It feels like forever since my last post, but I’m back! If you don’t follow me on Instagram, I had a terrible flu for while that made it impossible to critically drink any tea. I’m happy to say I’m feeling much better now and have been itching to get back to it!
Today I am drinking Bitterleaf Tea’s Long Live the Queen. This is a new production for 2019 and they say that is is reminiscent of how “old Yiwu” sheng used to taste. This had me interested because I’m a big fan of Yiwu sheng but have no idea what that description actually means.
The dry leaves have a soft and friendly aroma that’s sweet, floral and earthy. After a quick rinse it becomes much more fruity with deep red fruit notes and a bit of green tea vegetal notes. I have already drank from my sample a few times and all that’s left now is loose so I can’t comment on the compression of the cake at all.
For this session I am leafing a bit heavier than normal, using four grams of tea in my 55ml gaiwan. Water is at 90C and infusion times are starting at five seconds and increasing by five each infusion.
Love Live the Queen starts out with a full and complex flavour. It’s sweet and heavy on the herby-medicinal notes. As the liquor cools it moves to a more floral place with a flavour that tastes like roses smell. Infusion two sees a big jump up in flavour. The herb notes increase and are joined by apricot, plum and a dirt-like earthiness. Everything is in the low and mid range, with only a slight tanginess for high notes. Some bitterness comes in, as do some nutty longjing-esq notes for the third infusion. The finish is crisp and bright apple that slowly turns into honey sweetness in your throat.
Both sweetness and bitterness increase through infusions four and five before dropping off completely in the sixth. There is also a slowly growing astringency but otherwise not much changes in flavours here. Everything previously noted is still hanging around and the flavour is full yet soft. The aftertaste is wonderful and long lasting – occasionally it’s starts out apple-like, other sips is more in the apricot world, and others still are cherry-esq, but it always morphs into a lovely sweetness that lingers for a very long time.
Flavour level seems to have plateaued around infusion five and it holds that strength until the thirteenth where it dives off a cliff and ends at the fifteenth. The late steeps are prominently earthy and woody but nothing is ever lost. All previous tasting notes stick around from the time they first appear until the very end, and they move forward and back from sip to sip.
Love Live the Queen gets absolutely no complaints from me. It has a warm, easy going flavour that (in my opinion) lends itself to being an evening wind-down tea, but also has enough depth that you can really get into the weeds and explore it if you want. At $68 USD for a 200 gram cake I think it’s a great value tea that I have no second thoughts recommending to nearly anybody.