MX Tea (Taobao)Edit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Received this one a LONG time ago from Liquid Proust.
So, spent a few hours this evening hanging out with my ASM/friend Everett. The one who I play the ‘game’ with at DAVIDsTEA where we both pick out teas for one another. He came over for tea/supper. Turns out he’d never drank Gong Fu before so we had a really nice, relaxed Gong Fu session while just talking/hanging out.
In the spirit of LP who constantly has friends over for tea drinking/sharing, and who is just one of the most incredible people on the website when it comes to sharing tea and bringing people together I decided to put down the note pad and just enjoy the company I was sharing the tea with instead of tracking every minute detail of the experience. So, I have no idea how many infusions we had or how long each of them steeped for. I just know we drank until we were ready to move onto something else. Also, I picked this tea specifically because it’s one he shared with me and I thought it appropriate to continue the chain of sharing it with others.
That said, the things that stuck out in the session for me in between just enjoying everything for the experience were that this tea seemed to start off rather smooth for me. I know Everett didn’t like the first few infusions so much (he’s not a big Pu’erh fan generally speaking), but they were much better to me than a lot of initial infusions I’ve experienced with other shengs. I just know I braced myself for bitterness, and I didn’t really get that. Maybe some astringency though? In the tail of the sip in the first portion of the session. Also, I recall some veggie notes and roughly in the middle of the session more of a tangy, fruity sweetness that made me think of apricots.
This would be fun to revisit Gong Fu when I am tracking everything much more carefully and being a far more observant tea drinker just to see whether the more memorable things that poked out from this session would also be true for that one. However, judging from this experience alone it was really positive! Of course, the atmosphere I was in is reflected in that at least a little bit obviously.
Also, I didn’t take pictures because I felt kind of weird taking pictures of our session/the food while someone else was with us but for supper we had a freshly made Greek Salad, sans tomatoes because neither Everett nor myself like the texture of them that much. Also, ‘dessert perogies’. This was my very first time making dessert perogies and I wasn’t totally sure what to expect but basically think perogie dough wrapped around strawberry pie filling! As a supper, they were a bit odd paired with the salad – especially when you factored in the onion in the salad. However, on their own they tasted delicious and I bet they would have been even better with some cinnamon sugar dusted over them or hot with a scoop of vanilla icecream on top. You know, as an actual dessert.
Just… overall it was a good session, with a good meal, and good company.
This was a randomly chosen sample off of Taobao – I was pretty hopeful for it, as the leaves looked pretty nice, with not too heavy compression. I did two sessions with it, one of which was alright, and the other was not very good at all. The dry leaf had a bit of a leathery, slightly spicy aroma. After a rinse, they smelled a bit sour and leathery.
My first session was the better one, so I’ll use that one for my tasting notes/review. The tea had a lot of slightly sour leather notes in the early steeps, which never went fully away. But there was a good amount of sweetness and some nice thickness in the mouth. I also got the occasional note of dark fruitiness. That said, I was only able to take the session about seven steeps before I just didn’t really want to continue.
My other session was in a Jianshui pot, and some of the material was broken up into pretty small pieces. The first two steeps were nearly undrinkable with just unpleasant bitter sourness throughout. The sour flavor did recede a bit after the first 2-3 steeps, but it was still present and unwanted. This one is definitely not a hit with me.
Flavors: Leather, Sour, Sweet, Thick
The first sample I got to out of my first Taobao order. The leaves were quite dark and had a slightly leathery camphor aroma with a good bit of earthiness which came out after a rinse.
There was a slight leathery quality to the flavor in the first steep, but that quickly left this tea. The texture thickened up pretty quickly after that, with a good earthy flavor and some mineral sweetness. I also got something that could have been a fruity note – like plums or something, in the early steeps.
By the fifth steep or so, the profile became a little bit easier to nail down, less vacuous. It was mostly dirt – in a good way, mind you, with a pleasantly sweet finish that occasionally seemed floral to me, but was more often just another earthy layer. This went on through around steep 11 or so, when it started to get just a little bit drying on the finish. I squeezed about 5 or 6 more steeps out of it, which were all pleasant, though lighter than the meat of the session.
Flavors: Dirt, Earth, Floral, Leather, Sweet, Thick, Vegetal
This tea wasn’t too enjoyable. I think it would need quite a few years of age before it became really palatable. The leaf was pretty chopped up (plus I had a kinda dusty sample). There was some sweetness in the flavor, but I found it was overwhelmed by bitterness and astringency. I really enjoy bitter flavors, but there was no balance here. It was pretty darn impossible for me to steep this in such a way that drinking it didn’t make me shudder.
This tea had a lot of power to it – to the point where I think it would be a pretty decent one if it had about a decade of decent storage behind it. There was some alright thickness that developed in the texture and a decent bit of energy, though the energy was pretty harsh. Not really one for drinking now, but possibly would be good in the future.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Creamy, Straw, Vanilla
I drank a session of this over the past weekend. I’d had some broken off the cake and airing out for a week or 10 days. This is a loosely compressed cake, at least around the edge I was nibbling at. I easily got 15g or so of leaf just by poking at it with a pick. It’s large pieces of leaf, few whole ones, with rather a lot of sticks or stems. The color of the leaf is brown of roasted coffee bean to almost black. The dry leaf has a faint aroma of incense, which strengthens some as it is warmed in a heated gaiwan.
The loose, large-leaf material is easily soaked with a 10-second rinse: a wide pour leaves almost nothing caught in the filter. Noting the absence of choppy stuff I determine to start with longish steeps and hit it like 20s, 15s, 15s, 15s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 25s,…45s, 60s, 75s… 120s. I think it went 16-17 infusions before it was played out. Had I not hammered so hard on it early I’m sure it would be good for 20.
The incense aroma of the dry leaf survived the rinse and made it into the first few infusions. These also had a strong sweet mouthfeel which grew increasingly bitter and astringent, with early development of the characteristic woody medicinal profile of mature raw tea. After the first 5-6 cups there is a thick, strong, sweet dry-cup aroma, I’m sitting there huffing it between steeps. By the 8th steep or so I’m thinking that there is still considerable greenness here that could develop over future years, but I bought this as a daily drinker so that’s probably not going to happen to this cake.
By about the 10th steep the dominant note is a bright tangy tart taste with mouth-drying astringency. This stays in following steeps gradually fading until it reaches the faintly-sweet-colored-water stage.
From Liquid Proust’s MX-King group buy.
This is just an initial review. I’ll do more detail after the tea has a chance to rest from its travels. Nice nose is smoky with some wood and fruit. Taste has a fair amount of texture, and a flavor that is on the veggie side of tropical fruit. Flavors continue into the finish. Not sure I like the veggie notes. 2nd steep: The smoke is showing that slightly bitter ash taste that I’ve disliked in previous wet-stored teas, though this doesn’t otherwise taste of wet storage. Very interesting. There’s a lot going on here. Still pretty powerful. Strong finish is bitter, but still shows a bit of fruit. Just a bit of cha qi. 4th steep is a bit more mellow. Less fruit but also less wood. Good texture in the mouth. Unspectacular but enjoyable.