I am really new to Hei Cha. It is a very distinct kind of tea so I refrained from writing a review until I had it several times. And I think it was the right decision for it certainly have grown on me.
Being a fermented tea it does not impress you in the dry leaf stage: dry dull leaves with equally dull fragrance of old leaves and dirt. The taste of the first steeping (and you can get many of them out of it, similar to puerhs) did shock me with the vibrant spice, dry fallen leaves and – foremost – bay leaves). The hei cha flavor constellation is certainly unique and I needed some time to get used to it and be able to observe the subtle changes over the course of steepings.
The spice/bay leave intensity gradually subsided with bitter herbs coming to the fore. And in the late steepings this tea changed into leather, thyme, mint, wild strawberries, baked apple, and cinnamon. In short, this tea produces busy, captivating sessions.
I am still not fully comfortable with this palette and will certainly need several more tries to become familiar . And I will certainly order a couple of other hei chas to compare them side by side. It is such a unique kind of tea and I am honestly surprised why there are many loyal (some would even say, fanatical) puerh aficionados but no" hei cha heads".
All in all, I had a mighty good time. The only caveat is that my high rating may reflect rather my excitement upon discovering hei cha in general rather than the strength of this particular tea compared to the others of the same type.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Candied Apple, Cinnamon, Dry Grass, Earth, Leather, Mint, Spices, Strawberry, Thyme