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15

I got this during CTG’s going out of business sale in summer. I’ve only started brewing it lately and I don’t know what went wrong but it has hardly any aroma whatsoever. Perhaps when I opened the bag upon receiving it, I didn’t close it back properly, and these loose leaves got aired out to the point of tastelessness. Perhaps this was old stock held too long by either Tony or David Lee Hoffman. Perhaps I need to change my water filter. In any case, brewed in a gaiwan, this yields a dark, silky smooth liquor, with a faint smell of wet autumn leaves. But that’s it. It’s far too faint. I’m constantly reminded of a public bath house for some reason, from a long-ago visit to Korea in my childhood. I wonder why. After my sixth steep I start to get an unpleasant feeling in my stomach, and a bit of nausea. The big, blackish wet leaves shimmer in an interesting way, though barely any of them open up even after 10 steeps. They’re still a bit crumbly. I rub one between my fingers and only get the same faint wet leaves smell. If I ever fill out a mail order for tea from the Phoenix Collection, I might consider throwing a unit of this in, just to give it another try. The numerical rating I give this tea doesn’t show the whole picture, but it’s foolish to try to be objective about something as experiential, ephemeral, and personal as tea, so I choose a rating that represents my own personal experience.

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