My first taste of a Sheng. I steeped 1/2 tablespoon leaves in 4 oz water, and each steep was 205F and for 3 min.
I took Spoonvonstup’s recommendation to start trying some teas in smaller steeping volumes with this one.
These almost whole, brown-black leaves with some iridescent, green-black leaves, twigs, and a few yellow buds are loosely pressed and come apart easily. The dry leaves smell of dried hay, strongly sweet, and a faint bit like leather. I also smell dried apricots.
1st steeping. The leaves unfurled and became greener with re-hydration. The liquor is a an orange-tan and transparent. Aroma is earthy, smoky, cedar. The first taste is delicate and smoky, smooth and some faint powdery bitterness, but very faint. As the cup cooled and I got to the bottom, I got some stronger bitterness and sweetness, giving over to bitter and leathery/barnyard at the end of each sip. Lingering sweet aftertaste.
2nd steep. This has a decidedly smokier aroma than last cup, then hay aroma; the color is the same. Smokey and sweet flavors at the start of the sip, with bitter strongest. There are aromatic floral flavors here. A sharper bitter comes in only at the end of the sip, and astringency is now here at the end of the sip, too, that was totally absent in the last cup. The powdery feeling is gone. The sweet aftertaste has a twinge of dried fruit — current? — then goes floral.
3rd steep. I smell hay and leather aromas over the cup. The steeps are getting more orange in color. This is smooth, without a hint of bitterness and without much astringency. It is still sweet. What are the flavors here? I get more feelings than flavors. Some part of what made up the leathery flavors is still here, and there is some sweet, lip-smacking velvety feel. There is a cooling feeling in my mouth. Oops, I ran out of this steep trying to get the flavors down. The aftertaste is strongly sweet and floral.
4th steep. This is light red-orange in color. The leathery aroma is almost gone. This has some vegetal, bean pod flavor. The cooling sensation is stronger. The sweet aftertaste is strong. The floral notes, smoke, and cedar all seem to be gone, but the strong, sweet aftertaste remains.
I enjoyed this quite a bit. I’m not sure sheng is my thing if this one is a particularly smooth and tasty one, but I did have a lot of fun and enjoy tasting it.