I really really disliked this one last time I tried it. Per Stacy’s suggestion, I steeped at a lower temp this time around.
I made this gongfu style, 2.5 tsp for 5 oz with a 5 second initial rinse. I ended up drinking this tea over the course of three days, ultimately getting somewhere between 15 and 20 steeps. I never did grow to like it. I just wanted to see how many steeps I could get out of it. I took notes on the first four steeps, but after that the cups were so similar that it seemed redundant to take detailed notes.
first steep – 180f, 30 seconds
It’s hard to find the right word for the smell. Mineral, maybe. It tastes of dirt and that mineral(?) note. There’s almost a saltiness to it. The mouthfeel is heavy.
second steep – 180f, 40 seconds
While the first steep was very pale, this one is a deep orange. It has the same earthy mineral scent as the first steep. Just like the color, the scent is deeper in this steep. The flavor is about the same.
third steep – 185f, 60 seconds
This steep is actually slightly paler than the second one, almost a honey color. The smell is earthy now. That mineral/rock note has scurried off from the scent. Aaand apparently it ran right into the flavor. Ugh. Somebody recently asked on the message board what a mineral note tastes like and the first response was “go lick a rock”. Yup, this tastes like licking a rock. Or, more accurately, what I imagine a rock would taste like. With the exception of thoroughly washed fruits, veggies, tubers, and legumes, I make it a general rule not to lick things that come off the ground. So there’s that.
fourth steep – 180f, 30 seconds
This steep is SO much better! More earthy than rocky, with a hint of sweetness at the end. It’s actually better when it cools to room temperature. It takes on a more toasty character with a smooth mouthfeel and pleasantly fresh aftertaste.
I found that the brew consistently came out best at a 30 second steep between 180-190f. The flavor was always earthy and rocky, but it got smoother over time. It did grow on me but never quite got to “delicious”. I am very impressed by the high number of good steeps that I got out of it. No rating because I’m not sure how to split the difference between blegh taste and impressive steepability. Also because I think someone who enjoys dirt & rock notes would totally enjoy this tea.