207 Tasting Notes
I absolutely adore the appearance of this tea as dry leaf. The balled leaves look like small rough emeralds, with dazzling bright green edges and veins and dark black green leaves, all neatly curled and tucked into compact forms, true tea gems. It’s a vivid example and while I know that my brewing of the tea was not on par with Tim’s, I still found it delectable, full of warm floral-scented breath and a creamy, rich custard-like texture. In my own brewing, I found a delicious foible for morning brain fog and a light, airy blossom scent in the gaiwan and from the top of the cup.
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Farewell, Zi Yun Shan, this is my last cup with you. A fitting tea for a “green” spirit of freshness, backed with a blend of light creaminess and sweet, lifting floral lilac.
In search of a sheng pu’er to drink at work this morning, I combed through my catalogue and decided to weed out some of my least favorite lingering samples. This was at the bottom and became today’s tea.
I had not remembered how small the leaves were, tiny. I unleashed the remainder of my sample on my larger gaiwan and have now worked through about seven steeps. It isn’t as bad as I remember. It’s not good or great, just not atrocious. Less cigarette butt, less sourness. Still, fairly orange, fairly plain, and fairly ho-hum. It’s got some enjoyable campfire and moss on the frontend of the aroma, but it doesn’t have much complexity to give in the flavor. And while I think I’ve done a better job of brewing this time around, I have no intentions of revisiting this example from Xiaguan.
Unlike the previous two Green Tea Lovers examples from Sri Lanka and Kenya, this tea does not outpour a majority of its aroma in the first steep. Instead, it takes some warming agony of the leaves to breathe. Once open, the aromas are delicate but full of warm dew, honeydew melon, steamed straw, and carrot juice. There are lots of savory herbal elements to the flavor, rosemary stalks and sweet mint. It has an impeccable body of natural sweetness balanced with dry, parched grasses. A long lingerer, this tea was giving solid infusions at the 7th steep. It could have continued on.
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Immediately apparent was the consistency of the dry leaves, with a nice pale golden hue on delightfully fuzzy, even needles of great length, a bit sinuous. The warm gaiwan full of leaves gave a delightful fresh glow of jack fruit, almonds, palomino fino jerez and nips of banana. Again, the aroma was strongest in the first wet leaves, but it was very pleasurable. Flavors opened bright and strong with pulled white sugars, light green olive, and bits of cooked yellow plum. Mostly white sugar, though. Fresh and clean, extra-light and super-bright. A really thirst-quenching summer tea. It leaves me with a dry grass and hot savanna summer feeling.
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The needles of this tea were incredibly varied. A large portion were broken significantly and the color spectrum ranged from punishingly pale to a deeply hued golden to a near black. This was even more evident in the cup after a few steeps. The variance in processing showed through in the flavor and texture of the tea. The brief glimmering moments of delight came in the first wetting of the leaves, as they breathed out some apricot, muscatel, and white fig jam. After that it was all down hill, with an over-oxidized, weak black tea, and papery character. No pale fruits, little straw, and vanishing to non-existent sweetness.
I am honestly excited that regions are exploring tea styles that they have not historically produced, but as this example shows, some refinement is needed in the production process before these style-newcomers can create tea in the style that comes even close to holding a candle to the traditional producers. I look forward to that day, it will be a new dawn of tea terroir.
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This tea is another good example of a daily-drinker that has moderately above-average complexity and yet is easy to brew, with satisfying simplicity and flavor. Crisp, chestnut-laden vapors, warm mint, and some long lasting bright open-field greenness. Also works well as a cold-brewed summer tea.
At first, I thought that this tea was overly subtle, punishingly delicate, and fleeting. The first steeps didn’t have that punchy strong glowing pale fruit juiciness, the hay and straw scents restrained, a faint bit of starchy squash lingering in the background. But as the leaves warmed and steeped, the soup settled into what I can only call a graceful, complex maturity. This tea has a very refined air to it, with quiet, but complex, soft notes of fresh garden herbs, warm dawn earth, and just-peeled tree bark.
Sometimes it takes a quiet mind and a patient palate to pull from tea what it has to give. I think this one requires that level of detail, as it has not been processed to beat you over the head with that full-of-juice, spring-like, dewy sweetness and flavor that comes on strong in the first steeps of so many silver needles, only to evaporate quickly and leave you with something grassy and plain. No, this tea has stamina and grace out in the seventh and eight steeps. A truly notable and sophisticated example.
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Nice fuzzy crisp needles opened up with a tropical rainforest, dewy, wet, and damp. Honestly, the wet leaves in the cup after the first steep smell as how I imagine dark subtropical forests to smell. Rich, earthy, and floral. The flavors expound on the aroma, with intense juiciness (a la stone-fruit), straw, and detectable fresh and raw zucchini flesh, very clean. Later steeps elicit a more restrained arboreal character, bringing back memories of humid, indoor botanical gardens, a collection of plant pheromones.
Finally, as the leaves begin to breathe out their last bit of energy, the soup fills with pea tendrils and pumpkin seed. Ah, delightfully enjoyable tea once again fills me with a bright new-day spirit. No wonder this tea has won multiple awards.
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