First a big thank you to mrmopar, whose tasting notes made me aware of this shu and whose guidance steered me to a reputable seller.
This is, without a doubt, the finest shu I have tasted to date. Rounded and full, powerful in the early steeps, but not overbearing and never bitter or astringent. Notes of leather, cedar, chicory, minerals, mushrooms, citrus and pepper make appearances in various combinations as the steeps progress, with each taking a turn at prominence yet never overshadowing the others. The aroma is refined and never funky. My notes show a range of earthy scents (clean damp earth, loamy earth, hints of peat, fresh rain, clean wet hay) with an underlying sweetness throughout. The liquor runs the gamut of reds, from nearly opaque through ruby, and will transition to a deep amber if you give it enough steeps.
It seems to benefit from adequate leaf quantity and fairly short steeps. Although I have not come up with a definitive Gong Fu regimen for this, I’m leaning towards a baseline of 6 grams per 100 ml (scaled up linearly to my pot size at 7.8 grams and 130 ml). I use 212 F water, give it a single 15 second rinse and a 2 minute pause to allow the leaves to begin to open up. My steeps run 15 / 6 / 8 / 10 / 15 / 20 / 25 / 30 seconds, with the first steep running a little long to allow the tea to finish opening up.
This is one shu I’ll buy more of to give a couple of cakes time to age. Absolutely stunning IMO.