No, not drugs, something much more innocuous (but still very much appreciated): six photo prints and three shu puerh samples from VL. Also included was an envelope containing the teas' identities, which I was not to open until after I finished tasting.
Sample A, which I now know by its preferred name of 2007 Menghai 0532, was quite nice. It was dark, though I think I used too much leaf; I haven't brewed puerh in a while, so I'm not exactly at the top of my game.
Still, it tasted surprisingly light and fruity for such a dark, opaque tea. There is very little off-flavor to speak of: almost no pond, and no "industrial" taste. It is malty, sweet, and delicious if brewed right, and has good oiliness and mouth-feel. It also lasted quite some time, though again probably due to my inept over-stuffing of the gaiwan.
Sample B, the 2005 Menghai Golden Needle White Lotus, was my favorite of the three. It was lighter (reddish-brown, not dark brown like the others), had good clarity, and tasted much more like aged sheng than most shu. It had a clean woodsy flavor (like a "forest after rain" as I recently saw Salsero put it), and no off-flavors at all. It also had a lovely minty/cooling hui gan, and lasted a number of infusions.
Sample C, the 2006 Menghai Li Li Xiang, was probably my least favorite of the three, but it was still quite good for shu, if my memory serves me. This was also a pretty dark brew, though I am certain I used too much leaf this time— far too much. I pulled out a good half-gaiwan full, which fortunately had only been brewed once or twice, and the tea improved dramatically.
It was sweet and "soupy," for lack of a better word. It was also woodsy and had a nice hui gan, though not as clean or as nice as what sample B offered. It wasn't pondy at all, but perhaps a bit salty/marshy... still, that description doesn't do it justice, as it was not an unpleasant flavor at all. Looking back a few days later, I want to use "savory" or "umami" to describe it, but I can't be certain. The tea seemed to be a little muddled, not very crisp, though this improved as the flavors diluted in later infusions.
Thanks again to VL for the prints and the samples!