This flimsy old cake could be split and pulled apart with a gentle touch. Wabi-sabi beauty definitely shows through as the cake droops slightly over the edge of the table. The brew comes out as a lovely dark red/brown, smelling of wet lumber and tobacco.
Opening up in the flavor is a rich mellow flavor over wood and tobacco. Following the first infusion, a deep sweetness comes out that is very rich and reminiscent of an aged shu. The taste builds to be a little too rich, so I park some leaves in a spare cup for the time being.
Removing some leaves greatly increases the quality of the cup giving me lots of delicious lumber in the taste, good lumber being my favorite aspect to find in old sheng. Dry wood, wet wood, old wood, all under a blanket of must are noted after the stripping of leaves. The shu-like tastes are nearly diminished as I enjoy cup after cup of warm, lumber-rich, musty goodness. I begin to perspire as a sprite of hot qi envelops my body. Still going strongly in the 'teens, the large leaves open up to reveal a still somewhat green interior. Though the leaves are large, they are also quite thin and break apart easily.
I find this tea fluctuates dramatically in taste. It can be rich, mellow, woodsy, musty, shuey, and even calm, but not at the same time. Is this a sign of a good tea? I don't know. I do know that I like it, with the transient flavors making the tea somewhat more of a journey. Doing this tasting in 90°f weather has been somewhat demanding, especially after eating some spicy lime-chicken pizza. On another day, with a light breeze, a cleaner palate, and less leaf, I will write up a part-2 of this tasting.