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Monday, April 4, 2011

Review:’s Red Dragon Pearl Tea

© 2011 A.C. Cargill photos and text – All rights reserved.
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The Subject:  Red Dragon Pearl [More info]

Straight Tea Rating:

About the new rating designation.

Water temperature:  212° F
Steeping time:5-7 mins.
Tea type:Black
Dry leaves:  Rolled into large “pearls” (about 3/8” in dia.), aroma like raisins/dried apricots/rich/earthy

1st Infusion:  
Steeping time —6 mins.
Aroma, plain —  Malty, caramelly, hint of smokiness
Taste, plain —Musky, malty, not bitter, floral/caramel aftertaste
Color, plain —Reddish-brown
Taste, enhanced —Smooth, caramelly
2nd Infusion:
Steeping time —8 mins.
Aroma, plain —  Lighter
Taste, plain —Lighter
Color, plain —Reddish-brown

Dragons are part of the myths and traditions of China, including tea, so it is fitting that this tea from the Yunnan province is named “Red Dragon Pearl.” The dry tea comes in hand-rolled balls about the size of a chickpea (per the vendor’s site) and unfurls nicely during the steeping.

The rolled up “pearls” don’t show you what the leaves are like. After steeping, however, you can see the tender two leaves and a bud combo. Only those tender leaves are used here.

The steeping directions on the label are close to what’s on the vendor’s site. Their site recommends only 3-5 minutes:

As with many teas hubby and I have tried, there is our taste experience and their taste description. The “official description on the vendor’s site:

It’s malty, nuanced and tannic like a fine Second Flush Assam black tea, but it also offers complex flavors of spiced, stewed apples, fallen leaves and cocoa that set it apart from other black teas. Floral aromas and a clean, bittersweet finish round out this singular infusion.

Our experience:

This tea indeed has a nice maltiness, along with a wonderful floral/caramelly aftertaste. However, unlike an Assam, we found no tannic bitterness, even after steeping 6 minutes. In fact, if you like the maltiness and ability to add milk to your tea that is characteristic of Assams but don’t like the bitterness, here is the tea for you. Yet the taste is mild enough for those who like their tea as is or with just a sweetener of some kind. Even a touch of lemon would be good here.

We love flexible teas, so this one gets us very excited. We also like teas that can give us a lot of tea “bang!” for our tea dollars. Since the 2nd steeping was quite decent, we find it meets that criteria, too. Our quick calculations show that our cost per teacup would be about 25-40 cents per cupful. Nice!

Their packaging of these sample sizes were rather interesting. These are “pillow” packs, as I’ve recently learned, with two small foil pouches inside.

Disclaimer: This tea was provided by the company named. However, the rating of the tea and any opinions concerning it are always strictly objective.

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