The dry leaf is long and twisty and black.
I gave this tea two quick rinses in 96C water then poured off my first steep immediately.
The steeped leaf smells intense! Roasted, minerals, almost an acrid smell of burning wet wood (oak?), and something that makes me think of decay on the forest floor. it’s a bit overwhelming and I’m not sure I like it.
The liquor is a deep orange brown, very clear and smells like a very toned down version of the leaf. It has a lot of body and a silky mouth feel. The taste is intense and rich – roasty, cooked overripe fruit, maybe even mushrooms and smoked wood. There’s a strong grassy note that develops at the end of a long finish.
Steep 2, 4 seconds. This steep is both more mild and more intense. That acrid smoking wood note has moved to the palate, though I’m kind of enjoying it here. Intense minerality. An interesting numbing, almost tongue-coating sensation that reminds me of puerh. The finish has turned more citrus – orange peel I think.
Steep 3, 8 seconds. The burning wet oak note is pretty strong in this steep. Stewed plums, minerals, wood, decay, and then a hint of cooling eucalyptus at the finish. The mouth feel is very thick and silky.
Steep 4, 10 seconds. More stewed plums, minerals, and burning wet oak. Still acrid but the smell is growing on me.
Steep 5, 12ish? seconds. More fruity notes are coming to the forefront. The steeped leaves have developed a burnt caramel note which is nice.
Steep 6, 20 seconds. Plums, caramel, more burning wet oak.
This is some wild tea. It’s got a kick to it that’s unlike anything I’ve had before and from what I recall, substantially different from the other Da Hong Pao I’ve tried. I’m both put off by the smell and strongly drawn to it. I wasn’t sure I liked this at first but I feel like I could steep these leaves all day long.
This feels pretty mellowing – drinking this has been quite relaxing.
Lots of mixed feelings about this tea, but I think on balance it’s pretty amazing for the complexity. I think that this is definitely worth trying, even though I suspect a lot of people wouldn’t particularly like it.
Flavors: Burnt, Caramel, Decayed wood, Eucalyptus, Grass, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Plums, Roasted, Stewed Fruits, Wet Wood