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Recent Tasting Notes
My stomach is currently in a good place so I decided to try a sheng from the Beginners Puerh TTB last night.
This tea definitely has some humid storage notes going on. It actually reminded me a lot of a ripe in the scent of the wet leaves. The flavor itself is kind of like an in between point between a ripe and a raw. There wasn’t the stone fruit flavor I am used to with a sheng. A slight bitterness but not too much. Humid basement like notes were present. Also, very drying. I was trying to read out loud to my wife while we drank this but damn, I had to keep drinking to keep my throat from drying out. Vicious cycle.
Despite all of this, it was very drinkable and a decent tea. Nothing to write home about but not one that I felt the need to stop drinking.
As a birdwatcher, I love waterfowl watching the most. Ducks rock. Dabbling, diving – they’re all made of perfection. Pictured on the wrapper is a drake Ruddy Duck (he’s missing the white on his chin, but that’s alright since it’s for the sake of keeping the print coloring simple). I’ve seen Ruddy Ducks a few times so far, but only a drake in breeding plumage once. That blue beak is something to see firsthand. Winter is approaching. The ducks are on the move.
I obtained a sample from the Pu’erh Plus TTB. Brewed in a ceramic gaiwan. Gave the leaf a 5-second rinse and a 2-minute rest. Steeping times: 5 seconds xfive, 10, 12,15, 20, 30, 45; 1 minute, 1’30", 3, 6, 12, 20.
The dry leaf smells sweet and pepper, and, after sitting in the pre-heated gaiwan, of apricot and mint. The wet leaf is very aromatic, filling the corner of the room with a fragrance of white sugar and apricot.
The soup is clear, and has a full-body yet a gentle, bright mouth-feel. The color begins as pale yellow and ends as pale gold. Thick-ish texture sometimes. I used 200 degree temperature water for the first five infusions and then switched to 190. 200 produces a tartness that overwhelms the grassy and apricot notes. The huigan is weak.
190 is much better for the leaf. The heart of the session – infusions 6-11 – are lightly sweet and bitter. Qualities balanced, one not overwhelming the other. Slowly developing is a slight cooling aftertaste, which I mostly feel in the mouth. The sweet apricot aftertaste – the throat – is at its strongest at this point. For infusions 12 and 13, the menthol note has fully developed and even rivals the huigan, cooling the throat. The soup itself tastes sweet, bitter, and menthol-like all at once. 14 tastes mostly of menthol. The longer steeps for 15-17 produce a bitterness that outdoes the menthol. No more sweetness. Once again, the huigan is weak. But more than twenty minutes later, as I write this review, I still feeling the cooling in my throat.
There is something about this tea that always has me coming back for more. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but something about the smell and taste take me back in time. I remember hearing a Chinese term for this, which roughly translates as, “taste nostalgia”.
It’s hard to say whether this tea was originally intended for export, “people’s tea”, or something else, but regardless it can hold its own. I would wager that it was probably produced by a larger factory, with its average quality base material and iron compression; However, that isn’t to say this is an “average” tea. On the contrary. It goes to show you what a decent tea can taste like with proper care and storage, IMHO.
I won’t go too much into details flavor-wise, except to say that I quite enjoy the range of flavors this tea exhibits – from camphor, wood and pine, to sweeter stone fruit accents.
Again, I have many other teas that might be deemed “better” as far as leaf quality, etc – but there is just something about this tea that makes me crave more, and keeps me rationing what I have.
Flavors: Camphor, Menthol, Pine, Stonefruits, Tobacco, Wet Wood
Another White 2 Tea 2016 Sample – one I’ve heard great things about from other reviewers online. This tea is really quite good. For me, a session of Teadontlie goes through a few different stages. I tried it both in a porcelain gaiwan and in a Jianshui clay teapot. The tea went through the same general phases brewed either way, with some slight differences.
The first part of the session (~3 or 4 steeps) are soft and pretty sweet, with the tea just starting to ramp up. I detect notes of straw with slight citric notes at times and an unidentifiable fruity flavor. A sweet aftertaste fills my mouth after the sip, and the body is slightly viscous.
The second phase is where I slammed into a wall of astringency. This lasts for another 4 or so steeps, building to a crescendo and then dropping back out of the flavor profile. The tea tastes grassy and a bit floral with some building creaminess to me in this part – there is also some amount of a sour-ish fruity flavor still remaining as well. While they were quite astringent, these steeps weren’t really mouth-drying and weren’t entirely unpleasant. Interestingly, I found the astringency to be muted by my clay teapot.
The final phase, and when this tea was at its best, were steeps 8-13 or 14 or whenever I stopped steeping it. The tea started to get nicely fruity and creamy thick. I would call the fruitiness pineapple. It later faded into more of a coconut flavor – so it’s a tropical tea! I guess. Sometimes I also tasted that sweet finish as floral rather than coconut, so it could have just been my imagination making the association with pineapples. When I brewed this tea with my clay pot, the higher fruity flavors were a little blunted, so the pineapple was more solidly floral. I started to feel a little bit buzzy from the qi near the end of the session. Near the end of the session, all the flavors started to fade along with the creamy body, though the sweetness tasted almost caramel-y at the end!
On white2tea’s site, 2dog notes that this tea has a heavy astringency which will fade with age. If that holds true, this could be a really special tea in a few years (or however long it takes for that astringency to die down some). It was interesting to try this with both a gaiwan and a clay pot. A good tea, but will be better once the astringency’s a bit tempered. I may pick up a cake of it at some point because I kind of want to see what it will be like in a few years.
Flavors: Astringent, Coconut, Creamy, Floral, Pineapple, Straw, Sweet
This tea tastes mostly like Yiwu character to me, if I had to pinpoint a region. Base material is excellent. It’s very soft in the mouth, with a medium-thick viscosity, and oily mouthfeel. Flavor-wise it is subtle and buttery, but to be honest, when I sample younger teas of this quality, I’m really looking more for body effects than flavor notes. This tea quickly coats the mouth, then sits in the back of the throat where it lingers. Qi comes on quickly, and is pleasant. I can’t really think of anything to nitpick about this tea. For a young tea it has all the characteristics I could hope for. I do agree that the subtle beauty of this tea could be lost on someone new to Sheng Pu’er, but why not introduce them to the good stuff?
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Hay, Nutty, Vanilla