4 Tasting Notes
This is the first “production-blended”, aged puerh I have tasted, and the result is exactly what I would have hoped for: well-balanced. The dominance of sheng leaves in the mixture provides a foundation consisting of leather, and dried cranberries on the nose, a smooth, full flavor/texture in mouth, and a desirable cooling on the finish. The shu leaves provide additional weight and just enough strength to the final result without overpowering the development of the sheng. As cultureflip hinted at in his review, the tea is not overly complex, but it doesn’t have to be. It all comes together as an absolute top notch tea, with a pleasant, full, yet meditative “qi”. Sure, there are teas that are more challenging, but drinking this simply puts me in a better place, engendering fond memories of times past, and providing a calming refuge from the day-to-day. I can’t ask for much more than that from a tea.
This tea saved it for me. Well, not just this tea, but this tea and many other fine, traditional, lightly roasted oolongs that rescued my palate from the high-firing, heavy roasts that my body rejects. To be blunt: there is something about drinking liquid roast (such as from tea or coffee), that I simply have not yet learned to love. With the help of fellow tea chums, I’ve learned to taste, appreciate and respect the variances and wonders of more heavily roasted, aged oolongs, but I’m still a long way from truly enjoying or looking past that roast taste in my cup.
And for the above reason, I am so happy to have access to these lightly roasted wonders. There is so much that I like, or absolutely adore, about the 2011 XiPing Anxi Tie Guan Yin. Hopefully my favorite tea blogger over at The Half-Dipper has not just dismissed me as a “fascinating girl-man hybrid” :). The tea is a treat for the senses. There is no denying its delicacy, its lightness, and the fact that it doesn’t offer much of a challenge, but it is just so good! The dry leaf provides the scent of orchids, which open and fill the room after a very quick rinse. The taste is well balanced, a combination of floral notes, wild honey and nuts. Citrus and almost somewhat of a woodsy flavor begin to appear in later cups, keeping the tea grounded. The tastes dance and evolve as the silky delicacy of the tea fills the mouth. The qi is calming, the aftertaste cleansing, and the durability outstanding. I am always amazed at how much these leaves have to give. The traditional, organic production methods add another layer of comfort and peace of mind with each cup. Somehow, this light, green, young leaf provides so much of what I look for in a well-aged sheng puerh. I will definitely be returning to this again and again, especially during those warming days of late spring and summer, or any time I simply want to relax and get lost and charmed by an elegant tea. Very much recommended.
This tea came as a sample with my most recent order from The Mandarin’s Tea Room. Judging from my first session with the tea, I certainly hope to include more of this sheng in a future purchase. Starting with the dry leaf scent, the tea reminded me of freshly made, high quality Washi (Japanese paper made from mulberry or gampi tree fibers). When wet, the leaves developed a stronger, woody scent, nicely balanced by a touch of walnuts and fine raw leather. I consistently sensed apricots on the nose, but it remained always fleeting, disappearing right at the moment of capture.
The taste is not at all like anything I have yet experienced from a puerh. Especially in early steepings, I was unable to discern a dominant taste marker or profile. Instead the tea presented itself most confidently as a very clean, well-balanced tea, with a pleasant, full texture. As expected at this age, there was absolutely zero bitterness, and the purity of the liquor suggested appropriate storage. There was a woody depth to this 8542, a hint of talcum powder, and a minty finish, but it did not exhibit the complexity found in others, such as the 8582. It proudly provided more than a dozen steepings of even, almost delicate taste, a moderate, calming “qi” and a developing coolness on the finish, the latter I believe a common feature of the traditional Menghai recipes. The product of these elements was a very enjoyable tea session. If similar results are found in subsequent tastings from the sample, I will definitely order more of this tea. I can always find room in my tea cabinet for the well-balanced, zero-fuss consistency provided by this durable tea. Another quality offering from The Mandarin’s Tea Room.