165 Tasting Notes
I’m used to teas within a certain broad category having similar taste profiles: teas from Yunnan can be placed along a continuum that includes honey, malt, a little spice, chocolate; darjeelings taste like darjeelings; Keemuns—leather, red wine, tobacco. I rarely have a cup of tea and think, “Wow. I’ve never tasted anything like this before.” You know where this is going. My first sip of the Mi Xian was truly distinctive. There was a pleasant perfume taste/smell, but what lingers is . . . how can I describe it, the smell of a summer garden in the hot sun, specifically, the way mature tomato plants smell. This earthiness was entirely different from that of a ripe pu-erh, which evokes mustiness and decay. This tea suggests the fullness of the late-summer harvest, the lazy drone of dragonflies, corn and tomatoes on the table. A really original and intriguing tea.
I might have been too dismissive of this tea in the past, maybe because it isn’t as bold as some dian hongs I love. But it is a smooth and delicious tea with honey notes taking the lead. I’m glad I revisited this tea after letting it languish in my cupboard for a while.
This is a delicious tea. The first sip may not wow you, but after a few more the cinnamon, pepper and chocolate flavors blossom in your mouth to form a complex and beautifully smooth tea. It seems to combine the best aspects of yunnan, keemun and other congous. Sometimes the best teas, like the best music and books reveal their greatness slowly and through repeated encounters.
Thanks to Charles Thomas Draper for mentioning this sheng. I bought a sample (cakes are very expensive) and immediately fired up my little pot and steeped it three times: at 30 seconds, 1 minute, and 2 minutes. The first steep was exquisitely smooth, with a light camphor taste and a more pronounced mandarin orange flavor. Things got pretty wild on the next two steeps; the orange remained, and was joined with chestnut and what reminded me of a perfect black bean sauce. This is a high energy tea that had me buzzing along way into the night, right through an excellent set by the Futurebirds at the Press Room in Portsmouth, NH. I’m going to try and conserve this tea; as good as it is now, it will be even better when some of the bitterness fades away over time.
I don’t often drink green teas, but I have a fondness for Senchas, especially these first flush ones from Den’s tea. The broth looks like lemon-lime Gatorade and smells like fresh grass, Miso and seaweed. I probably brewed this a little hot; nonetheless, this is such a pure, essential tea, so reminiscent of the terroir from which it springs; drinking it is akin to hauling oysters out of the cold Gulf of Maine, shucking them and pouring the icy cold meat down your throat. There are some elemental tastes that should never be diluted. This tremendously fresh and energizing tea is one of them.