I would guess that this tea started life quite bitter and herbal – an experience not unlike chewing on the stem of some decorative parsley – which seems to be the trademark of so many Menghai teas. After seven years of aging, there is still some of that left; however, these youthful flavors are now in the process of transforming into more mature, approachable flavors, notably sweet tobacco and mild fruit notes.
This isn’t a bad time to be tasting this tea, but it still does need some more age on it before it really shines. The bitterness isn’t bad right now – it never exceeds what you find in a fairly tame IPA – but the bitter green herb flavors can be a bit much after a while.
Based on what I’m tasting right now, this tea will continue to develop its sweet aged tobacco and dried dark fruit notes. There are still plenty of youthful flavors to this one, which I think would indicate that this will be packed with flavor as it continues to age.
In the meantime, what you can expect right now are plenty of hay, green herb, and tobacco notes with some hops-like bitterness. Rounding out these flavors are dried dark fruit notes that enhance the tobacco sweetness.
Dry leaf – fresh peach and apricot, clover honey, fresh hay. In preheated vessel – prune, dried fig, sweet tobacco
Smell – parsley and bitter green herb, tobacco, straw, wood smoke, charred wood, some spiciness
Taste – sweet tobacco, bitter herb, parsley, hay are predominant, cigar-like “spiciness”. Consistent base of stewed English breakfast tea. Prune sweetness with undertones of apricot.