When I opened the package containing a sample of this tea, I was pleasantly surprised. Many big factories have some sort of "trademark taste" - their teas share a common "factory taste". Teas from SFTM I've had earlier were all quite similar too - and generally rather bad.
This one could be different, a real crouching tiger prepared to surprise me (like this "Prague tiger" I met wandering on rocks in Prokopske valley):
Dry, as well as wet leaves, gave a slightly aged aroma, dry-woody, spicy, with a bit of camphor.
The first two brews were acqually quite good, although mostly woody, not much fruitiness/floweriness I like about Youle. I enjoyed hints of caramel sweetness and starting "agedness" in the taste. The tea is in an interesting stage, losing its features of youth and gaining features of age instead. During the tasting I thought it was not overly complex, nor thick, but still quite nice and interesting. Although it felt dry stored (at least in last years), it has aged rather quickly, many 2002 teas are not nearly as aged as this one - probably a result of light compression.
What I enjoyed the most about this tea was the long cooling sensation and high activity on tongue imparted by the first two brews, a feeling I often associate with older trees. I was happy at that stage, thinking that even such a horrible company as SFTM is capable of producing good tea or at least was. Then the rest of brews came...
What happened when I had the tea for the first time happened also when I had it for the second time - the tea simply vanished, as if stabbed by a Morgul blade. The taste got weaker and weaker (and more and more boring) and the good mouthfeel has disappeared altogether. A possible explanation is that only a small part of leaves came from old trees - a practise which is well known in bigger factories. Anyway, from the 4th brew, I had to push the tea hard to get any taste of it - a minute long steepings are not my habit in 5th or 6th brew. Feeling the tea gave up completely in the fourth brew, I gave up two brews after him... it had nothing to offer at that stage. Even now, a day after, when smelling the wet leaves of the tea, they do not have almost any aroma - the tea is truly quite exhausted.
Maybe a while in recreational centre somewhere in wetter parts of China could help this tea get better, who knows.
If the tea gave 8 brews as good as the first two, I'd say this tea is worth the asked $73. But two good brews are way too little... It is a pity - the tea is somewhat interesting, being at the edge of youth and age, but really too weak and too expensive.