First tasting note for this tea! I’m guessing others that got this tea as a free sample are waiting for a special occasion or perhaps some time alone as I was (this isn’t from my most recent Verdant order, but rather from July). However something was pulling on me today to try it and the toddler is doing a relatively good job entertaining himself right now so here it goes. First a great big thank you to David and the folks of Verdant Tea for offering this Pu-er Reserve Project!
I figured with a small sample like this I could either be generous and use all the leaf or risk having two lighter sessions with this tea, I chose to be generr… cautious. I didn’t get much scent from the bag, but when the dry leaf hit the bottom of the warmed mug I knew I was in for a treat: vanilla and smoke. Yes sweet vanilla from a sheng! I’m accustomed with this from Verdant’s shu, but a sheng? Mmm I’m excited!
I did a single rinse, probably could have used two, as in this first infusion I am getting primarily a charcoal and horse stable “taste” (not that I have ever tasted the stable, but it tastes how it smells), with some wood, a slight sweetness and is that eucalyptus? It left a cooling sensation on the tip of my tongue and when I licked my lips the felt creamy.
Second infusion is like cool mountain air and my tongue is positively tingling! The stable has shifted to a damp forest floor and I’m tasting mineral rich soil and rice. This is prickly, with a hint of spice, a bit drying but at the same time cool and dark and moist. There is a floral scent in the cup that I am having a hard time pinpointing. Breathing it in, there is a menthol quality. Ooo a cool coating is developing in my throat and just breathing long after the last sip feels amazing.
Third, the tension between dry and cool, soil and vapor, spice and eucalyptus continues. This is the most astringent of the infusions, probably due to the quickest pour off the boil, will wait a bit longer next time. I still smell horses in my cup and while this might seem strange or even unsavory to some, it brings up fond memories for me.
Fourth, this is much more palatable and a bit minty, but at the same time fiery. I have a confession to make: I am not a huge fan of sheng. I love shu, but I’m afraid my palate isn’t acclimated to the drier more astringent teas which still include most blacks and some oolongs and greens for me. However I am loving the experience of this tea, the sensations it creates. I am going to take a break from it for a bit and come back later. For those curious, I have been getting hints of the sticky rice through all these infusions though it is not nearly as straight forward as the tuochas made with Nuomixiang.