Even with me going through black teas like General Sherman through Georgia this week, I managed to make the time for a green tea and a couple oolongs. I finished the last of a pouch of this tea last night and was finally able to arrive at an opinion of it after going back and forth about it for several days. I ultimately decided that I greatly enjoying this tea, though I suppose that should not come as a surprise considering that I have professed my adoration of Yunnan green teas numerous times in the past.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in a 4 ounce gaiwan filled with 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of sorghum, hay, and corn husk. After the rinse, I noted fresh aromas of malt, straw, spinach, and seaweed. The first infusion brought out hints of damp grass and pine on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of corn husk, hay, straw, grass, malt, and pine underscored by hints of sorghum molasses. Subsequent infusions saw the nose take on grassier, fruitier, and more marine characteristics with a strongly brothy umami presence also apparent. In the mouth, seaweed and spinach emerged with new impressions of sour plum, lemon zest, chestnut, butter, minerals, umami, and lime zest hot on their heels as the tea turned more noticeably astringent. I could also note some hints of smoke on at least a couple of these infusions. The closing infusions offered lingering notes of minerals, malt, corn husk, and sour plum backed by subtle umami, seaweed, chestnut, and hay impressions.
A strong, lively, pungent, and rather astringent green tea, I could see this one being an acquired taste for a number of people. I, however, love Mengku teas and have been especially fond of the very few other pine needle green teas that I have tried in the past. With that in mind, it makes sense that I eventually came to the conclusion that I loved this tea. If you do not mind a sharper, more biting, more powerful green tea, consider giving this one a shot. I doubt it will disappoint.
Flavors: Astringent, Butter, Chestnut, Corn Husk, Grass, Hay, Lemon Zest, Lime, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Pine, Plums, Seaweed, Smoke, Spinach, Straw, Umami