I’m finally cleaning out the backlog with this one. I started working on a sample packet of this about a month or so ago and finally logged a proper review session at the start of the weekend. I was a little surprised by how much I enjoyed this extremely affordable maocha.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. I think Tealyra has changed their brewing parameters for this one over the course of the last year. They used to recommend brewing at 190 F and starting off with 10 second steeps. Now they recommend brewing at 205 F. I used the latter temperature for this session. I also started with a steep time of 5 seconds, as I like to start off with shorter steeps for shengs. So, my first infusion after the rinse was 6 grams of loose tea in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. I then conducted 13 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 5 seconds, 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 8 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves emitted a musty, smoky, and somewhat vegetal aroma. After the rinse, I picked up strong aromas of seaweed, raw mushrooms, roasted vegetables, sea salt, forest floor, and black cherry. The first infusion produced a similar, perhaps slightly fruitier, earthier aroma with just a hint of petrichor. In the mouth, I easily detected notes of raw mushroom, moist earth, wet stones, black cherry, sea salt, pickled seaweed, and roasted vegetables. There was also just a hint of wildflower honey and petrichor, as well as a subtle impression of wet wood. Subsequent infusions gradually grew fruitier and more honeyed on the nose and in the mouth. The flavors of wildflower honey and black cherry became stronger and were joined by distinct impressions of lemon zest and bitter orange peel. Later infusions downplayed the fruit and honey a tad and began to once again emphasize the raw mushroom, forest floor, roasted vegetable, pickled seaweed, and moist earth notes, although honey and citrus continued to be a balancing factor. The mineral aroma and flavor of wet stones began to amplify, as did the impression of wet wood. I also began to pick up on a note of birch bark in place of the black cherry. The final extended series of infusions were mostly stone, wood, sea salt, and roasted vegetable heavy, though I could still just barely detect impressions of citrus, wildflower honey, raw mushroom, and birch bark.
I have not been reviewing many pu’erh teas lately, and I am still quite new to reviewing pu’erh in general, but I rather liked this tea. Given the price, I was not expecting much, but this had more staying power and considerably more complexity than I was expecting. Though my experience in evaluating these teas is limited compared to a number of other reviewers, I do not feel that this would be a bad everyday sheng, and I think that if one were to approach it with an open mind, one would perhaps be pleasantly surprised.
Flavors: Bark, Cherry, Earth, Forest Floor, Honey, Lemon Zest, Mushrooms, Musty, Orange, Petrichor, Roasted, Salt, Seaweed, Vegetables, Wet Rocks, Wet Wood