I am finally beginning to work my way through some of the What-Cha samples I have been holding on to for a while (read that as I’m drinking a few teas I forgot I had). This unique green tea was today’s selection. I found it to be pleasant and intriguing, but it also was not quite what I expected it to be.
What-Cha described this tea as possessing a “vegetal taste with sheng qualities.” I found that to be sort of true in the sense that the tea demonstrated a consistent underlying saltiness and sour funk. I would emphasize, however, that there was much more to this tea than that.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a short rinse, I steeped approximately 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This initial infusion was followed by 12 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, aromas of carrot, sweet corn, cream, grass, hay, elderflower, millet, and sorghum expressed themselves on the nose. After the rinse, traces of wood, briny funk, smoke, and sea salt began to emerge. The first infusion produced a nearly identical bouquet with slightly more salt and funk. In the mouth, I experienced a rush of carrot, millet, sorghum, sweet corn, wood, malt, cream, grass, hay, and elderflower notes underscored by brine, smoke, sea salt, and a hint of nuttiness. Subsequent infusions grew more intense, offering up forceful impressions of beech nut, chestnut, lemon, and at various points, kumquat and/or bergamot. The later infusions saw a mellow and comparatively restrained mineral presence merge with lingering impressions of sweet corn, hay, grass, wood, brine, smoke, and sea salt, while hints of vegetables, nuts, sorghum, and a touch of tart citrus remained in the background. The way the sweet corn, wood, brine, and smoke notes lingered on my palate reminded me a bit of a sour mash.
This was an extremely complex, deep, and interesting tea. Fortunately, it was not so busy as to be overwhelming or cumbersome. Like quite a few Vietnamese green teas, it displayed a pungency and astringency that some people may find off-putting, but to be honest, it did not bother me all that much. Those qualities could probably be mitigated by using slightly less leaf anyway. Definitely check this one out if and when What-Cha manages to bring it back, but just be aware that it is more likely to remind you of a high quality Yunnan green rather than a young sheng.
Flavors: Astringent, Bergamot, Carrot, Chestnut, Corn Husk, Cream, Floral, Grain, Grass, Hay, Lemon, Malt, Marine, Mineral, Salt, Smoke, Wood