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Recent Tasting Notes
Thanks again for all the DANCONG samples Kieblera5
I’m going to be real honest here. This is my 3rd different dancong sample from Jas-E-Tea so far, and they’ve all been extremely similar. I can’t tell the difference between Almond and Magnolia aroma. Not sure if this is a problem with my palette or a reflection of the tea itself. Having said that they have all been quite drinkable. Not OUTSTANDING but a solid B-
I’ve also read conflicting things about DANCONG itself. Like how it gets its “aroma”…not sure who or what to believe. “It is very hard to make this natural almond flower aroma since it requires great proficiency on the part of the teamaker to process the tea and impart this delicate aroma.” From Jas-E-Tea but yet another source says " The doppelganger of teas, Dancong teas are noted for their ability to naturally imitate the flavors and fragrances of various flowers and fruits, such as orange blossom, orchid, grapefruit, almond, ginger flower, etc."
Anyway, I’ll let you guys know if any of the other DANCONGS in this set are unusual or outstanding in any way :)
Thank you for the sample kieblera5!
This is a very nice DANCONG. There are definitely some floral notes but it is not as intensely floral as some others I’ve tried. Decent level of complexity. I give this one a B- or a C+
I was given several new varieties to sample so I’m definitely going to take notes on each one and figure out which kind is my favorite!
No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the bitterness out of the brew.. I steeped it the same parameters as the previous dancong, but it always had a bitter finish even when I lowered the water temperature or had shorter steeps. Not sure what I did wrong – maybe I need a dancong expert :P
Still, woodsy notes with a hint of sweetness until the bitterness hits at the end. Steeped gongfu style.
Haven’t done this in awhile. Got this tea from JAS-e Tea little a while ago. To start off I know nothing of yellow teas & little of whites. That said my expectations weren’t high. Would not have mattered if they were though because this tea was fabulous! Without an idea of how to prepare it I scanned around for a few until I felt just confident enough to wreck it, grabbed a gaiwan & some 155,or so, degree water, & I jumped right in. Not quite gong fu, but a healthy amount of leaf for a quick infuse. The overall buttery impression was so strong that I think of corn on the cob… the kind from the county fair… lathered in creamy butter. The vegetive was something akin to asparagus or even a fresh green bean-but sweeter. Something reminded me of rice as well. Silky smooth with no astringency (if you’ve seen me before you know about astringency and me) & a nice after flavor. I steeped it close to ten times & was still happy with what I was drinking. It started to resemble more of what I’m familiar with in a green tea as it got up in steeps with a slight metallic bite, but that initial 3-4 cups blew me away. Thanks to Stephen at JAS-e for your service.
No tune today;
I got a 15g sample and split it into two sessions. The first session I was very impressed. This note is about my second session. First steeping I shared a cup with my mom. She noted some mild bitter aftertaste. She also said “whoo, this tea is making me dizzy, I probably shouldn’t have anymore”. I didn’t want to tell her she was getting tea drunk off one cup. She is really sensitive though but I was feeling it too after the first steeping. This tea is way too strong on an empty stomach! An omelet and a pear later and I delved into the next couple steepings…
Golden color and floral scent, taste of melon and honey with an initial sweetness and mild bitter aftertaste. Very sweet for a young sheng and the melon taste was quite pleasant. The liquor has a little viscosity to it which I liked, went down very smooth and coated the mouth and throat. The cha qi character was much more enjoyable with some food in the belly. A little buzzy and out there, I would describe it. Kinda fun, but it was a little nauseating on an empty stomach.
Currently checking in around $80 this one is a little spendy, but an excellent candidate for long term storage. It will be a gem in its later years!
Flavors: Honey, Melon
Sample from a very generous Steepster friend – thank you so much.
