2006 Changtai Banna Tuocha
This tuo breaks up very nicely and easily. I used my bare hands to break off a single good-sized chunk.. 5-7g I'm guessing.
Dry leaves in prewarmed gaiwan smell rich and chocolatey. After rinsing 2x @~20s each, wet leaves give off a fruity aroma. Strawberry? and chocolate fondue? I don't know, some fruit I can't put my finger on.
1: ~25s. Nice! smooth and chocolatey. My thoughts are immediately "$5 a tuo?? I'm gonna get me one of these." and then.."oh wait, I already have a whole one." I think I *slightly* oversteeped this one, as it's a tad bitter. But I love bitter chocolate, so it's all good. The tea isn't watery at all, and fills my head with.. ahh, I think I'm putting my finger on it.. chocolate covered cherries?
2: ~8s. Turned dark right away. Tea is thick and sweet, but not yucky-sweet. I'm feeling that faint tingle on my tongue.
3: ~12s. The flavors are so well blended that I can't pick anything out. I'm looking for Bears' sweet onion, but not finding it. Or am I? Come to think of it... Anyway, it's still thick and rich. I'm really liking this one.
4: ~17s. Losing a little of the richness, as expected, but still pretty durned good. I'm getting an interesting aftertaste, perhaps the herb that B3 mentioned. A touch of pucker-mouth astringency, but only so much as to be pleasant, as if I just dusted my mouth with gourmet cocoa powder. Oh boy oh boy oh boy, I think, eyeing the other 95g of this tuo.. "My precious.."
5: ~35s. The buzz is nice and mellow, but still "up". The flavor is still quite present -- less chocolate, less sweet, but something else. Tastes how a lot shus do after 5 steeps, but in the best way -- not in a low-grade watery way as many do. As I take a break from drinking to type this, the aftertaste comes: roasted grains.
6: Let it sit, drinking right out of the gaiwan. Still going, but this is probably the last good one. Throwbacks to the choco-cherries are still in there, surprising me. Still some tongue-tingle. Hmm, maybe I will do another infusion.
So... 4 stars! At 25c a pot, I highly recommend it. There were no fishy or otherwise "off" flavors, and chocolatey all around. And I feel good, not overly jangly or caffeinated. What more can I say? I can afford to drink this one every day -- what a treat!
[note.. after doing the math, I realize that this is about as pricey, per gram, as the Yunmei. But this one's way better, IMO. And, the bargain hunter (sucker) in me just sees the "oh, $5 for a unit of that!" regardless of the size of the unit.]
[another note: what makes a 5-star tea? Maybe after sampling all of them, I'll have to revisit my ratings..]