With all the samples I’ve received so far for Tea Time, I’ve done my best to offer variety with each new review. At the same time, I’ve been dying to try Teasenz’s Red Dragon Pearls ever since Teasenz’s package arrived. Grown and harvested in China’s Yunnan province, this black tea (also known as “Black Dragon Pearls”) is special in that it’s one of the only hand-rolled black teas in the world. And from the sounds of Teasenz’s description below, Red Dragon Pearls could be the ultimate autumn tea. So, let’s see what we find once the pearls unfold, shall we?
Yezi’s Description: “An unusual black tea hand-rolled into ‘pearls’ in southern Yunnan, China. This fantastically bold brew offers up all the flavors of a crisp autumn day with just one pearl. Malty, nuanced, and tannic, it also offers complex flavors of fallen leaves, cocoa, and spiced, stewed apples that set it apart from other black teas. Floral aromas and a clean, sweet finish round out this singular infusion.”
Ingredients: Chinese Yunnan black tea leaves
Steeping Instructions: Use 1 to 1½ teaspoons (2 to 5 tea pearls) in 8 oz of water. Heat water to boiling (212 degrees Fahrenheit / 100 degrees Celsius) and steep for 2 to 3 minutes.
Multiple Brews?: No
Bagged or Loose Leaf?: Loose leaf
Caffeine Level: High
Look at these gorgeous tea pearls! They’re a deep black-brown with streaks of toffee brown. And with the size and roundness of marbles, they’re noticeably bigger than the pea-drop Jasmine Dragon Pearls reviewed in September. I read somewhere that these pearls can contain between 20 and 30 leaves. It sounds like a lot, but it looks shockingly accurate once you see the huge pile of wet leaves in the strainer. I actually counted the leaves one time after they had cooled – and three Red Dragon Pearls contained over 70 leaves!
Despite having no additives, Red Dragon Pearls has a bolder, more complex aroma than other black teas. Along the usual tannins, I smell woods, cocoa, earth, even a hint of smoke. Ohhhhhh, I love it already! It makes me want to curl up by the fire and sip the night away. (Small problem, though: No fireplace in my condo!) The aroma subdues once the tea’s been brewed, but it still exudes a comforting warmth that’s perfect to offset a cold morning in autumn or winter.
Since I’m not a fan of strong black tea, I make my first brew by steeping two Red Dragon Pearls for 3 minutes. Out comes a beautiful, rich chestnut brown liquid that suits its fragrance. Each sip blooms with the flavors of cocoa, earth, and autumn leaves, with a hint of malt and a slightly sweet aftertaste. This reminds me of the Dong Ding Ming Xiang Oolong covered here in October, except deeper and fuller. Something tells me this isn’t the tea’s full potential, though. Maybe it’s the medium, slightly watered-down body. Well, I did use only two tea pearls for this first cup….
Let’s kick the next brew up a notch with three fresh Red Dragon Pearls. WOW! Now this is what I was looking for. A fuller body, with more flavor and a thick smoothness that blankets your mouth. The additional pearl enhances the tea’s maltiness without adding much bitterness. In fact, this tea isn’t bitter at all (possibly because of the short brew time). It’s scrumptious down to the last drop, even after it cools. This would be a wonderful way of warming my insides after shoveling snow – or, returning to my earlier metaphor, the perfect fireside companion.
Teasenz doesn’t offer resteeping options for Red Dragon Pearls, but I was curious to see how it would come out. So, I let the previously used three pearls worth of tea sit in newly boiled water for 5 minutes. Not bad! It’s weaker than the two-pearl cup, but still yummy. There’s also a touch of astringency that leaves a slight dryness on my tongue, and a headiness from having two consecutive cups of black tea. Or, maybe the latter is giddiness from finding what could be my new favorite black tea.
Look no further if you’re seeking the ultimate tea for autumn! With its lush, flavorful mix of malt, cocoa, and the outdoors, Teasenz’s Red Dragon Pearls is a wonderful choice for colder seasons. Its bold yet cozy profile also makes it a great breakfast tea. Yes, “bold” and “cozy” usually contradict each other. Not here, though. You’ll understand what I mean when you try this competitively priced brew for yourself. It may take a couple brews to achieve your desired black-tea strength, but once you find it you’ll want to relish it over and over again.
NOTE: For stronger black teas, use more tea pearls (4 or 5) and/or keep to the longer side of the brew range (3+ minutes). For a softer brew, use 2 or 3 pearls.
Grade: 9.5 / 10
- Tea Drinkers Who: Like bold-tasting black teas
- Time of Day and Year: Autumn or winter mornings, or with breakfast
- Possible Book Pairings: Try Red Dragon Pearls with fantasy-adventure stories like Kristin Cashore’s Graceling or J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit or The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. And though I haven’t read this book yet, my gut feeling tells me this tea might go well with Alison Goodman’s Eon, an Asian-inspired YA fantasy based on dragon mythology.
You can purchase Red Dragon Pearls Black Tea directly from Teasenz here.
* * *
In addition to being a tea enthusiast, Sara Letourneau is an avid reader and a writer who… well, enjoys writing! Currently she’s working on a novel, and she writes book reviews and articles on the craft of writing. She’s also a published poet with works available in various print and online publications. Visit Sara at her personal blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
If you’re a tea seller and would like to have one of your products reviewed here, please visit the Contributors page for contact information.