Looks more like Assam Gold Rain (very tippy and pretty) than Thomas Sampson does, but smells more like Thomas in the dry leaf. Rabs mentioned potting soil, and I get that as well, though it’s drier and leafier than potting soil (which right out of the bag tends to be pretty moist). That was a good sign, as the yeasty smell of the ASR dry leaf was replicated in its taste and was a flavor I didn’t love.
The tea’s aroma is even more promising. It doesn’t have the yeasty (bakey?) flat note that the ASR had. I’m starting to wonder if I just got a bad batch of ASR. Maybe. In any case, the Assam Reserve has more depth to the aroma, and it has a sweetness. I’m not getting malt as I think of it, but there is a natural planty sugar to it. The liquor was lighter than I expected, a medium amber.
The taste is much smoother than the ASR, which had a sharpness to it that I didn’t find pleasing. It’s somewhat astringent, and it has that sweetness that I found in the aroma. It’s not sweet enough to be malty or biscuity as I think of those terms, but it does have that sort of sweetness you get when you’ve eaten a non-sweet baked product (like pretzel, cracker or plain bread) and let it sit on your tongue for a while so that it starts to break down into sugar in your mouth.
I’d like to try this next to Thomas Sampson. I know I like it better than the ASR by a lot, but I don’t have a gustatory memory of Thomas to compare it to.