163 Tasting Notes
Drinking Sheng reminds me that I must eliminate prejudices and assumptions and bring my awareness to the tea at hand. I’m at work, listening to music and answering emails—it would be easy to mindlessly brew and drink and expect the usual “young sheng flavors.”
Luckily I paused to focus on this tea, which provided some singular tastes. The leaves looked very clean and loosely compressed so I decided not to rinse. I was rewarded with a slightly sweet, slippery mineral water taste, that reminded me of the delicious iron-rich well water we had at my childhood home. Subsequent steeps maintained the mineral water base and featured a pronounced hickory nut and peanut flavor with building sweetness that was most prominent on the tip of the tongue.
This tea definitely has its own personality that separates it from the apricot/stone fruit or floral flavors of many raw pu-erhs.
Thank you, pu-erh.sk for the sample!
I have to agree with Proust on this one. From the first sip it’s apparent that this is a delicious, smooth, raisin-sweet tea that carries an undertone of Assamica maltiness. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say this is one of the nicest Chinese black teas I’ve ever tasted and beautiful to look at and smell to boot. Thanks to Scott for making this available!
I’ve already reviewed this tea and noted its clean, sweet profile but I just figured out why I’m so enamored of this tea: the wu liang is as dissimilar from green tea as a sheng is likely to get, and not being a big fan of green teas, this is a great characteristic. Very consistent, no bitterness, sweet but with a little bit of fruity bite, this is more like an oolong than most shengs. An excellent tea to drink right now.
I’m having a tough time getting a handle on this tea. I’ve had it three times but it’s proving a bit mercurial.
It has a rye bread smell in the dry leaves, which are fairly small and olive green when infused. The first couple of steeps have hints of corn and almonds and caused my mouth to pleasantly pucker. It’s not a thick tea but it creates a kind of swelling in the tongue along with significant salivation.
Steep three witnessed the emergence of a sweeter, stone fruit profile, but also hints of gasoline and substantial bitterness, especially if you push the steep times. And while I wouldn’t characterize the qi as ass-kicking, it’s definitely noticeable—and long-lasting. It’s a good tea to drink at work because it focuses and animates rather than intoxicates.
A hard nut to crack, this one.
My experience with this tea represents a cautionary tale not to judge a raw pu-erh on one session or even the first couple of steeps in a session. One’s relationship with a sheng is a story that unfolds over time, with turning points, climaxes, different moods and tones.
When I first tried this tea I thought it was pleasant, a bit mild for my tastes perhaps, but clean and friendly. And that impression continued into the first two steeps of the latest session. But then something happened on the third steep that caused me to adjust my estimation of the Wan Gong. All of a sudden it became a little sweeter, thicker and duskier, with a juiciness you get from eating a red grapefruit.
It could be that I first tried this in the midst of drinking stronger teas and it got lost in the cacophony of those noisier teas. Anyway, this is a really well-processed, calming tea with beautiful leaves that has some surprises in store when you find its sweet spot.
It has taught me to soldier on with All the Light We Cannot See, a book that is a bit precious for my tastes but hopefully will hit some other notes and prove worthy of its considerable reputation.
I’m really loving the oily mouth feel of these 2015 gu shu teas from pu-erh.sk. I think rustic is a good description of the LinChang. There’s no discernible floral or fruity flavors; instead, the broth is dominated by evergreen and smoke, reminiscent of a lapsang suchong. It leaves a little bit of brightness at the corners of the mouth but it’s mainly an earthy tea and, unlike the HuaZhu Liangzi, it calms and soothes.
So if you need a break from the ubiquitous sweet and fruity shengs and your predilection veers toward the more chthonic, give this one a try.
It’s nice to take a break from my raw pu-erh obsession to remind myself that there are other teas I love besides sheng (and Yunnan black teas). Yesterday, I had a cup of the intoxicating shincha kunpu from Den’s tea and today I spent some time with my first love: Darjeeling! This first flush is beguiling, with initial flavors of honey and tangerine that cede to a heady floral perfume. I know first flushes can be a little challenging to steep but this one has no astringency or unpleasant bitterness.
Whoa! Within seconds of tasting the first steep, my and my coworker’s heads were already buzzing and the tea was quickly blooming in our mouths with a heavy, lubricating, candy-corn sweetness. Flash steeps kept the bitterness at bay and allowed the sweet citrus taste to emerge. There was very little drop-off in flavor or body after 7 steeps, at which point I had to step away to eat before being fully possessed by this tea.
My first selection from pu-erh.sk is a strong and delicious winner!
This is a highly lubricating, cooling tea that promotes intense salivation. Notes of butter and apricot mix with a little smokiness and a more pronounced fruitiness in the later steeps. Not overly sweet with good longevity.
Like Superman in his guise as a mild-mannered reporter, the smoothness and amiable nature of this tea belies its powerful narcotic effects, which are considerable.
A really nice selection.
Many teas don’t have to be complex to be appreciated. They might display a few outstanding characteristics that make them a joy to drink. Case in point: this 2012 Man Zhuan. Enticingly sweet, thick and oily mouth feel, bee pollen and fruit flavors and slow-building Qi.