first i gotta say.. it’s not what i expected.
i got this tea in 2013 (2012 production, 201 batch), about 6-12 months after production. it had a full aroma with a slightly sweet twist and i quite liked it.
i stored it for 3 years now with the paper slightly opened so it gets air, no direct sunlight in a shelf. as it is a shu/shou tea (ripe) the quality is not really expected to get better like with a raw sheng tea, and it didnt.
after 3 years it just tastes like pure dark earth with a slight sinensis aroma. it’s kind of interesting, but the good sweet aroma really went away with the years and did not improve or get more intense.
i wouldn’t say it tastes really good anymore. sweetness is gone and it’s more bitter without beeing really bitter but also not sweet. that’s why i give it only 85 points for the original taste. after 3 years i would give it only 65 points.
steeping time needed is still very short for the first steeps, like 5-10 seconds, but needs quite more time with the 6th steep (like 25-35 seconds).
you can brew it up to 7 times, the following steeps will have a lighter color and a more watery flavor and it doesn’t feel very healthy anymore but you can brew it up to 12 times if you really have to.
first steep feels like nothing, 2nd feels like a real steep, 3rd gives your body energy and you feel the blood flowing freely through your veines, this is a very good tea for tai chi or yoga. starting with the 5th steep it will make you calmer and sleepy. and the 8th steep will make you feel uncomfortable and give your body a hard time. at least this is my experience.
i would recommend it, but you should use it within 6 to 12 months and not store it for years like a a sheng.
important to wash it with boiling water for 5 seconds first as the leaves got very dry after some years, they will get very soft after washing it though and you can spread them in your pot.
temperature: important to let the boiling water cool down for 10 seconds so it is not boiling any longer. with boiling water you get a slightly burned flavour, 93 °C will give you a round and pleasant flavory aroma with no burned bitter-old flavor.
caffeine: 2 grams is ok in the evening so you can sleep. 3 grams is a normal amount in the early afternoon, 4 grams is too much and i had a hard time trying to sleep, heart beating and feeling dizzy. this happened a few hours after drinking 3-4 grams in the evening every time. it’s perfectly fine when you are awake and while drinking, but even hours after drinking 4 grams and getting tired, i had severe problems. this could be related to the first batch of 2012 (batch 201) where the leaves contain a higher amount of caffeine.
Flavors: Dirt, Earth, Mushrooms, Wood