114 Tasting Notes
I’m in a good groove with this tea—drinking it for the past few mornings. I like how the initial impression is of a rather dry, dark chocolate and then a mellow molasses sweetness washes over the tongue. In contrast to the Yunnan teas in which I find a pronounced fruitiness, the Gao Shan has more of an austere quality that is very refreshing. I’m also beginning to take notice of the energy difference between teas (as opposed to mere caffeine effects) and this one never fails to make me feel ebullient.
I can’t overstate the importance of tea urchin’s presence in the current tea landscape. Their shengs possess the most incredible energy and depth of flavor, which bespeaks the care with which the leaves are chosen and crafted into beautiful cakes. Read the reviews on their website; their devotees capture far better than I the intense experience of drinking them.
Sampling this amazing sheng is like test driving a Ferrari or Aston Martin; it confirms that there is a level of excellence and a driving experience that is transcendent. Unfortunately, it also makes your own car seem like an ox cart. You buy these shengs from Tea Urchin for the long haul. Right now they are wild, mercurial, and exploding with fruity, grassy/grainy flavor, and there’s something enjoyably masochistic about the bitter fruit. The time will come when the this tea will mature into something incredible, but by then I’m sure my sample will be gone.
It’s hard to think of a more pleasing sheng. If it were an actor it would probably be Tom Hanks—consistently very good, eminently likeable, almost no bitterness or rancor. It might not be the Daniel Day Lewis of teas, but sometimes all that intensity can be trying.
Ah Spring. (Well, if it ever arrive here in Maine).
And this is one of the most anticipated releases of the season. Always amazing, this refined vegetable broth with its dynamic green color and briny base is one of the best teas in the world, IMHO. It’s also an incredible mood-booster, with astronomical amounts of theanine. Scoop it up before it disappears.
I have piles of unread books around my house, but will that stop me from buying the new Collected Poems of Derek Walcott today? No. I have scores of albums I’ve downloaded and barely made it beyond track 1. Will that stop me from downloading the new War on Drugs or Future Islands this week? Absolutely not.
My over-stuffed tea cupboard has also suffered from this unbridled acquisitiveness. And it’s keeping me up at night as I pore over all of my teas that are nearing or over the one year mark. So I’ve made a promise to myself to only buy the absolute jewels of my annual tea drinking cycle until I drink down some of my stash: Shincha from Den’s Teas; a first flush darjeeling from Upton and Imperial Mojiang Yunnan tea from Yunnan Sourcing.
So to make room for my spring Darjeelings, I’m drinking a lot of this quality second flush from Sungma that has delicious honeysuckle sweetness,a citrusy vibe and a mild roasted flavor.
We’ve all had the experience of seeing a movie that was highly recommended and highly hyped—-American Hustle, for example—and left with a feeling of, I wouldn’t say disappointment, because the movie was enjoyable, but still, you wanted it to be better. After drinking Yezi’s Qing Pin and really liking it, I expected to be seduced by the Gao Shan. The first sips yielded dark chocolate, cherry and tobacco—pleasant but not transfixing. I agree with another reviewer that the cup got better as it cooled, producing a nice red-wine flavor entirely free from bitterness.
Overall, this is a very drinkable, high grade Chinese black, but I prefer the Qing Pin.
Black Beauty and this Mao Cha are quietly emerging as two of the teas I find myself instinctively reaching for. The Mao Cha reminds me of the smell of a freshly mowed field on a hot summer day—sweet and pungent with a lemony tang. Like a green Ceylon mixed with a newish raw pu-erh.