Thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!
I’ve been holding off on reviewing this one for a while and give this tea as many tries as I could for the best opinion. It makes a nice cup, but it isn’t really anything I would show off to friends. I fear too much roasting is what did this one in. Charcoal and woody flavors overpower many of the subtler tastes the leaves offer, and tend to cause a fuzzy and drying mouthfeel and a somewhat bitter aftertaste. Thankfully, the leaves have an inherent sweetness to them, and counterbalance this enough to make the overall flavor enjoyable. I have difficulty finding any floral tones throughout steeps, but if I try hard enough I can just pick them out. I find the flavor profile to lean more towards tart fruits than florals, and this is mirrored in both the wet leaf’s aroma and the aftertaste. The first few steeps gong fu style tend to be the most interesting for me. I receive notes of apple, cocoa, and malt in addition to the aforementioned charcoal and wood tastes. Honey flavors creep in into the third or fourth steep, but besides this addition, the complexity goes a bit flat and the flavors fade out quickly for this tea type.
The dry leaves have a nice deep brown appearance and smell of hay, dried fruits, and somewhat biscuity. The wet leaves expand to reveal a very green coloration. They release dark aromas of earth, pure tea, cocoa, and tart berries. They appear in decent shape, although there are a few quite large empty stems. The leaves are, however, very dusty and leave a layer of silt at the bottom of my cup after every steep. Untwisting the the wet leaves, I dragged my thumb across the surface of a leaf and received a fair bit of black specks on the tip.
I suppose my expectations were a bit too high, as this tea just tastes common; there is nothing exciting or unexpected hiding in the leaves. I’m okay with this, though. It’ll give me something to drink when I don’t have time for other complex teas.