Thanks to everyone who helped me identify the tea from the last post.
It turns out that the mystery is solved, thanks to Gingko Seto from Life in Teacup.
According to Gingko, “It’s Jin Jun Mei (something like “golden beautiful eyebrow”). It’s a very elegant type of lapsang souchong, much much more expensive than regular lapsang souchong, and usually is not smoked. There are various grades of this tea but usually all grades are quite expensive. It’s a good gift. Whoever sent you this, must like you a lot!”
Thanks also to Brandon from Wrong Fu Cha for some great leads on deciphering this tea as well.
Mystery Tea – The History of Jin Jun Mei
So far on my tea journey I’ve never encountered a tea like this before. After some investigation, I learned that Jin Jun Mei (also known as Golden Junmee) is specific type of tea was created in 2005 by Master Liang Junde who shares a history with the creation of lapsang souchong. I also found this tea online at $1,400 for 500 grams (roughly 1 lb)
The production of the tea is extremely labor intensive. A single pound of the tea is comprised of 60,000-90,000 tea buds harvested from wild old tea bushes growing above 1200-1800m in the protected Wuyi national park. Only 1000 kg are produced annually and it’s the most expensive red tea (US $1300/pound and up) in the current market.
Tasting Notes from Jin Jun Mei
The dry tea leaves are wispy little strands of golden and black leaves which curl together in a fine, exuberant mass. The leaves are fuzzy and smell slightly malty. The tea is vaguely reminiscent of a thick, full-bodied beer.
It brews into a deep red-gold color, with a bold and smoky flavor. The imagery that comes to mind is whisky and cigars. It has a rich, full body with a slight milkiness. Brewed at 3 minutes with water at a rolling boil, the tea is not astringent at all. It has long finish with an organic, woodsy sweetness.
The steeped leaves expand and deepen into the color of coffee beans. After steeping, they release the aroma of roasted nuts, cocoa and chocolate.
The second infusion yields a vibrant red tea, and retains its warm roasted flavor. The flavor is smoother, and evens into a mellow nutty goodness.
This tea is not for everyone. I think I agree with the assessment that you’ll tend to either like it or dislike it. However, if you want to try some for yourself you can find some for sale at Jing Tea.