28 Tasting Notes
This feels like drinking a relaxing old carpet. No interesting flavor notes whatsoever – if anything, a bit more camphorous and slightly drying than I’d prefer – but I’m fuzzy-cheeked and sleepy and pretty happy even after just the first few steeps.
I actually tried this for the first time a few months ago, but I loved it so much that I wanted to wait until after ordering a cake before posting my notes here:
Quick rinse. Smell is light spicy wood, made my nose tingle.
10s (started at 200F): Warm woods, my nose is tingling, and it has that sort of big air mouth-stretching sensation I enjoy and have mostly gotten from some of bitterleaf’s teas before. Afterwards, a sweetness builds in the depths of my throat.
15s: A bit of slightly tart fruitiness and the barest hint of bitterness join in.
15s (switched to boiling water now): More bitter, in a good way! The liquid feels thicker, brothier, and I feel that mild/moderate bitterness go down my throat. The path it follows feels vivid for a while after, carved and memorable. After the sip, that path slowly fades to cool and sweet. Really enjoying just sitting here and experience that transformation.
20s: Pop rocks at the back of my mouth at the start of the sip. More umami and astringency joining in. Cheeks going fuzzy. Breath going colder, faster.
25s: OH this tea just really came into its own. Initial pop rocks and brightness. Bitterness is more direct and aggressive, but at the same time there’s a higher airier note accompanying it, adding some needed complexity. Then the bitter charges down my throat and leaves cool air and teeth and sides of tongue and throat in its wake, but also that higher unidentifiable aroma note stays in my mouth to elevate the whole experience. My cheeks are warm and lightly fuzzy, my teeth and palate and throat are cold, my heart is starting to pound. Feels like ice at that spot right behind my top front center teeth where I tsk at people who are rude on the train. This is where it’s at!
30s: Same except now my tongue is starting to go numb after.
35s: My first thought: tastes like liquid gold. Staying bright, getting sweeter and also more mineral overall. Oh, I like this one a lot!
40s/56s/70s: Mellowing, fruitier in the throat. This tea could easily go longer, but I’m out of time for this morning.
On the walk to the train afterwards: Tongue feels almost gritty. Lips feel almost numb. I feel like I’m glowing. Not a manic high, I really just feel GOOD.
Flavors: Bitter, Fruity, Spicy, Wood
I got this with the tea club, and have tried it 3 times so far, with 3 very different experiences.
1st session: Drank it with a friend who’s not really into pu, didn’t take great notes. Mostly I remember that I thought it was fairly bitter during the sip, with a fairly sweet aftertaste.
2nd session: This was after I broke it up and left the bag sitting open airing out in my super dry apartment for weeks, then sealed the bag up again and forgot about it for weeks more. It smelled wonderfully fruity, like roasted red grapes and peaches, but the taste was sour plum with emphasis on the sour, some surprisingly unpleasant bitterness (I usually like bitter!) and astringency, and a sort of gross vomitous note that made me stop after the 4th steep.
3rd session: This was after I let it sit in my new pumidor (a plastic tub with some 62% boveda packs) for a while. And oh, wow, it’s really lovely now. The flavor is all plums and resinous incense, in varying proportions. There’s some sweetness in the throat afterwards, some dryness/astringency in the mouth (but fairly mild, totally fine by me), and some lingering plum breath. There’s more roughness in the back of the throat in later steeps as the intense flavors start to wind down, but it remained solidly enjoyable overall. Which I would never have predicted! I’m honestly not sure why I even tried it again, but I’m so glad that I did.
I think the moral of this story for me is that storage matters even in the short term.
Flavors: Plums, Resin
I just tried a sample of the 2017 version of this tea, and I’ve gotta admit I don’t see what the fuss is about. I started at 200F and found it fairly bland, so I switched to boiling and still all I got was very mild bitter/resinous/sweet (not bad, just too mild for me). No particular energy or body effects or aftertastes or anything.
I dunno. I love a lot of w2t’s shengs, and I don’t wanna be a hater or anything. So many hits from these fine folks, it’s just that this one was a miss for me. (So I guess if anyone wants the rest of my sample, let me know :)
The flavor was mostly tobacco, in a fairly nice way, sweet and almost fruity. A few of the middle steeps got unpleasantly cigarette-ish, but then it recovered and got sweeter and richer again.
Intense tobacco still isn’t really my favorite flavor, but I liked this one anyway because the energy was really nice – I felt energized and floaty, some head pressure, shivery, buzzed. Tingly/almost numb at the edges of the tongue and moving into the cheeks. Comfortably awake and happy.
Starts a little bitter and rather cigarette-smoky. Fades to leather, which lingers. I feel hit by the energy immediately. After a few steeps, the tips of ears are warm and it feels like my eyes are glowing.
Later steeps turned towards apple juice with some leather keeping it interesting. Pins and needles and eventually almost numbness at the sides of my tongue. Fascinating.
Overall, hard to say? I really didn’t like the flavor of the first handful of steeps, but I liked the later steeps a lot, and the energy was strong but comfortable.
