I wonder why I bought a sample of this tea from YS. Maybe I wanted to become acquainted with Mengsa? Maybe...
Why roses? Well I took this picture shortly after drinking this tea, feeling that the tea tastes a bit like these roses look...
Upon opening the pouch, I was surprised by how green the leaves still were, given that this is a 2004 tea:
Anyway, they look nice. And there is a very characteristic and pleasant aroma of canned strawberries about them. While the leaves do look young, they have some age in them according to the aroma which is not entirely young.
The wet leaves also smell lovely, sweet, with the strawberry element still present (persisting in the nose for some time after sniffing), accompanied by light animality.
Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of the liquor. It was light brown, a certainly acceptable color for a 2004 tea. There was no hint of over-driedness throughout my sessions with this tea.
The taste (especially the initial steepings) is almost excellent, sweet, reasonably full and "late summer garden fruit"-ish. Then, a bit weaker phase comes, when astringency (and later bitterness) sort of dominate the taste; however, when they go away, a light, but pleasant aftertaste comforts taste cells again.
As I said, the bitterness and astringency are a bit of a problem, especially in later steepings. They're not too bad, but the tea is not easygoing or silky yet.
Outside the taste itself, the tea does not do that well, but it's not disappointing, as long as one does not expect too much.
Overall, for $28, I'd expect something a lot worse. $28 for a 2004 cake is a suspiciously low price. I don't say that the tea is faultless - it needs more mellowing, to be sure - but I did enjoy the taste a lot; it's not just a run-of-the-mill generic sheng, it has its character - and that's what I appreciate the most about it.