Whoa. This tea is INTENSE. Dry, it smells a little smoky but mostly just earthy. I rinsed it briefly and it smelled like actual burning. I was a little dubious, I admit. The rinse water was like ashtray.
1st steep, 30 seconds: Hello smoke. I can taste almost nothing else. I enjoyed it and sipped until I realized it was so pungent I was bordering on a headache. Never fear though, I already realized what awesomeness could come of cooking with this stuff, and I put a container aside. 30 seconds was clearly too much for me.
2nd steep, 15s: Smoke, but also lots of other deep scents like wood and sweetness coming out. I think a candle needs to be made of this. But upon tasting it, decided it was still too smoky to drink a whole cup, so I added it to the container to make pasta with later.
3d steep, 15s: Ah yes, now I can taste more than just the smoke, though it is still present. It is a bit sweeter, and a lot woodier.
4th steep, 15s: Very similar to the last steep, but less smoke.
5th steep, 30s: I think it is safe to resume longer steeping times. Now this tastes like most oolongs would on first or second steeping. Also, shockingly, the leaves seem to have barely unfurled. Even if I only taste a few sips of every infusion, I am really determined to see how far I can stretch this.
6th steep, 30s: Also delicious, but sadly I am tapped. I steeped the rest for 5 minutes to make the remaining water to boil pasta in for pasta salad. I also cooked my mushrooms in the first steep and it was delicious. It added a meaty flavor that made it seem like I cooked them in beef stock. The leaves were still mostly unfurled and crunchy to the touch. Very impressive.
Overall, a bit too smoky for my taste. But, I do really enjoy the later steeps. Now I know I need to reserve the first few steeps as cooking liquid to make the most out of it, and drink the rest happily.