155 Tasting Notes
I’m combining two different tastings for this tea.
The first was steeped at 175 degrees. I loved the smoky aroma, but the taste was just too harsh to enjoy. The taste was dominated by the smoke, with some grass hiding beneath the smoke. By the 6th pot it was starting to smooth out, but still harsh. The nose was always lovely: the best part.
I was disappointed, since I’d just bought 100 grams, but decided to try again at 200 degrees. This time 1st there was the same smoky nose and taste but not the harshness. Lots of cha qi. Powerful, closed-in, just a hint of bitterness. I had about 4 steeps and each one was fairly smooth and full. Good flavors.
I’m perplexed. A month ago I had a sheng that was terrible at 200 degrees, but great at 175. Now I have the opposite. A tip of the hat to boychik, who persuaded me to publish more tasting notes.
I’m kind of upset that I just placed an order with YS, otherwise I would be buying this tea. It is great. I decided to just enjoy it rather than write detailed notes.
It started out grassy, with a fair degree of astringency and wonderful cha qi. I spent all day drinking it, gradually adding water and steeping time until I was at 6 oz and about 4 minutes. It became softer and fruitier in subsequent steeps, losing the cha qi along with the astringency. What remained constant was the deep rich mouth-filling flavor and the interesting flavors. This is a tea to savor.
I’m not going to give this tea a numerical rating because I have no idea how to rate it. The taste is relatively nondescript: a blend of tar, wood, and earth, with a touch of bitterness. They work surprisingly well together, and the flavor is not objectionable, but certainly not really anything I would seek out.
However, the distinguishing feature of this tea for me was the strong cha qi. The very first cup put me into a meditative state, and throughout the time I spent drinking the tea I had a tremendous feeling of well-being. I’ve had this experience with other pu-erhs, and occasionally with black teas, but never this strongly.
On a hunch, I measured my blood pressure while drinking the third steep, and it was about 15 points less than usual. Unfortunately, it was back to normal soon after the tea was finished.
The first time I drank this tea, it seemed closed-in and lacking in flavor until about the fifth steep. It was okay, but I wasn’t impressed. Looking back, I discovered that I had steeped it at 200 degrees. This time, I used 175 and it seemed like an entirely different tea. I’m really enjoying it.
First steep (15 s; all steeps 3 gms in 3 oz): Tastes like a green tea with unusually good body; grassy/straw flavors. During subsequent steeps (20, 30 s): the grass flavor disappeared and was replaced by wood, with hints of straw and smoke. The flavor deepened and became full and complex.
By the 4th steep (60 s) it was weakening and losing much of its complexity. Back to a light straw flavor. 5th steep (2 min): Rich and smooth. Light but still complex. If 5 steeps seems too little for a pu-erh bear in mind that this 2.8 gram sample has now produced 15 oz of tea, and there is still some gas in the tank.
This tea was an interesting insight (accidental) into how much the water temperature can affect a tea. Also a strong confirmation on the advice I was given to steep young sheng as though it were a green tea.
There’s been a lot of discussion about Darjeeling teas this week, so I decided to hunt through my stash for some Darjeelings. This is a sample I bought last Fall but hadn’t opened yet.
The tea changed character significantly during my tasting. It started out rather “closed-in,” hinting of power and depth but with little flavor in the mouth. The aroma and flavor had notes of cherry along with herbal flavors. As the tea cooled it became fuller, with the herbal flavors dominating. Good, long finish was occasionally slightly bitter, but overall a positive experience. After about 10 minutes, the tea was lukewarm, but very full and pleasant with a very powerful finish.
I enjoyed this tea. It wasn’t dramatic, but was a pleasant way to spend a few minutes in the morning. I decided to punt on the recommendation: the tea was very good, but I know of many other equally fine teas a lower prices.
Another step in my pu-erh exploration. Since I’m a novice, I won’t score this tea, but if I did, I would give it a 65. I didn’t like the flavor and found it to be bitter and uninteresting.
