Planet Jingmai from Crimson Lotus is the down sleeping bag of teas. There is a lot of material compressed into this little orb of raw pu erh. After the first rinse, the tea has floral and hay scents. It takes a little work to get this ball to open, so for the second rinse, I poured just off the boil water from high. This helped open the ball. You can watch air bubbles rising as the water penetrates the tightly packed leaves, and the dark little orb begins to turn green and open. After two rinses of about 30 seconds each, I no longer detect the hay scent. Now, it’s floral and vegetal. The first infusion after the rinses is done for 10 seconds. The liquor is pale. The first sip is sweet followed by just a touch of woody tannin bitter, but proper bitter. The second infusion, I let it go to 30 seconds when I was momentarily distracted. The leaves are opening up nicely. They now are at the half-way mark on a 150ml gaiwan. This was a bit too long of a steep for me, but if you are looking for a punchy bitter sheng, 30 seconds will give it to you. Third infusion, I try 15 seconds. Sweet honey immediately followed by bitter and now astringent toward the front of my mouth. Fourth infusion, and that first sip is sweet again. It is the sweetest it has been, and as long as the tea remains in the mouth, it remains sweet, but as soon as it is swallowed, the bitter notes begin to appear, and soon after the mouth begins to dry. It certainly has a nice push and pull balance to the tea. Fifth infusion, keeping it at 15s, and this is nice. Still that hit of sweetness on the first sip, honey and apricot, still a bit of wet wood, but this infusion remains wet, creamy, and smooth in the mouth. A touch of bitterness is still on the finish, but almost no astringency. Interesting. Others described smokiness. I get no smokiness in my Planet Jingmai, not even a trace. I’m doing this on a practically empty stomach, first thing in the morning. I had a small cookie before this session. I feel relaxed, calm, but I tend to remain calm even in extremely trying situations, so maybe it is more my personality than the tea. I took the temperature down a bit and did a longer steep of 25 seconds. Sweetness is still there but has faded. Bitterness is more immediate. Smelling the leaves in the gaiwan, they are still floral, but it doesn’t come through in the liquor now. I’ll keep going, but I suspect this tea will remain about the same as it is now through additional infusions. Now in my 8th or 9th infusion—I lost count—the sweetness has continued to fade and more vegetal comes through. I detected no mustiness or earthiness with this sample. I will order a couple more of these to see how they will age. I enjoyed this and would recommend it. For those wanting to try a raw pu erh for the first time, it’s a convenient way to try it, and not overwhelming.
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Floral, Hay, Honey, Sweet, Wet Wood