Friday, March 09, 2007

Anodyne on In Pursuit of Tea Royal Yunnan: Redux

Through much of 2005, I was happily drinking the Royal Yunnan from In Pursuit of Tea. I posted on this pleasure at length on December 16, 2005, in A Yunnan Comparison and Farewell Salute to the Woodwose Yunnan and also on October 11, 2006, in The Shape-Shifter: Anodyne on the Many Tastes of Golden Yunnan. As noted, I found that this tea changed radically in January 2006 from the profile it had retained during much of 2005.

I tasted this tea a year later on January 10, 2007, in Anodyne on Assorted Golden Yunnan Tastings or The Illusion of the Questing Beast and found my impression had not changed. I had not ordered the tea since, but a friend recently sent me a sample of the IPOT Royal Yunnan purchased in November 2006.

The November 2006 purchase of Royal Yunnan from In Pursuit of Tea does have that aroma I have referred to as woody. The woody character is one part of the Woodwose equation, but it has to go up against a sweet dark forest honey-molasses sweetness and a certain depth of other flavors. The November 2006 sample is an odd tea in that it expresses the woody note quite dominantly (perhaps too much so). There is definitely a level of sweetness. And yet this particular sample doesn't fill in with the depth and bass notes I've previously associated with this tea. It almost tastes oolong-y in some ways, like a highly oxidized oolong. There's a sense of something fruity going on and a hint of a wheat-grain note, perhaps even a hint of malt. When the tea cools down, there is more an impression of wheat-grain than malt. This tea inches a bit toward Woodwose but then fizzles out and loses some characteristics that need to balance out in the cup. There is quite a full aroma and even some dark molasses-like sweetness. What seems so odd is the way the body just drops out of it, even while it retains an aftertaste that lingers a bit.

This is an entirely different tea than I had in January 2006, but it is still not the beloved “Woodwose” tea of 2005. My impressions now are mostly a moot point, since IPOT no longer seems to even sell a Royal Yunnan. Instead, they offer an even pricier Yunnan Gold Black which I have not tried. Its description is "honey and earth tones." For the price, I would rather hope it was doing something more than what the description suggests.


Michael said...


Well, I'm disappointed at your description, especially since your tea reviews are so well thought out and accurate. Do you think this might be evidence of the supposed neglect of quality Yunnan red teas in favor of the now far more lucrative Pu'erhs? They IPOT guys once told me that they considered Royal Yunnan a staple of their stable at one time. I hope the fine qualities of yesteryear return. I also suspect that availability drives the offering change you mention. It would be sad to drink a tea toast to the demise of Yunnan red. Michael

anodyne said...

I truly have no idea. But I was certainly easier to please in 2005 than I was in 2006 when it came to this tea. Since a tippy Yunnan has long been a favorite of mine, perhaps I am simply more aware of when a lot falls into my personal plus or minus column. I'd put it down to simply crotchety old age (meaning me, not the tea), but I know there are fellow lovers of this tea coming up less than pleased of late. Not just from one vendor but from multiple sources.