Origin: Anxi, Fujian province, China
Vendor: Just4Tea (Product page)
Price: $17.50 (4 oz)
I have heard great things about Just4Tea's Tie Guan Yin (particularly from Alex's blog post), so I took the plunge and bought some. Let me tell you right off the bat: this is an excellent tea that competes in a price range well above its own.
Just as Alex expressed in his review (linked above), I consider most Tie Guan Yin to be relatively lackluster, especially when compared to heavy-hitters like Wuyi yancha and Fenghuang dancong. This tea, however, is different; perhaps because it seems to have so much in common with Wuyi yancha.
This tea is heavily roasted, as you can see in the photo above, just like a lot of yancha. I brewed it in my TGY pot, and put in enough leaf so that the vessel would be filled when the leaves expanded. I started off with a ~20 second infusion to open up the leaves, then dropped down to ~5 seconds, and went up from there.
It tastes a bit chocolatey, a bit spicy, and sometimes fruity (though I think you need to stuff the pot to get good fruitiness); it shares a lot in common with Rou Gui. It also has some of the classic silkiness and oiliness that I love about good yancha. However, it still retains some TGY character, as Alex noted. It has a base of toasted grain flavor and the fruit flavors are more like those found in TGY than other oolongs.
Despite the high roast, this tea is not at all heavy on the fire or charcoal. I think the time that has elapsed between Alex's review and my own has done good things to this tea; it seems to be much mellower now.
Thanks are due to Alex for the recommendation; I never would have tried it otherwise. This really is a diamond in the rough!