23 Tasting Notes

Opening my sample bag, I was surprised to find that this is an iron cake. Must not have been paying close attention when I added this to my order! The smell in the bag is very vegetal and green like grass clippings. Warmed up in a gaiwan, the smell is thick and pungent, reminiscent of juicy late summer vegetables. It has a sort of heavy sweet tomato vine thing going on. It’s very unusual and doesn’t smell like a typical sheng at all.

Because the compression is so tight, I’m giving this two rinses, each followed by a long standing period with the lid on to loosen up the leaves. This worked okay but I ended up carefully pulling the layers apart by hand to speed things up.

The first steeps are very light but they leave a lingering sweetness in the mouth. Once this tea gets going, it’s quite good. Thick and creamy with a green tea body upfront followed by a lasting grape skin sweetness. It’s fun to taste the evolution of the flavor over the course of 15 seconds or so in the mouth. There’s some very light astringency and bitterness but it’s very tame for puer harvested just 1 year ago.

Flash steeping carried me through 6 or 7 infusions before I had to start adding time. That’s a little bit more than average for me, so that’s pretty good in my book.

This is a fun tea that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone who enjoys green tea or is tired of typical apricoty sheng.

Flavors: Grapes, Summer, Sweet, Thick, Vegetables

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

Awesome review! Thanks as I have been wondering about this one.

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I’m brewing about 6.75g of this from LiquidProust’s group buy. The dry/warmed leaf smells musty and a bit spicy. With a rinse, those aromas are intensified and some leather is apparent.

The first flash steep is a slightly cloudy light orange color. The flavor is very light – my sample was pretty compressed and will take awhile to open up in the gaiwan. Steep 2 is darker and getting fuller in taste. It’s smooth with some background sweetness and mustiness. I don’t really notice much storage taste, so I’m guessing conditions were quite dry for this cake.

Subsequent steeps are thicker and cloudier as the compression continues to open up. There’s a very light drying effect on the tongue. Not enough to bother me.

At steep 6 or 7 I decide to push this tea a little wrt to time. It’s darker – orange bordering on orange red and the bitter backbone of this tea is much more obvious. Not the best steep of the bunch but I was curious.

Nothing about this tea really stands out to me, but it should be interesting to go back to after I’ve tried the other teas from this group buy. It was certainly enjoyable, but maybe not in proportion to the price on Sunsing’s website (to my taste buds, at least).

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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I received a sample bag of this through Liquid Proust for the 2017 Sheng Olympiad. I drank this sample once before and didn’t take notes. It’s been in crock storage for awhile with the rest of my sheng. Strangely, the smell in the bag is like sweet barbeque sauce. I don’t remember that from before…

A rinse and sniff of the lid confirms it – it’s a super rich and sweet scent. It’s making me hungry for some Kansas City barbeque. It steeps up pretty clear and light. There’s a savory spice note but that’s about it. I think the leaves need a little more time to get going.

The second brew is darker in color but still pretty light on taste. I can detect some faint sweetness and florality in the cup. There’s a cooling camphor aftereffect happening as well.

Rolling the third steep around in my mouth, I get a sweet and slightly sour taste on the sides of my tongue – I think this is where that barbeque sauce scent was coming from.

Four steeps in, the soup is pretty thick and dark in color. The taste is still pretty light but vaguely sweet. The main feature of this tea so far is the camphor aftertaste. This stuff has it in spades.

At this point I bumped up the temperature. The result is a thicker, woody brew.

With longer steeps, the soup is a light orange and some astringency comes out of the leaves. It has some body to it but there’s just not a lot of flavor. I’m using pretty light parameters here because I’m working with a smallish sample but I would recommend leafing harder than usual for this tea. I think I would’ve had better results with ~7.5g/80ml instead of 5g/80ml.

It seems like people really love this tea so who knows. I’ll have to come back to this again later on.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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I’m drinking this from a loosely compressed sample of mostly nice, intact leaves. It smells pretty dry and not fragrant. I’ve been “storing” my sample in a cheap plastic bag in a cabinet so that’s probably not been great for this tea. Oops. The warmed dry leaf smells like tart apricot. After a quick rinse, the smell on the gaiwan lid is spent smoke/ash. Same thing for the wet leaves. Uh oh, hope this one tastes better than it smells.

The first steep is a cloudy, pale yellow. It tastes herby and a bit vegetal with a background of smoke. Steep number two is darker and thicker but tastes mostly the same. The aftertaste is tart apricot.

Three steeps in, I’m noticing more and more char at the bottom of my cup. That would explain the residual smokey taste happening here. The brew is still quite cloudy but it has gained some honey sweetness as well as astringency.

Fast forwarding to steep ~7 now. The tea is basically static except it’s developed a strange soapy finish/aftertaste. It’s still pretty strong and hasn’t lost its potency.

