207 Tasting Notes
Farewell, fair Nannuo. Okay, THIS was the best in the series. No, really. In the second of two brew sessions, I finally got the flow down with this tea. It takes some intuition, otherwise it gets crushingly dry and cottony. Otherwise, light, perfumy, and with delicate fruits. I think it’s a solid, punchy tea, but responds to a lighter hand of brewing. The steeped leaves certainly showed the largest leaves of the set, as well as the least cooked and most consistent processing.
Really surprised to see I hadn’t review this tea yet, I’ve been enjoying it’s delectable greenness for a couple of weeks now. This tea appears to be an easy brewer, as I’ve tried a wide range of leaf ratios (up to 2.5g/oz!) and temperatures and it seems to stand up to most of them. At the cooler range, the tea comes across as pretty bland. But even with a high ratio and warmer temps, there’s never any aggressive bitterness. Flavors stick in the melon and cucumber notes, especially in the finish. It also has a fantastic returning sweetness. A good value, I think.
Almost done with the Peacock series. One left, after this one. I do believe this is probably the best in the series. Still, I consider it only above average. It opens with a strong orchid and fresh mushroom aroma that subsides into the cup. The first steeps are delightfully sweet and thick, but the middle steeps can be easily over-brewed to produce an astringency that strips any and all saliva off the tongue, making your mouth feel like sand. It lightens up in the later steeps, but empties out quickly. There is some “orangeness” to this tea that makes it a little tame, but otherwise, I think it’s an above-average Menghai sheng.
Continuing to work through the last of these Peacock series samples and I must say I think I’m fatiguing of Menghai’s compression and of plantation tea. In many ways, there’s nothing wrong with this tea, but there’s also little exceptional about it. I do appreciate being able to single out a region, but the production kind of renders down and sanitizes whatever character might show. There’s moderate fruitiness, classic sheng glow, and lots of astringency from the abundant dust. Finishes in honey.
Finishing off my sample of this tea with a heavy amount of leaf. This is a very nice clean, bright, juicy and straw-like Yunnan green. Tons of strawberry, melon, and peach. Tends to get a little terse, grassy, and bitter if treated too heavy and too hot, but otherwise produces a very spring-like beverage. I found it a little aggressive in the vegetal, herbal, planty spinach notes, something I don’t think works as well with the basket roasting or the light fruit notes, but more with the kelpy, cholorphyll heavy styles of green tea. Nice buds in the steeped leaves.
This tea impressed me. I think my previous experiences with Wuyi teas have been with poor quality tea. Instead, this has a fantastic texture, little to no astringency, and only the slightest bit of sourness in the mid-steeps. There’s a long, incredible returning sweetness with hints of plum and spice. Delicate and floral in aroma, but robust, caramelized and sugary in flavor. I used Wrong Fu Cha’s “Brewing Rock Tea” (http://chahai.net/brewing-rock-tea/) as a guide and it helped me produce some really fantastic tea. Great tea.
A couple added notes from my final session today. The mid-steeps carry the slightest hint of sourness. There’s a long, long returning sweetness, that comes almost minutes after swallowing, which is nice, but not enough to save this tea. Finally, yesterday the tea gave me a strong clay-like dry grip, so today I used my stainless steel electric kettle, only to still get that sensation, so it’s either my water, the tea, or my water and the tea.
Funny how my palate has grown since I’ve started tasting tea. What to me at the time was enjoyable, now seems denuded, poorly processed, and rough. Today, this tea really lacks sweetness for me, instead having a strong, dry earthen grip on the tongue. The pine smoke is there and strong, dominating the entirety of the flavor profile. A large mix of brown leaves yields a hollower, darker tea.
Well, this certainly is not as terrible as I thought it was when I first had it. In fact, this is a perfectly fine, if plain and simple, Menghai production. It’s got some nice fruit and straw tones to it, but it’s missing the sweetness, texture, and depth I want from good sheng. The qi is light and fleeting. With such tight compression and fine chop, it takes a more delicate hand to not produce a tough, bitter brew. Longer steeps up front to get the compression loose, and then shorter steeps to keep it clean. Has a minty finish and reasonable balance, but comes across dry to me. Menghai sure can create consistent teas, with an even leaf blend, and a need for age.
This tea is described as being composed of “first flush” material and it shows, as the leaves are covered in fuzzy white down. This youth shows in the flavor as a nutty, dry greenness. Brewing calibration yielded longer steeps early and a gentler touch through the middle to produce good balance. Notable aroma and flavors included that tomato-like orchid fragrance a la ’09 Yunnan Sourcing Wu Liang and a gentle warm honey, almond, cream mix. Less simple than the others, and durable, but again, lacking a striking character that seals the deal.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=424