This one is strange. Black as coal. Form is a strongly compressed cake that flaked and powdered under my pick. Like shou, but even darker. I wound up with 3 chunks and a bunch of dust.
The aroma is burnt, with an undercurrent of caramel. Taste is hard to describe. The burnt taste seemed to float at the front of my mouth while the caramel moved back to my throat. The burnt flavor faded then reappears in the finish (which is very long). This one is REALLY not for the light-roast crowd! I messed up the second steep and did about 5 minutes. Really strong but not bad. The flavor rivals espresso for intensity but without too much acid or bitterness. Some bitterness does appear in the finish and it became more bitter as it cooled. 3rd steep is effectively about the 5th steep due to the long second steep. Still strong. Nose very burnt but there is a sweetness developing in the taste. Drying out my throat.
5th steep is sweeter and less roasted. I’m liking it better, though it is also a bit simpler. Still smells like burnt toast. At this point I stopped taking detailed notes but kept drinking. I’m at about the 10th steep and the harsh burnt flavor is just about gone. What is left is a complex mix of tobacco and leather. The taste is still strong, and the finish is unbelievable. I’m also getting light-headed from the cha qi.
In a way, I was lucky to oversteep the tea. Otherwise I would probably have given up after about 4 steeps, as the flavor, while interesting was not all that pleasant. However, I’m enjoying the later steeps very much and while I need to stop because I’m probably way over my caffeine quota for the day this tea doesn’t want to quit. I’m not giving a numerical rating but this started out as about an 84 just because it was interesting, dropped into the high 70s because I got tired of the burnt flavors, but is now in the high 80s because it is just so darn pleasant to drink. With the exception of the second steep, all my steep times have been about 1 minute. I normally increase oolong steep times after the third but haven’t felt the need for this powerful tea. I still have a few grams so may try this with much shorter steeps next time.
Thanks again to Liquid Proust. this was a lot of fun, and a tea I never would have tried on my own!