5 Tasting Notes
The first 4 steepings of this tea had a gentle/ pleasant bitterness that almost covered fruity notes of apple and a pleasant mix of sourness and sweetness.
After that the bitternesswas more in the background and the fruity notes came foreward, accompanied by a diffuse flowery taste I didn’t quite catch in the earlier steepings. From the 5th steeping on the dark but subtle flowery taste got the dominant note in the tea and developed into a bouquet of violets, jasmine and lilies.
I like the gentle bitternes in this tea that is quite prevalent in the beginning but in itself still smooth and tasty. Also the flowery notes were a pleasant surprise. I hadn’t encountered such such flavors in a sheng pu-erh yet.
5g Tea in a 75ml Gaiwan, almost boiling water fresh from the stove top
8s rinse, 10, 12, 20, 25, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 45, 50 seconds
Flavors: Apple, Astringent, Bitter, Flowers, Fruity, Jasmine, Pleasantly Sour, Violet
I experimented quite a bit with different temperatures and water to leaf ratios. Higher temperatures (82°C/ 180°F) bring forward the dark and woody side of the tea and kill off the flowery notes, whilst lower temperatures (75°C/ 170°F) make the tea appear more flowery (roses and other flowers) and sweet with just an undertone of darker notes. Personally I prefer lower temperatures and 3g of leaves per 75ml water in a gong fu style session.
This is the first Pai Mu Tan I am reviewing but in comparison to other white teas (silver needle, blends of different white teas) I enjoy the stronger woodsy notes mixed with honey and flowers.
Flavors: Flowers, Honey, Rose, Sweet, Wood
Something about this tea is really comforting to me, like noodle soup on a cold and rainy day. The main taste I am getting is a compilation of old wood, wet earth, coffee, leather and smoke. Below that, there is the tiniest bit of bitterness aswell as sweetness which balances the flavours beautifully. Also I really like the silky mouthfeel of this shou.
The only downside is that the tea doesn’t really develop during the session, so you can get bored fast. But comparing it to the few other shou I have tasted it is quite complex and pleasant (Teavivre ripened aged pu-erh mini tuocha, Teavivre ripened rose pu-erh mini tuocha and Heuschrecke Pu erh-Tee).
Preparation: 2x short rinses, 10/12/10/15/20/30
Flavors: Bitter, Coffee, Decayed Wood, Leather, Smoke, Sweet, Wet Earth
This tea merges nicely sweetness, smokyness and fruity sourness. Not super complex but still good. The fruityness mostly reminds me of dried apples and plums (like the dried friut my grandaunt used to make for us) that goes nicely with the smoke.
Just the drying mouthfeel in the first 2 steepings was a bit offputting but from the 3rd on cup it was gone or rather soft and velvety. Also the smokyness comes more foreward und balances the strong sweetness from the beginning.
2 short rinses to open up the leaves. Steepings: 10/ 10/ 15/ 20/ 25/ 25 (still going)
This way it was not bitter at all.
With another sample I did the following session: 1 rinse/ 25/ 20/ 20/ 30/ 30/ 50/ 50/ 60
That way I extracted much more bitterness and mineraly notes that merged in the 4th steeping into a flowery darkness. But with shorter rinses I enjoyed the tea way more and also longer.
From my beginner’s perspective this tea tastes quite similar to Teavivres 2006 Fenqing Raw Puerh Tuocha and also a bit like their Fenqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw Pu-erh Cake from 2012 (although that seems to be more bitter and spicy). I have to do a more in-depth taste test with these three teas!
Flavors: Apple, Plums, Smoke, Sour, Sweet
This was the first time experiencing the moonlight dragon ball from Teavivre and I really loved it! As a sprouting tea nerd I was intimidated by the dragon ball (I really didn’t know how to handle this thing with my little gaiwan but didn’t mess up my precious sample) but I got some wonderful results:
First, I gave the tea two rinses (10 sec each) to open up the leaves a bit: the rinses didn’t do much to the consistency of the ball but released the most beautiful, strong and honey-like sweetness that made me really excited for the session.
I decided to go with a bigger teapot and 300ml of water for one ball of tea. Experimenting with steeping time and temperature and settled with 3-4 minutes and about 90-95°C water temperature (cooler water around 75°C did taste watered down). The first 4 steeps were 3 minutes long, after that I decided to go with 4 minutes per steep. Longer than that got too bitter for my taste. After the first steep being very light, like water with a bit of honey, the flavour really opened up in the 2nd and 3rd steep and from the 4th steep on getting woodier. Overall I got 9 solid steeps out of it.
My best description is euphoric honey water that heart- and body-warmingly ran down my throat like sweet nectar. It also has hints of dates and almond milk. From the 2nd steep on you can taste a hint of the darker notes to come. It stayed strongly sweet until steep no. 7 (after that the ball was fully disintegrated) But the taste grew a lot darker, a bit calmer (less euphoric), more like honeydew honey, and woodier, like a forrest (it also reminds me of some kind of black tea). It also got a tiny bit bitter and astringent (but in a pleasant way). From the 8th steep on the aroma didn’t change much anymore.
I really enjoyed this complex evolution of the aroma and figure it to be an effect of the tightly pressed ball shape that releases fresh, dry leaves for many steepings. At least I’ve haven’t had a white tea before that changed so much in one session. On the other hand I am a beginner without great experience in gong fu style brewing or many solid tastings under my belt.
At least with my method (300ml per steep, almost 3 liters of tea overall) the ball size is a bit big for just one person – unless you want to drink big cups of tea all day long. But I can’t wait to prove this to be the perfect party tea! I have a couple of friends who like to enjoy a taste from my little tea collection when they visit. Until now I always was conflicted between sharing my most delicious tea experiences with them (using a small brewing vessel, gong fu style in my gaiwan, many steepings and different teas after one another) and serving 3 to 5 people said tea without getting stressed out (short brewing times, a lot of steepings and teas, spilling hot water over a busy dinner table due to my beginner gaiwan skills, etc.). With longer steeping times, more tea to serve in one batch and a tea that thrives under said conditions (heavenly taste, changing greatly throughout the session plus evoking a bit of tea drunkenness) I am equipped for the next dinner party! So far they’ve loved all of my white teas; this will be a great surprise for them!
Flavors: Almond, Dates, Honey, Honey Dew, Maple Syrup, Rose, Wood