In my book, anything with the name ecstasy in it can either be discounted immediately as puffery or has a very high level of living up to do. Ecstasy is, after all, not just a run of the mill, mild feeling. It’s sheer rapture.
The fact that I have had a four for four success rate with my Samovar samples thus far (I am intending to order more of all of the ones I’ve tried, something unsurpassed in my admittedly limited experience) left me doubtful this name could be discounted fully, so I had very high hopes for this one. And I haven’t been disappointed. Though I wouldn’t go so far as to state that drinking this left me ecstatic (wouldn’t that be cool, though? maybe one day I’ll find a tea that really does leave me ecstatic and then I’ll know all the secrets of the universe and more), I can say that I’m now five for five.
My only pu erh experience before this has been the Numi bags. They’ve all been varying degrees of enjoyable with the chocolate out in front. But because they’re bags, there’s a visual component to the experience that is missing. I’m finding more and more that I really enjoy examining the dry leaves of the tea I’m about to drink, and watching how they change after they’ve had their steep.
The Maiden’s Ecstasy leaves are brownish green, dark and pretty. A little on the small side, and not overly curly. Dry, they smelled to me as they smelled to Auggy after rinsing — like sweet tobacco, right from the pouch, with notes of leather and earth.
After rinsing, the leather aroma came to the fore. This, I think, is what I smell where others might smell fish. There is something slightly fishy, but not in an unpleasant way, about the smell of certain kinds of warm, pliant leather. I’ve had belts and shoes that have had a fishy note to them that body heat brings out and I know I’ve smelled this in horse saddles. It’s not always the case, but common enough. The smell of this steep makes me think of a new, buttery smooth, black leather English saddle.
My first steep at 2 minutes delivered a beautiful mahogany colored liquor.
The taste. It has that Samovar thing going on for me, an almost preternatural smoothness that makes their teas taste like velvet feels. I love that. To me, it is the difference between something that is nice and well made, like a shoe or a car, that you wouldn’t mind having, and the same thing delivered by a luxury brand. There’s a little luxury in every sip.
Within the smoothness, there is also a flavor that verges on leather — but is kept from being a stark leather flavor by its sweetness. I’m not getting raisin here, but perhaps a pre-raisin (i.e., grape) fermented sweetness, as though the tiniest drop of a fine port has been dropped into the tea.
The second steep at 2:30 yielded a similar flavor. The nose became more sugary, more carmelized.
OK. I’m about ready for my third steep and I am going to stop now and just go enjoy this for a while. I want to sit with it and see how it changes. I have all kinds of time for this tea.