This is another sample (Thanks Verdant Tea!) I drank long ago. It was definitely a fantastic experience. I really love the leaves of this one. The aroma is simple and delectable, with scents of dark chocolate and honey. The small, twisted leaves shining with this midnight-blue sheen when in the light is eye candy. When wet, they gave off an aroma that was literally chocolate. Not even “like” chocolate. This was a milk chocolate with almonds Hershey’s bar ground up and placed in my gaiwan. Mmmmm! At this point the artful twisting of the leaves is very apparent. The twists were so fine that the leaves looked like pieces of yarn. I’m amazed by the skill and care of the He family farmers.
The resulting liquor smelled like pure tea and cocoa, and a bit like a high roast dan cong. So far, sooo good! The appearance was a light caramel, butterscotch color, which gradually turned darker with increased tones of amber as the steeping progressed. My first sip tasted a bit metallic, but it was soon forgotten with the flood of heavenly flavors. It was like drinking thick and creamy hot cocoa with milk and a chocolate syrup drizzle, with a few marshmallows plopped in for good measure. Underneath, tones of pure tea and caramel wafted through the nasal cavity after a sip. The next steep was headier, and a bit coarser in the mouthfeel; it matched perfectly with the introduction of oak wood and a gentle sprinkling of spices. It took me back to my Boy Scout days during winter camp, sitting by an oak wood fire drinking hot chocolate or chai after a long, cold day, reveling in the warmth that crept back into my fingers.
The steeps kept coming and coming as the body became further balanced and the mouthfeel increased in spiciness. The liquor became more malty, producing something smooth and creamy. The hot cocoa flavors gradually transformed into something reminding me of crispy chocolate chips, like when you leave chocolate chip cookies in the oven for a bit too long. Very yummy.
Further steeps tasted more or less the same, eventually fading out and losing strength past 10 or so steeps (I kind of lost count and stopped taking notes and just tried submerge myself in the lovely aromas and flavors). I absolutely love the depth and complexity of this tea. It sticks with a theme throughout every steep, doesn’t disappoint, and excites every sense.