151 Tasting Notes
I’ve developed a sweet tooth for many of the YS wild arbor black teas (which often hail from the same villages and mountains as their raw pu-erhs), so I thought I would check out a different kind of black tea. I was rewarded with a really nice cup, albeit one that is a little tough to characterize. In one sense it reminds me of a red robe oolong, a tea that I’m not particularly fond of, but wedded to a creamy, cannabis-scented maltiness and you get a delicious and forgiving tea that can handle a longish steep and extra leaf. It’s very nice to drink in the evening on the cusp of autumn, when the perfume and dried fruit seem to presage the coming season.
Next up on the YS sample tour is another excellent young tea from Bang Dong village. The aroma of the dry leaf is uniquely toffee-like and reminds me of my favorite candy bar: Skor! The first steeps are floral with a caramel sweetness and a nice mouth-coating viscosity. A luxurious creaminess emerges around steep three or four along with a tip-of-the-tongue sweetness that persists through the 10 or so steeps.
This tea really performs best when pushed to 30 seconds or so; the creaminess and floral notes are allowed to shine while the bitterness is still kept at bay.
Another very satisfying raw pu-erh which deserves a place in my decidedly lo-fi storage area—a kitchen cabinet that my wife grudgingly sacrificed to my addiction.
Scott Wilson is spot-on with his description of this high-elevation tea, which coats the mouth with a pleasant lubricating sweetness and remains balanced and free from bitterness and astringency through many steepings. Prominent mineral, hay, and soy notes linger in the throat. I feel joyful, calm and focused after drinking this tea; any caffeine effects are sublimated in favor of positive energy.
This is a very fresh tasting and delightful tea that is an absolute pleasure to drink right now and a bargain to boot! If I had any kind of influence I would fear that broadcasting its under-the-radar excellence may cause a run on this sheng, but as it is, I urge anyone interested in a daily drinker to give it a try.
I’m a big fan of Man Zhuan shengs and this one in particular. It starts out soft and minty with a hint of lemon. The mid-steeps present a flavor reminiscent of icy-cold mountain spring water with a sweetness that coats the throat and a pleasant touch of bitterness to keep you honest. The tea has a calming energy and good endurance.
This is an exquisite black tea with a flavor profile unlike any other I’ve tried. A trinity of flavors (spearmint, candy-apple and fresh tomato) in perfect harmony create a really special brew which leaves a wonderful tingling sensation in the mouth. I might shorten the steep next time to eliminate the modicum of bitterness. I’m looking forward to trying the Wild Elephant from TS soon.
My love for mountains and cold weather draws me to high elevation teas and for no other reason than that (and the entertaining session on teadb.org with Crimson Lotus) I bought a cake of Whispering Sunshine. I’m glad I did—it’s a lovely tea to drink now with a pale pinkish yellow broth and a nutty, evergreen profile that coats the mouth and tongue with a light effervescence.
I pushed the middle steeps to about 30 seconds and was presented with a subtle smokiness that perfectly complements the rock candy sweetness on the tip of the tongue. The energy in the leaves is perfect: buoying but not overwhelming. An excellent tea at this price point and one I’ll surely reorder.
My mouth is numb and I can hardy speak, much less type. Love this Sheng—not too sweet, moderately fruity and a tad bitter, with a pleasant smokiness emerging in the mid-steeps. And teak.
Very little viscosity. A little bit of vanilla custard sneaking in.
The small, expertly-crafted leaf portends an excellent tea, and this Keemun does not disappoint. The dry leaf has a voluptuous chocolate smell which mixes with roasted chestnut when the leaf is infused. I like to drink this in a glass mug to see the rich, reddish liquor, redolent of cinnamon.
Chocolate, cinnamon and clean tobacco flavors are in perfect equilibrium and the tea sparkles on the mid-palate. As it cools, a cotton-candy sweetness emerges. The taste persists in the mouth and throat for a while after the session.
From dry leaf to aftertaste, this tea is a wonderful experience.
CL was kind enough to include this sample when I ordered a cake of Whispering Sunshine and I was happy to discover a very good shou with medium body and great energy. The first couple of infusions featured a fairly strong tobacco flavor and a somewhat lighter menthol taste both of which persist through successive infusions. I especially like that the tea isn’t in-your-face sweet, like so many other shous that mask their imperfections under a layer of confection.
As I continued with the session, a pleasant tang emerged along with a nice mix of fresh bread and black cherry. Around steep five or six a pulse of sweetness entered the mix but it was far from cloying.
This tea drinks like a much more expensive one—Thanks to Crimson Lotus for offering it.
Are we at the point where there are too many high-end, farm to cup tea purveyors? It’s very easy to be seduced by the burgeoning websites touting personal relationships with family farms in China or Estates in India. How much variety is too much? How often is the Chinese black tea from X an upgrade from the one you’ve been enjoying for a while? Maybe the answer is a resounding, “Variety is the spice of life!” But it’s a question I ask myself as I find fewer and fewer of my forays into the offerings of new (to me) sellers end up replacing the teas I’ve come to love and drink regularly.
Now, this is not meant as a criticism of Joseph Wesley’s teas which I’m trying for the first time. I really enjoyed his high end Qimen (not reviewed yet) and this Bai Lin is certainly pleasant. But is the Qimen better than the ones I’ve had from Upton, a place I’ve been ordering from for years and from whom I can order a whole variety of excellent teas? Hard to say. When I go to the store, I can choose between 20 different kinds of olive oil or yogurt but the myriad of choices just makes me anxious (or maybe it’s just the fluorescent lighting).
Anyway, back to this tea, which I’m finding hard to categorize. It’s not as chocolatey as its nose suggests it will be; it’s actually more vegetal and grainy. I think I went too heavy on the leaf the first time—when I used less, I had a better result.