The description on the TeaSource site described the tea as “thick, complex, velvety, with a little hint of a spicy/cocoa note at the end.” Some compare this to pu-erh, even describe Dian Hong as a kind of pu-erh, more “black” than “red.” This steeped up darker than any tea I’ve tried. Whites like Silver Needle barely color the water, while the Dian Hong is almost coffee-like—even cocoa-like in color. And strong, very strong in taste. If white teas are wimps that cower at milk, this one would lay milk on the ground with one punch.
It might improve for me on more acquaintance. Assam did—and this reminds me of Assam. Very malty, very complex. There’s something about the taste I don’t know how to describe. Earthy maybe? Not quite what I’d describe as smokey, but earthy might cover it. I can taste the promised peppery note—reminiscent of licorice. My aunt, by now practically a connoisseur of black teas, called it “different, very different” and though she liked it better than the “dirty water tea” aka Silver Peony, the white tea we tried a couple of days ago, wasn’t sure on first acquaintance what to make of it. She wants us to brew it again tomorrow, because she thinks she needs a chance to get used to it. I’ll reserve judgement—maybe it’ll grow on us, and even though TeaSource gives a minimum of 4 minutes of steeping maybe next time I’ll try 3 minutes and that’ll help.