This is a nice tea that provides a fairly unique experience at a great price. I also have a little something extra for this tea – a comparison of cups: clay (jianshui) vs. porcelain (celadon).
First, the tea. It is definitely a great candidate to showcase chocolately notes in a black tea, if you’ve never experienced that before. Lots of cocoa, dark chocolate, and fruit-flavored chocolate notes. It also has strong nut/peanut notes.
One unique aspect of the tea is an interesting finish that reminded me a bit of green oolongs, even high-mountain oolongs. It finished like many black teas, with some blackberry coulee/syrup notes and some nuttiness, but underneath that I kept finding coconut, creaminess, and some light citrus sweetness. Really interesting if you’re paying attention.
Now, the cups. The jianshui clay definitely tamed some of the light bitterness that came up with the nutty notes. It also added substantial minerality to the whole experience (of course). Overall, the mouthfeel felt slightly more substantial, and the experience was smoother. Much closer to a Wu Yi oolong experience.
The porcelain was more dynamic in the mouth, albeit with a slightly thinner mouthfeel. The fruitiness was stronger in the finish, and the nuttiness was more prominent in the arrival.
Dry leaf – dark chocolate, cocoa powder, roasted peanuts, tangy fruit – blackberry coulee. In preheated vessel – strong rich nuttiness and fruit flavors.
Smell – nutty, chocolate, blackberry coulee, fruit chocolate (raspberry)
Taste – roasted peanuts, fruit flavored chocolate (raspberry); finish is syrupy sweet and fruity – blackberry coulee, coconut, some hints of mandarin orange/citrus. After a while, the flavor has some of the barley-sugar notes you get from an unpeated Scotch.