I got a few Verdant samplers from Geoffrey and this has been my second favorite so far. Unfortunately, I didn’t write notes when tasting the lovely Xingyang Golden Leaf ’98 Shu so I will only be able to write about that based on memory. It’s great sharing tea you feel needs to be appreciated by more than one person, but it leaves one wanting to enjoy conversing and talking about tea rather than writing stuff down.
I have just enough left to take another stab at this one and am tempted to incorporate tasting that with the archived notes I’m cutting and pasting now, but would kinda prefer to hold the remainder of the sample for a few months and taste again at the end of summer. I have just enough to brew in the same pot at lower concentration but still within my typical young sheng cha range. It’s a nice tea and I’d normally jump and buy it so I could experiment and draw a better impression (or, more importantly, put some age on it and see how it does) but really don’t have the money for it right now. So here’s my tasting notes transcribed from May 20th – been busy and haven’t really had the time to post ’em til now.

8g leaf per 200mL in my Duan Ni Shi Piao pot for young Sheng Cha utilizing a single rinse at 89C.

Infusion 1: 85C, 15sec. Toasty, edamame-like wet leaf aroma. Liquor aroma and initial impression very much akin to pure, light maple syrup. Crisp, light flavor with a sweetness that takes a moment to appear. Sweetness is similar to Basmati white rice. Faint green bean and edamame toasty-vegetal flavor with a juniper accent (halfway between berries and leaves). Moderate body. Clear, amber liquor.

Infusion 2: 85C, 15sec. Rich, raw sugar cane (whole cane) aroma and a hint of molasses now present in rice-like sweetness. Crisp mouthfeel lingers. More woody, with a pine bark characteristic balanced against a light longan fruit taste.

Infusion 3: 85C, 15sec. Less sweet. More wood (cherry tree twigs). Light back-of-throat astringency. Lingering light green onion note. Hint of soy sauce hiding in edamame skin base.

Infusion 4: 85C, 15sec with new water. Less sweetness (now like long grain brown rice). Still crisp, but more astringent (still light and towards rear of tongue and throat). Wet cotton taste. Very much like stir-fried water chestnuts and bamboo shoots with a slight cedar-spiciness. Alfalfa in base when gulped. Next infusion will be longer and cooler.

Infusion 5: 75C, 1min. Nearly same as last but now with a dry grass component (more like a dry field – not straw or hay). A bit of a clay flavor has taken on the roll of the base when sipped but alfalfa and dry leaves are evident when gulped. Somewhat pithy sour wash when cool.

Infusion 6: 75C, 2min. Sedges and bamboo shoots. Much more lingering nose and vaporous quality in the throat, but also more back-of-mouth astringency. Alfalfa still in base flavor. Viscosity still kinda low for Puerh but more evident in these longer infusions.
Watercress in back of throat provides odd juxtaposition to more dry earth and grass primary flavors.

Infusion 7: 70C, 2min. Color has suddenly shifted from an orangey-yellow amber hue to a muted gold with a hint of green. Color blends in well against my bamboo tea table. More crisp up front and quickly dies over much of the tongue with just a lingering snow pea crisp and sweet taste along the sides. Reminds me of staling Zhu Ye Qing green tea. Stark contrast to prior infusion has me thinking I’ll start with cooler water next round. Faint browned butter flavor in middle of tongue and nose sticks around for a while. The majority of noticeable flavor presents after swallowing – the initial impression is akin to heavy bodied water. Hmm, those were my first thoughts when having Yin Zhen white tea for the first time and this is drawing that memory from around 10 years ago… This lacks the honeysuckle and nutty notes and has that slight sour quality (now reminding me of white plum) but as it cools I’m noticing a similarity to Bai Mu Dan in a cucumber-like base that’s developing. Funny that this dying infusion is easier to discern these characteristics on – maybe a lower concentration, longer, cooler approach throughout next round will reveal more.

Out of the tasting notes suggested by Verdant, I only got cedar and juniper as obvious ones. If I’d read the description before tasting and writing all this out I’m sure melon and citrus would have plagued my tasting notes like soot in a house with a wood stove. In retrospect, many of the characteristics I wrote are the same I write about medium-oxidation Tieguanyins but I really didn’t think of that group of teas at all when drinking this, in spite of the company description. Similar in what elements you may find in those teas, but not similar in flavor to one-another.

Pretty darned tasty as a whole. Had two other 2006 shengs since taking these notes and this one’s a tad more approachable but less diverse in character to either (a Pasha Shan Haiwan Factory cake and a Mao Cha I’ve reviewed here before). I think this tea is great for enjoying right now but probably doesn’t have much to offer in the way of aging.

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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Tea Geek.

My focus is on Chinese Wulongs and Pu’er but I’m all over the place. I tend to follow a seasonal progression of teas, following the freshness curve of greens through summer and rounding the cooler months out with toastier teas and Masala Chai.
With the exception of Masala Chai milk tea I’m a purist at heart. While I was originally snagged by Earl Grey with bergamot and make blends for gifts, I very rarely go for scented teas or herbals and can’t remember the last time I bought a tea that was blended. Pure tea is just more interesting to me than the product of mixing flavors. I do understand and appreciate their existence, though.

I upload some blends I make or special prep teas I nab under the company name “Green Raven Tea and Coffee” and the vast majority of these posts will be blends crafted to create flavors/characteristics not inherent in any one particular tea.
I’ve worked as a tea buyer for a smallish cafe and try to keep apprized of shifts in offerings even when not selecting for a business so I wind up sampling a ton of wholesale samples from a couple companies in particular but try to branch out to as many companies as I can find. Until Steepster integrates some form of comparative tasting feature, none of my cupping notes will make it onto my reviews unless wrapped up into something I feel compelled to drink multiple times on its own.

Since all the cool kids are doing it, here’s my big fat ratings scheme:

0-12…..Ugh, don’t wish on anyone
13-25….Bad, won’t touch again
26-37….Huh, not worth the effort
38-50….Meh, unremarkable
51-62….Okay, good tea
63-75….Tasty, really good tea
76-87….Yum, wonderful
88-100…Wow, really spectacular

There shouldn’t be many postings at all from me ranked 26-50 since unremarkable teas are unlikely to make me remark on ’em but to “earn” a score 37 or below I have to be disappointed to the point where others may ask for a refund or turn down offers even when free or offered as a gift (beyond stale).

I’ve got a ton of respect for anything rated 63 or higher.

For a tea to get 71 or more, it has to be pretty special and kinda blow my socks off.

The 90s are reserved for wonders that make me reevaluate my views of the world of tea as a whole.


Santa Rosa, California, United States

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