311 Tasting Notes
Just finished a session with the same Huang Shen Mao Feng that was rather unpleasant a few days back. This was a gorgeous brewing start to finish, 6 infusions of mellow sweetness, and the only thing that might have been significantly different was the leaf to water ratio (much less leaf, although I didn’t measure how much). I again used water about 150 degrees, in the same glass teapot, but every infusion was more reminiscent of my favorite An Ji white tea than of the deeper toasty notes I was picking up in the earlier session, and there was zero bitterness. It’s taken a 180 degree turn in my estimation from a tea that I would avoid in the future to one I want to keep on hand always.
Trying a sample of “Premium Milk Oolong” from Dragon Tea House. I was rather overwhelmed when I opened the package by the strong aroma, and the tea was….powerful. Not quite like the sense of drinking perfume from an overdone jasmine tea, but not too dissimilar, either.
I think I will see if one of my colleagues would like the larger package that I bought of this one. Many of them enjoy flavored teas. My taste buds are still ringing.
I’ve been enjoying a terrific session with the last of this sample, brewed up in my newest miniature yixing pot. The pot is small enough to be truly stuffed with the leaves—the lid doesn’t quite seat properly, being held up by the leaves. The tea is spicy, sweet, earthy, never bitter (even when I forgot one infusion for a very long time), just delicious. I am certainly at least 20 infusions into my session, and after the leaves have waited patiently overnight, I expect many more, because I was not having to lengthen the infusions yet—15-30 seconds was still yielding plenty of flavor at the end of last night. I’m not going to drop 700 euros on an entire cake of it, but I can now understand why someone else might.
Huang Shen Mao Feng from Jing Tea Shop
I was very curious about this tea in particular because I’ve very much enjoyed Norbu’s large-leaf green tea from Yunnan also called “Mao Feng”, but I suspected it was quite different from the ‘real thing’, and wanted to see what the original was like.
Medium green, thin twisty leaves
5 grams in a 200mL pot with about 150mL of water, 150 degrees
First infusion 30 seconds, warm, sweet, a certain smoky/toasted/grilled vegetable background…..
2nd infusion 20 seconds, pale green liquor, the sweet warm flavor is still there, but the toasted vegetable flavor—not a bitterness, perhaps a touch of astringency in it—is dominant now.
Ran out of time, so I added cold water and set the leaves to the refrigerator to try to get one more steeping out of them. But the resulting infusion, a day later, has a strong bitterness underlying a delicious fresh sweet vegetal flavor; I did not finish it. I also forgot to shoot the leaves after infusion, but they were pale minty green, long, thin, rolled almost into little cylinders.
I used a quite moderate tea-to-water ratio, and very cool water with short brewing times, all designed to moderate and minimize any bitterness. This is a tea that sat, sealed from the shop, for some months before I opened it, so it might have lost something re: freshness. Before assuming this just isn’t my cup of green tea, I’ll try it again—it took me nearly a year to ‘get’ Dragon Well, after all.
This is a lovely green tea. I started with a small sample of it, and these were my tasting notes from last fall:
1.9 grams of tea (was aiming for 2.0, but got tired of adding & subtracting little bits) in small gaiwans, about 60-75mL water
And I took photos this time, watching the unfurling infusion by infusion: flash rinse barely started to unfurl anything
Started timidly, 30" at 160 degrees: warm, vegetal, sweet but the infusion is a little too short/dilute
1 minutes at same temp: vegetal flavors of peas, grass, lightly floral background, no hint of bitterness, much better match of infusion time and tea. Used the aroma cup set for this, and it was fun, sweet fresh mown grass odors.
90" third infusion, sweet, vegetal, delicate, love it love it, the best yet
2’ a little hotter, 170 degrees, slight astringency but still mostly vegetal
3’ 180 degrees, and better than the previous, sweet, vegetal, such a nice tea
5’ 190 degrees, and the tea is done: barely more flavor than hot water.
Large lovely leaves are now mostly unfurled, but I couldn’t get them to completely flatten long enough to shoot the picture
Next time, 1 min, 90", 2 min, 3 min, 8 min?
I was lucky enough to get some of the spring version of this tea, and quite sad when I went to reorder it and found it was sold out. This is an entirely worthy successor.
It’s been a while since I drank this tea, but what was memorable was how it was just as good as the spring tea but subtly different, mellower, a bit less sharply spicy and distinctly floral, but a little richer in that flavor that I think of as rich summer hay.
Today I’m just working my way through the ‘cupboard’ realizing how many teas I haven’t logged but have already drunk!
I’m really enjoying this one in my tiny yixing or late evenings at work. The tea is mellow, floral, a little spicy, and I cannot begin to think how it could have inspired someone to think of duck poop as they prepared or drank it. It’s just too nice a dan cong!
Checking the now fully hydrated leaves (at infusion 8 or 10 or so), it looks like I put in enough leaf to fill the pot halfway when fully expanded. I’ve tried this one with denser packing and that risks a degree of bitterness that I do not enjoy, so I go more dilute for full enjoyment.
Edit to add: I forgot to mention fruity! the late infusions, when it is closing in on ‘sweet water’, still retain a delightful peachiness. If this is duck poop, the duck is laying golden peaches instead of eggs.