311 Tasting Notes
Finally finished off the last of a 2010 packet of sencha, and have now started my first 2011 shincha:
Very deep green leaves, most fairly small pieces, sweet rich scent
between 5 and 6 oz water, 160 degrees in my Petr Novak kyusu, about 45 seconds first infusion
sweet, nutty, vegetal, lightly grassy, and delicate green color but can’t judge that well against the blue glaze of the teacup
2nd infusion, 20 seconds, 160 degrees, very similar, some grassiness a little more prominent towards the end of the infusion
3rd infusion, 170 degrees, 30-45 seconds, sweet, vegetal, a little less nutty, sugar snap peas rather than asparagus
4th infusion, 170 degrees, 1 minute, sweet, light, astringency absent
There was a 5th, but I was too distracted to note much—it was 180 degrees, for about a minute, quite light and tasty.
Addendum: 2nd series of infusions, about the same setup, except I started lower, 145 degrees, working up to 180 at the sixth, still all delicious, perhaps even a little moore so than the first time. Nice that it’s so flexible.
One sad note: my packet is 100 grams, so given my 2-4 times weekly sencha habit, it may not all be drunk while still ‘shincha fresh’. And that would be sad.
This tea got shuffled to the back of the cupboard for a long time, unopened, and now I’m enjoying a first series of infusions, spicy, roasty, floral, sweet. It’s quite nice. The first was a little light, because I started with less tea in the kamjove than I usually do, but I didn’t adjust the infusion time. A little tweaking and reinfusing and all is much nicer now. I think it sat long enough (more than a year in the back of the cupboard) that it’s no longer competition grade, but still, a very nice tea.
Another day, another tasting. I opened this bag planning to enjoy a rich floral sweetness like the 2009 spring version I’d bought before, and this didn’t disappoint. It might not be quite as rich as the spring version was, but it is fantastically floral, and lasts for a moderate number of infusions quite delightfully. Compared to the Diamond TGYs, it’s not as durable through multiple infusions but it’s rich, smooth, and sweet in its own right, quite a bargain.
I had been reading a lot of praise from various people on TeaChat for Da Yu Ling, from a variety of suppliers. Norbu, my number one supplier, hasn’t carried one so labelled, so when I placed an order from Dragon Tea House, I added some of this to check it out. Although their description praises it as a cold tea, I mostly drink my teas hot, so I have both some brewing up cold in the refrigerator for later, and am brewing up some hot now. I’d estimate I used between 1 and 2 grams of tea for my 60mL korean pot, and water 205 degrees. It is a very nice summery spicy Alishan-type oolong, but not dramatically different than those I’ve been enjoying from Norbu. I’m at about the 5th infusion now, and the leaves have expanded to nearly fill the little pot. The floral is gone and spicy grassy notes predominate.
All in all, I’d have to say its quite a nice tea, but not one that makes me feel like I must go out of my way to seek it in preference to the Alishans I’ve been enjoying.
I’ll add some notes on the cold brewing later.
I’ve been having trouble with this one: I bought it hoping it would be a little less intense or touchy than the full on Dan Cong versions, and that it might permit some bulk brewing for sharing with a wider group. It works decently gongfu, but not for the bulk brewing. So for the purpose I had for it, the rating should be low, but as the tea is meant to be brewed, its fine but not fantastic.
This is my first infusion of this tea. It smells like forest loam, earthy, a deep rich compost of decay. I made the first infusions timidly, not a lot of leaf (I only have a few grams) and short, 20 seconds apiece, and they were…..light, thin, clean flavors of compost, but not so interesting. I decided to push to see what I could get and did 3+ minutes with a smaller volume of water at 212°F/100°C, just enough to cover the leaves, and got some sharpness that was a little unpleasant, more intense earthy flavors, but other than the added sharpness, still very similar.
A little while later, the next pair of infusions were done with very hot water, not so long, and the flavor is still very like damp forest earth, but a nicer balance than the first three. I am not getting the fruitiness I like in my favorite young she puerhs or the long sweetness of my favorite young shengs. Quite interesting.
Unfortunately, this was another session where I stopped keeping track as my other activities took over, so I can’t say when the leaves ran out of gas. I am sure I went at least a dozen infusions, but can’t say more than that.
I was a bit afraid of this one as my first encounter was with an unbearably bitter version, and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t avoid the bitter (short infusions, cooler water, less tea, nothing helped). So I only bought a little of it to try out from a different source, because I couldn’t believe that first batch was truly representative of a tea that is traditionally on many ‘10 famous teas of china’ lists.
2.5 grams of tea, water to 185 degrees (as per DTH)
in about 6 oz water in my glass mug
‘until leaves sink to the bottom’ of cup: Still vertical at 1 min 20 seconds, and I’m getting nervous: stopping brewing to drink now.
Brilliant stuff: light yellow liquor, delicate, vegetal, grassy, green-tea-like, but not green tea. This is far better than my first experience with the stuff. There is a richness and sweetness here that is distinctly like a fine oolong, but the vegetal greenness is distinctly different. Wow. This is what I expect from a ‘famous tea’.
The leaves—downy deep olive green needles—are very similar in appearance to the WHF version that was so powerfully bitter, but the bitterness is powerfully muted, at least in this first infusion.
2nd infusion, 1 minute.
More of the same, beautiful stuff.
3rd infusion, 2 minutes.
Still rich, delicate, sweet, vegetal, clear golden-yellow liquor.
I stopped writing at that point, although I did not stop infusing. I was doing chores and moving around the house, brewing infusions rather carelessly and untimed, but I did get at least six and probably eight before I stopped. Yummy stuff.
I made my second batch of this tea today, and it was a lot more impressive the 2nd time around. I’m not sure what the difference was—both were bulk brewed and drunk from a thermos. The first time, my impression was not that different from my long-time everyday TKY—roasty, toasty, tasty but not that exciting. Today, there was a revelatory addition of spiciness along with the rich toastiness, and my tongue is still pleasantly buzzed. Interesting.