Hmmm, looks like I’m going to be the lone dissenter on this one so far. So I’ve never actually had the base Yu Lu Yan Cha, and I believe that is wholly the reason for my lack of enthusiasm about this blend.
I brewed as instructed, knowing that I would probably want to add milk and honey, but I took a sip first. People say the base tea shines in this one, and I would have to concur. The spices were mild but nicely balanced, with no one spice coming over the top. I could smell the fennel (bleh) in the dry blend but it doesn’t stick out in the brewed tea.
However, the main flavor in this was the black tea. I did taste the chocolate notes, but there was a bitter harsh note that was almost like smoke but not quite. I thought maybe I was losing my mind (based on descriptions by others) until I read Terri’s note about how she gets a burnt note from it when western brewed, which is obviously how this blend was prepared. Yeah, that’s it… like something that has been burnt, but not the smoke itself. Which is definitely a major turn-off for me. Perhaps I should only brew Yu Lu Yan Cha gongfu, as Terri does.
So anyway I added milk and honey. At first I was still unsure whether I wanted to drink it but the milk smoothed over the burnt note and the honey brought out the chocolate. I will likely be able to drik the rest of this one, although it may go into a swap box for someone who loves it more.