YS doesn’t carry many Qimen black teas, but the ones they do are pretty reliable. The imperial grade is certainly the more refined one. It is kind of funny to drink tea with a profile that’s so close to a lot of (at best) mediocre black tea, which is nevertheless so nuanced and keeps offering new facets with each sip.
To me, dry leaves smell of roasted nuts, barn, red wine, cherries, and chocolate cake here. Then, during the session, I notice scents of wood, brioche, malt, brown ale, and molasses in the gaiwan and vanilla with chestnut in the empty cha hai.
The taste is nutty, woody and surprisingly bitter. It has a metallic sourness, some residual sweetness and induces a cooling sensation in the mouth. The mouthfeel is smooth with very little astringency. Specific flavours change, but some I have noticed include sawdust, brown sugar, and cranberries.
Flavors: Barnyard, Bitter, Bread, Brown Sugar, Cake, Cherry, Chestnut, Cranberry, Malt, Metallic, Molasses, Nutty, Red Wine, Roasted Nuts, Sawdust, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood