It took me about 5 minutes just to break apart the cake – it felt like I was chiseling away at a rock. The dry leaf aroma is almost a lack thereof. What I can find is a subtle, earthy, almost sweet aroma.
I gave it a quick rinse and the water instantly turned a reddish brown. Then, I steeped the leaves for 30 seconds. The liquor is the color of black coffee – a very deep brown.
The aroma of the tea is very earthy. Kind of smells like wet dirt. It reminds me of walking around a campsite after all of the fires have gone out.
The taste is very, very strong. The first tiny sip took my breath away. It is very bitter and has a strong smoky, earthy taste. The after taste stays in the back of my throat for quite some time… and I’m not extremely pleased by that. I still have two other tiny cups to drink (they only hold 20ml each), but I am looking at them in spite… no thanks.
Not sure why I am doing this, but I am going to try a second steep. I tried to steep it for 30 seconds, but I got nervous and pulled it at 20 seconds. The liquor is still as dark as the first steep. There is still the same aroma, except I can detect some slight floral notes. (wait, what?!)
This time the taste didn’t kick me in the butt as much as the first. It is a nice, sweet, earthy taste in the beginning, but I can feel the bitterness on the back of my tongue and throat.
I made it through the first cup, onto the second… and now the third. Ok, this is drinkable, but I still have to brace myself before each sip. Those who love Irish Breakfast tea or take their coffee black would adore this stuff. As for myself, it’s an exotic experience, but I couldn’t do this everyday.
Here are some informal pictures of my tasting: http://www.flickr.com/photos/17428844@N07/sets/72157623321744964/