11 Tasting Notes
(Checking in on how my collection is developing)
Wet Leaves: Smoke. Like Scott says on YS, it’s a distinctly “BBQ” kind of smoke, like savory foods cooking on a grill. Heavy, dense aroma. Smells oily, like resin or lacquer. Hard to pick out aromas. Maybe some fruitiness or vegetal?
Early Steeps: Smoke. Already feeling a little thick. Fairly sweet.
Middle Steeps: Robust. Thick, sweet, and whole lot of bitterness. Smoke has calmed down, and now a fresh fruitiness is peeking through.
Tail End: Smoke has finally balanced, some herbal flavors present, and penetrating sheng bitterness lingers a long time after wards.
Verdict: Good, aggressive young tea, but I don’t enjoy this as much as when I was a total newbie. But great candidate for storage though, obviously. Will probably only drink it in a specific mood.
(Checking in on how my collection is developing)
Wet Leaves: Oddly muted. Dried fruit, maybe prunes or raisins? And maybe some old books? Sourness in the aroma.
Early Steeps: Surprisingly dark since last time. Thin. Already astringent. Sweet and bitter decently balanced.
Middle Steeps: Even darker. Moderate fruit now, with some medicinal notes creeping in. Again, Astringent. Starting to feel woozy, moderate body effect.
Tail End: Color faded into straw yellow. Fruit notes disappeared, just lots of bitterness and astringency. Stomach starting to feel raw. Not worth sessioning for too long.
Verdict: Much more drinkable than a couple of years ago, but not by too much. Still, promising development. Going to have to store this for while, maybe hit it with some serious humidity, might bring out those medicinal notes.
Wet Leaves: Jasmine flowers, dried apricots, pickled sourness, raw zucchini, and a touch of smoke.
Early Steeps: First two steeps were extremely light, had a hard time getting much of an impression off this tea. Steep 3 opened up to a soupy nuttiness that led into jasmine sweetness. Finish is a long, sustained (but balanced) kuwei bitterness.
Middle Steeps: High notes seemed to have disappeared. Vegetal nuttiness dominates and the finish is a really tasty blend of kuwei bitterness and apricot flavor. Astringency has kicked in too.
Tail End: The tea has stayed sweet, lightly fruity and floral with a long finish. Seriously, this finish literally evolves over time. Astringency has never really dominated. Slightly lightheaded at this point, but not much of an overall body effect here.
Verdict: This is really good tea. Almost seems like the definition of sheng meant to be drunk young. I’m sure this tea will evolve into something tasty over time, but it’s so delicate and nuanced that it’s perfect right now. I don’t know alot about terroir, but the floral sweetness of this tea reminds me more of Yiwu’s I’ve tried than a Lincang. This teas gentle but lingering impression reminded me of warm spring day, something that only white teas usually do to me.
If you’re open to gentle, subtle sheng – buy it.
Wet Leaves: Pretty unique. Jasmine flowers, heavy cream, seaweed. There’s a creamy sweetness to the aroma that reminds me of lightly fermented Hunan Fu cha.
Early Steeps: Light body, soft sweetness like fruit flower honey, and a bitterness that comes and goes very quickly. The mouthfeel is kind of buttery, almost like high altitude oolong.
Middle Steeps: Bitterness has arrived, and the sweetness has gone from floral to a kind of raw vegetable flavor that’s subtly unique. Reviews on the YS site say there’s a mung bean or green pea flavor. Not sure I’m tasting that exactly, but that seems pretty close. Finish is now full of heady florals that feel as if they are filling my sinus.
Tail End: After steeps 6 or so, the tea has become heavier, almost soupy. The floral sweetness remains, but has taken on a stewed kind of taste.
Verdict: Tasty stuff. I’m still getting my bearings for terroir in pu-erh, but this seems like a pretty representative Yiwu sheng. If you’re looking for a floral sweetness and a buttery mouthfeel with light astringency, this is your tea. At $0.23 a gram, it’s kind of pricey for everyday drinking, but well worth it.
Wet Leaves: Right away I notice a kind of vegetal aroma that reminds me olive oil, but after the rinse the leaves give off the very distinctly sweet, saturated smell of raw honey. Underneath that there’s very prominent floral and stone fruit aromas. (Weird Aside: I swear the lid of the gaiwan smells like baby powder…)
Early Steeps: Light, sweet, floral. By steep two, the sweetness begins turning into a kind of apricot or peach flavor.
