750 Tasting Notes
I sat down this morning and did a side by side comparative tasting of some Ai Lao. I tasted 2014 Spring Ai Lao, 2014 Autumn Ai Lao and 2015 Spring Ai Lao from Yunnan Sourcing and 2016 Ai Lao from Whispering Pines. I should note right off that I am entirely uncertain the teas are the same teas and can be compared as such. These were all recently purchased from the suppliers so did not suffer from ill storage in my care. :)
Physically, the leaves all look similar. Long, branchy and twiggy looking.
Dry leaf scent in warmed gaiwan:
2014 S – hay and molasses cookies
2014 A – hay, wine and molasses but not cookies
2015 S – hay and smoke
2016 WP – grapes, fruit, cookies and sweetness
First steep at 200F, 1 minute (I tasted at 30 seconds and was underwhelmed so let them go a bit longer):
2014 S – Really pretty bland with no standout notes for me. A very light tea, though not unpleasant.
2014 A – Kind of ashy like wood ashy with some sour notes like lightly fermented fruit.
2015 S – Moderately smokey but the smoke overwhelms the fruity notes
2016 WP – Deeply sweet and malty, nectar like with a pronounced fruit note
The YS teas felt very thin, the WP tea was thicker.
I’m really not sure it’s fair to compare these as exemplars of the same region/varietal/style as they are soooo different. Surely harvest alone can’t make that much difference?
My personal verdict is that the WP version I would and will suck down like mad and mourn when it is no longer available.
The YS-es I will keep some of the Autumn 2014 and pass them all along to someone else I know who would like to do this and has a much better developed and nuanced palate than I. :)
Oh, and while I did these in gaiwans, I didn’t attempt to gong fu steep them. The use of gaiwan was simply for convenience when doing 4 side by sides.
Received this in a swap with mtchyg awhile back. I wrote down notes but then lost them until today, cleaning out my little nest in the living room. :)
This was a more natural coconut, not really a creamy coconut. This isn’t a stand out base but it’s not a bad tea overall. There is definitely coconut in it, pretty sure there was some coconut oil on top in my cup. Happy to have tried but it won’t replace Zhi’s coconut black in my cupboard.
This was tasty. Not an amazing tea but a hearty, malty breakfast blend. I suppose the next stop on my tea journey might be trying to decide which flush of Assam I prefer. I already know I prefer 2nd/Autumn flush Darjeelings. Perhaps it’s the same for Assams. This doesn’t beat Enigma or Signature Assams from Golden Tips, but it’s good.
Oh, and apparently Golden Tips Teas is now Vadham. :)
This is for the Spring 2016 harvest, generously provided in sample size with my recent order.
Holy cats, this is an awesome tea. This reminds me of all I adore in golden tippy teas. The malt, the cocoa, the cream. This one has a smooth, rich, buttery feeling to it. A truly exceptional harvest with what had to be some masterful processing. Second steep was not as mind blowing, but I did steep the first cup for at least 4 minutes, Western style.
Not sure I’d say this is my favorite snaily yum, but it’s pretty good. Smells smokier dry than it actually is. It’s mostly a soft malt with some hay in the aftertaste and an overall sweetness. Pretty good all in all. Steeped Western as I find I don’t care as much for the snails done in gong fu steeps.
Good T-Rex but this is still a phenomenal tea.
Smelling the dry leaves in the warmed pot – I could sniff this for hours. Hay and malt and sweetness like molasses. So, so intoxicating. Oh, my Precious. The bottom of the tin gets closer…
Another in the quest to replace Min River Tea’s JJM.
According to the website, this is from the originator that Chris suggested – Junde – the originators of JJM. So it should be pretty authentic at least. However… it’s still not Min River, sadly.
This is a good cup. A moderately malty, mildly chocolatey cup with some buttery mouthfeel when not using a metallic cup. :) In a silvered cup, it becomes very bright in feel and somewhat thinner. Still a good cup, though, and I do notice the coppery finish when using the silvered cup. I probably won’t keep this particular one around, but I may eventually try other variations from Dragon Teahouse to compare.
This is the first thing from the Sheng Olympics that I have enjoyed. The others have been interesting, but overall, still not my thing. This is not really a sheng, is that correct, but rather a pressed, age(d)-(ing) white tea cake?
The scent is dill and herbs and flowers. Interestingly, as opposed to several others, I don’t taste much dill in the steeped liquor. I get a ton of citrus and floral. It does have a drying effect for me on the 3rd infusion.
It’a a lovely tea, both in the leaf and the liquor. So glad to have tried this! Thanks, LP, for including it with the share of the group and to James for sending a share of the group to me! I shall keep soldiering on as I try these shengs. I’m not reviewing most of them as I don’t feel that I know enough about them and don’t want to skew impressions for true pu-heads. :)