Having sampled the 2017 vintage of this tea, I had my first session with this new cake in my collection today. I actually also have the 2014 version as a sample, so I plan to do some side by side comparisons soon. I am a bit surprised that even though I’ve had the 2017 harvest only twice and quite a long time ago, this tea is so unique that I might have been able to connect the two even through a blind tasting.
I used the leaves that broke off the cake, which came to 9g in the end. In hindsight I should have reduced that given also the large amount of broken leaves. Even with flash brews, 1g/10ml makes for some intense tea.
The uniqueness of Qing Mei Shan is definitely noticeable in its aromas. Dry leaves smell of candies and marshmallow. It is a very sweet smell, but mellow and subtle at the same time, not overpoweringly sweet or artificial. In the wet leaves, I can detect aromas of bubblegum, leather, swamp vegetation, clover/thyme flowers, cinnamon, medicinal notes, and baked bread. I am not sure if it’s just the power of suggestion, but I can smell some rapeseed flowers in the empty cup here too, like I mentioned in my note for the 2017 version.
The taste is crisp and fairly well balanced, although very pungent when brewed like this. It is mostly vegetal overall with notable woody flavour, good bitterness and an emergent grain-like sweetness. There are notes of spices like cinnamon, a sour finish reminiscent of plant stems and a sort of briny character that reminds me of fish. Furthermore, fleeting notes of butter, thistles, and peach skin cropped up throughout the session.
The aftertaste is very fragrant and quite dry, biting, and tannic. It has notes of swamp, ginger and lavender. The sweetness takes a while to arrive and thus allows for more complexity to arise. Nevertheless, there is also a persistent bitterness in the aftertaste.
Mouthfeel is buttery, coating, and astringent, not the most interesting aspect to be honest. I got a decent cooling sensation in the body from this tea, but other wise the cha qi is not particularly strong either.
Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Biting, Bitter, Broth, Butter, Candy, Cinnamon, Drying, Fish Broth, Flowers, Ginger, Grain, Lavender, Leather, Marshmallow, Mud, Peach, Plant Stems, Sour, Sweet, Tannic, Thyme, Vegetal, Wood