311 Tasting Notes
Just got started with this one, a little late in the day, so it’s going to have to wait overnight for a full tasting. The first couple of infusions, leaf enough to fill my little yixing Dan Cong pot about 60% full at this point, and water about 195 degrees, were quite brief—pour in, pour out. They show layers of sweet floral flavor, peach and lychee, quite delicate and lovely, and promising for more tomorrow.
Several more infusions, still mostly quite brief—had to dilute on accidental minute-long infusion several fold to get back to the concentration that makes me happy, and it did make me quite happy. Sweet, fruity, floral, but not the degree of spiciness that I associate with my favorites of the Dan Congs. More when I’ve reached the bottom of this tea….
Edit again: I never finished the post, but I did finish the tea—the leaves stopped making interesting infusion somewhere between the 20th and 25th infusions.
Interestingly, taking this one on again, I’m enjoying it a lot more. The sharpness of the charcoal roast is still right there, and I have to be very light-handed and circumspect with the first few infusions (several flash infusions to 15 second infusions before getting to more typical minute or two), but then the classic Alishan notes of warm sweetness are still there underneath. I think the extra year of aging helped this one.
Infused 3 grams of tea including the few crumbs in this sample, in a very small porcelain gaiwain. Flash rinsed x 1, then a 10 second infusion with about 40mL water at 195 degrees: a teasing impression, a little sweet, a little earthy, promising a lot more with longer infusions. It is quite nice through 10 or so infusions—where I am now—earthy, sweet, plummy. Nice stuff.
Editing to add, that this tea has an unusually nice long sweetwater phase, fruity and not just faintly sweet. Very nice pu.
I have not been logging repeat drinkings here much, but this is one of the few puerhs I’ve ordered more than once: it is mellow and reliable stuff, something that can handle even the demanding conditions of being tossed into a thermos, hot water added, and drunk over the next several hours—without turning unpleasant, and sometimes finding a sublime sweet spot with a mix of plummy, earthy, and sweet flavors. How many puerhs can you trust to take such abuse and still enjoy?
So today’s order included several more bricks of it—I just don’t want to run out.
First time I’ve tried this tea: it’s a lovely tea, delicate and richly floral. I didn’t weigh the tea first, not really trying for a formal review, or take notes infusion by infusion, but it’s already apparent, about six infusions in, that this is a very friendly and forgiving sort. If it were less pricey, I’d call it a good beginner’s Dan Cong.
Editing to add some morning after impressions—still infusing the same leaves, left in the teapot overnight: spicy notes coming to the fore this morning: cinnamon & cloves along with the floral. Very nice.
I wanted to try one of my favorite teas from a new source, wondering how much better it could be, and just the scent as I open the bag is intoxicating: vegetal, fruity, rich. Oh my.
The leaves are light green and lovely paired buds. I used 3 grams for my 3 ounce/100mL unglazed Petr Novak Shiboridashi.
1st infusion is a 180 degree flash rinse to ‘wake up’ the leaves: very dilute, hints of floral sweetness.
2nd infusion at 150 degrees, 30 seconds, light floral vegetal, still not strong enough, should have made it 60 or 90 seconds. Will do the next one longer.
3rd infusion at 160 degrees, 120 seconds, a little bit overdone, should have been 90 seconds. Still working this one out.
4th infusion at 70 seconds, delicious, but I stopped taking notes. I went out to about 8 infusions and water just off the boil pus several minutes’ infusions, but that last one was just sweetwater.
I think I need to give this one more time up front, and it will be brilliant—although I must doubt that it can truly match the astonishingly fine smell of the dry leaves.
Some photos of the tea on my flickr
Enjoying a first set of infusions with this tea, which has a very lively, fruity aroma even as dry leaves, and a very typical silver needle appearance. I didn’t measure the leaf quantity used, but started with just a little, because I know these teas can be overwhelming if brewed concentrated. The wetted leaf takes up about 1/4 or 1/3 of the gaiwan.
The steeped tea (now on my 6th infusion) lives up to the promise of the leaf scent. Floral, fruity, sweet in the early infusions, a little more tart later one. Delicious stuff. I have taken it from about 30 seconds/150 degrees first infusion through a minute or two/195 degrees by the 6th, gradually increasing time and temperature, but this is such a good natured tea that I could do it casually without fear of bitterness or astringency breaking out.
This is in contrast to some silver needles I bought a while back at my local teashop, which tasted a bit musty from day one, and show a pronounced bitterness if not handled with a very light touch. This is a nicer grade of tea.
I almost forgot to add a very important feature of this tea: it pairs magnificently with small quantities of very intense, fruity dark chocolate, like Scharffenberger’s 70%.
Sweet and caramelicious, as described. Very very smooth and delicious. I’m brewing a little more than a gram of tea in a tiny yixing pot, water about 185 degrees for a start, amazing lovely stuff. This would make an excellent ‘starter’ Dan Cong—hard to imagine it going wrong in any unpleasant way. 3 infusions in, still very lovely. Sweet, caramel, fruity—stewed fruit rather than fresh, perhaps—and just a hint of spice.
Back many infusions later—infusions 30 seconds or more now, water 205 degrees, and still delicious—the spiciness is to the fore more now, and still sweet and rich, but a little thinner. Quite a lovely tea.
Stunning initial sweet fruity scent when put into the preheated Chao Zhou teapot. Unfortunately I forgot to weigh the tea beforehand.
And the tea lives up to the preview aroma: superbly fragrant, sweet, fruity, delicious first infusion at 10 seconds. Very little change yet at the third very brief infusion. Gorgeous stuff.
Up to the 6th or 7th—lost track. Still keeping infusions fairly short, this one will be about 20 seconds. Have to set it aside for now, more later!
Now on to the 12th or so, after the poor leaves had to sit overnight. Some of the wonder was definitely lost in the sitting overnight, but still, this sweetwater phase is pretty sweet—nudging the rating up a bit more. LOVE this one.
If it were any more intensely aromatic and floral it would be too much—it’s right up there, close to the line that divides ‘fantastic!’ from ‘like drinking shampoo, yuck!’, waving at all the jasmines that went too far into undrinkability.