121 Tasting Notes
Trying this again, especially since it rained today. It wasn’t quite as flavorless and scentless as it was last week, but everything is still very, think 80-90%, muted. You want total silence and focus to catch anything a tea in this state has to deliver. The younger one in this vertical tasting set was schizophrenic, but this one is the extremely soft spoken, introverted librarian. I kept going past steep 8 or 10, which was when I gave up last time and added the leaves into my grandpa pot. There is now a pleasant huigan, which, as gentle as it is, is many times stronger than any favor or scent this has to offer so far. Oh, I know. Maybe next time I will try doing 1.5g of this and 1.5g of the mahei/gaoshan (great scent, unimpressive energy) in the same pot. Maybe that is frowned upon, I haven’t checked, but whatever, it’s my tea now.
I had read some discouraging things about Mahei, but I am intrigued by this tea. It isn’t so strong as the others, but as LP hinted in his rambling description, the scent is quite seductive. A lot of honey and subdued florals. If this scent could be turned into a syrup, it would pair well with a light, lacy pancake. Any tea that smells like this with about 3-4x more energy would be bomb. Wish there was more info on which region is causing which effect.
Flavors: Floral, Honey
Is almost an actual baked good masquerading as a sheng. I was so blown away by the massive popularity of this tea that I bought a cake blind at a significant markup at a party earlier this year. While there were tastings, it was not possible to get a good sense of the tea before the purchase because of all the giddy socializing. But “dessert tea” is a very accurate description for those familiar with wine and western style dairy heavy desserts. It is gentle enough to splurge on the grammage, offers up a wonderful energy, and features huigan that somehow really is reminiscent of castella. It may be an excellent choice for those trying to give up the crutches of dairy and sugar.
Flavors: Berries, Cake, Cream, Honey, Sugar
Better than expected for the first 6 steeps or so. But the next 6 devolve into far too much smokeyness. Factory teas are intimidating for a whole slew of reasons, but people say the consistency and age-ability can be worth it. This seems to have been one of the pricier offerings, though. I wonder what the rest of the brand offerings are like.
Got gongfu fatigue. I’ve been collecting the leaves from my sessions from the past 2 weeks and brewing them together grandpa style. Friends have said they actually prefer the tea from these “remainders” than the more aggressive steeps from the original sessions.
If I didn’t like a tea during session, I did not add them to the blend. The result is a very approachable but energetic thing that still brews a deep golden yellow. Let’s see how far this goes.
I think this will become a regular thing. Why discard leaves that are still giving a ton of tasty, relaxing energy?
I was expecting more of an all around sensory experience, as with its 2017 counterpart, but this tea seems to have no discernable scent. Is it dead? Should I have allowed it to “rest” even though it only came from a few states away, most likely by car? I will try it a few more times, but this is a very bland tea. I get very sleepy after drinking it, but I could simply be tired. If it is the tea doing it, this is more a cure for insomnia than a beverage to enjoy for its own sake.
Smells sour, like a stinky closet, but one that has potential to smell great if it would only stop being so sour for a second. You can tell he was probably once a stud, but hasn’t showered for a little too long, so you won’t know for sure until dude takes a bath. I wonder if this is an example of storage smells I do not like.
Tea is pretty new though, so I drink the filtered rinse out of curiosity. I already feel jazzed by steep #3. Seems like a fairly powerful tea. I keep smelling the pot hoping the unfortunate sourness will go away, but it does not and so I prepare to pout for the rest of this session. Oh wellsios.
4: What? It suddenly stopped being sour as I had hoped, and now smells glorious. Pout be gone. Okay, so this is a tea you want to rinse several times. Got it. There is a bit of astringency, but it turns sweet almost immediately. I am not a fan of too much huigan because the unreal sweetness reminds me of stevia, which I am not fond of. But this much is all right.
5. It smells completely different now. Woodsy, in a good way, but startling given how it only lost the sourness a few moments ago. This tea evolves very quickly so it pays to remain consistently attentive without taking too many breaks.
6-7. I have identified the scent note that’s been plaguing me this whole time. It is vaguely reminiscent of mugwort incense that is used in Korean medicine. There is a smokey smell like tobacco, too, which adds to the illusion of being in the middle of a hazy 쑥뜸(ssookddeum) session.
8. This one packs a punch, so I will stop here and continue tomorrow.
Wow this tea is now so bitter. I like to steep things out but it is too bitter to continue. A few times I smelled the leaves again and encountered hot sweet yams, but the taste was so incredibly disconnected from that and punishing on the tongue/mouth. The huigan that reappears after does not make up for it. You would have to be pretty masochistic or patient to finish this.
This tea has an intractable multiple personality disorder. I thus retract my recommendation. If it was a person it would be that unhinged person in your building with undiagnosed, untreated TS. Can’t win ’em all.
Flavors: Bitter, Smoke, Sour, Tobacco, Vegetal, Wet wood, Yams
Starts off quite delicate. Deeply kelp-like when pushed. Makes you wonder how this tea would perform as a substitute for green tea in ochazuke. I recommend w2t in general for the crash course it should be for 99% of people on the fine art of branding. I recommend this form factor from any brand for anyone who wants to be a little coddled, or needs convenient socially acceptable chunks that do not look suspiciously like a baggie of illegal drugs with which to get one’s fix on, say, a commercial flight. It gives me pause to think these are individually hand-wrapped and stickered by another human being, probably another East Asian female human being. In that sense they are kind of like handmade tea dumplings, except you can’t eat the wrapper. The fact that the same amount of manual wrapping energy is being put into the coins as into the full size cakes in some ways makes these coins feel the most ludicrously bourgeoisie. I’m also relatively “meh” on this tea, because I have already had some really great(and far more expensive) others this week. Finally, it doesn’t matter because this one looks sold out.
Update: For steep 9, I discarded all undrunk previous steeps and changed settings to 5g/75ml just off boil for 20+sec. Tea instantly became delicious.
This smells lovely throughout, but the taste was pretty weak, so I think I will try what someone’s earlier note lists as a fail safe method and adjust settings to “6g/100ml 20s @ 95C” next time. I do not recommend what I did, which was 5g/120ml 7-10s at just off boil.