First of all, this tea looks and smells GORGEOUS. It’s got this malty, chocolate-y aroma that just makes your toes curl. MMMMMMmmmm.
That said, on to the specs:
Leafage: The first time, I only made a single cup, so I used one and a half teaspoons. The second time, I used about 4 teaspoons for 16 oz. of tea. I’m discovering that I prefer the stronger, manly side of black tea. It puts hair on your… nevermind.
Leaf color and smell: Pre-steeping, it was that lovely mottled gold/brown color stated in the tea’s description. The leaves seemed to me to be a bit… puny, I suppose is the right word. They looked smaller than other black tea leaves I’ve seen before. The smell was, as I said, malty and chocolate-y, with promise of lots of creamy flavors. Post-steeping, the leaves hadn’t opened all that much, just enough to look like grass shards. I suppose they really are smaller than other leaves I’ve seen, though I’m not trying to say that’s a bad thing. Just be prepared, if you decide you want to order this one. Of course, it may just be this particular batch. le shrug
Taste: I maaaay have walked out of the room temporarily while the tea was steeping the first time (don’t judge me D:), so when I came back, the timer had been going off for probably a couple of minutes. However, I sugared it anyway, prepared to soldier through the tannins to the bitter end (ha ha ha)… but then I found that it wasn’t nearly as bitter as I had expected. In fact, it tasted very much like someone had sneaked in the room while I wasn’t there and poured some semisweet chocolate chips in my tea. The texture wasn’t right for chocolate… but the flavor was SPOT ON. I didn’t have to add any milk (which is typically my cure for oversteeped tea, which happens in my house more frequently than I care to admit… myself not being the most fastidious person in the world). I was floored.
The second time, just today, I decided to break it out again for myself and the hubby when he came home for his lunch break. :) This time, I deliberately steeped it for about four minutes, instead of the recommended two or three, to see if I could achieve some of that chocolate-y flavor without quite so much of the bitterness from last time. Sadly, the chocolate flavor wasn’t QUITE there… but it was nonetheless enjoyable, tasting more like the creamy notes I detected in the smell. I will be trying this one again! Sooo gooooood :)