253 Tasting Notes
After a disappointing session earlier today I picked this one out of the sample tin. I bought it some time back and have been very remiss in sampling it. Fortunately my current sheng binge is really getting me through the samples.
The dry leaf on this is gorgeous. It smells of warm horse and hay. That’s a homely and comforting smell that suggests a great brew ahead. The wet leaf transitions to a smoke and hay aroma, and the soup is orange. The first few steeps were smoky and sweet with raw carrot notes and a citrus sharpness that became a lovely bitterness. There was some astringency and the tea sparkled on the tongue. As I continued to steep and drink, it became smoother with less smoke, no bitterness and more sweetness. The astringency remained with a change towards a grape note by the end of the session. I steeped this over a dozen times and will return to it tomorrow, so I guess you could say its endurance is pretty good. This is more like what I want from a sheng and I am glad I had this one after this morning’s disappointment. It’s a great note to end the day on.
Flavors: Astringent, Carrot, Smoke, Sweet
I bought a sample of this from Yunnansourcing some time back and have been trying to work through my backlog of samples this past week or so. I was quite excited to try an 11 year old sheng. The dry leaf promised much with its hot hay aroma. It smelt good and promised a robust and pleasing experience. Sadly the liquor failed to deliver. It has a nice bitterness at the back of the mouth and in the throat and is quite smooth, but in the end it left me feeling that something was missing. There is a slight smokiness, perhaps a hint of grape, a soupçon of sweetness but really not much more. Perhaps someone with a subtler tongue could plumb the depths of this tea but I found it rather shallow and my feet remained firmly on the bottom of the pool while my head and body remained above water. It is bland and underwhelming, and failed to enthrall me. If I wished to damn it with faint praise, I would describe it as nice. That is all it is.
Flavors: Bitter, Smoke
After the mildness of the 2012 Shuang Yu yesterday I opened another sample packet I had bought today and got quite the hit. The dry leaf promised something wild and robust with its solid hay and floral aroma. The brewed tea was a strong amber colour and provided the same hit in a different way. It is sweet and smoky with a mild tobacco edge and vegetal notes. The liquor is creamy and coats the mouth and throat so the smokiness and sweetness endure in the aftertaste. Despite its strength, there is little bitterness or astringency, only enough to enhance the other flavours. This tea is much more in my comfort zone than yesterday’s. I can wrestle with it and expect it to fight back instead of having to nurture it to bring out its best properties.
Flavors: Smoke, Sweet, Tobacco, Vegetal
Wow, I keep finding teas to write about that have no notes yet. This is a sample I bought from Zhi Zheng. I went to check the site and noticed that they have closed their web store which is a shame because their teas looked good. Anyway, after my brief flirtation with an Oriental Beauty this morning I decided to get wild with a sheng. This was the first to hand from the sample tin, so I decided to go ahead and see what it was like.
The dry leaf was in a big chunk in the packet. It was relatively loose and easy to pick apart. The aroma of the dry leaf was mild hay. The wet aroma only intensified that note. I steeped the first pot for 20 seconds and it came out incredibly mild. I think it needed longer to wake up, because the second steeping was better. It was still mild with a hint of astringency and a slight smokiness at he back of the throat. From there the tea developed well with each steeping. Floral notes and a hint of camphor crept in as the astringency changed to a grape taste that continued through to the end. By the end of the steeping, the grapes dominated. Throughout, the liquor coated the mouth nicely and was silky smooth. This is mild and refreshing, and really good for a hot summer day.
Flavors: Camphor, Floral, Grapes, Hay
Backlog from yesterday: I was gifted this tea by a good tea chum. Throughout I struggled to find much of anything in it, sadly. It is woody and rounded and slightly sweet. It’s not bad, but I found it a bit nondescript. I think the best description for it is ‘solid’. If you want a shou that is mellow and rounded but not too challenging, then this one would be a good choice. I could see using it as an everyday shou that requires little thought. I do wonder if I was really in the mood for a shou. That might be why I found less to it than I might otherwise, or perhaps I have been spoilt recently by other superb teas. Anyway, thank you to my tea chum. I enjoyed the tea even though I did not find it to be stellar. I have a couple more samples to try from my friend but I think I need to wait for the shou craving, because one of them is a mystery sample that he is testing me with. I really have no idea what to expect from it.
Thar she blows! Aharr, me hearties, today I laid into the White Whale that Paul of White2tea sent me. I fear the whale has harpooned me and now I be mixing up me sailing books. Should it be Treasure Whale or White Whale Island? Perhaps it’s just the tea drunk talking.
The dry leaf has an aroma of wood and camphor. Wet, the leaf adds smoky and pine resin notes. The liquor is orange. I can feel the kick as I drink it. It is powerful with strong wood and camphor notes, an element of smoke and pine resin, and a chilli bite in the aftertaste then a fine cooling on the tongue. I’m enjoying this tea a lot and finding that the aftertaste lasts nicely, unlike the aftertaste that Moby Dick left in Captain Ahab’s mouth. Let us hope that it has the legs of all those sailors it has encountered, because I hope to enjoy it for the rest of the day.
This is indeed a dancing white whale and at a great price too. I have to say that I really like the wrapper that White2tea has come up with for it. Minimalist but pleasing just the same.
Thank you White2tea. This is now on my want list. That’s like a wish list but I am more likely to pester my wife until she gives in and buys me a brick or two.
Flavors: Camphor, Pine, Smoke, Wood
I was gifted a sample of this tea and found time to drink it today. The first impression I had was that this tea is very smooth and mellow. This tea is so smooth it could be compering at a jazz club. There is no earthiness, no astringency and no bitterness. Instead it is mostly a wet woody flavour with tiny hints of cinnamon and cedar, and a thickish mouthfeel. I’m not getting much else from it, but that is alright because the smoothness is very pleasant and I am pleased to be getting a decent number of steeps from it too. Not every tea has to be challenging, you know.
Flavors: Cedar, Cinnamon, Wet Wood
Ooh, I’m first to write a note, but it’s a bit of a Goldilocks tale: the first cup was too weak, the second cup was too strong, but the third cup was just right.
I like Yunnansourcing’s sample packs. They are large enough to give you a chance to experiment a little. There is enough in the sample pack for another two pots this time around. In this case, I have not really needed to experiment that much, because the tea endures enough for me to eventually get it right. The dry leaf smells of tobacco and hay. It seems quite tightly compressed with chopped leaf and the overall look of the chunks is a brownish green with lighter leaves interspersed between the darker ones.
So, on with the tale. I rinsed the tea once and then steeped the first cup for 15 seconds. It was ok but a bit too weak. The liquor was well pale, and the taste was lightly smoky with a hint of tobacco and something floral. The second cup was going to be steeped for 15 seconds but then I got distracted by the kittens, and now have no idea how long it was really steeped for. The liquor was dark amber and had a seriously heavy bite to it. The third cup was again 15 seconds and was the colour of champagne. The tobacco and smoke notes dominated with a pleasing kuwei and a slight mouth-puckering astringency that shaded into sweetness in the aftertaste. The floral notes were still there but muted. As I have gone on with the tea, the floral notes have moved more to the fore and the smokiness has receded. This tea has a lot of energy and has perked me up more than relaxed me. It is robust and lively with little subtlety to it (unless the subtlety is too subtle for my palate!) but there are days when that is what you want. It’s a shame I cannot find it in the Yunnansourcing store now, because I would happily have a beeng to keep and sample every so often. Right, better run now. There’s some bears at the door complaining that someone has drunk their tea …
Flavors: Floral, Hay, Smoke, Tobacco