On April 2, 2006, I posted a review of this tea under the title "Sichuan Black" Tea from Imperial Tea Court. I ordered a small amount to try here again in February 2007. The tea has, alas, shape-shifted quite radically from that profile of April 2006. It has lost that Darjeeling-esque quality I previously referred to and is no longer showing the fruity-floral-toasty range with honey and spice. Instead, the cup characteristic is a flat earth-malt with only very light spicy notes.
As the tea cools slightly, the spicy notes do shuffle into the aroma, but reluctantly, like that student sent up to the blackboard to do a math problem in front of the class. The brighter qualities this tea had in April 2006 have dulled out, and the signature earth is more dominant. This tea's performance in 2006 encouraged me to seek it out again. What it is doing here in 2007 is just not particularly exciting.
Back in 2006, the Sichuan Black was a China black tea that actually made me think of the flavor notes I experienced in a Castleton Estate 2nd Flush Darjeeling yet with the mellow character I associate more often with a China black tea. Whatever distinguished it in 2006 just isn't there in this particular 2007 tea.