Alistair, I gotta be honest- I opened an smelled every single bag to make a decision, and this one had my favorite scent.
Smelling the tea, it was mildy chocolaty, nutty, and fairly floral in an autumn leaf pile kind of way. Smelling the tea brewed, it had a baked goods quality to it.
The first time I had it in my tumbler, I went light on the leaf, but long on the steep time. It matched the dry leaf, but had a distinct rose note, coupled with baked bread, chocolate hints, cashews, and other florals. It was a little dry, but sweet enough to stand out on its own although the texture was a little bit thin.
I upped the leaf in a “Mug Fu” style, rinsing it for five seconds, then tested it, then soaked it for another 10. It was very much the same, but the rose was more pronounced with a little bit of malt and stronger chocolate notes in a complex leaf pile. The second steep at about 15 seconds, but less water was distinctly more fruity and sweet. The fruit notes were hard to pin out, but it had the stone fruit quality you get from most Nepalese teas, but there were time where it made me think of passion fruit. Tannin and more savory notes built up a little bit as it cooled down, being almost akin to a sweet red wine, or even peachy like some Rose (I do not know how to put the accent mark in). The more I rebrewed it, the fruitier it got and the more almond the nut note became.
In comparative words, this tea was like most Nepalese or Himalayan Oolongs, having some trademarks of an Oriental Beauty, but the chocolate or cocoa or baked notes were honestly something out of a Laoshan Black. I’m glad that I snagged some for the limited edition, but I will say that only get this if you know what you’re getting. It does share a lot of similarities with the Winter Special which I slightly prefer only because of price. This is an excellent tea that I will finish quickly because I like it that much, but if you do decide to purchase what little of this tea there is, do so with care. I’m personally rating it a 90 although it’s a little closer to a 93-94 for my taste. The price is the only problem. I’m still glad What-Cha was able to offer it, and it’s my favorite of the limited edition teas right now. I wonder how the Ruby Black compares.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Bread, Chocolate, Floral, Nuts, Rose, Stonefruit, Sweet