The leaves of this cake are dark and black, but break apart easily revealing long, spindly leaves. After a quick rinse, the leaves smell earthy, like a shou, but also have a heavy, ripe fruit scent to them, like plum or heavy apricot.
The first steep is quite light and comes out in an amber color. The flavor is very reminiscent of a shou, as the earthy note comes out in the foreground. It’s a very “clear” earth note, however, and feels like the scent of the air after a rainfall.
In the second steep, a mid-centered bitterness comes out, around the middle of the tongue, though it’s quite light and not unpleasant. In addition, there’s a tanginess to the flavor here as well, that shows up along the sides of the tongue. It’s a sharp, sour sort of feeling. Overall not too unpleasant, and quite interesting.
In the third steep, earth takes over as the main note once again, though with a backline of similar flavors to the second steep. The fourth steep is similar, but the astringency rises a little and leaves my mouth feeling quite dry. Later steeps have a deep sweetness to them as well as a bit of the earthy and bitterness.
Overall, an enjoyable tea and more interesting than most shou I’ve tried thus far. Maybe not my favorite, but I’ll be giving it some more time.