This cake is beautiful. When it comes to tea, sometimes being a sucker for appearances can lead you into trouble. Such is not the case with this sheng. Opening the wrapper unleashes a flurry of spice – it’s as if the maocha was stored among heaps of peppercorns. After rinsing, the leaves exhibit a heavy, earthy quality that partially buries the spice. Based on the scent of the liquor, you’d expect this tea to be thick and turning towards earth, but no – the little spice that you do encounter is layered over hay and honey that leaves a lingering sweetness on the back of the throat and a melony roundness as the soup cools.

As the infusions progress, things evolve from straw to pine straw complimented by honeysuckle and honeydew. My notes say, “overall, a very mellow tea to name after a fighting force.” After the third infusion, things begin to wear thin. I’d say this needs aging, but, honestly, I doubt it has the forcefulness to carry it much further through the years. Not a bad tea to drink now, if you’re a fan of younger sheng, and certainly worth the $17 from Puerhshop.

195 °F / 90 °C

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