Part of a sample pack I put together of their 2013 Longjing offerings, including Shi Feng, Dafo Village, Meijiawu Village and Weng-jia Shan teas. I’m really trying to school myself as to the differences in Longjings and Tea Trekker offers a great opportunity to compare. At roughly $60 total for 14 grams of each tea, that comes out to about $2 a steeping session. Not too shabby I figure, but certainly not cheap.
The first tea I’m trying from Tea Trekker is this Shi Feng. After sampling Mrs. Li’s Shi Feng from Verdant Tea, a variety of offerings from Teavivre, and some local offerings at Wing Hop Fung and Ten Ren in Los Angeles, I’m starting to think I may be more of a fan of Shi Feng Longjing. Aesthetically I really appreciate the wonderful look of Da Fo, but prefer what I’ve found to be the bolder taste statement that Shi Feng appears to make.
I’m far from proficient at really understanding the differences between Longjings, but I’m learning through all this experimenting. So please excuse errors I make or observations that may be incorrect. And PLEASE, feel free to share your thoughts and any information you may have that can help me broaden my knowledge. I really like Longjing tea and enjoy the flavor profile, brewing process and overall effect it has.
My initial notes may be somewhat superficial as I settle in to this tea, and I anticipate adding additional notes or comments with further brewing sessions as character is revealed. Also, as I did with my Teavivire 2013 Longjing tasting notes, I expect any notes I write on the 2013 Tea Trekker offerings will read much like a continued dialogue. So if you are interested in this comparison of teas, I’d recommend looking at any notes I write on Tea Trekker’s 2013 Longjings.
Using about 4-5g tea, I brewed tall glass method in my 10oz dbl wall glass tumbler, decanting to my Finum, leaving enough of a root to keep the tea leaves covered. This is my standard approach and tends to yield consistent results for me. I steeped a total of 5 times, 1st about 1 min, 2nd about 30 secs, 3rd about another minute to minute and a half, and the fourth I let sit quite a while, alternating between drinking directly from the tumbler and decanting. I drained the tumbler forgoing the root. The 5th steep I reheated my water and just did what I could to extract at a higher temp any flavor that might be left.
Overall impressions were consistent with what I like about Shi Feng; bolder flavors, toasty, with some astringency, followed by wonderful dry mouthfeel with a lingering sweetness. The astringency was bit stronger than I prefer with its initial hit, but it also is what lended this tea the aftertaste that I really appreciated. So I’m a bit torn with that observation and wonder if it could be resolved by experimenting with combinations of different brewing times and quantity of leaf. Though, that’s what I would call a “less forgiving tea.” A tea that can take my inconsistencies, slight variations on timing and water temps, different brewing vessels depending on what I’ve got going on, is an attractive trait and something I seek out.
Overall this tea took me on a bit of a journey that changed from steep to steep and was equally rewarding, and also quite unique each time. I’d say the 5th steep was lost on me, a bit tapped out. Perhaps the heat of the water was too high, though it still had a lovely color and some astringency left over, otherwise it was left somewhat hollow. Surprisingly though I did find some sweet aftertaste notes still playing over my tongue even at this stage.
A lovely honey colored brew, I was satisfied with this tea. It did hit me initially with that “juicy” description that Tea Trekker talks about, but the stronger tannic astringency was competitive, and took me out of it a bit. They talk about “yeasty,” and I’ll have to think about that a bit. I use to be a baker at an organic bakery in Montclair, NJ back in the day. I’m trying to place that “yeasty” descriptor. Maybe it’s akin to the “chestnut” people often think of with Longjing. I get that here. Less forthright, but present. Again, I’m taken back to this astringency. I feel weak-sauce using that term over and over, but as I nurse the 5th steep it keeps reminding me of it, though rather weak now.
I look forward to giving this another try and will update this note accordingly! FYI- My time and temp reflects the first steep.
As a side note, I’m not a fan of Tea Trekkers packaging. They use what appear to be mylar baggies that are heat sealed at the end. Basically they look like clear versions of small paper sandwich bags. Though I appreciate being able to see the leaf, I don’t think these bags do a great job of protecting the leaf. The plastic being rather fragile, I question the seal that is made and I also found that it tore once opened, making it useless. Sure, you probably want to move your tea to another container for storage, but not all of us have that luxury, so reusable bags are helpful. Otherwise shipping was reasonable, quick and the samples were boxed well.