15 s rinse; 1st (15 s): Earthy nose. The taste is rich and not at all earthy, but hard to describe: some sort of cross between fruity and floral, but neither. Feels round and full in the mouth, with a long finish. 2nd (20 s): The earthy taste is almost dirty. Slightly bitter at end. 3rd (30 s): Nose is less earthy than before. Taste is less bitter but still not interesting. 4th (60 s): I was ready to give up on this tea, but this steep is less unpleasant. Some fruit appearing, and it is less bitter. Not really enjoyable but less unpleasant. 5th (60 s): Getting better; a bit of fruit showing through and most of the bitterness is gone. No cha qi. 6th (6 oz, 3 min): Getting rather thin.
I am relatively new to pu-erh to take this rating with a grain of salt. Per advice from other Steepster members, I used 175 degree water for this young sheng. I also didn’t follow normal pu-erh technique, but used 3 grams in 3 oz water.
(15 s, no rinse): Floral aroma. Taste is a mix of straw and flowers. Quite sweet. 2nd (30 s): Very rich flavor is straw, with hints of earth and flowers. Somewhat sweet. Lovely nose; powerful finish. 3rd (30 s): The aroma is now more fruity than floral. Also, more powerful. The taste is mostly straw but is becoming somewhat bitter at the finish. making the strong finish more of a negative than an asset. Good cha qi. 4th (45 s): nose is fruity AND floral. Taste and finish are weaker than before but still potent; also less cha qi. The tea has a lot of body, but not a whole lot of flavor. Long finish. 5th (60 s): Good mouth-feel and some cha qi, but the flavors aren’t terribly interesting any more.
Overall impression: This reminded me of certain green teas of a grassy/straw flavor, but much more powerful and complex. I much prefer this to those teas, which has already started me wondering how I will use up those green teas if I start buying young sheng.
This is less of a review than an update of my personal journey into pu-erh land. I know there are folks in Steepster who have been encouraging this journey, so this note is for them. For those expecting a review, I apologize.
I am still trying to understand my reaction to this tea. It is not at all what I usually like in a tea: it has a tinge of bitterness, a flavor that is earthy and not terribly complex, but slightly sweet. The main positive characteristic is a really great feel in my mouth; kind of like umami. And yet, when I drink it I feel really satisfied. It is also VERY conducive to relaxation, which is something I find very hard to do (serious type-A, with the high blood pressure to prove it).
I recall a discussion about drinking pu-erh for non-taste reasons. Perhaps this is it?
From the unflavored TTB.
The main reason I signed up for the unflavored TTB was the hope to try a number of pu-erh teas. Up to that point, I had had a few, but none struck me as very good, and I was hoping to taste some of the highly rated Mandala teas. Though I enjoyed some of them, I was mostly disappointed.
There were only two raw pu-erhs in the box. When I expressed great disappointment with wild monk sheng, kimquat suggested that I had made a mistake by brewing it at 200 degrees, and said I should treat it as a green tea. There wasn’t much wild monk left, but I took a small sample of this tea to try later, which turned out to be today.
I absolutely love the tea. I only have 2 grams, so I am doing 1 minute steeps of 3 oz. I also skipped a rinse (though was prepared to do so if the first cup tasted off).
1st steep: Very little nose. Tastes like a white tea but with a deeper, richer finish. Very good. I don’t detect any musty or off flavors at all. By the time I got to the bottom of the cup, the rich flavors were throughout the taste, not just the finish. 2nd steep: While the flavors are similar to the 1st steep, they are much richer and more complex, like comparing an orchestra to a string quartet. Very rich mouth-feel. I’m starting to see what all the fuss is about over pu-erh. This is a great tea.
Subsequent steeps had similar flavors but not the richness or depth of the first two.
I got this in a swap with KallieBoo!. Not the sort of thing I would normally try. I had difficulty identifying the aroma until I thought of burnt popcorn, which is almost a perfect fit. I don’t think I would have been able to drink this without sugar and just couldn’t like it. Not what I would call tea.