Did you receive the above mentioned tea yet?
I have so far received a 10g sample of Vahdam's Halmari Gold (ordered more at $62 for 300g shipped) and a bigger bag of Halmaritea.com's "GTGFOP1" ($43 for 250g shipped).
They are both excellent, both have that distinctive honey note, and astringent/puckery aftertaste/mouthful, and really special flavor and tannin profiles.
The Vahdam batch had more of those fuzzy red hairs that I remember from top grade Meleng and Mangalam '08-'12. And the Vahdam's taste hit me over the head. At first I'd thought the halmaritea.com batch wasn't as good, but it just needed to be steeped 3:15 min instead of my usual 3:45 or 4.
Today received shipment of a second 500 gram bag of the Halmari gold GTGFOP1 Clonal.
On my fourth pot full this morning and can only agree with your tasting notes stating a "distinctive honey note, and astringent/puckery aftertaste/mouthful, and really special flavor and tannin profiles" for this tea. I'm especially liking the malty notes that come through. Very smooth quality in the cup. I've been holding steeping times to 4 minutes. Had to back off my usual measure of leaf for this tea as I was experiencing a lot of strength in the cup. Last years Halmari Gold GTGFOP1 Clonal from this same vendor was good enough standalone but I favored it more as a half/half blend with a good Mangalam golden tippy. When I ran out of the Mangalam the Halmari was fading early. Haven't seen any good Mangalam yet this seasom. TeaBox though has just recently relisted a Mangalam Gold for 2017. I went through 800 grams of the TeaBox 2016 Mangalam tea last year and although I thought it a middling grade tea it was very good in a blend with higher grade teas like the Halmari top grades.
Thanks for the report on the Vahdam Halmari Gold. They had the best Halmari Gold in 2014 that was sold out twice and I long regretted not bringing in more. What I had of it never faded much over twelve months that it was on my shelf. Their 2016 Vahdam Halmari was not so good. Based on your report I am looking forward to sampling this new season Vahdam Halmari.
Could you reveal what water you are steeping your tea with? I'm currently using three bottled spring waters. I'm been long time obtaining best results with Ice Mountain sourced Evert Spring, MI. My second choice of water is Poland Spring water sourced out of state of Maine. I'm always trying other water sources yet too.
You said " the Vahdam's taste hit me over the head". Is that a good or a bad tea taste?
Here is a pic the Halmari Golden Tips that I received along with above mentioned GTGFOP1 Clonal. Will report on it later as I've been bonkers with a project ending and my tea breaks a too brief to fully focus the qualities of a new tea. http://uploads.im/gMtVc.jpg