I’m sampling this tea because I’m considering to stock it as a birth year tea. The fact that it took me 2 years to start sampling is telling.
Never had such a young Sheng before. Also never had this kind of quality, unless maybe from wet storage (not my favourite).
At first smell it seemed to be no different from a middle aged factory Pu. From its age I would have expected to encounter quite a bit of bitter, maybe similar to a green tea.
Instead, I am getting a pretty mild brew, with less bitter tones than many an aged factory sheng. The main flavour is mushroom, which I would normally consider not enough to go by, but it sits on a wider palette here. The initial steeping, as well as the leaves after early brews, have a dark green association to them, like extra vergine olive oil, which manages to give some plant context to all the more familiar ‘adult’ flavours of a sheng. (Which I would simply summarize as tobacco and musty bitterness.)
Later steepings and leaves are less subtle, and more musty bitter. And then milder again. This is a contrast with the factory shengs I’ve known — they seem to have no end to the musty bitterness.
(Initially I thought this wasn’t much of a quality, and recently I’ve learned that indeed it is not: the younger plantation teas used for these cakes tend to be unsubtly bitter. But now I’m thinking,:will that still transform into something else with very old age?)
Next time around I put it in clay to have it tell me more of its story. (It seems to compensate well for my local tap water.)
The other birth year sample I have yet to taste is the Big Snow Mountain. In hindsight I could have had more different samples: more expensive ones (as the hobby has stuck now) but also cheaper ones that came out later in the year. The downside is that then there suddenly is way too much to choose from. But yeah, maybe time for a next order :)
Recommending because it’s pretty OK. But not stocking up on it yet because it doesn’t enchant me yet. On to the Big Snow Mountain!
Flavors: Mushrooms, Olive Oil