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.