Note: Thus far I’ve just copied my tasting notes directly as I have submitted them for the tasting, this tea requires something more. The glowing “review” I bestow upon this tea is almost not enough. This is one time where words cannot capture the real story here. This was one of those rare moments where a tea is just magical. I was almost distracted to the point where getting the thoughts from my head to the screen was impossible. There are some times where writing about a tea is so secondary to the personal enjoyment that I’d almost like to not even try to put it to words, this was one of them but I have done my best.
#8 Jungpana Imperial Muscatel 2009
Dry Leaf: Reminiscent of a good loose tobacco. Chocolate and wine notes are sort of deep and brooding. It brought to mind an Australian tobacco called Royal Port.
Wet leaf: A totally different animal, the muscatel characteristics instantly present themselves and a sort of “clean” cotton smell.
Brewed: The bouquet is actually very tame and doesn’t give up many secrets on it’s own besides the slight muscatel notes. Wow! A grape flavor that actually made me shiver. Seriously. It is like a concord grape bred with muscat, deeper and stronger without being overpowering or just perfumy, this is the real deal. There is less in the middle and finish than some others but it is just a huge peak up front and a steady decline to a fairly short finish that just draws you in for another ride. This without a doubt is one of my new favorite teas, and has unseated my long-held love for Margaret’s Hope in my top 10 list… all from one round of tasting! That is probably the best endorsement I could give any tea.
This is my first time with Jungpana Imperial Muscatel, the muscatel part was attractive to me from the name alone, and it has firmly entrenched itself on my constant stock list showing itself to be so much more. I have only had a moment like this one other time and it was the first time I had Gyokuro prepared for me expertly. It was trans-formative. This has been a very similar experience and I went into this totally blind.
A few posts ago I read where Steve had jumped the gun and tasted this one by accident, but had made a comment about how excited he had been to finally get to it properly. I fully understand why. I’m having a hard time keeping my enthusiasm inside long enough to sit and type this. He was spot-on. This is a very special tea and one that again has shown me that you have to break out of ruts and try something new to continue the journey. I would have been content to have known only Margaret’s Hope, and while not a bad thing by any means, I would never have uncovered this gem. Of this whole tasting, if this is the highlight, I can only say I am so grateful for this experience and to Lochan Tea for turning me on to an amazing tea. This is not to be missed, and in my opinion, a gold standard of the category.