I definitely smell the cocoa notes described in the dry leaf. There’s also something gently spicy, like a savory spiced bread but not garlic-y.
195F, progressively longer steeps in the gaiwan starting at 15 seconds after rinsing.
The tea is a light copper color. I get tobacco notes in the aroma, as well as cognac. But the flavor is unexpectedly, naturally sweet. I don’t taste honeysuckle, more something fruity. Peachy. The cocoa/tobacco come through in the flavor as well. This is a fascinating tea — so many flavors and levels of complexity. The cup smells like honey after the tea is gone.
The second steep is more amber in color than copper. More stonefruit than chocolate/tobacco, but still with something brandy-like about it in the aroma. The flavor has all kinds of complexity. Angrboda was right about the chameleon nature of this tea, though the flavors I get aren’t what she does. I see what she means about the mint, though I don’t taste mint. I get a freshness in the mouth reminiscent of mint. Honestly, I could drink this all day — it’s smooth and easy to drink. Definitely worth the time. I’m sad that they no longer have this on the Teas Etc. web site.
Maybe I’m just in the mood, but this is coming across to me as one of the more enjoyable dark oolongs I’ve experienced. The third steep has a mineral hint in the aroma and a peach/peach pit smell. It does not smell like it would have any sweetness in the flavor, and yet it does, with a cocoa finish and a tobacco/brandy aftertaste.
Between the third and fourth steep, I started to notice what I think Angrboda meant by cinnamon. It’s not a flat out cinnamon flavor for me, but it’s reminiscent of that. Like having powdered cinnamon on the tongue but without the intensity/bitterness. All of the flavors mentioned persist into the fourth steep with almost no loss of flavor.
I’m going to put this through a few more steeps. It’s a wonderful tea.
Flavors: Brandy, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Mineral, Peach, Stonefruit, Tobacco