The first infusion is slightly bitter, as well as smoky and grassy. I don’t like very strong grassy or smoky flavors in my tea, and the two characteristics together are not that pleasant to me. I read in others’ tasting notes that the smoke and grass flavors mellow in later infusions, so I’m trying that as well. The unfurled leaves are large and quite lovely. I can tell this is a high quality tea even if the flavors aren’t particularly enjoyable to me. I like darker roasts, but I much prefer a nutty and malty flavor with no smokiness at all. In the first infusion… I drank this too slowly. It’s cooling to almost room temperature, and as it cools the flavor seems slightly mellower but still not quite something I’m very excited about. I’m very glad I sampled before buying in bulk because I don’t like this nearly as much as other medium/dark roast oolongs I’ve tried. HOnestly, the smoke and grass together combine the two characteristics I most dislike in both black and green teas.
Later infusions: Hm… I agree that the smoke and grass flavors become a lot more subdued in later infusions. The smoke gives way to a more nutty and woody flavor. I do like this better, but the aftertaste is still a bit like ashes.
I’m also realizing that I need my tea to have at least some natural sweetness, and this has none.
I know this is a good tea, but I would only recommend it if these are flavors you really enjoy. For someone with tastes similar to mine, I definitely wouldn’t recommend.
Later afternoon: I tried this again. Wow, it’s amazing how much better it is with savory foods in the afternoon. I have changed my mind — I would try this again. This will teach me to keep ignoring time of day recommendations for types of tea. With savory food, i don’t mind this degree of smokiness at all.
Flavors: Ash, Dark Wood, Grass, Nutty, Oak wood, Roast nuts, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Toasted