The leaves of this tea are black with golden tips. They expand to reveal pretty-decent quality leaves, although I’m honestly not very impressed given the supposed FTGFOP1 rating.
The liquor is a red-gold color. I was quite surprised to see how orange it was. The color is somewhat in between what I’d expect from an Assam and a Darjeeling. (This would turn out to be the case in terms of flavor, as well.)
The leaves have a fresh, malty, complex scent, but the scent becomes a bit simpler and heartier in the liquor.
The tea has mild to moderate body and mild to moderate astringency. The astringency is less than I would expect for an Assam.
The flavor profile on the first steep is primarily malty with some soy-like flavors. It’s relatively hearty, but there’s also a difficult-to-capture complexity.
For the second steep, I reduced the volume of water to 6 ounces from 8 and steeped for four minutes. I was very surprised. I much preferred this steep. It has a much more Darjeeling-like taste. There’s still some maltiness and body, but now it’s more floral and slightly sweet.
This is a thoroughly decent tea, but I don’t think it quite captures the strengths of an Assam (ie strength) or of a Darjeeling (floral complexity). I suspect the flavor is similar to a second-flush Darjeeling, although my experience with Darjeelings is primarily first-flush since I prefer light, vegetal, floral, fruity teas with minimal astringency. For the price, I wouldn’t buy this tea again, but it’s not bad at all.