25 Tasting Notes
Had this in ball form from the Sheng Olympiad. Purple/wild teas aren’t usually my thing, so much, but this is a pretty decent one, erring on the sweet side with little bitterness unless it’s pushed. A cooling, mentholated finish adds some complexity to the typical purple fruitiness, and the qi, while powerful, doesn’t have the disquieting character that some of these teas have. It’s also impressively caffeinated, which came as a plus today. Personally, I wouldn’t buy this, as I’m not really a fan of the genre; if you are though, this seems like one of the better examples I’ve had.
Had this in dragonball form as part of the Sheng Olympiad. This tea started out low and thick, with some of the sweet/savory grainy notes that I associate a lot with high-end Yiwu. After a few steeps, higher, citrusy notes started coming to the fore, along with some astringency that got very punchy for several steeps. Once this shook itself out, the low register was mostly replaced with the high citrusy notes, along with some lingering pronounced astringency; the thickness remained, as did some noticeable qi. The finish became bright and lingering, not to mention slightly drying. Towards the very end, some green tea elements started emerging in the back of the mouth and the thickness dropped away. It held up for a good number of steeps, though, and I ultimately had to end a little before the tea did.
I had this tea in the wake of a 2014 Last Thoughts session. While the teas resembled each other a fair bit at the start, they really started diverging once the citrus notes came out. On the whole, I think Last Thoughts stands up better; it settles into the later steeps more gracefully and lacks the tartness of this one. This is, of course, noticeably less expensive (the 2018 is ~$140 cheaper than the 2016 Last Thoughts) and could make for a good alternative for someone seeking out a premium young Yiwu-ish tea for a bit less cash.
Flavors: Citrus, Grain
Unlike a lot of the teas I go for, this tea is by no means assertive or flashy. It is, however, thick, durable, and a pretty consistent qi bomb. The flavor is tough to pin down; maybe a hair alkaline, but mostly juicy, sweet, and without a hint of bitterness. It can be finicky, though; if you steep it aggressively, it’ll get really astringent really fast. So long as you can keep that in check, you’ll be rewarded with an excellent, long session that’s all but guaranteed to leave you in a state of blissed-out relaxation. I’ve seriously brewed this tea to calm my wife down from a panic attack before.
I’ve owned two cakes of this for a while, but it’s taken me some time to get around to reviewing it. This is up there with Last Thoughts and Treachery of Storytelling for me, and I’m very fortunate to have it in my collection.
I approached this one with a bit of trepidation. The leaf was very tightly compressed, leaving the first couple of steeps quite light and tasting mostly of storage with vegetal overtones; not the most pleasant of experiences. However, things started opening up on the third steep, where pushing it for about ten seconds rewarded me with a dark, thick liquor featuring a suddenly spicy aroma and richly savory flavor.
Having finally fully decompressed, the tea continued on in this way through the remainder of the session. Periodically, other notes would emerge, like a few remnants of lingering bitterness around the seventh steep, a little bit of a cooling finish here and there, some tingling on the tongue, and a faint sweetness that started coming through as the tea lightened in later steeps. The vegetal notes never quite went away, but stayed mostly masked by the savoriness; remarkably, no sourness ever emerged. Throughout, the qi remained calming and quietly potent, although unaccompanied by much in the way of serious caffeine.
All in all, this tea was a lovely example of well-done Hong Kong storage. The original material seems to have been of decent quality, as well, though probably not the stuff of legends. Definitely worth a try if you can deal with a bit of funk.
I decided to start out the 2018 Sheng Olympiad with this one. On the balance, I found it fairly similar to the 2004 YQH Tejipin (of which I own a cake), albeit with less smoke, somewhat weaker qi, and a pronounced cooling note in the finish that occasionally made its way into the top taste on a few steeps. There was a bit of sourness in this tea, but nothing oppressive. Overall, an excellent tea, and a strong start to the series. If only it weren’t sold out basically everywhere.
Flavors: Menthol, Stonefruits
Stored noticeably more wetly than its companion Menghai 7542, this is nonetheless a noticeably better tea. The storage taste, while strong on the first steep, dissipates quickly, leaving behind an initial sweetness that transforms into a lively, piney bitterness. The bitterness lingers for quite a while in the finish, although admittedly in a subtle way. There’s appreciable qi in a light, head-fogging kind of sense. The durability’s good, and the tea’s at least a little thick.
I’d happily buy a cake of this, were it not presumably priced somewhere in the stratosphere. I can see why Dayi has the reputation it does.
An enjoyable example of a dry-stored, older Menghai tea. It can be somewhat gentle, but gets a bit of a piney kick when pushed. Some smokiness in the initial steeps, especially if it’s left to cool, but it’s far from overpowering. No real qi, not particularly thick, and it gives up faster than I’d like, but with all that said, it’s nonetheless enjoyable. I’d consider buying a cake, but only at the right price (probably way lower than this would command).
In contrast to The Oolong Drunk below, I brewed this one at boiling, like I pretty much always do for young sheng. Like him, I found it thick and full of strong qi; however, at boiling, the flavor was anything other than delicate. The front taste fills the mouth with a low-register savoriness that retains hints of prickly tartness even into some of the later steeps; the first steep or two had a distinct hint of orange buried somewhere in there, but that quickly drops. Initially, there’s almost no bitterness, even at boiling, with the finish lingering and sweet. However, somewhere by the fifth steep or so, this finish gets replaced with a long, drying bitterness not unlike the bitter orange of marmalade. Ordinarily, I’d find this off-putting (marmalade is one of the few bitter things I actively dislike), but it mingles well enough with the other flavors that I find myself enjoying it.
On the whole, this is a complex, durable tea that’d almost be worth trying for the heavy, calming qi alone. That said, while I can’t quibble with the quality, the flavor profile isn’t quite to my taste and, at the asking price, I don’t think I’d get a bing. Definitely worth trying, though, and I wouldn’t fault anyone who purchased it.
This is an interesting one, albeit more as an example than for its actual qualities. The description doesn’t lie; the tea is elegant, almost to a fault. The taste is essentially single note: a smooth, slightly bitter flavor that seems typical of the region, but which I have a hard time describing. It’s quite mellow, with low astringency and a bit of thickness; early cups left some tingling and my tongue and the session’s concluded with a nice lingering throat-tightness caused by the tea’s light bitterness carrying over into the finish.
That said, the tea is subtle: I didn’t really notice the finish much until the end of the session and the qi and caffeine are both present, but only if you search for them. I didn’t find much durability here, either, having to start pushing it harder than I would have expected after the first couple of steeps. My sample was very loose, almost like maocha, which may have exacerbated that.
I’m not sure I’ve actually had anything that’s single tree before, which is why I grabbed the sample. As I said, there’s definitely a purity here, but it results in a loss of dynamism. The flavor presents itself at its boldest in the first several cups and then fades (a bit faster than I’d have liked) without really changing much. I have no regrets about having the sample, but I also have no desire to go in for a cake.