As advertised, this is very much a Menghai daily drinker, with that low, fruity bitterness characteristic of the region. That said, even at its punchiest, it never quite veers off into punishing territory; my wife, for whom New Amerykah 2 is essentially non-drinkable, quite enjoyed this session. There’s no real qi and the tea isn’t particularly thick, but it leaves behind a nice, penetrating aftertaste (kuwei, I guess?) throughout most of the steeps. The smoke is decidedly present, but, in this session anyway, mostly unobtrusive (I seemed to notice it more in prior sessions, so there may be some variability in the cake, or waiting a couple months caused the sample to smooth out; hard to say). The later steeps held up better than I expected, with the bitterness transmuting into actual sweetness, rather than just fading into vacuity.
All told, this is a pleasant tea, maybe even a bit better than that. At the current price point, I’m not totally sure I’d get it. A couple dollars more will land you New Amerykah 2—which, although a harsher drinker, is decidedly the better tea—and a bit more than half the price will get you Milk, Cream, and Alcohol—which is admittedly not as good, but lacks the smoke. Still, I wouldn’t turn this down, and this could eventually work its way into my collection, especially after the 2017 price increases.
(As a disclaimer, this is based on a sample; your mileage may vary, especially after a year or two)
Edit: after having had Milk, Cream, and Alcohol in a direct comparison, I’m bumping the rating on this. This is a much deeper tea, on the balance, and has more interesting stuff going on with it, especially in the later steeps. Both teas are priced appropriately for the quality, at least as far as they compare to each other (still not sure with regards to NA 2).