This is a very expensive tea, so I wanted to be well prepared. I finished lunch 30 minutes before tasting, brushed teeth without toothpaste, rinsed mouth with plain water—didn’t want anything to interfere with the taste of the tea.
1.4 grams of tea in tiny gaiwan
30mL water per infusion (used a very small measuring cup)
Water boiling or near boiling (205-212 per the thermometer when poured from the kettle)
Wet leaves smell like forest floor—sweet clean compost scent
first infusion 15 seconds
earthy like the scent promised, but surprisingly strong sweet and spicy notes right up there with it
2nd infusion 20 seconds
earthy, caramel, sweet, spicy, very very very nice
3rd infusion 25 seconds
About the same as the 2nd infusion, a bit stronger is only difference
4th infusion 30 seconds
earthy, sweet, spicy, caramel
5th infusion, 40 seconds
Still strong and lovely
I have to admit to an ulterior motive here: I was hoping I might find that I actually prefer my young sheng puerhs to the ‘real deal’ of very aged sheng, since I have come to prefer them to most of the ripe shu—ripe shu designed to mimic the aged sheng. So I was hoping to find this would be a rather bland experience like eating dirt. And it wasn’t. It is lovely. It is very, very lovely.
Is it lovely enough to want to invest $$$ in drinking it regularly and in larger volume? Maybe not. I think stuff like this will remain an occasional tea, because even as it is sitting net to me in the cup, and the water has just boiled again, visions of Lao Ban Zhang loose mao cha are dancing in my head.
But do I understand why some stuff like this is praised and prized so highly? Yes. I get it now. It is subtly but dramatically different than the best of the shus I have had, because it manages a wonderful balance of the elements of spicy, sweet, earthy, fruity, more complex than I’ve had yet from a shu.
I’ll report back later when I see how many infusions I can get. Now up to 7, no surprises, still going strong.
Edit: got up to 12 with signficant tea flavor; by 16, it was slightly sweet water, still nice, but not a lot of oomph left.