288 Tasting Notes
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
I bought a sample of this ages ago and just discovered it again in the big box of samples as I was looking for a sheng to drink. It immediately told me that I should open the sample bag and set to. When I say a sample, I mean a 100g bag. It is a very generous sample bag. The size of the sample is massively impressive. I had wanted to buy a whole basket, because, I mean, basket of tea. Who wouldn’t? Anyway, I did not because of the additional cost and what if I did not like it? I guess I should have bought the basket then. I like this tea.
I started with a rinse and a 25 second steep. Then I added 10 seconds for each subsequent steep. This seemed to work well and I am now half a dozen steeps into the tea with it only beginning to lose its potency now. It produces a thick dark brew that has woody, cedar and leather notes to it. It’s mellow and sweet, and you can tell that it is produced in similar fashion to shou puerh. The liquor is an almost black dark brown. There is a residual sweetness and a slight mintiness that cools the breath as the aftertaste emerges. Yes, this tea and I are getting along quite well together.
Flavors: Cedar, Leather, Wood
I was gifted this sample by a fellow Steepsterite who prefers to remain anonymous. Thank you, anonymous friend.
After drinking the Teavivre 2006 Fenqing Sheng for most of yesterday, it finally ran out in the early evening so I decided to drink a shou for a change. I was struck by how thick and dark it was: a really rich red-black colour. It had a creamy mouthfeel and a very earthy taste with a citrussy copper tang that was not unpleasant. Its real strength was in the aftertaste which was woody and lasted well. There was no bitterness and little sweetness, just a strong, mellow tea. There did not seem to be much depth of flavour either. Still, it is a very pleasant drinkable tea. I shall probably not buy any of this for myself, but I would never turn it down if someone offered it to me.
Flavors: Wet Earth, Wood
Another free sample from Teavivre. Thank you. This is the last of the most recent batch of samples I was sent.
I bought a sample of this tea some time back and really enjoyed it, although I did not remember this until I came to write a note about this new sample. Last time I found it to be a powerful, full body experience. So, how does it fare this time around? The initial impression is woodsy and smoky with a strong, pleasing kuwei after a 5 second steep. Further perusal and steeping suggest prunes or muscatel, and hay notes in the aroma, but less so in the tasting. The aftertaste is sweet with a little smoke and a mild astringency. Like last time, I can feel this tea in my legs first and then the relaxation spreads throughout the rest of my body. I avoid getting tea drunk, but the possibility is definitely there. This is still a powerful tea. I reckon it will really help me through the working day.
Flavors: Hay, Smoke, Wood
I spent yesterday drinking this tea and really enjoying it. I find that it is a tough tea to get the best out of but when you do manage it, it is sublime. There are honeysuckle, peach and spice notes in it that make it really refreshing, while vegetal undertones keep it grounded. I like this tea and find it worth the effort. That is probably just as well, because I have a whole tin of it!
Flavors: Honeysuckle, Peach, Spices
Thank you to Teavivre for for this free sample, and my apologies that I am totally behind on reviewing the teas I was sent. Still, only one left to try. That will be today’s project.
So, I drank this a while back but have not managed to write it up before now. I made it in an yixing pot and managed to get a good few steeps from it. The dry leaf had a strong hay aroma with a slight floral edge. The liquor brewed up yellow with some honey, hay and floral notes. The tea is smoky with vegetal notes. It is sweet and has a lasting aftertaste. There is some puckering of the tongue from the astringency that is quite pleasant. As I resteeped the tea, the flavour deepened and mellowed. I liked the way the tea developed and the flavours became more pronounced for the first half dozen steeps.
One thing I did find a bit odd was the recommendation to brew with boiling water. I normally brew sheng at 85-90 degrees C. With this tea I tried both. I found that I had to wait for it to cool before I could taste anything when I brewed it with boiling water while the cooler brew did not impair the flavour at all. I am still undecided about which is better but probably prefer the cooler brew. Perhaps I need to get some more to experiment a bit.
Flavors: Floral, Smoke, Vegetal