201 Tasting Notes
Many thanks to Tea Ave for providing me a free sample to review!
Brewed gongfu-style in a gaiwan. 10 second rinse. Steeping times: 10, 10, 15, 15, 20, 30, 45, 60, 120.
The dry leaf aroma smells roasted and seaweed-y. This roasty quality becomes more powerful once the leaf is rinsed, after which I also get cooked dark vegetables, such as char, kale, and spinach. Using the aroma cup, I’m able to smell the liquor aroma, which is unexpectedly different – fresh strawberries! A little apricot appears later on.
The liquor is pale gold, lovely appearance in a white cup. Full-bodied, very flavorful yet light. Creamy and soft texture. I feel of mid-summer, a sunny and breezy afternoon. Definitely a summer tea.
The first infusion of the session greets me with roasted vegetables and a pure sugar aftertaste. The second tastes of grilled yellow zucchini, which I find to be sweet cooked just right. The third is still vegetal, but this note is but mellower. The texture is at its creamiest, and there is a fruity aftertaste.
Infusions four through six are nearly pure fruit: strawberries, bananas, and peaches. The texture is no longer creamy, but is still soft as ever. Roasted vegetables return in seven through nine (probably because I drank them after an hour break and had to become accustomed to drinking this Dong Ding). A peachy sweetness lingers.
From the Sheng and Shou TTB.
Prepared gongfu-style with a ceramic gaiwan. I followed Whispering Pines’ instrucitons: one five-second rinse, then steeping times at 30, 15, 30, 45, 120, 300.
I experienced the aroma the way Whispering Pines recommended. Earthy notes fill the hot bowl, after letting the dry leaf sit in the moisture for some time. Following the rinse, the wet aroma gives off loam, sugarcane, and a bit of mushroom. The sessions finishes with freshly baked raisin bread, and then finally raisins and plums.
The liquor is dark amber early on. Longer steeps yield a more coffee-like color. Right of the bat, this shou is thick and creamy, full-bodied, and incredibly rich. Because I had to rush the session, thereby drinking all six cups within a span of two hours, it made me feel sluggish, and my stomach felt really full. Not just because I’d want to savor it, but the next I drink I need to space out each cup so that I don’t feel like I’ve eaten a huge chunk of triple-layered chocolate mousse cake in fewer than five minutes. Wowee!
The first infusion is very sweet, tasting of pure sugarcane and a little earth, with a chocolatey finish. The second is more earthy, and mushrooms first appear in the third, where I envision toadstools, covered with some dirt, in the middle of a damp rainforest. Sweetness returns in the fourth and fifth infusions – maple syrups, caramel and cocoa. The session would have great to end there on those notes, since I’m a dessert last kind of person, so I was caught off guard when the mushrooms again make their appearance in the sixth and last infusion. I loooove cooked mushrooms. These ones at first were sauteed, and then were those from cream of mushroom soup.
The descriptions I read in the past are not a lie. The cake is genuine. And speaking of cake, when this shou going to be sold again, I’m grabbing one.
Another chai sample form Zach S.
I didn’t prepare it on the stove because this recipe has white tea base. Something different!
Other than the white tea, the recipe has unusual ingredients – pineapple and coconut…
I drank without milk first. The only spice I could taste was the peppercorn, which was still rather weak. What also stood out was the pineapple, especially when I added a splash of milk to see how the taste would change. The pepper and pineapple combo strangely works…
It’s alright. Disappointingly, not terribly spicy, but I did the like pineapple aspect. Dad thought it was good, interesting even. With that and the white tea, this recipe is light on the tongue. Seems like it’s good to have on a cool summer’s eve.
Another from Zach S.
Brewed on the stove-top. Brought to a boil, simmered for seven minutes, added milk and sugar, brought to a boil again.
The kitchen filled with cinnamon, cardamom, and rooibos as the tea simmered. Makes for a cozy aroma. Even though the spices ratio isn’t equal (there were only a couple cardamon pods to dozens of ginger bits), this blend is nicely spicy. Very ginger-y. Good bite on the tongue, even with two ounces of milk and proooobably two tsp of sugar (I dumped several clumps, not bothering to measure).
This is my first spiced rooibos, which is why I’m withholding a rating and recommendation even though I like it. My dad, for whom this is also first, more than approves. We both commented on how the tea in our cups looked a pretty peachy pink.
I did find it disappointing that the website says this contains natural flavors but the packet didn’t…
Received in a swap from Zach S. Thank you!
Brewed on the stove-top. Brought to a boil, simmered for eight minutes, added milk and sugar, brought to a boil again.
I didn’t have high hopes when I smelled the dry leaf. It was full of cinnamon. Hence the long simmer, so that I’d draw out the malt flavor from the black tea. I was lighter on the milk and sugar than I normally am, and even so, this recipe is very weak. The only spice I could detect was cinnamon. The “bite” of everything else was pretty much nonexistent. In additional, this is the last time I will try a masala chai with any sort of flavoring.