10 or 11 steeps in I’ve started to arrive at the vegetal/stewed greens stage of this tea. Still pretty strong, but the flavor has changed significantly.

Unfortunately, I think this tea is a miss. It could age into something really nice but I wouldn’t drink this young.

Flavors: Ash, Herbs, Smoke, Vegetal

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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First off, the dry leaf is beautiful and smells great. It’s a mixture of big juicy silver buds and larger fully oxidized leaves. It smells somewhere between a puer and hong cha. It has the light sweet hay smell characteristic of puer with a pronounced fruitiness that reminds me of hong cha. Warmed up, the dry leaf smells like sweet dried apples.

In the cup, this tea is incredibly soft and gentle. Feels like being wrapped up in a nice, plush blanket. The front of the soup is all sweet, mellow hay, while the back half is subdued spices and malt. It’s exceptionally clear and there’s almost zero sediment in my cup or strainer.

2 or 3 steeps in, this tea really starts to thicken up. Not surprising given the presence of all those nice fat buds. It gets darker as well with a bold yellow color. There’s something really refreshing about this tea. It reminds me of the feeling, but not the taste, of biting into a fresh, juicy cucumber.

Later steeps start to trend more towards the malt that was once in the background and the liquor is a nice deep orange color. It eventually steeps up a rich orange-red if you keep at it as well. This tea is really dynamic, which makes it a lot of fun to drink. Can’t decide between white, black, or puer tea? This is perfect! It also has great longevity without even a hint of astringency. I steeped the same 5g of leaf about 15 times and it still wasn’t ready to give up. I would absolutely recommend this tea to anyone interested in trying something a bit different from Yunnan.

Flavors: Hay, Malt, Spices, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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Dry, this tea has a typical fruit and dry grass white tea scent. It’s appearance is somewhere between bai mu dan and shou mei. It’s a mix of fuzzy white buds, small, rather oxidized leaves, and larger green-brownish red leaves. The warm gaiwan aroma is spicy dry hay.

After the first steep, the leaves smell of spicy radish and the taste of the soup matches. Wow, much different than I expected. It’s deep and super interesting. There’s a long aftertaste of the aforementioned radish and something citrusy. The liquor is a gorgeous, completely clear pale yellow.

3 or 4 steeps in, we’ve got a thick, brothy root vegetable soup going. It’s savory with a crisp sweet vegetable and citrus note. The viscosity is really impressive.

From here on out, the tea liquor remains tasty but fades gradually in flavor. I got 9 or 10 satisfying steeps out my 3.5g. I think this tea’s a pretty good value. Would recommend.

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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I received a generous 7.4g sample of this from Liquid Proust. I’m not usually a ripe pu drinker but I’ll try any tea once, especially if it has some age on it and a fancy name on the label. This tea is quite compressed – I was surprised the scale read 7.4g for this little chunk. I broke it up a bit into larger flakes to speed up the opening of the cake. The rinsed leaf has a nice, earthy nuttiness in its aroma.

Despite my best efforts, the leaves look more like shou nuggets than loose tea after 2 rinses and some extended rests with the gaiwan lid on. That’s okay, I’ll let the cake open on its own time.

This stuff brews up very dark and opaque, almost coffee-like. The liquor is super smooth and easy to drink. It has some sweetness but the primary flavor is extremely soft earth forest floor. There are no off flavors or aromas to be found here – this is a very clean, well made tea.

The flavor remains much the same through the middle steeps but it does get a little bit of thickness to it. At this point I was about to set this tea off to the side and come back to it later BUT there’s some sneaky qi happening here. It’s relaxing but swimmy. I’m sweating and a bit numb in the face.

So, I think this shou is pretty good. It probably won’t change your mind if you’re like me and don’t really like shou, but I’m happy to have had the experience of drinking a higher quality shou like this.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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The dry leaf of this tea smells melon fruity delicious. Tossing the leaves into a warm gaiwan, I notice a wet hay smell that I typically associate with silver needle and bai mu dan teas.

The first steep (20s at 175F) brews up a little bit lighter in color than a shou mei. It’s delicious and thick with notes of sweet citrus and spices. I notice a little bit of bitterness on the finish that I think could have been avoided by cutting this first steep down to 15s. This is the bottom of my sample bag as well so I think some of the broken leaves probably contributed to that.

It’s hard to believe that this tea isn’t scented or flavored in any way (I mean that in a good way). The citrus flavor is so obvious and sweet.

This tea continues to be delicious in subsequent steeps despite my accidental overbrewing. Note to anyone who reads this comment before trying this tea for the first time – use lighter parameters than you normally would for a strip oolong. I would start at 15s followed by 10s, 10s, 15s, 20s, etc.

Flavors: Citrus, Orange, Spices, Sweet, Thick

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

I like this one (and the other Nepalese Oolongs) treated like Darjeelings, keep it 175F, 3-4g/10-12OZ and 2:45/3 mins. Really nice

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