Before this review officially begins, I need to point out--on the fucking record--that the title "Dragon Blood" is severely misleading, as this tea DOES NOT TASTE AT ALL LIKE TRUE DRAGON BLOOD. If you are purchasing this tea under the misguided impression that its liquor will ignite your tastebuds with the hell-fire medley of charred elves, roasted trolls, and broiled pixies--YOU WILL BE SADLY MISTAKEN. I'm going to be blunt as a fucking Doomhammer: I'm downright infuriated. It's been an awful week, and I just...I really, really needed this to help me pull through, especially now that my dragon-blood guy has been dodging me since like last Friday, ever since we had some buffalo wings at Hooters, went disco duck-pin bowling, and then maybe sort of made-out a little bit in the backseat of his crimson-red '95 Firebird. And maybe--maybe--there was some heavy-petting. Like some real heavy-petting. Like break-a-rabbit's-neck heavy-petting. But like afterward everything was normal! The dude just dropped me off back at my apartment and that was that, but now he stopped answering my texts, started ignoring all my calls, and hasn't been by Hooters even once this week--which is fine if he's like wanting to cut off the whole two-straight-dudes-giving-each-other-over-the-pants-HJs-in-the-backseat-of-his-Firebird thing, but real-talk I don't give a fuck about that. I just want the dragon blood. And do you have any idea how difficult it is to secure a new dragon-blood guy? Do you have any idea? Now I have to go back to the Himalayas; track down that rabid-monkey of a Sherpa, Pertemba; scream horrible insults at him until he sobs hard enough to fill an entire glass vial with his tears; then fly my ass down to Salem to offer the aforementioned tears to an old one-eyed witch named Irazu. If I'm lucky, Irazu will give me a neon-green potion that will put me in a week-long slumber, and at some point during that slumber I'll dream vividly about the face of my next dragon-blood guy--then, once I wake up, I'll have to go out and find him. And it's not like I have any idea where he is. The dude could be anywhere. Literally anywhere on planet earth. So, you can imagine my frustration when I see this Bitterleaf company offering "Dragon Blood" tea, order it, and wait 30-some days for it to arrive from China, just to find out that it is not--nor does it remotely resemble in even the most minuscule way--true authentic dragon blood.
Smokey, floral, a vegetal blend of sweet and sour (almost like fresh tomato).
This tea is interesting because the first 6 steeps are almost a completely different tea from the last six. In steeps 1-6, the biggest players are, for me, its pleasant smokiness, subtle bitterness, mild astringency, and unique tomato-like characteristic; in steeps 6-12, almost all of those flavors vanish, and the tea becomes intensely sweet and sour.
Deep amber with a pale purple tint. The liquor looks almost identical to blue agave nectar. Throughout roughly 7-9 steeps, the color stayed consistent, and then gradually faded out.
In the first 6 steeps, there's a slight bitterness that lingers in the mouth, making it feel a bit dry, but other than that the liquor is thin. Around at the 7th steep, the tea turned almost mouth-puckeringly sour, which I really enjoyed, though I could see it being off-putting for some. A lingering sweetness also crept in toward the end, though it didn't make the tongue tingle.
Mild buzz. This tea made me feel a little jittery, but not in an uncomfortable way. It sharpened my focus and gave me a bit of a body-high, making my limbs feel slightly numb.
Purple tea is something that I think everyone should try, but not everyone will like. It has this uniquely vegetal taste that's hard to pin down, and an odd smokiness that's slightly medicinal, kind of similar to a middle-aged sheng, but not quite. What I like the most about this tea is how rapidly the flavors evolve from steep to steep, and how noticeable the evolution is. With most budget-friendly pu-erhs, the flavors evolve in a more subtle way until they eventually fade out or drop off, but this tea's flavors don't fade--it's almost as if they're replaced, which I find really interesting. At $18.50USD/100g, I'd definitely recommend giving it a try, especially if you've never experienced purple tea before. With each cake being only 100g, this tea is great choice as a high-quality introduction that doesn't force you to commit to a full 357g beeng. Even if this tea doesn't end up being your favorite, I still think you'll be glad you bought it.
* Sheng Gut has no affiliation with Bitterleaf; this review was not commissioned.