It’s been about 2.5 years since i’ve had this sheng. Even with a wicked wind that drove my allergies crazy today, i think I can tell this one is finally turning a corner but it still doesn’t impress too strongly; it’s rather restrained.
It’s mellow, lacking in body but it makes up for that somehow, some way. Don’t want to be too vague but that’s about all I can muster to describe the unknown factor. Aroma isn’t strong but it’s different — I get mostly some florals, spicy black pepper, some sweetness and later grapefruit rind mixed with licorice root and overripe honeydew. Leafy medicinal bitter taste reminding a bit of yerba maté; licorice root sweetness is rather thin. A little drying after the swallow but nothing that seems out of place for a sheng of this age. The bitterness spreads a little after the swallow and lingers about as long as the concurrent whisper of smoke. Licorice root-honey persists, giving way to a light cooling in the mouth then the throat and armpits. Grain and grapefruit zest come out more as steeps progress, lingering lightly in the aftertaste with a combination of orange blossom morphing into peach and Yiwu-like lavender and violet. Final steeps gain body, becoming viscous and sweeter while retaining the bitterness. Body warming, especially in the face.
At first, I settled in to its mellow and grounding earthen energy then realized I had to get up and make a big batch of pupusas. The tea fueled me for a few hours (along with a shot of tequila in my agua de tamarindo :3). When I came back to the pot later, I shared with a friend who stopped by. He’d never heard of pu’er before tonight. I though maybe it would be too bitter for him considering I had oversteeped because we were caught up in conversation. He’s a fan of northern California hoppy IPA beer and kept asking for more!
Still don’t think it’s worth the price, especially for lacking body (until the end) and deep strength. Perhaps those will come with age and better storage.
Taking a wild guess on the origins of the leaf – autumn Laoman’e (though doesn’t have the fuzzy leaf underside I’ve seen before) with a smidge of Manzhuan or some other Yiwu? Nannuo? Whatever it is, it’s a good representative of Menghai taste.
Edit: Looks like there’s three types of leaf: a nutty brown one that has fuzzy unders with some having the main vein coated, another that’s nutty brown and rubbery smooth on the bottom and a third that’s larger and dark olive-khaki.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Bitter, Black Pepper, Caramel, Cherry, Citrus Zest, Coconut, Dried Fruit, Drying, Earth, Floral, Grain, Grapefruit, Hay, Herbs, Honey, Honeydew, Hops, Lavender, Leather, Licorice, Medicinal, Menthol, Peach, Plum, Salty, Smoke, Sweet, Violet, Wet Rocks, White Chocolate