciated. It's not a "I've got to get this" tea, as it's not cheap, but it is very, very good.