Wow, what a wonderfully surprising tea. The smell of the dry leaf reminds me of Big Red Robe and the aroma of the wet leaves and liquor as well as the first sip had me fooled into believing this was Laoshan black, definitely dark chocolatey, how does Verdant manage to find these teas?! I wish I had taken the time to fully savor more of the first few steeps but a tugging toddler saying mommy I need you, I need you! Had me rush through my gonfu while the water was still over 200F. I need a cha hai (serving pitcher) instead of pouring right into my small bone china cups.
See I have a ritual, whenever I try a new high quality tea straight tea I pour out a good portion of the first three steeps (or the rinse and first two) in three cast iron dragon cups on a shelf above the sink. There are offerings to house spirits (think Shinto meets northern European ancestor veneration with a dash of Roman traditions regarding the Lares and Penates- spirits of the land and the pantry). The ritual of tea is one of hospitality to me, even if I have no living human guests. So yeah I leave myself a few sips of the first three steeps and in this case I was rushing more than usual and as such the tip of my tongue is a tad burnt.
But I did finally heed my toddler’s calling and he and I enjoyed the fourth infusion. There is so much going on in this tea beyond the initial cocoa. It turns savory in the second steep, a bit smokey in the third and has luscious honey and floral notes. In this fourth infusion I enjoyed all of the above plus toasted sesame notes and yes just a trace of avocado. I intend to taking my time with many more infusions and hope to come to a greater appreciation for the Mi Lan Dancong Oolong, which I personally have a difficult time with for whatever reason.
Edit: this got more oolongy in the 5th-7th steeps and is reminding me a a sheng pu-erh in this 8th infusion with some cool mintyness. Very nice.