I've been ordering samples from a number of vendors for the past year, trying to build up my experience and palate before jumping into whole cakes (who wants 357 grams of something around that they're not interested in drinking).
Many of these samples seem insanely compressed and composed of very small leaves, when compared with the first two cakes I ordered (Xiaguan FT Imperial Tribute and Yong Pin Hao Stone-pressed Yi Wu Wild Arbor). Often, with a 25 gram sample, half of it turns to dust and the other half produces "well-chopped" steeped leaves. I've also noticed that a number of the samples I've order from one particular vendor are almost always from the core or dimpled part of the cake.
Is this typical when ordering samples online? I'm using fairly reputable sources according to other tea bloggers, but I feel like the quality of my samples doesn't hold up to the appearance of the samples that others are enjoying.
Or am I just too heavy handed? I've watched some of Cloud's videos and what I'm doing doesn't seem much different that what he does to break a cake apart, except for the fact that I'm working with this near iron-fisted chunk of minute leaves.