Instead of writing my own introduction to this review, I'll just provide a link to Varat's review of this tea, as he did a better job of introducing this tea than I could.
The dry leaves are black with a long, wiry shape. A piece of bamboo from the basket that the tea was aged in was included with my sample, as Liu'an is often brewed with a piece of bamboo in the teapot for added flavor and/or medicinal qualities. The dry leaves have a faint aroma of sweet licorice. After a quick rinse the aroma is much more intense, an unmistakable scent of a well-aged tea arises, along with a woodsy accent from the bamboo.
As expected for a high quality tea of this age, it's very, VERY good. The liquor is remarkably thick, almost syrupy in consistency. While not complex and strong like an old pu'erh, there's a more comforting mellow and sweet flavor, with hints of chinese herbs and bamboo. The cha qi is definitely worth mentioning as well, after a few cups of this tea my mind was completely empty and I felt completely calm.
As the number of steeps increase this tea shows no signs of dying out, in fact it actually gets better and better until about the 15th steep. I eventually called it quits around steep 30, as the leaves were giving me nothing but sweet water at this point, even with extended steeps. Teas like this must be enjoyed with care, as 60 years of environmental and socioeconomic changes in China made it much harder for top-quality teas such as this one to be produced, so an opportunity to taste something like this should be treated like a rare gift. However, there has recently been a huge increase in the production of teas made with high-quality base material, so it is entirely possible for some of these newer teas to age into something great such as this. Or perhaps they'll age into something better, or maybe into something much, much worse. There's no telling at this point.
|not sure why this picture is upside down, one of the later steeps|