225 Tasting Notes
Method: Gongfu glass teapot.
No rinse. Steeping times: 20, 10, 10, 20,
I had to admire the lovely dry leaf at the very start of the session. Twisty, half-inch, very few broken in the packet from traveling. Mostly bright gold with some browns, and very, very fuzzy. When the leaves steep, though, the gold immediately disappears, and they become uniformly chocolate brown. And throughout the session, the fuzzies just keep on coming. Each infusion is cloudy from all of the fuzzies floating around. They clump together at the bottom of each cup I pour myself.
I’m still getting over my cold from earlier this week. I tried my best to discern the aromas with a semi-stuffy nose. The dry leaf aroma has notes of malt, baked breads (notably pumpernickel), and bergamot; while the wet leaf aroma smells of fudge at first, and then roasted red peppers. Pretty sure about that last one, even though it sort comes out of nowhere, considering the kind of tea this is.
The liquor has a beautiful golden color – shining in the light, it’s like treasure. Full body, warm feeling, a consistent creamy texture and note of sweet potato as each cup cools a bit. (No need to mentions this orange tuberous plant anymore then.)
I have to take a moment to get used to the flavors – it’s been a while since I’ve had a Chinese black tea. Initially, the first infusion tastes malty and nutty, and then the sweet potatoes arrive. Second infusion is WELCOME TO FUDGETOWN. Basically. Three and four have prominent chocolate and citrus notes, a combination that reminds me of those chocolate oranges you smash on the table. There is no 45-second infusion because it was too weak. Moving on to the true fifth infusion – all sweet potatoes.
This is my first Dian Hong. Beautiful to behold, and nice to drink. Overall, this was a good first experience.
Brewed in a glass, grandpa-style. I started drinking after a 1-minute steep.
This is probably one of those instances in which I taste a tea so differently from everyone else, or it’s probably this particular batch.
When I stuck my nose into the sample packet, I didn’t expect it smell like certain shengs I dislike: black pepper, beef stew, and a hint of apricot I was able to pull out from somewhere. As the leaves steeped in the glass, I smelled buttered popcorn.
The liquor is green-ish, full-bodied, cream-like, and savory. The flavor is very buttery (even near salty) with notes of Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and beans with a green pepper finish. I dislike green peppers, more so in my tea, if it’s not subtle. Not for me.
To celebrate my turning a quarter of a century old, I’m having this fresh Chinese spring green with my new glass tea pot and tea tray. What else could be a better solitary way to celebrate? (Besides having a tea pet for a companion!)
Brewed with a gongfu glass tea pot. Steeping times: 1 minute, 1 minute and 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 5 minutes (supposed to have been 4…).
It’s been a while since I’ve last seen such gorgeous leaves. Shaped like silver needles, they are mostly moss-green, with some having enough soft hairs to look white-ish. Their sizes range from just an inch to an inch and a half.
The dry and wet leaf bursts with a buttery, zucchini aroma. So strong, I sneezed. After the second infusion, the wet leaf gives boiled asparagus.
When steeping for the first time in the pot, the leaves look like those from an aquatic plant. That’s not tea, that’s a living creature! One leaf and a bud, two leaves and a bud, two leaves. Vivid green.
The liquor is consistently clear – not cloudy, and also almost having no color, a very, very pale green. The first infusion is creamy, having vegetal and mineral notes, and a almond aftertaste. The second infusion goes away from vegetables and we have sugar snap peas. Sweet, sweet, sweet, very sweet – yellow warblers agree! I feel calmed yet rejuvenated. After this point, the intensity of the flavors decreases and becomes less powerful. Or more gentle, depending on your outlook. Still full-bodied, the third infusion is also sweet, though in a farmer’s market ear of corn sort of way. And in the last infusion, I taste beans.
Brewed Western-style in a ceramic tea pot. Steeping times: 3 minutes, 5 minutes.
Leaf: Similar to #1. Very short, a couple centimeters long. Medium browns with spots of yellow gold.
