Edit: Some friends and I had a session with this tea more recently and I absolutely loved it. It had a very strong apricot note that time. Read on for the original review.
This tea isn’t usually on the shelves at Shang Tea, as far as I know, but they have a selection of hidden and unpromoted teas that Shang or friends of Shang have made, if you ask them about it.
From what I was told, this tea is processed like a sheng Puerh tea but made from white tea varietal plants.
I’ve been absent from Steepster for a long time now mostly due to not having much money for new teas in the past year and deciding to drink off most of my collection before trying to buy more soon.
But I did get this tea last year, and even though my palate seems off and I’m a bit out of practice from not generally getting to enjoy much gongfu tea at all last year (I moved to a house and started a food garden and it stole my life), I’ll try.
The first infusion of this tea was rather salty and savory. It had an aftertaste that was maybe like a bitter citrus fruit, grapefruit perhaps. If I smack my tongue a bit it’s almost “cough syrup” like in the aftertaste. I know that’s weird, but as a frame of reference, it seems similar to that.
The second infusion has opened the tea up to more flavors, this time some mineral, muscatel, a little hint of cinnamon (or maybe camphor), lots of straw and prairie grass notes. The finish is a bit tart, astringent, and bitter, but I find these to be in a refreshing way, not an offensive one.
By the third infusion the leaves smell generously of green grapes and golden raisins. The scent of the liquid is definitely camphor now. The flavor is an interesting mix of sweet, umami, and camphor. I almost feel like I’m drinking a delicious dashi broth seasoned with some spices. There are notes of soy milk.
The fourth infusion is even sweeter and a bit-honey like. I think this shift from salty/umami to more sweet is actually due to me using too much leaf in my gaiwan. I’ve been doing very quick steeps and I think the first one or two may have been a bit overbrewed due to just having too many leaves (by my usual tastes anyway). As I pull more infusions without lengthening the time though, it becomes more subtle, and more sweet. There are some orange blossom notes now, and still some notes of salt and bitterness in the finish.
I’ll stop there before I lose your attention. I like this tea a lot in terms of teas from Shang Tea because its flavors are quite different than any of their others. I’ve had their aged white teas and brick aged white teas, and while those have some interesting similarities to Puerh simply due to aging, this tea definitely is closer to Puerh by the flavor profile. I don’t think I could have told you this was made with white tea varietal leaves if someone just gave me a cup and told me to drink it.
I have to ponder the complexity of this tea for having all 5 taste groups involved in such a noticeable way… sweet, tart (sour), umami, salty, and bitter. Pretty cool little trip down taste bud lane.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Camphor, Grapefruit, Grass, Hay, Honey, Muscatel, Orange Blossom, Raisins, Salty, Sweet, Tart, Umami