Long time followers (if I have any) will know that I am probably the only serious pu-head out there who is rabidly excited about shou, and really just not interested in the rabbit hole that is sheng — mostly because everyone I’ve ever known who got seriously into sheng eventually stopped drinking any other varieties except sheng but rarely. That aside, I am excited to see Verdant finally solidifying their partnership with Xingyang and being able to offer some “serious” pu-erh options after what has felt like a long drought.

I’m doing my first serious, formal cupping in a long time, the tea deserves it, so forgive me if it isn’t pro quality.

The sample came as pieces broken from a cake, and from what I can tell, it was pressed extremely hard. One long rinse and two steeps before the bigger pieces fully opened.

The dry leaf has a clean, gentle, pine & camphor aroma.

The wet leaf catches you by surprise as much stronger and sharper even after just a rinse.

The first cup is hay colored, the second is golden rod, the third & fourth — honey.

The liqueur becomes more intense along with the color, of course, although even by the fourth steeping not much has changed in terms of the notes that are present — the balance between them shifting somewhat.

Primary is, of course, the sharp, pine & camphor notes ubiquitous to all sheng. There is an abrupt astringency which dries the front of the mouth quickly after the swallow. Nothing floral or fruity at this stage. However by the fourth steep the sharpness softens. What is emerging from behind it has not completely revealed itself to me, yet.

Steep five is almost the color of a candied orange slice, but not that dark. Emerging now with sandalwood, clove (in the nature of the astringent action in the mouth), and beginning to peek out from way in the back is that spikey punch of flower you get from slightly over steeped jasmine — unpleasant in a delicate white tea, but apt here.

Steep six and I’m still seeing a lot of sediment, although I don’t know if that is from the sample portions being broken up rapidly or if it is the nature of this brick to be so.

Softer altogether now, and so it may be that #5 was the turn. Intensely drying mineral notes here, wet slate, river rock, bonsai soil… forget hui gan this tea is all about throat closing dryness. And yes, I realize I just described an intensely drying cup of tea with all wet metaphors, find me a cup of tea that tastes like dry rock or arid soil. ;-)

Yes, getting into seven I can see this tea has a lot left to give, but there will perhaps be little of surprise left to discuss, so I will end things here.

Certainly a reminder to me of why sheng is good, but also a reminder to me of why sheng is a rabbit hole I don’t want to get lost down. :)

Flavors: Camphor, Clove, Jasmine, Loam, Pine, Wet Rocks, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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