This little chap has became my most frequently drank tea and is one of the best in its price category. Why? I'll try to explain in further lines...
It is a purple tea varietal, however, I'd suggest that even if you do not like purple teas in general, do not dismiss this one. It is much more pleasant than most of cheap bitter purple cakes.
Several pictures to get started (click them to to make them larger):
The cake is indeed pretty dark, black-blue-ish. For me, it is one of the most beautiful cakes to be seen. It is made from rather young plantation trees. However, plantations in Yi Wu produce very nice tea, so I do not consider it a drawback.
The aroma of the cake is very nice, pleasant, Yi Wu (that implies nice and pleasant directly :)).
The aroma of brewed tea is lovely. Sweet, complex, fruity. Brewed leaves... one of the best smells I have ever smelled. Beautifully sweet and overwhelming.
Since most people do not drink through their nose, but through mouth, the taste is not less important than the aroma. And the good thing is, that this tea has great taste.
1st and 3rd brews:
When I first tasted the tea, I was really surprised. At the time, I was drinking through a lot of Yi Wu samples. Several of them were not Yi Wu I believe. Some were nice. Some were very good, some were great. Actually, two of them were what I would call great (for immediate drinking, more about that later). One of them was this purple tea, the other was Hai Lang Hao 2009 Gao Shan Zhai. Looking at the price tag, you may see that this tea is more than three times cheaper. However, the HLH cake is very different experience, comparing these two lovely Yi Wu cakes based on their price would make very little sense. Using a paralell of wine world, this tea is like Languedoc Syrah-Carignan, HLH cake being more balanced Bordeaux.
To describe the taste is not that hard as with other teas. The taste is rather straightforward, but powerful, thick, very intense. It is heavy, fruity, tasting of darker forest fruit: blackberries and blueberries come to the mind first. This taste rides on thick and sweet Yi Wu undertones. Some Yi Wu teas are only "nice sweet water". This tea adds a lot to it, it is pretty unique.
The aftertaste may be controlled by length of brewing. I could not make this tea bitter by oversteeping, however, when it is brewed for a long time, the aftertaste is more powerful, a bit bitter at first, but becames explosively fruity and sweet (i.e., the hui gan is very strong). Such an aftertaste lasts for many minutes. On the other hand, with shorter brewing, aftertaste may be a continuation of the main body of the taste, fruity and sweet and not so long.
Cha qi is calming, concentrating. For example, when I listen to music and drink this tea, it brings me great inner harmony.
The tea is balanced throughout brews (I mostly drink 7-10 of them).
Good water benefits it a lot, but the tea tastes nicely even when made using unfiltered tap water boiled in an electric kettle. Therefore good water is not as crucial as with some other teas.
I think that this cake (and some similar, though not as good Yi Wu cakes) may present trouble to some producers who give you a cake for $80 and tell you "stick it somewhere for 20 years and it will be great". A lot of bad things may happen: thieves, flood, etc. Or the tea may be bad, the vendor/producer may have been wrong or an imposter. This purple cake is great for drinking right away, no unpleasant bitterness, no stomach ache, but a lot of power and taste, not common for such a young tea.
Purple cakes are rather uncommon at this time, it is difficult to tell how it is going to age (but based on its taste profile, I believe it should age well). Other, more expensive cakes may become better with time, of course. However, I believe that if you are looking for a tea to drink, not only to stock, this cake is a good choice. The price is quite low for such a nice tea.
Therefore this is a tea I really recommend for you to try.
Since I have about 20 cakes left, I have a lot samples to be exchanged for your favourite teas if you are interested ;-)
P.S. I've recently downgraded this from Top to Good - the price/quality ratio is excellent, however I believe that the tea does not hold certain features which I should like to see in top teas.