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Oh wow… from the aroma of the dry leaves I was expecting this to taste a lot like the Laoshan black, but it’s much richer and smokier – maybe that’s the pu’er, or the Big Red Robe? I don’t know, but I like it. I can taste the oolong for sure, but not a lot of caramel or vanilla on the first steep; on the second the caramel started coming out, and the oolong is still prominent. I don’t know my pu’ers well enough to pull out either of those flavors. There is a solid cocoa flavor, thanks to the Laoshan.

This has a stronger flavor than the two straight black teas I’ve had from Verdant (Laoshan and Golden Fleece), which I like. As a breakfast tea, it certainly makes me more willing to face the day, if it means getting more tea like this!

On steep 10 or so, I found this getting unexpectedly creamy. I hadn’t noticed any cinnamon in the flavor, but my mouth is convinced I’m drinking a light chai. Nifty!

gongfu style, 3g leaf to 3.5oz water, steeps starting ~5 seconds

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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Some notes on ratings:

I’d have separate rating scales for tea types if that were possible (probably Black, Flavored Black, Darjeeling/Dark Oolong, White/Green/Light Oolong, and Herbal) because the flavors and quality markers are just too different. A flavored black rated 100 isn’t better than every oolong I’ve ever drunk, just delicious for a flavored black.

Ratings are a combination of my enjoyment and the perceived quality – I do often demote teas a few points for artificial flavorings, small quantity of steeps supported, or weakness of flavor (requiring extra leaf).

I pay less attention to the number than the order of my ratings; I don’t necessarily keep a stock of everything rated 80+, but if two breakfast blends are rated 82 and 84 I consistently enjoy the 84 more.

And in case it’s not obvious? I am not an expert. I don’t even know what I like until I taste it sometimes, but I’m ok with that :) I like learning to like new teas, as well as enjoying the comfort of familiar ones.

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