Middle Steeps: The floral, fruity notes are fading fast, giving way to a kind of boiled vegetable flavor. Little to no bitterness coming through yet, but a moderate huigan has come through. Honestly kind of a bummer, considering where this tea started out.
Tail End: Drying astringency is now coating my tongue, yet flavors have become dull and uninteresting. No noticeable body effect that I can feel either.
Verdict: This tea creates a very uneven experience. Beautiful aromas and a very gentle fruity sweetness gives way to astringent boiled vegetable flavors. The tea is very tasty for about 3-4 steeps, then rapidly doesn’t have much to offer. Might develop some depth with time, but the relative softness of the tea doesn’t suggest it has a ton of aging potential. It’s not bad, just oddly uneven. Your mileage might vary.
Wet Leaves: Strong vegetal aroma. It transports me to two situations at once: gardening and cooking. Specifically the smell of cut grass, pulling out weeds, soil covered roots. The cooking aspect reminds me of chopping raw zucchini, broccoli, spinach and green onion. Later on the leaves smell very savory, like vegetable stock.
Early Steeps: Honestly reminds me a bit of a chinese green tea, like Bi Luo Chun. Not very bright or heady, more of a darker, stewed vegetable taste. Not overtly sweet, but carries a prominent huigan from the start.
Middle Steeps: Flavors remain the same, but intensify and darken. Mouthfeel is intense. Finish is incredibly long, stays around for minutes. Body effect is very energizing.
Tail End: Bitter vegetable water.
Verdict: This tea is a workhorse. It’s not particularly complex, but has a very strong character that holds up to many steepings. Only for those who enjoy their sheng bitter and vegetal. Full of character and energy.
Wet Leaves: Complex, like a high end white wine. Lots of heady florals, fresh cut grass, dish soap, and a tiny bit of tropical fruit scent. After steep two, the scent of boiled/steamed dandelion greens becomes prominent.
Early Steeps: Gentle. Sweet. Floral. Tastes like silver needle.
Middle Steeps: Vegetal kuwei steps forward. Sweetness begins to fade and savoriness takes it’s place as the mouthfeel begins to penetrate your tongue. I’m growing light headed and mildly tea drunk.
Tail End: Mouthfeel coats your whole palate, the kuwei takes on a soapy flavor, and the general flavor has transformed into boiled greens. Also, full on tea buzzed.
Verdict: I don’t have a ton of experience with young sheng, but this seems like really high quality material. Even though the liquor doesn’t carry all the heady aromas of the wet leaf, the general flavor of the is very tasty. It has only a moderate complexity of flavor, but somehow that flavor has an intangible depth to it. Maybe that’s what “gushu” is all about.
Very good tea.
Wet Leaves: musty old books, leather, dried apricots, camphor, baking spices. Nothing smells quite like a middle-aged sheng <3.
Early Steeps: Brews up a bright orange, surprising bitterness develops into a fruity, leathery flavor that is already lingering on my tongue.
Middle Steeps: Flavors deepen, brews becoming more astringent. Fruitiness is starting to dissipate.
Tail End: Flavors faded pretty quick. by steep 7 or so there wasn’t much left but bitter water.
Verdict: Tasty middle-aged sheng that peters out relatively quickly. I’m biased to sheng of this age, but I still feel like this is the strongest cake in the basics set.
Wet Leaves: very sour smelling (almost like pickled greens or olives), hay, fresh cut grass.
Early Steeps: delicate floral sweetness leads into a somewhat dull vegetal flavor.
MIddle Steeps: Sourness is now showing up, vegetal flavor has taken over, astringency is building.
Tail End: Not much change, high notes have all faded, dull vegetal flavor is the only thing left, along with dominating astringency.
Verdict: It has that interesting huang pian sourness, but…not much else. Simple, palatable, and rather uninteresting.
Wet Leaf: That “sour” sheng scent present in the 2015 spring has turned into a very distinct scent of olive oil. The smoke on this one comes through more as well. Hint of some kind of stone fruit peeking out in the later steeps too.
Early Steeps: Pretty much exactly like the spring 2015.
Middle Steeps: The flavor has darkened, less high notes as the 2015 and an increased depth of vegetal flavor. Bitterness develops in the mouth the same way, increasing with the session.
Tail End: Similar to the 2015, sort of just fades into astringency.
Verdict: Some subtle, but noticeable, improvement compared to the spring 2015. Drinking this in early 2017 makes me wonder how much the differences are due to terroir or age. But either way, based on the way this developed compared to the 2015, I’m looking forward to it’s evolution. Probably won’t touch this for a couple of years though.