Picked this up with a handful of other samples from this company at the Midwest Tea Fest. Was told by the vendor that this tea is a “well-kept secret”, so with not much more of a prologue than that, into the gaiwan it goes.
The dry leaves in a warm gaiwan smell like buttery mashed potatoes and cacao. The aroma of the wet leaves very much surprised me. It’s a much more perfumed, fruity and floral scent with notes of plum and lychee and a little honey.
I’m a little surprised by the flavor. This tea sure is full of surprises. The flavor actually tastes more like what the dry aroma would have led me to believe it would taste like, rather than the wet leaf aroma. It’s got a nice honey sweetness to it, but is underlaid with notes of malt, cacao, and potato. There’s a fruity floral aroma on the tea but it doesn’t come through much in the flavor, though there are some subtle hints of plum, more so as the tea cools. The sweetness of this tea is very long-lasting
The color of this tea’s liquor is a honey-gold color, much lighter than usual for a black tea. The taste of the second infusion is very sweet and has a flavor like oats and molasses with a slightly bitter dark chocolate aftertaste and a lingering sweetness as well.
The third infusion is just as sweet as the second. This tea has a rather creamy, airy body to it. It’s light for a black tea. I haven’t read any info on it yet, but I would assume this is made with an Alishan oolong cultivar (edit: checked, and yeah it is). It has the lightness and cleanliness that Alishan oolong usually exhibits. The flavor of this third infusion has slightly more floral and plum or prune, but still underscored by an ending note of bitterness. In contrast to the creamy and light body while drinking it, the finish is a bit dry in the mouth.
I hesitate to weigh in on whether this tea is truly a “well-kept secret” because it simply isn’t my tastes in black tea. It has a really interesting display of sweet high notes and some dark bitter low notes, but I feel like it’s missing the middle, and this causes it to taste overly sweet to me. For me, it lacks the richness and depth I crave in black teas. It’s like hearing only the top and bottom notes of a chord on the piano. It sounds nice, but it needs that middle note to give it character. That said… it’s a good tea and tastes very clean. It just doesn’t stand out against other high mountain oolongs gone black that I’ve tried, which have tended to have some very uncommon notes and impressive complexity.
Flavors: Cacao, Floral, Honey, Plums, Potato