Shan ValleyEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Harvest: Spring 2014
So I felt like tasting the 2014 version of Shan Valley’s First Flush Green Tea after trying the 2013 version and brewed it exactly the same as I did the 2013version. This time I only had a small (relative to the large six ounce packet last time) one ounce sample. I liked the packaging on this one more than the paper-foil packet the 2013 was in, even though my issue with the 2013 packaging was purely aesthetic, although I am a little concerned about the packaging on this one because of the clear back. But then I don’t store my teas in a place that gets much sunlight, so it isn’t that big of an issue.
Dry Leaves: The leaves look pretty similar to the 2013 version, still very dark for a green tea and have a stiff bark-like texture; the difference is these leaves look a little flatter and have longer stems. Other than that they are pretty similar to the 2013 harvest, maybe with a tangier smoke scent, but still has a pleasant fermented fruity aroma as well. It almost reminds me of a barbecue sauce, but it is smokier then most barbeque sauces I make.
Brewing Time: One Minute
Flavor: Spinach, Fruity, Metallic and Honey
Tasting Notes: Immediately I could tell I liked this harvest more than the 2013 even though it is more astringent. The 2013 harvest reminded me a lot of a Sheng Puerh crossed with a Purple tea, this time not so much, even though it still feels quite different than most greens I’ve had. There was a sharp metallic taste this time that made the astringency much more noticeable.
Not bad for a first infusion I am not really fond of metallic tastes in tea, most teas I’ve had with metallic notes generally have a rust/blood element, but this was a little different. I almost wanted to describe it as either wet stone or minerally, but it doesn’t fit either category comfortably.
Brewing Time: One and a half Minutes
Aroma: Fruity and Smokey
Flavor: Spinach, Stone Fruit, Metallic and Honey
Tasting Notes: Still very astringent, but it is becoming much more vibrant and nuanced then the last infusion and even the 2013 harvest. There was a nice creamy mouthfeel this time. It still had that sharp metallic taste from last time, but this time it was not as biting.
This was the best of the three infusions, it had a near perfect mouthfeel and a nice balance between the strong spinach notes that lingered and the minor honey notes that disappeared almost immediately. I liked the aroma quite a lot, it doesn’t have as pungent fruity aroma as the next infusion, but it still has a very nice smoke in it that become quite weak in the next infusion.
Brewing Time: Two Minutes
Aroma: Fruity and Smokey
Flavor: Green Beans, Metallic and Honey
Tasting Notes: While not as astringent as the last two infusions it feels much harsher this time because the green bean and honey flavors do not last as long. While the metallic notes are not as strong as the green bean it has become very sharp by now. Probably my least favorite infusion.
Overall not a bad tea, I was a little disappointed initially because I came in expecting a sheng like tea, but it still was not bad. It is much more vibrant and complex than the 2013 harvest and overall is a much better tea than the 2013 harvest, but there is something about the 2013 harvest that left me breathless which is missing from this tea. Perhaps this is a tea that is technically better than its predecessor, but lacks the soul of the previous. Regardless this tea is definitely worth trying, at $3 for an ounce (or $10 for 6 ounces! at the time of writing this) it is hard for me to not recommend this tea. Although this tea might not be the right tea for the normal green tea drinker, it won’t break the bank.
Harvest: Spring 2013
So I’ve bought quite a lot of Shan Valley’s tea in a sale sometime last year and finally decided to start sampling them. Today I decided to look at their 2013First Flush Green Tea, I do have the 2014 version and I probably will compare it to this at a later date.
Dry Leaves: I bought a six ounce bag because of the low price and it comes in a paper-foil bag that I am not really fond of. As you can see it has quite a few dings, but surprisingly the bag was not punctured. Regardless the leaves are quite bark like appearance, in fact the leaves are rather pliable firm. There is a pungent smell about them almost like fermented fruit with a little smoke, but not unpleasant. It is quite dark for a green tea.
Brewing Time: One Minute
Aroma: Char and Fruity
Flavor: Fruity, Smoky and Spice
Tasting Notes: I decided to not brew this for the recommended three to four minutes because this is quite a potent tea, almost like a young sheng puerh, although it does not have that same harshness that is common in many shengs, but there is a bit of a bite. Even after one short minute I could taste some of the sting of this tea.
