Another from the Regional Group Buy. This is the January 2016 harvest.
Although I gave this a fairly conservative steep time, it’s surprisingly bitter and smoky even from first sip. Although smoky perhaps isn’t too unusual in flavour terms for a strong black, I found it quite jarringly unexpected. I imagine that has more to do with the other teas I’ve been drinking today that anything else, though.
Once I got myself acclimatised, I actually enjoyed it more than I expected to. I’m not the greatest fan of smoky tea, but here it works well with the backbone of malt and the degree of substance this one seems to have. It’s hard to know how to put that into words, but it comes across to me as a “heavy” tea, with thick flavours that would almost give it weight if such a thing were possible. It’s not a tea of the light and refreshing summer-day variety.
That being said, it’s not overpowering either. It’s a smoky-savoury black with a touch of background sweetness. The sweetness becomes more apparent as it cools, just as the smokiness begins to fade into the background. It’s certainly more complex than some straight blacks I’ve tried recently; a tea that requires thought more than mindless sipping. It wouldn’t be an everyday tea for me, but it’s certainly an interesting one and more unusual than most.