5g 100ml gaiwan 200F
This tea is such bright yellow-orange color. Tobacco notes, slightly floral. its quite bitter but then some sweetness comes out later. i was surprised that this bitterness didnt bother me at all. Couple months ago i would just spit it out;)
I did like it and i plan to continue tomorrow. Thank you for the new experience, my tea friend. I’m learning everyday
OMG this was an amazing sheng.
I drank on the leaves all day, towards the end just leaving them in my cup to continue to steep as I drink…
The first few steeps were a bit woody, but not in a bad way at all. There was some gentle smokiness too. No bitterness or astringency that I could find. Usually I enjoy sheng with a more bold fruity or floral taste/scent, which I did not get much of here at all, but wow, as this one began to open up as the steeps progressed and it sweetened, it was magical nonetheless! I guess I can appreciate the “sweet wood” type of sheng after all! I had a rough afternoon and the energy from this really helped me power through. Clarity in a cup! Thanks very much to my special Steepster friend for a sample of this one :)
I was sent a sample of this tea by a fellow Steepsterite and it has sustained me through today. It’s a sheng, and it smells like a sheng: hay and horses to my nose. The liquor is a yellowish amber and smells sweet, but not strong. It tastes sweet too with a smokiness that I liked, but the promised cha qi did not appear. Never mind. I’m convinced that cha qi is more about your relationship with the tea than it is about inherent qualities of that tea. Even without that, I enjoyed this tea and it has sustained itself well through the day. I am still getting a smoky sweet liquor after about a dozen cups although I am now up to a 1 minute steep. Still that’s pretty good. I’m off for another cup now and then a large glass of port before bed. :)
Having this one actually for the second day. I brought this one out and picked about 10 grams off the cake. I started out with a quick wash on this one . It brews a golden amber color. It has just a touch of smokiness very subdued and a woody pine with a touch of bitter to it. This brews very nice as opposed to the younger versions of this I own. It gives you a bit of the calmness after drinking in and seems to have a little “thickness” when drinking. it is a nice pretty full bodied tea to have in the cup. The taste seems to carry on a bit after drinking it.
Had this one late last night. It has some age on it and the tuocha reflects this in the color of the leaf. It brews an amber golden color. Darker than I thought for its age. It still has that smoky “bite” of the Xiaguan teas and comes across with a woody leather taste. I have only done 2 steeps so far and hopefully this will evolve away from the smokiness.
First infusion has a very strong mineral, grassy taste (think Timothy hay, if you’re familiar) with a very grassy scent. The second infusion is still mineral and grassy but it also has a floral scent and taste. Subsequent infusions lose the mineral taste, but continue to have as much of a taste and scent of Timothy hay as well as the floral scent and taste. The finish on this tea is slightly sweet, but I did not note any scent or taste of honey. In all honesty, I’ve had plain green tea from various large chain tea companies that was just as good at nothing approaching the price of this Spring 2009 Taste of Jinggu Mountain; to say that I’m disappointed with this purchase is an understatement. I would have been much happier spending the extra $20 to buy a 2003 Yiwu Puqing Hao Green Pu-erh Tea Cake from Puerhshop.com but I wanted to try other teas as well. I guess I’ll chalk this one up to ‘live and learn’ and do my best to buy a sample of a tea before I invest in an entire bing/tuo/brick.
A note on the tea cake itself: I know bings are supposed to be tightly packed to allow for storage but this particular bing was so tightly packed one could use it as a discus at a track meet! I was very careful when I tried to pry off a few pieces of this cake and used a pu-erh knife but there was just no separating it without breaking the leaves into tiny flakes in the process. I decided to go ahead and separate this cake and put the tea into a new yixing clay jar to allow it to get some air to age and wound up with as much powder and tiny flakes of leaves as I did small chunks of tea. I was completely unable to separate the center of the cake and will try to use a nail to break it up later; the darn thing could have been used by Wayne Gretzky for hockey practice it was so solid. I just hope a few years in a nice yixing jar will make this tea worth the trouble.
