Backlogging and based almost entirely on my notes
Small update (6/14/2012): Today I did a complete second steeping session with this tea (five steepings), which finishes the sample, and I got the same results.
Experience buying from Verdant Tea http://steepster.com/places/2886-verdant-tea-online-minneapolis-minnesota
Date of Purchase/Date of Steeping/Frequency Drank: David graciously included this sample with my last order at the end of 2011; brewed up March, 2012; presently, have done only one steeping session so far.
Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: aroma reminded me of roasted, salted-in-the-shell peanuts! It was fresher than what I remember the Cha Dao Wuyi oolongs to smell like; these leaves had the appearance of what I believe most Wuyi oolongs look like: large leaves, twisted—some bent—with a uniform dark-brown color.
Brewing guidelines: what I am guessing was three very generous TBSP dry tea (I used my hand to measure it, as its hard to get the leaves on a spoon) for three cups H2O; < my notes don’t state it but I believe I used my six-cup glass Bodum, leaf free to roam >; stevia added;
……….1st: 200F; 45"……………….mild, roasted
……….2nd: near boiling; 1.5’………a little fruitier, less roasted
……….3rd: Nearer boiling; 2.25’…what I judged to be the best steeping (less roast, more fruit)
……….4th: boiling; 3’………………..mellow, smooth, mildly-toasted, good!
……….5th: spot-on boiling; 5’…….very mild flavor, but good (“Reminds me of a roasted chili pepper”)
Color and Aroma of tea liquor: light caramel color (with a few bubbles on top); mildly roasted aroma.
Appearance and Aroma of wet leaf: Quality leaf: mostly large, whole dark-green leaves with roasted edges; aroma was rich and malty.
Value: Currently $32 / 4 OZ; although to me this seems like a lot to pay for this tea, I don’t know the standard price of Wuyi oolongs, so it may be commensurate with the quality.
Overall: I’m not certain what that note of the 5th steeping means exactly (I know, a BIG downside to backlogging : } ), but I roasted some chili peppers years ago—having brought them back fresh from a trip to New Mexico—and they were simply delicious; evidently something about this tea reminded me of them. I’ve decided not to assign a numerical rating to my review because it seems as though, on the whole—having had a number of Wuyi oolongs—I don’t care for the heavily roasted flavor that seems to be indicative of the first two steepings. Although I liked some things about the last three steepings, the taste is not something I am looking for in a tea. I have faith that David carries only the best-of-the-best (or close enough to it), so I am guessing my not liking this tea is more about my personal preferences than the tea not being ‘good’. Who knows? Maybe somewhere down the road I will develop a liking for the more darkly roasted Wuyi Oolongs.