15 Tasting Notes
A really nice black tea in an unusual, very pleasant style. Some of their teas are on the sweeter, fruitier side and this version was like that. Initially it tasted more like fruit in the range of peach than last year’s, which had included more citrus, which transitioned later to a creamy range that reminded me a lot of butterscotch. Some of the flavor range is common to other black teas, a very mild form of malt, and some underlying mineral, but it’s a lighter, sweeter, more refined form of tea than most black tea versions. Other above average unsmoked Lapsang Souchong versions I’ve tried usually taste more like a mild malt, maybe with some sweetness and complexity, but typically not the same level of fruit and overall range as this one. That pretty much covers it but there is more detail here:
This is one of the more interesting and unusual shou’s I’ve yet to try, but then it is a huang pian version from a well regarded area. The flavor range was really subtle as shou goes. It would be possible to bump that by increasing infusion time but I liked it prepared in a typical strength, and it already had the most thickness and aftertaste of any shou I’ve yet to try prepared that way. Most of the flavor range is typical of shou, earthiness, underlying mineral, range that could be interpreted as dark wood or roasted chestnut, with one exception. An aromatic spice aspect that wasn’t completely familiar stood out, maybe sandalwood? That evolved towards an autumn leaf aspect in later rounds. I have no idea how this tea would change related to aging since usually strong flavors interpreted as fermentation related tastes that will settle are regarded as showing aging potential in shou, and this version is already on the subtle side while young. More in comparison review and more photos here:
Flavor aspect range includes a bit of petroleum or tar in the early going that transitions to roasted coffee, spice, and Guiness stout range creaminess after 2 or 3 infusions. Base for those more forward flavors includes mineral (along the lines of slate) and underlying dark wood tones. The tea is nice, but it might take a shou drinker to appreciate it. The thickness of feel is medium, substantial but not unusually so. Based on past experience with shou aging this tea might mature really well if those aspects clean up and settle into a slightly different form of complexity over the next two or three years. It doesn’t come across as murky or off, the effect as is now is clean enough, so I instead mean that the aspect set seems to enable transition to further creaminess and depth, possibly by picking up more spice range. More description, comparison review, and photos here:
A basic, sweet, clean flavored and mild shou. Complexity could be better but the flavors that are present are nice enough, earthy (of course) dark-wood tones over a mineral base with subtle transitioning traces of fruit, cocoa, and spice beyond that. The aspects are nice, for what is there, but overall intensity is a bit subdued. For someone looking for a mild, sweet, lighter shou it might be just the thing but more pronounced spice or earthy range might suit some, and this might lose intensity over time rather than improve character for being a bit mild now.
I bought a 2016 Taetea Menghai “Golden Fruit” shou version last year that this reminds me of. That “Golden Fruit” version seemed well received in online discussion because some people are on this page. For value it seems good, for relatively inexpensive and clean flavored shou. More comparison review with other versions and photos here:
A nice version of this type. It does taste like almonds, but also with floral aspects underlying that, and an initial peach-like fruit transitioning to a general creaminess and liqueur-like effect later on. Astringency is minimal, just enough to add to fullness of feel. Aftertaste (long finish) and pronounced aroma stand out most. Good sweetness and balance indicate the level of roast worked out well, perhaps medium for Dan Cong, light related to other roasted tea styles. More review details and photos here:
I’ve had this tea for a couple of years and have reviewed it before but not here, so since I just re-reviewed it I’ll add some notes (it’s still being sold, but of course the price goes up as years go by). I think it might be picking up some more fruit and overall complexity since I’ve first tried it. I live in Bangkok so it’s being stored in a relatively warm and humid environment; I suppose that should be a good thing.
This tea starts out with aspects close to dark wood and spice, and moves into really pronounced dried fruit, with lots of prune on the second infusion, shifting into more balanced and broader range dried fruits on the next round. After that earthiness picks up for balance, maybe a touch of tobacco. The body is fine, not as structured as it might be, but with some depth to the feel, and decent aftertaste. It brews a large number of positive infusions, transitioning less after those first few rounds, settling into a balanced version of the same aspects. More details and pictures follow, along with comparison with another 2006 Thai HTC version:
A bit tart, with good balance and complexity. Flavors include dried fruit, warm mineral undertone, and earthy range that’s somewhere along the lines of pipe tobacco. I like the tea even though I usually don’t care for tartness in black teas. Dian Hong often include more cocoa and roasted yam or sweet potato flavor range but this one is different. I suppose that dried fruit and earthiness could also be interpreted as not so far off sun-dried tomato. I suspect this tea might be even better in another year since sun-dried blacks do tend to pick up a bit more complexity with a little age. It’s good tea, not great, but per my preferences good and also interesting in style, with nice depth and complexity and a decently full feel. Even for Dian Hong it can brew a lot of infusions, very nice brewed lightly (it probably wouldn’t do nearly as well made Western style), producing lots of consistent and pleasant infusions.
I bought this tea in St. Petersburg over New Years and it’s coming up on a year old now, I suppose potentially transitioning a little. The main flavors are plum and white grape, with a lot of sweetness and just a touch of bitterness, but not bitter in the same sense a lot of sheng are, nothing like aspirin. It’s more that slight edge that one might experience from tasting a tree bud (hard to think of foods like that; maybe like an unripe peach, but different in taste). If anything this tea might be too sweet and mellow for some sheng enthusiasts, leading me to wonder if it’s really going to improve or if this isn’t the kind of tea you should drink within the first year or two. At any rate I really like it as it is, and it seemed a pretty good value for pricing that seemed moderate to me. A more comprehensive review is here:
This is as good a version of this oolong type as I’ve tried, with intense peach, lychee, and floral flavors, a thick mouthfeel, and a pronounced aftertaste effect. There’s minimal astringency, not really any astringency in the typical sense, not even much in the way of that unripe fruit effect Dan Cong sometimes have, just enough of that particular mouthfeel effect to give it some structure. Usually this version of Dan Cong can exhibit great flavors but it’s nice that this one is more complex in other regards as well. I wrote a long version of that in this post: http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.com/2018/05/wuyi-origin-old-bush-mi-lan-xiang-dan.html
It seemed like a nice version of shou, especially for the price (listing at $22 by Yunnan Sourcing now). As far as aspects go it was clean flavored, somewhat complex, reasonably full in feel, and well balanced. Flavors were on the rich side, but not earthy, so the overall effect was a bit light. To me it seemed to include molasses like sweetness with some degree of fruit, probably in the range of fig, dried persimmon or dried tamarind, maybe not peach so much, transitioning to include some spice tones. Without negative aspects of any kind to work around, astringency, of course, or pronounced earthy flavors, it works well brewed at a range of infusion strengths. As far as limitations go it could’ve been a little more complex, but I guess it might fill in a bit with more time. I don’t drink that much shou so it’s hard to place it on a scale but it’s the third relatively inexpensive version I’ve bought this year and the best of those.