I rather enjoyed this infusion. It had a nice balance between being fruity and smoky with a nice spicy kick, it almost reminds me of a purple tea, but it feels unique somehow. Even though it is a green it is easy to imagine this being sold as maocha and while it does remind me of a sheng, it is missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on.
Brewing Time: One and a half Minutes
Aroma: Fruity and Wood
Flavor: Fruity, Smoky, Vegetal and Spice
Tasting Notes: It had quite a lovely aroma, almost like burning woodchips mixed with peaches. It wasn’t as balanced as the last infusion, the fruity noes became much more prominent and while the smoky taste is still there it is becoming weaker. There were new vegetal notes this time, along with the smoky notes I almost would have said they were the dominant tastes, but the fruity part lingers and is quite nice when you start to taste the spicy almost peppery notes.
It still is very sheng-like, but it is becoming a little more like a purple tea. Although this infusion is the most complex of the three, it is my least favorite. The spicy notes are becoming more distinct, but the vegetal notes are making this a little murky.
Brewing Time: Two Minutes
Flavor: Fruity, Vegetal and Pepper
Tasting Notes: This was the best infusion! Even though I was sad to see the smoky notes disappear, I was quite happy to taste that it had finally achieved a perfect balance between fruity and vegetal with a nice peppery taste that comes in at the very end. The peppery notes were not as sharp as the fruity ones, but it was quite lovely.
This was the most sheng-like of the three infusions.
If I didn’t have so much of this leftover I’d definitely buy this again, for $3.00 an ounce this is a steal. As for whether or not I’d recommend this to a green tea drinker, definitely, even though it has some sharp puerh-like elements to it, it isn’t an expensive tea to try. I was rather impressed with this even though I initially was expecting a more traditional green tea taste, but I am rather content with this tea. I almost want to call it a Sheng-Lite, but that feels unfair to this tea.
Another from the travelling tea box. The nice thing about travelling tea boxes is that it lets you try things you wouldn’t necessarily buy for yourself. This is a pretty decent green tea. Sadly since it’s not really something i drink a lot, i couldn’t tell you how it stacks up…but i enjoyed it a bunch! :)
This certainly is an unusual green tea! If someone had made this tea for me without me seeing the package, I would say it was a sheng. Even the dry leaves look like sheng. Very dark and grey.
Brewed up it’s a bit smokey & earthy. There’s a bit of nutty in the notes along with black pepper that hits the tongue on the finish.
There’s only one tsp left of this so I’m putting it back in the box to let someone else try it out. Definitely an unusual tea!
This tea is all sheng to me.
This is the 2014 harvest. Similar to the previous Black Tea from Shan Valley that I’ve tried, this has a very fine CTC chop. It resembles a finely ground coffee. But it’s been my experience with these Shan Valley teas that the small chop shouldn’t dissuade you from trying the tea because they are quite splendid!
This smells earthy, with notes of leather and fruit and even the slightest hint of flower.
It brews dark – almost like a cup of black coffee. It’s a rich, robust, vigorous cup of tea – this will definitely get your engine charging! It takes well to milk and honey if you like to add those to your black tea.
Flavorful! Deep, rich flavor. Notes of earth and leather, although these two notes are more subtle than the fragrance would lead you to believe. A malty note that would rival the maltiest assam! Deep molasses-y/caramel-y flavor that is indulgent.
This year’s harvest seems to have less cacao notes as well as fewer roasted flavors, but that’s more than made up for with the malt, delicious molasses and caramel notes.
As I continue to sip, fruit notes begin to develop and I picked up on currant, grape and plum. I’m also tasting a baked bread sort of flavor that’s lovely.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/10/04/shan-black-tea-2014-from-shan-valley/
T&C TTB Round 2
This may have suffered from being in the TTB, I don’t know. Initial thoughts on smelling the liquor is pu-erh. Being CTC it was pretty much an insta-steep. As soon as I got the water in the cup I took out the infuser basket. It was okay. I didn’t get much of anything like others have noted. It was just similar to some not very good pu-erhs (the reason I haven’t expanded much into them). Dusty, odd and drying.
I will get caught up, I will get caught up, I will get caught up. (Tapping heels three times.) I’ll get there, my pretties.
This is an AWESOME tea. I have been very impressed with the teas from Shan Valley. Compared to last year’s first flush green, this tea seems to be a little more forward in flavor. It has more sweetness, and more vibrancy.
