22 Tasting Notes
You know, I have had a really interesting journey with this tea. I bought the Malaysian storage cake for my birthday in November last year and it was admittedly, from the get go, set up for being a disappointment. Their 2008 Bulang sold out the day I was going to buy it and was a tea I had saved up for and been wanting for a while and it selling out so close to when I was going to buy it made it seem like a cruel joke. I then decided to get the Kai Yuan Blue Stamp and it wouldn’t go in my cart so I kind of just jumped for this last minute. Of course the Kai Yuan was still available, and I had not noticed until the order of this shipped. Initially I got this and it did not have too much flavor nor smell, the strong qi written about on the website was not apparent and the bitterness was rough in a seemingly absurdly exaggerated way.I love bitter food and drink.
So I don’t know what happened, but its made a full 180. I now like it so much that it is reserved for drinking only on special occasions. And I do not give that designation for any ol’ tea.
The tea is like a crazy dense cake with a $%#& ton of dried fruit in it. It is HUGE in a lot of ways. Its energy is instant, you feel it travel down, sitting in your throat and warming your belly. By steeps 3 or 4 there is a whole heating of the body and goosebumps happen as the cold is pushed out of your body. By steeps 7 or 8 I am a sloppy drunk. Sober me in the recesses of my mind is thinking, “stop dancing” but the tea doesn’t allow me to stop. Its intense, a full body effect, and I keep sipping and sipping, each time a new flavor or texture or after taste is revealed to me. Bitterness courses throughout, a living breathing pulsing center to this tea, there from the beginning of the sip to the aftertaste. It is no longer overwhelming, but a definite spiky texture which slightly distinguishes it from many bitter sensations I have had.
This is a tea for when you have 3 or 4 hours or more of nothing to do. I highly recommend never drinking when you have something to do. I very much enjoy it and feel a constant pull towards its beautiful essence.
*Brewing tip: lower temperature but same amount of leaf is the key to this tea. Less leaf does not fix the bitterness, flash steeps do.
*taken from my own post in Badger and Blade’s SOTD thread.
Obviously fruity. Session to session I can’t pin down the fruit family. Is it tropical, citric and/or stonefruits? if I really wanted to be specific the stonefruits are in the smell, especially on top of the lid. The texture/acid is reminiscent of a highly sweet, lowly acidic clementine and the aftertaste and that sortve prickliness a tea can leave after the swallow is similar to tropical fruits, a similar after texture as a Dehong might impart. But I don’t drink 150 dollar tea so I can taste only fruit. More than that this tea is impressively sweet and all of these high notes are grounded to a substantially smooth, and at this point, light wood/loose fresh tobacco taste. Obviously this will age well. The texture is gloopy. The qi is rising, and will cause significant warming around the second steep with a lazy, in over your head feeling.
How has this done over a year in dry storage (average 75 humidity/temp)? Pretty well. No smoke, although only a little before. It is less obviously shengy and has lost Denny’s freshly mowed lawn taste/texture. It is quite a nice drink now for its fruitiness and overall complete package.
Any downsides? For all its fruit its fairly one noted in the mouth. It doesn’t have crazy mouth activity but rather some throat pooling. i think mouth activity is yiwu tea, throat=menghai, bulang. Its not impossible to sum this up well over the internet, which might be a downside. While not overly complex, it just does itself so well that I personally do not mind.
I guess I am specifically reviewing this to be a contrarian. I get no smoke and no bitterness from this and I brew rough, boiling and 8 grams/95 ml. I don’t know if other people’s tea have been in Paul’s storage more recently than me, but even then I only recall trace smoke when I got this six months ago. I am pointing this out because I am surprised at the notes, I can’t really see where they are coming from to be frank.
This tea for me is all dessert. Starts with a very strong flavor of cherry, like what you would taste in high quality bourbon. It has a resounding aftertaste of overripe fruit and leaves the cheeks feeling tart. The texture is viscous. It moves into plum around steeps 3 or 4 and overtime becomes smooth, simple, sweet. The qi is there but discreet; only making events and feelings feel more natural and thus I am happier.
I sat down to have this tea on a nice day, having a two hour gap between hanging out with friends on another nice summer day. I was very well rested and it was a perfect time for tea, especially one like this. I wasn’t sure what to expect, Verdant’s other white wasn’t like any other tea with light grassy notes and light vegetal notes with some sweetness. Verdant’s was something more. And this one follows the same style.
It brewed to a dark amber color, which was very surprising and the first note is a sugar sweet taste, but not sickly at all, with notes of lychee and in the background some complex spice. This is unlike any white tea I’ve had, just like their other white tea and I am very impressed.
Using a gaiwan with this tea is one of the most amazing tea experiences. It starts off complicated, lots of spice, pine and wood notes with a hint of sweetness. By the end it is purely toasted marshmallow, one of the most amazing, perfect and natural progressions. The spice and pine slowly wear off and the sweetness gets more pronounced each time.
After some playing around, I got the right taste ( thanks Stephanie and moraiwe) and I do like it very much. It is nutty and slightly sweet, although it has that distinctly japanese green mouthfeel/taste that is not my favorite, although not a bad thing either (is it the astringency?). I think I will have to keep on having this one, but it’s definitely a grower.