My humans are STILL talking about this tea. You’ve heard of tea leaves with that downy appearance. This is it! Tea Adventure: 2012 Spring White-bud Pu-erh from JAS-eTea.com http://lyt-tea-reviews.blogspot.com/2012/09/tea-adventure-2012-spring-white-bud-pu.html
This has been stored well it has no sharpness left in it. Very nice and almost sweet on the sides of the tongue. Pale light green brew,very nice to just sit and inhale the aroma. Not an overpowering one by far. Very nice and easy to drink. I think this will just get better and better with age.
I thought I should finally get around to reviewing this shu as I’m half way through the tuo. The leaves I am using for this session are the bits and pieces that have collected in the wrapper and the box from breaking apart the toucha. Smooth and creamy is the first adjectives that come to mind. The smell of the dry leaves also has a sweet cream scent, which is accentuated when adding the dry leaves into a warmed yixing. After an initial rinse the warm leaves now have an essence of a library or or a used book store. The surprising thing to me is that even using the bits and broken pieces of the remnants of a dozen session the brew is still smooth and clean, the liquor is not a translucent red as with usual infusions, but cloudy. The infusion is every bit as fluid and viscous and flavorful as usual. Later infusions have a less creamy and more mineral quality, almost stone like not earthy so much as a quality of a glacial cirque filled with boulders, and granite escarpments with hints of moss and lichen. Not that I’ve ever hiked into a glacial cirque and eaten rocks or lichen, but that is the essence I feel as I drink. Wonderful.
The leaves that I’m using are from the Jas-eTea Menghai raw sampler. This is my first Menghai Pu-erh and only my third raw pu-erh. This is an earthy tea with a kiss of bitterness on the tip of your tongue. Pu-erh really is a special variety of tea. It’s rare for tea to drop me into such a state of relaxation as pu-erh. It’s a tea that I could drink for quite some time — provided there is ample boiling water and no one rushing me.
She sits at her kitchen table, about to take her fist sip of Della Terra’s S’mores that I made for her. I’m sitting across the table. It’s cold outside in the darkness and wants to snow. Billie Holiday plays in the background. We’re just sitting and talking, tea the only thing between us. Maybe there’s more. I don’t know. I don’t care. I’m just happy in this moment.
She tries the S’mores and loves it. She’s smiling over the steam rising from the cup. Tells me its awesome. I smile back. She takes another sip.
“I brought this,” picking up a plastic bag with various tea pouches I got in the mail from Jas-eTEa, “because I’m really excited to open them and smell them and maybe try one. With you.”
We open them all, the 2010 and 2011 Liu An Gua Pian and the 2011 Bi Luo Chun (Green Snail Spring). I ask her if she smells certain notes and tones in each. I shake some small, fragile leaves from the Green Snail pouch in my hand and we look at it and I talk about the pan-frying and how each leaf is rolled in the tea makers palm to give it it’s twisted “snail-like” appearance. Then I tell her how it was originally called Xia Sha Ren Xiang, which meant “fragrance to cause fear and trembling” and then how it was changed to “Green Snail Spring” because the Emperor didn’t think it sounded fit for royalty. She’s listening but not saying anything.
“I’m geeking out again. You can tell me to stop talking about tea whenever-”
“Stop,” she says and smiles, “I like it. Keep going.”
I put just over 2 oz of the dry leaves in my ingenuiTEA tea maker. I let it sit for a few seconds and ask her to smell them. There’s a lightness their odor, a dry flower or plant smell. Its quiet. Herbaceous but not heavy.
“This is my favorite part. Remember that smell,” I say. I turn around and pour some warm water in. I wait about 10 seconds. Discard it. I give it back to her. “Check this out.”
She smells it. Her eyes light up and she looks at me, says “Whaaaaaat…” and smells again, “that’s cool! That smells amazing.”