Flavors: Apple, Leather, Tobacco
This actually reminded me a lot of white2tea’s 2017 Magic Mountain DNA in that they both felt rich without have any particularly intense identifiable flavors, but bringing very heavy weight body feels instead. I got heaviness in the chest and the neck that was just wonderful.
For the first few steeps of this one, my mouth went cool pretty quickly afterwards, and the coolness traveled somewhat down the throat. I also got that intense ear-popping yawning relaxing energy coming in.
About 6 steeps in, I started getting a stonefruity sweetness building up deep in my throat. That went on for the next 4 steeps or so, really tasty.
At around the 10th steep, the flavor got sort of watery and candy sweet. I did a few rounds of that, but it had lost the weighty body sensation, so I stopped at around 13.
(Oh, and I never really got any astringency or bitterness from this. Other reviews mention both, so I oughta disclose that I experienced neither, in case that’s useful info for someone.)
1st steep: Woodsy, earthy, comforting. Astringent in this steep only.
2nd: The astringency was gone, and it was smooth going forward. Tasted like umeboshi (sour plum) with smooth relaxing deep woodsiness holding it up. I feel dreamy.
3rd-4th: Smooth dirt. Barely tart mostly fruity sweet umeboshi aftertaste sinking down my throat, which turns into a sort of vanilla sweetness after a while.
5th-7th: Smooth sweet dirty cola. Well, maybe a cola / cream soda blend, there’s still a lot of creamy vanilla going on here too. Deep throat sweetness after. And now I feel the air clean and clear through my ears.
8th-10th: Smooth sweet dirt and a touch of vanilla. (It’s funny, I think this tea tastes to me sort of like how other people claim those nannuo mini shrooms taste to them.)
Then it was bedtime, though the tea felt like it still had more to give when I ran out of time. Love this sample, wish it wasn’t $250 for a cake.
Flavors: Earth, Plums, Vanilla
quick rinse, smells nice and fruity
12s/17s: Creamy texture, brief nice vegetal wonderfully refreshing bitterness. Some floral aspect, I think. Hint of pineapple. Heavy warm sweetness lingering in my mouth and down my throat. Ears pop and crackle. Sleepy now.
23s: Still lovely creamy same initial good bitterness, but going maybe a bit beany (in a nice warm savory yums way) towards the end of the sip. The sweetness is a bit fruity after, lingering a nice long time deep in the throat.
30s/35s: That sort of savory hearty beany broth flavor sensation hits earlier now. Very tasty. I’m feeling a little floaty. (But see also paint fumes, exhaustion, and a bit of a cold. So who knows.)
40s/45s: Still pretty beany, but lighter, so it’s become very chuggable and refreshing.
51s/1min/1m10s/1m23s/1m30s: Sweeter and a bit floral again (melding with still some bean brothiness). No more bitterness anymore. Clearly winding down, but in a really enjoyable way.
1m40s: Definitely more wound down now.
Flavors: Beany, Floral, Pineapple
quick rinse, smells uniquely delicious – some gentle wood smoke but mostly luscious charred toasty nuts and burnt sugar and something other unidentifiable wonderful
7s: Bitter. I totally see what they’re saying about grapefruit (yeah, I’ve been primed, but yummmm so whatevs). And some juicy trees and toasty nuts. Strong sweet cool after, no numb or tingle, just like sweet cool ice water on the palate. Delicious. My ears just popped.
12s/18s: The bitter is a little more subdued, a little woodsier, with an immediate tingle on the tongue and hard palate. The aftertaste is cool grapefruit. Sweet saliva over my teeth. Feeling a lot more awake, but not in a jittery way. A heaviness in my neck but my skin feels alive. Pressure between my eyes. Scalp is tingling.
24s: Long delay before this one while I went through piles of paperwork (a task I’ve been dreading). My nose is tingling. The tip of my tongue feels spicy. My torso feels flushed, warmth spreading down my neck and over my chest. Happy citrus bitters in the aftertaste. After I sit and bask a while, my head is pulsing and the back of my neck is sweating, heat spreading down my back.
29s: A bit less delicious at first, the tart overtaking the bitter more than I’d like. But there are shivers racing through the warmth down my back and I don’t care, it’s worth it, it’s worth it.
35s/40s: Flavor more integrated, aftertaste more grapefruity again. That sort of default rich mellow woodsy tea flavor is starting to rise, but still some interesting citrusy bitterness elevating it. I’m started to feel the energy a bit more manic. Sweating further down my back. Wow.
45s: Bitter sorta took over a bit, briefly.
50s/50s: Slightly mellower bitter on the sip, slowly fading out to citrus aftertaste. Not so much body feels anymore.
64s/70s: I’ve been drinking this all day, taking big breaks to do chores. It’s still nice. My nose feels clean and tingly. Only stopping because it’s getting towards bedtime.
(If this were less expensive, I’d definitely buy a cake of it. As is… I’ll probably buy another sample someday and feel sad and yet ecstatic all at the same time while I wibble on whether to splurge.)
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Grapefruit, Nuts