I had actually forgotten that I signed up for Steepster select until I got the email that it had shipped! Must’ve been a black Friday or holiday sale? I went for the darkest, most warming tea first, because it’s really really cold today.
I used one full sample bag (there are two of each tea, and the bags are not resealable; I’ll measure the quantity when I get home) for 8oz water. They suggested boiling water, so I heated my mug over the kettle to avoid the temperature drop from pouring into a cold vessel.
First impressions: dry leaf is big, dark, and twisted, like a wuyi oolong, but they list this as a red/black tea. Liquor: very red! Smells like… an assam? Yes, an assam. With all the rich honey notes, but also a hint that the taste might be more tannic. Taste: oddly muted, definitely a little bitter on the front, then mellows out into something more chewy, like a dark wheat bread. I’m not getting any of the cinnamon or clove spices – will have to see if they come out on later steeps.
So far, I’m not too impressed. I will try the other sample of this gongfu style, it seems like it might benefit from shorter, more intense steeps. This manages to be mild and muddled at the same time. It smells delicious though! Maybe milk and sugar? I try not to do that to good teas, but I also don’t drink a lot of black teas completely straight.
Edit: I like the second steep better. I’m getting more of the subtle spice notes now. I think the first steep was just too much leaf/time/temp and got muddy. I ended up steeping this 4 times, steeps 2 and 3 were the best, though the first steep was also improved by a dash of milk and sugar. Fans of Assam and Darjeeling might appreciate this more than I did.