I tried the 2013 autumn version of this tea and was highly impressed. I think that’s a good indication of where this spring tea is headed. Without even opening the plastic seal of this cake I was met with a pungent aroma of well-ripened apricots. I was very excited to try this cake, but my experience tells me that waiting a day or so improves the flavor of any recently acquired tea that’s just been opened. Actually, with sheng pu’er, a couple of weeks is even better.
I mentioned in my last note for the 2013 version the importance of water quality. Since I’m brewing this at my parents’ house, I know their water differs based on having brewed the same teas with the same brewing vessels both here and at my place. I’m boiling water with special rocks I brought back from China called maifanshi (麦饭石) which I’ve been using for many years. Obviously, a Brita or Pur water filter works just fine. In fact, the rocks aren’t totally necessary, but they definitely make your water taste like natural spring water and bring out the natural sweetness and aroma from the tea.
Back to this tea: I’ve placed the dried leaves in a porcelain gaiwan. The leaves are well intact and the brewed leaves maintain that apricot aroma, albeit less pungent and accompanied by sweet flowery fragrances. Tea soup has a vibrant gold hue. The first steep (that I brewed too quickly) is very pure and has a simple sweetness, but wonderfully buttery texture and aftertaste that only get sweeter as it lingers in the mouth (huigan).
The second and third infusions are very clean, have more pronounced flavor notes of ripe apricot, sugar cane, and flowers, while accompanied by that smooth buttery mouth feel and extended huigan. That wonderful mouth feel and strong yet gentle aftertaste is what brought me back to this tea. I tend to prefer sharp spring flavors to mellow sweetness, but this one is an exception.
On the sixth and seventh steeps, the apricot sweetness is replaced by more flowery notes and a refreshing astringency that’s expected with new tea. The pure taste and powerful huigan are consistent, but the huigan has intensified and is very enjoyable. I plan to return to this tea next year.
This tea just keeps getting sweeter and fuller in the mouth. I’m not sure why teadb rated the Qing Mei Shan as underwhelming. It’s my one of my favorites from Scott’s 2015 line. This is a perfect example of how subjective tea tasting can be.