Through much of 2005, I was happily drinking the Royal Yunnan from In Pursuit of Tea. I posted on this pleasure at length on December 16, 2005, in A Yunnan Comparison and Farewell Salute to the Woodwose Yunnan and also on October 11, 2006, in The Shape-Shifter: Anodyne on the Many Tastes of Golden Yunnan. As noted, I found that this tea changed radically in January 2006 from the profile it had retained during much of 2005.
I tasted this tea a year later on January 10, 2007, in Anodyne on Assorted Golden Yunnan Tastings or The Illusion of the Questing Beast and found my impression had not changed. I had not ordered the tea since, but a friend recently sent me a sample of the IPOT Royal Yunnan purchased in November 2006.
The November 2006 purchase of Royal Yunnan from In Pursuit of Tea does have that aroma I have referred to as woody. The woody character is one part of the Woodwose equation, but it has to go up against a sweet dark forest honey-molasses sweetness and a certain depth of other flavors. The November 2006 sample is an odd tea in that it expresses the woody note quite dominantly (perhaps too much so). There is definitely a level of sweetness. And yet this particular sample doesn't fill in with the depth and bass notes I've previously associated with this tea. It almost tastes oolong-y in some ways, like a highly oxidized oolong. There's a sense of something fruity going on and a hint of a wheat-grain note, perhaps even a hint of malt. When the tea cools down, there is more an impression of wheat-grain than malt. This tea inches a bit toward Woodwose but then fizzles out and loses some characteristics that need to balance out in the cup. There is quite a full aroma and even some dark molasses-like sweetness. What seems so odd is the way the body just drops out of it, even while it retains an aftertaste that lingers a bit.
This is an entirely different tea than I had in January 2006, but it is still not the beloved “Woodwose” tea of 2005. My impressions now are mostly a moot point, since IPOT no longer seems to even sell a Royal Yunnan. Instead, they offer an even pricier Yunnan Gold Black which I have not tried. Its description is "honey and earth tones." For the price, I would rather hope it was doing something more than what the description suggests.