Backlog from last night.
The latest installment in TeaKlutz’s pu-erh adventures.
Gonna be honest, I groaned when I read this one was a sheng. I’ve tried two other shengs and I haven’t been a fan. However, I’ve also discovered that the way I’ve been preparing them isn’t optimal: I’ve been doing Western style steepings of between 3 and 5 minutes, and they’ve turned out bitter as all hell. Per the instructions on the little sample baggy, I referred to Butiki’s website for steeping instructions. Nothing about a teapot, only short steepings in the gaiwan. But I’m trying to write program notes tonight and I’m already behind schedule and I don’t really have time to – sigh. Fine. Fine.
Water heated to roughly 200-205? degrees, by my estimate.
Steep 1: Somewhere between 5 and 10 seconds, when you count me fumbling around to pour the gaiwan water out. There’s the recognizable sheng brightness, but it’s not obnoxious at all. Rather, it’s a complement to the pleasantly woody, fresh-twig-like flavor that is rounded, subdued, and actually rather enjoyable.
Steep 2: 15 s. Sadly the water has cooled quite a bit, as I’ve been working a while and didn’t cover the pot to keep the heat in. This go-round, I’m getting a bit more earth… or… mist… it’s a somewhat intangible flavor. Just the tiniest bit of mineral in this one, but once again, not enough to be intrusive. (Also, program notes are coming along fairly well so far. I’m enjoying writing these more than normal.)
Steep 3: 20 s. This go-round is starting to taste a bit more like what I know as the “sheng” flavor: bright, planty-mineraly, not quite astringent but you can tell it’s on its way there. Hmm. I would have thought the flavor progression for the multiple steeps would have gone the other way, rounding out with more steeps. Hmm.
I’m done with steepings for the night, but the leaves in the cup smell really cool! There’s a heavy smoky aroma that I didn’t get in the tastings, and the trademark “sheng” note is kind of like a shining overtone. I can’t stop sniffing the leaves, trying to figure out what’s going on in the aroma!
Well, now I’m glad I took a few extra moments to create this experience. I really was not optimistic about my future with shengs, but this has completely changed my opinion of them. (See what happens when you do things the right way?) I’m eager to go back and try the ones I previously wrote off to see if my opinion of them changes as well. All in all, this is a very good tea and one I enjoyed drinking. Don’t know if it’ll be at the top of my next shopping list, but I would happily drink it again.
Thank you VERY much to Stacy of Butiki Teas for the sample!