It does. It really does. Its my favorite part about the tea sharing experience. I don’t care if I’m not supposed to do it or if it’s not proper technique for this style; it works on everyone that I try it on. I call it “waking them up”. This particular tea has smooth, milky and dark chocolate notes when it first wakes up from its little pouch-bed. There’s wet and clean cedar, maybe oak, there’s heavy cream. Some smooth smoke but not much. She’s right, it is cool.
“It says I’m supposed to steep for three minutes,” I say, “but I’m not going to. I like my green teas on the lighter side. It makes a more delicate cup, a little harder to pick up on the nuances of everything going on. Makes me work harder.” I explain that I pour just a little shot into my cup halfway through the recommended steep time to get the initial flavors. Then, if I need or want to, I take the chance and let it steep more or drink the rest right there. Renegade tea drinker, I know.
I steep. I sip. This is what I love about green tea. The color isn’t lime or neon-green like people think it should be. My initial, brief steep has the slightest tint to the water that looks calm and inviting. There’s a very quiet fruit aroma mixed with a nutty-ness and a floral undertone. It’s very vegetal when its warm and (obviously) calms down as it cools. There’s the cooked greens initial taste (asparagus, spinach), then just the smallest bite from a mineral background but its welcome. Balanced it the keyword here. Nothing is overpowering and nothing is too little. The taste lingers like a light, calm sweetness. Not downy or cottony like I’ve had in other greens, it just sits nicely. Maybe not the best tea to give to someone who is trying green tea for the first time but definitely one to give when they’ve got some in their cupboard.
I’ve read that the beauty of tea is the experience of it. The sounds around you, the smells, the mindset you have before, during, and after. It’s what you associate in your mind with it and what you choose to ignore with it.
Tea is appreciating the moment and the beauty of what is in front of you.
She sits across from me, her hands wrapped around her mug. She looks at me and looks away. She smiles and sips.
Couldn’t agree more.
Pulled this out of the old big-bag-o-tea-at-work and thought, hey! sheng! how did this get in the bag? Sounds like a nice afternoon tea.
Steeping in my brew basket.. quick “improv gongfu style” steepings.
The leaves smell pleasant enough (smoky, metallic shine, a faraway berry that’s almost musk-like). The nose reminds me of Banzhang, but I honestly haven’t looked into what makes up this particular recipe. Liquor is an orangey color.. auburn?
Hm.. not too much here, in terms of either taste or texture. I know there should be something here, so it’s a bit like playing hide-and-seek. Flavor? Where are yooou? Maybe it will come as I sip and the cup cools…
After sipping through half of my cup, I’ve found a little more. There’s a whisper of metallic smoke in the taste. The body of it reminds me of the last dying breaths of a sheng.. way into the 25+ steepings, where you have mostly just body, overlaid with ghost reflections of all that’s come before. Only issue here is that I don’t have any aftertastes and textures for this body to play with (since this is the first steeping), so I’m left puzzled. Most of what I get is in the aftertaste/texture. My tongue feels puckered.. dry only in the front of my tongue, but luckily not in the back of my throat. It almost feels like I’ve burnt my tongue, but goodness knows the water here at work can’t get that hot. The aftertaste is also reminding me a bit of a Chinese restaurant jasmine-green (some astringency on the sides of my tongue links of with dinner-grade jasmine perfume, plus the mellow vegetal grassiness).
Overall, mellow, but strangely absent. Since I’m working at the same time, the lack of complexity or..er…flavors are fine, but I’m a little sad. Guess I’m spoiled for sheng pu’er these days and was looking forward to a bit of unexpected sparkle and surprise. It’s also a young brick, so on the plus side, I don’t feel like I’m getting kicked in the teeth with a bucket of smokey, bitter coins!
I’ll try the next steepings with less water and hotter water to see if I can get this shy one to open up into something fun. No “chaqi” to speak of so far, but I am feeling a bit of the jitters creeping up on me.. Perhaps if someone were smoking, I would have an uneasy stomach, but luckily, this isn’t China.
