I was inspired by recent comments on this tea to pull it out from my pu’er box and give it a real rating on Steepster. Yiwu is the Verdant Tea sheng that I always forget that I have. Perhaps I’m distracted by the tempting Artisan Revival, the crazy Xingyang or the Yohoho Farmer’s Coop? When I do finally have it again, it’s like a revelation. Oh yes! I remember you now! Hello again, and thanks for welcoming me back…
The first tastes of this are always difficult for me to describe. Imagine a powdered sugar donut. When it touches your tongue, there is a cooling sensation that brings you back for more. That cooling texture is here in the first sips (though not sugary sweet). Instead, I imagine extremely dark and pure cocoa powder mixed with the dark bark or skin of a woody branch. The branch bark is ground to dust, and leaves this dark, cooling woody texture and taste on the tip of my tongue. (my husband tells me this is camphor; I can never pinpoint that flavor, but that I know academically is there, and so I struggle absurdly with comparisons to cooling-woody-donuts; how can one be so unable to taste one specific flavor?).
In the rest of the opening steepings, this feeling of sweet, dark woodiness spreads and unfolds into something warm and bright. It reminds me of walking along a path in college: piney trees and leafy greens of the Hudson river valley are on one side; the sun is setting over the hill, and everything turns orange and glowing green. The path is covered with wood chips and fallen pine needles, and because the pine needles have turned golden orange, too, it looks as though the light has splintered and covered the ground in a soft carpet of fragrant light. That smell is the woody taste the opens up in this sheng. It is lovely, but also very mysterious to me. It keeps me coming back for more steepings.
The cocoa/wood flavors continue all the way through the steepings. I think this is also that camphor flavor. The taste is also full and sweet, and in the aftertaste, there’s something that reminds me both of a good, ripe melon and of chewing on grape or apple skins. I do not really ever eat cherries (too bitter for me), but I think this may be what some other tasters have referenced.
This tea is also really really juicy in a way that reminds me of good baking apples or the aftertaste of cider. It is a different kind of thickness than the smooth, comforting linen of the Artisan Revival. If I’m not paying attention, the juicy, fruity afters slide into mintiness, too.
This is a complex sheng, that I feel is closer to what long-time drinkers might expect out of this style of pu’er. It fits more with the traditional flavor profile, but it is not at all bitter or drying, and its interesting complexity goes down as many layers as you might care to explore. It tastes young, but in only the most delicious ways. This will be another great sheng to watch grow with interest.