Dry aroma: different kinds of jams (red fruits), mahogany
Wet aroma: muscatel
Liquor: deep gold, medium-bodied-bodied, flavorful
First infusion – Very fruity, with a lingering apricot aftertaste.
Second infusion – Resembles a leafhopper oolong. Stonefruit-like and tangy.
Brewed Western-style in a ceramic tea pot. Steeping times: 4 minutes, 8 minutes.
Leaf: very short, a couple centimeters long. Medium browns with spots of yellow gold.
Dry aroma: spring flowers (hycacinths)
Wet aroma: fruity
Liquor: Full-bodied, clear.
First infusion – Muscatel, which stays and becomes stronger in the aftertaste.
Second infusion – Melon-like flavor. Esp. Cantaloupe.
Brewed in a glass test tube steeper. Steeping times: 20 seconds, 30, 45, 60, 120.
Complex aroma, changing as the leaves air. Dry leaf: malt, bread, sweet potatoes. After staying for thirty seconds in the heated steeper, still dry, pure fudge. Wet leaf: chocolate fudge cake, returning to sweet potatoes.
Amber-colored liquor, on the lighter side for a Chinese black tea. Clear, with the exception of fuzzies. Full-bodied.
The first infusion yields notes of sweet potatoes and malt. Quite light in flavor and thinly textured, though – the leaves would have needed to steep more. The ball gets rolling in the second infusion – thicker texture, with chocolately flavors – but the third infusion is the high point of the session. There was even more chocolate, followed by smoky sugar, then grains, and, lastly, sweet potatoes cooked on fire. All at once, though easy to pick out separately.
After a two-hour break, the fourth infusion tasted of sweet potatoes. The final was very smokey (not any kind in particular).
Brewed Western-style in a ceramic teapot.
A palatable, every day shou, especially for a beginner. I recommend letting it steep only once, for 10 minutes. The leaf doesn’t yield much flavor in the second infusion, following a 6 minute steeping. This way, the broth has as much flavor as it can have. The color is very dark brown, like coffee. Has a one-dimensional flavor profile, but delicious: cream of mushroom. Very mushroom. No qi effects, but it is soothing on the tongue. The dry leaf aroma is very earthy; wet leaf aroma, damp wood.
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Brewed with a test tube steeper. No rinse as recommended. Steeping times: 40, 50, 60, 75, 90, 180.
Such a wonderful aroma. The dry leaf smells of malt and wood, and the wet leaf of sweet potatoes and a little hot fudge. I started craving sweet potatoes… The liquor is amber-colored, mostly clear (fuzzies from the leaves), creamy-textured, and full-bodied. Depending on my mood, the flavor profile switches back and forth between pine and dark chocolate. Always sweet, if on the woody/malty side, but never bitter or to woody. There is a sweet cinnamon aftertaste. Cozy feel, seems to be best for late autumn or a cold, rainy spring day.
Last one from the Sheng and Shou TTB. This is the loose leaf version, but I didn’t want to create a new “tea” for this note.
Brewed gongfu-style with a ceramic gaiwan. Used enough leaf to fill half the gaiwan. 10 second rinse. Steeping times: 5, 8, 12, 15, 20, 30, 60, 90, 120.
Despite being an autumn sheng, spring is in the dry leaf, which smells of flowers, notably hyacinths, and a newly mowed lawn. The wet leaf aroma reminds me of leafhopper oolongs. Purely stonefruit after the rinse, and then i becomes richly jam-like.
The liquor is a clear pale gold. Slightly thick texture. Light-bodied. Bright personality. Uplifting yet calming feel. The first couple infusions resemble white tea. Airy feel, tastes of field grass. Beginning with the third infusion, this becomes more sheng-like – sweet grass and asparagus notes appear. Infusions eight and nine are fruitier, very fruity. Plum lingers in the mouth long after the very last sip.
The dry leaf is something to admire. I think this is my first sheng in which the leaves are so long, unbroken and full. They’re also lovely in color and texture.