Used much less water here, and steeped it for close to 40 seconds (normally, on a second steep of a similarly aged sheng, I would do 10-15..). There we go: there’s something in the cup this time. The color is a pretty orange (like some of the leaves outside).
I’m getting much more Banzhang now, but the taste reminds me much more of Banzhang fannings I’ve had on occassion (ends of bricks, or taking from the bottom of a pouch because I’m just drinking by myself). By that, I mean there’s grainy wood on the underside of the sides of my tongue. In other shengs, I’ve found this appealing, but I think that’s because it is so often paired with a chocolate or hazelnut or cream texture and taste in the middle. This one is hanging out by itself, reminding me of a dock in the middle of a bay. Where are you going? What are you pointing to? It’s just out by itself in a body that is sweet… simple and generic, with no berry or fruit specificity.
The puckering is still there, layering up on itself like quilts. Atringency turning to true bitterness, but not so unpleasant because it’s all concentrated on the front of my tongue, not the back.
Aftertaste seems at first nonexistant, or just a bright vegetal vibration that tapers off in a second or two. After a minute, I realize this now reminds me of citrus and spice. It doesn’t taste that way.. I just find myself reminded.
It’s certainly caffeinated (hello diuretic!), but in terms of energy. this feels more like a sloshy, unruly caffeine that wants to shake out into my arms or leave my with water in my shoes.. not a feeling of calm and center. As it cools, I realize that I do not want this to cool. The woodiness and astringency are bullying their way to the forefront as all of the other aspects fall asleep. Doing this from little cups would certainly eliminate this issue.
I wonder if I can get another steeping out of these leaves? It’s kind of terrifying to imagine steeping a sheng of this age for over a minute on the third steep, but I think that’s what’s called for. Adventure time.. ho!
Well, I did it. Tiny amount of water, and steeped for almost a minute and a half.
No disaster here, though. I had to sneak in a peanut butter cracker sandwich while this was steeping, since it definitely made me hungry. The first sip was actually pretty nice with the aftertaste of salty peanut butter.
This steeping is definitely more full and flavorful, but at the same time, it continues to feel as if this tea was already mostly steeped out before I started drinking. There are some floral elements, notes that remind me of nut skins in a savory sweet sauce (black bean or garlic?). These are all whispers and implications, so I may be working a little hard to pull them into substantial references. Mostly, this reminds me of a young sheng that is nearing the end of it’s steeping arc.
I’m not sure about this one. A friend and I put together a JASetea order quite awhile ago, and this is some of what’s left. On the whole, I’m perfectly fine not having a brick of this to age. The description emphasizes the high quality leaves and the classic recipe. Sure, fine. I don’t think there’s anything that stands out negatively.. except that nothing much has stood out during my steeping. It’s a wallflower plastered underneath the wallpaper, behind a giant chair. When pushed for more complexity and interest, it seems to just push right on over. At it’s best, it was sweet and mellow, with nothing to stick out and grab the interested sipper. Safe to the point of boredom. But then again, I don’t know if I would recommend this to someone who’s afraid of shengs, because it has offered little reward today, and it can get overly woody, wooly, and metallic. It’s no kick in the face, but it’s not much of anything else either.
To be fair I am steeping this at work in a brew-basket, not in my little gaiwan, not in spring water at just below boiling. This will probably be more generous in more loving conditions, but still.. I have my doubts about what this really could be giving, even treated in the most pampered way.
Has anyone else tried this recently? It’s been sold out for sometime from JASe Tea, but apparently it’s been a big hit with some pu’er bloggers? I’m not sure myself.. it mostly just leaves me puzzled.
One more update
The caffeine from this is harsher than I previously thought. Sure, it is a little chilly back here, but not enough to leave me shivering and my teeth chattering! Whoooo… I have no upset stomach, but I would not want to be balancing any fragile things right now. Generally, I am blissfully immune to caffeine’s stimulant effects. I don’t think I’ve had a reaction like this since the days of spending 8+ hours sampling teas with no breakfast or lunch in me.