I recall that as a young boy, 6 or so, I've dreamt of unexpected discovery of a hoard - the general form was looking under the bed and finding a package of collectible cards in there (anybody remembers Middle-Earth game? Not the after-movie LoTR.). Surprisingly, such a thing once happened - a small deck of cards that fell out from a book I was taking out of library. My parents said they did not do it so I have forgotten them there myself or there are supernatural forces out there. Nevertheless, I had to wait about 20 years for the next miracle - how does it sound that your darling wife comes home to you with a paper bag filled with packages with labels starting with 1980s, 1998, 1990s, etc.? Sure sounds good to me! However, this time, there were no supernatural forces behind it, as the package has been most kindly provided by Hobbes (thinking of it, the presumption of non-supernaturalness might be invalid). The teas come from Teaclassico and we'll get to them all soon. Let us start with the 1998 Apple green tuocha. Or, rather, spelled "toucha" at the website, which always sounds like "gotcha" to me. Based on online shops and discussions, I wonder whether toucha is US and tuocha being used by the rest of the world?
The white coating is quite clear and it does not seem to be present only at the surface of the tuo, but also inside, which, together with tight compression, suggests a rather wet storage (where dry HK storage is written at Teaclassico's website).
Rinsed leaves, however, do not smell all that damp - there is some classical aged mixture (with fishiness as a not-entirely-welcome bonus), but as they cool down, the aroma gets sweeter, more fruity and more woody.
The color of the liquor is dark brown rather than dark red one might be used to - I wonder what are the variables explaining the progress in hue with aging.
The tea does smell quite interestingly, reminding me of coconut milk with some sort of fruit.
In the initial steepings, there is an unwelcome fishiness in the liquor, but it's not too bad (certainly not making me pour the tea out) - and the tea is already sweet and reasonably smooth. As the taste goes away, cooling feeling takes its place. Fortunately, the taste of fish soon dissipates and gives way to much nicer spectrum of tastes - wood, herbs and garden fruit - all quite aged, but not really earthy. The fruitiness gets strongest in the aftertaste - it's a bit like what you get from 85+% chocolate.
The tea can be well felt in mouth - there is still bitterness left and it is overall active, cooling and sometimes numbing.
What is always important in tea is - do its parts work in harmony? I feel that they do here. The tea is not really "normal" - on one hand, it is covered in white frosting, on the other hand, it has very little if any taste signs of much wetness in storage. The color is not exactly ordinary either. But I like it - it tastes clean and right. I wonder if the discrepancy between looks and taste might be explained due to initially wet storage with a drying-out period afterwards. Sometimes, such an approach causes weird flatness and lack of body, but if it has been done here, it has been done right.
While the tea is not super-excelent, when I saw the price of $83 per tuocha, I thought it is not entirely horrible, certainly not a complete ripoff. Then I've noticed that it's a 250g tuo, not a 100g - at first, I thought "This cheap? I'm not buying that" - but after looking again, I reconsidered - I am.