My dad agrees it isn’t spicy much, but he still likes the taste, as if it were simply a black tea prepared like masala chai.
From the Sheng and Shou TTB.
Brewed gongfu-style in a ceramic gaiwan. Two 5-second rinses (because the first cup, 5 seconds, was too weak). Steeping times: 10, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 60, 90, 120.
I carefully unwrapped the paper (it’s taped in my tea journal for keeps) as if it were a special present. This was the first time I had a sheng ball, so I had to admire it – the tightness in which the leaves were pressed, the summer plant-like colors of the leaves, the lightness, or weightlessness, of the ball – before placing it in the bowl. It didn’t take long to unfurl. After the two rinses and the first steep, the leaves were already free.
This was the sweetest smelling sheng whose aroma I’ve had the pleasure to savor. Apricot jam fills the gaiwan after each steep, stronger than the real thing. Given a few seconds, a midsumer meadow arises, then green peppers.
The liquor is golden yellow, thick, smooth and, at first, cloudy with leaf bits. It has a full-body yet is mild in flavor. The first infusion tastes of sweet hay. It’s also a little sour, but this disappears shortly. The second infusion is even sweeter, a kind of fruity sweetness, with a mineral note. I liked this cup the best. The rest of the infusions are tingly on the tongue. They consistently offer sweet hay, and the texture becomes a little thicker.
Silly me – I checked the website’s instructions after I began the session. Which is why the temperature reads 200 and not 185. Which is probably why the flavor weakens at the seventh infusion. I have a hard time making teas last more than ten infusions while being brewed in a gaiwan. This is one tea I would have liked to have more a longer relationship with. Take me back to that summer meadow!
From the Sheng and Shou TTB.
Brewed gongfu style in a ceramic gaiwan. 5 second rinse. Steeping times: 15, 30, 45, 60, 120.
If you need something to drink in 10 degree and snowy weather, this is one to have. The dry leaf smells of sod and loam, and wet leaf aroma of smoke, raisins, and freshly baked bread. The liquor changes throughout the session, beginning with tangy and smoke taste, a thin texture, and a slightly cloudy appearance. The second infusion, still tangy and cloudy, is creamy and tastes of pine, no longer smoky. The third – the height of the session – has become completely clear, the texture even creamier. The tang is replaced by a rich sweetness. The fourth and fifth infusions have deciduous wood notes.
This tea provides visual and tactile imagery and well as gustatory and olfactory: a cabin in the woods, a fireplace, a pan of homemade bread just out of the oven.
From the Sheng and Shou TTB.
Brewed gongfu style with a ceramic gaiwan. 5 second rise. Steeping times: 10, 10, 10, 20, 30, 45, 60, 120, 240.
Such an alluring aroma the dry leaf has – incredibly sweet, with notes of honey and jam. It is what lead me to try this sheng when I didn’t know where to start on this side of pu’erh. Following the rinse and each infusion, the aroma initially offers green peppers, which quickly change into purple grapes, raisins, and prunes.
The liquor is the color of peach juice, and clear and clean with a thin-texture and full-body. Beautiful to look at with bits of leaf at the bottom of the cup. The first infusion tastes of green pepper and dried grass. Thereafter, there is a consistent note of bamboo and sweet summer field grasses. Beginning with the fifth infusion, honey comes up, creating a long-lastingly sweet aftertaste.
Dry grass notes don’t appeal to me, which is why sheng isn’t a favorite of mine(it’s what I’ve tasted in all but one of the shengs I’ve tried thus far), but Often is beyond tolerable, a a nice pleasure, especially because of its qi. I felt the qi on the first sip of each cup. It is calming and grounding. In addition, Often will get you tea tipsy if you drink four infusions one after the other.
Recommended for those who want to start exploring sheng. I might buy the 250g one day to become more used to sheng and to taste its evolution.
The dry leaf is composed of crunchy-looking, twisty dark green leaves, each around half an inch long. The light green liquor has a medium-body, with a thin texture and a flavor profile of grass and roasted rice, maybe also slightly citrus-like.
Nothing jumps out, but this makes a good casual or every day green tea.
Brewed gongfu-style with a yixing pot. 10 second rinse. Steeping times: 5, 5, 5, 5, 20, 30, 60, 120.
The wet leaf has a very enjoyable aroma, sweetly smelling of fertile damp earth and of bitter cocoa. The liquor is full-bodied, rich with notes of earth and sugarcane, and creamy in texture. Warming and comforting on this icy, rainy day.
This shou is not entirely clear, it’s a little cloudy, and remained so for nearly the entirety of the session. Also, I think it is best suited for being brewed Western-style. The leaf weakened only after the second steeping, hence the wide change in steeping seconds. Kind of disappointing. Because I only had enough for one helping, I’m not rating. Still, I do recommend.