1992 Tasting Notes
Sipdown, 128. Ah, yabao. I know when I drink it, I am going to be drinking a forest.
It is gross out today, hot and humid. I want my fall weather, dammit. I thought maybe drinking a piney forest would be cooling. First sip of the first steep is interesting! Not as piney as I was expecting. Actually very smooth, creamy, and a bit sweet. Notes of green leaves, but not entirely in a savory way. Like kale ice cream or something, although that sounds horrible. This is not, and I’m surprised that I am enjoying it as much as I am. This yabao reminds me more of the silver buds yabao than of the older yabao that came previously in the reserve club.
A few steeps in it loses the sweetness and becomes more leafy, but it’s never as earthy, woody, or piney as I expected. This was a really interesting and lovely tea, and one I’m really glad I got a chance to try.
Sipdown, 129 (had to add the Yezi tea samples that I just got to my cupboard!). Gongfu session.
I think I prefer this one a bit more gongfu. The smokiness is lightly present in each steep, but it doesn’t multiply so much to be super strong as in the western steep. It’s a bit fruitier, and a bit more honeyed. Of course, it also has surprising “bite” to it, which I wouldn’t have expected in this format, but it’s there. Definitely bitter chocolate qualities. Still not my favorite black tea, but a nice session this afternoon.
Sipdown, 127. This is one of my winnings from the recent Teavivre Taiwan oolong giveaway.
Apparently I have tried this one before, although I don’t know if the name has slightly changed because I don’t remember it being specifically Taiwanese the last time I had it. Well, I’m happy to have it again. The smell is definitely traditional TGY… green, but a little roasty too. I looked at the steeping instructions on the sample packet, which said boiling water for 3 to 10 minutes. LOL, whut. That is insane. And perhaps a misprint, since the steeping instructions are different on this page.
Mmm, this is such a pleasant tea. I have come to enjoy the roasted flavors of this type of oolong, and drinking this really makes me see the similarities between traditional TGYs and the unroasted Wuyi oolong I had earlier today. This tea is honey sweet, like honey on a pastry. Yum. Who knows, maybe there is a place in my cupboard for traditional TGY after all.
As I was going through my teas, I discovered this one had just enough for one western session and one gongfu session. Today, the western brew!
This is quite lovely. It has the bready, toasty flavors that I usually associate with a wuyi oolong, but it’s also fruitier than most I have tried before. The mineral qualities are lighter and not quite as rocky. I really did enjoy this tea, although I don’t think it has quite made me a wuyi fan. A nice one to have this morning, though.
I put off trying this one for a while because keemuns are very hit-or-miss for me, and it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the quality. Rather, it mostly has to do with whether they are smoky or not… I can’t deal with smoky teas. When I opened this one to sniff it, it smelled quite smoky. I ended up sending off most of this tea, saving enough for one western cup (which I am having now) and one gongfu session (which I will probably have this weekend).
I have to say, my suspicions were confirmed with this one. It has a somewhat sweet note, with a hint of fruit (raisins, perhaps?) in the background, but most of the other flavors are swamped on my palate by the flavor of an extinguished campfire and a somewhat sharp astringency. I’ll be interested to see if the gongfu brew is remarkably different, but at this point, this is not the tea for me. I like this tea less than I liked all the puerhs I’ve been through lately, and that is something I never thought I’d say!
Glad to sipdown this one soon; I added the oolongs I won from Teavivre to my cupboard and I am at 128. I have even more oolongs coming, as well as a swap, so I really want to push to get through some of the one-session samples that I have left.
Sipdown, 123. Last sheng, this is the youngest.
Through today and my recent serious of shu tastings, I think I’ve pinpointed why puerh doesn’t do it for me. To me, puerh is a supremely savory type of tea. Shengs are leafy, like cooked spinach, pine needles, or perhaps fallen autumn leaves. Shus are earthy, woody, oaky, like bourbon barrels without the inherant sweetness of the bourbon. It’s funny, because the tasting notes for these teas often mention a candy-like sweetness, but I’ve never taste it. Maybe one day.
This one is interesting because it tastes initially like spinach and salad greens, but there is a floral note that comes out in the aftertaste long after drinking. Lilacs and/or osmanthus, like a lovely green oolong. I have come across this aftertaste in another sheng, and I really do enjoy it. Maybe that floral aftertaste will be the thing that draws me into puerhs eventually. My tea palate is always changing, after all!
Sipdown, 124. Sheng day continues.
This sheng, too, is rather smooth, with a fairly creamy texture. It leaves a bit of tingly sensation in my mouth. This one is less leafy, although it’s hard for me to figure out exactly what the flavor is. Perhaps a bit asparagus-y. Bitter salad greens (some of the later steepings are getting a slightly sharp edge). At first I thought the idea that the aftertaste was “exactly like vanilla” was crazy, and that I’d never be able to taste it, but then, in the third steep, suddenly the whisper of vanilla was there, playing on my tongue. The power of suggestion, perhaps, but sometimes that’s what it takes to start tasting those things in teas. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll taste the fig, clove, raisin, and tangerine notes too. Haha, but not today.
Sipdown, 125. Another sheng! Getting a bit younger. I am going through a number of gongfu steeps with these, trying each.
This was remarkably smooth. Definitely smoother than I thought it would be. It’s hard for me to say what it tastes like other than sheng; it’s leafy, it’s a bit woody. It’s not piney, and I think it has a hint of autumn leaves to it. I found the previous sheng a bit more interesting, but of course to me, as a non-puerh drinker, I’m not overly fond of either. Next!
Nope. Shengs still not for me. I have to say, I do get a bit of crisp, fruity pear from this, although perhaps unripe pear there is no sweetness. Like perhaps an extremely dry white wine, except I like dry white wines. :P Slightly bitter and astringent, but the sharpness is followed by a remarkable smoothness. A tea of extremes, I guess. It’s like the woods in the spring, but not pine woods like many shengs I’ve had. Deciduous woods with the first buds coming out. An interesting tea.
Sipdown, 127. I have a huge pile of shengs to sipdown from the reserve club, but I decided to start out with this tea, which I discovered was also sipdownable.
Mmmm, fujian black tea. Lovely. I realized that I have only had this tea western style for some reason, but today it’s gongfu time. I drank my rinse because it was quite dark and I couldn’t just throw it away. It was sweet and malty, with notes of sweet potato and a hint of pepper. The second steep was much more robust, with quite a kick underneath that honeyed breadiness. I might have let it go a few seconds too long for my taste, but it’s still really good. The other day I was eating at a brewery and they were brewing a beer at the time, and there was an intense smell of the malty boiling mash. This kind of reminds me of that. Third steep was smoother and sweeter, back to a nice malty black tea. So glad to have gotten the opportunity to savor this tea.