Mild steamed veggie taste, bright citrus-y note, a hint of creaminess. This is good iced too.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/08/12/2014-shan-first-flush-green-tea-from-shan-valley/
An interesting tea that tastes different when served hot versus served cold.
When hot, it’s a fresh, exhilarating, rich, brothy type of tea. Smoky. Not overly vegetal, in fact I found the vegetal note to be a bit subtle which I found surprising given it’s a green. Buttery and creamy. Like browned butter. Distant notes of fruit and flower.
As it cools, the creaminess tastes less like browned butter and more like fresh cream. The smokiness seems to leave the cup as it cools. The fruit becomes more prominent in the cooled cup – a bit like fruit and cream. Nice.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/07/16/kokang-green-tea-from-shan-valley/
This was pretty good. I really like my green teas to be bitterness free, so I steeped it at a pretty cool temp. Doing this yielded a really sweet cup, which I like, that was a bit mineral-y but also a hair fruity. More a deep fruitiness, like fig, than a fresh fruitiness like peach. Probably one of my favorites from this company so far, actually.
The dry leaf LOOKS like a black tea (or at least a well oxidized Oolong) but it definitely smells like a green tea with its vegetal aroma. The brewed tea is darker than most green teas tend to be.
Although the aroma of the dry leaf led me to think that I’d be drinking a strongly vegetative tea, the vegetal notes are actually quite a bit softer than I expected them to be. I do taste some vegetation here but I taste the other flavors more prominently: Lovely floral notes, notes of fruit and a buttery overtone.
A well-rounded tea with a nice, brothy texture. It’s a very satisfying drink.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/07/07/pyin-green-tea-2014-from-shan-valley/
Thank you to carol who for this sample tea. I am sorry it took me so long to get around to trying it.
I decided to steep this at 175 F for 3 minutes. I was a bit nervous as the tea is a fine CTC and sometimes they can be very robust but the lower steeping temp. probably helps. This tea has a lot of interesting flavors in the cup. There is a bit of smoke, spicy flavor and some apricot fruitiness as well. I can drink this plain, which is good! I get a hint of tobacco flavor too but it doesn’t seem bitter. Overall, a very interesting tea which makes me want to try more things from Shan Valley. Thanks again — Carol!
This sample came from KiwiDelight. I don’t have a lot of experience with CTC teas, and to be honest, they intimidate me a bit… This one is dark chocolate brown in color and has that coffee grounds look. Dry scent is super mild but I can smell a hint of apricot. I steeped the teaspoon of leaf for 2 minutes in 10 ounces of 200 degree water (I was worried about it being too strong).
The liquor has a surprisingly fruity aroma (apricots) with malt and a touch of mineral. This actually came out a bit weak, which surprised me. The most prominent notes are apricot and malt, and there is a bit of a mineral taste. I realize I used too much water with this one, but I much prefer that to it coming out a bitter mess. Pretty tasty. :)
Flavors: Apricot, Malt, Mineral, Smoke
A very finely chopped CTC, so finely chopped that it almost resembles a fine ground coffee. But as I say in my full length review of this tea – http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/06/22/kyaukme-black-tea-2014-from-shan-valley/ – don’t let the fine cut of the tea dissuade you. A finer chop just means that you should adjust the brewing parameters a little bit (and it also means that you’re probably going to be experiencing a very bold flavor tea – a good kick in the pants!)
The aroma also reminds me of coffee. The earthiness of coffee as well as the roasted notes of coffee. A good, strong tea with a rich and satisfying flavor. Robust with notes of fruit (I tasted raisins and plums) and a nice molasses-y type of sweetness.
A really good cup of tea – an excellent choice for that first cup of the day.
This green tea struck me as interesting because if it hadn’t been labeled I probably would not have known it was a green tea just by looking at it. It looks more like a raw loose Puer or some other dark tea. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it tastes more like a raw Puer than a green tea. It’s rather on the dark and earthy side for a green tea. The notes are very nutty, with green bean and a bit of black pepper. This doesn’t have the brighter vegetal notes of most green teas and I was almost expecting a roasted flavor to accompany it, but it didn’t exactly. This tea is not suited to my tastes in green tea. I am sure others will find it more interesting.
Flavors: Earth, Green Beans, Nutty, Pepper
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Flavors: Malt, Molasses