I bought this cake blind recently and this is my first tasting of it. I feel like meeting a new person. Hope it’s a good one :)
Starting from the aroma, the dry leaves don’t have a strong one, but the wet leaves display a range of forest aromas. There’s oyster mushrooms, lichen and other forest-like and vegetal smells. The smell becomes a little different throughout the session. I also picked up notes of oats/porridge and cookies later on.
The rinse is probably one of the most flavourful ones I have experienced in a sheng. There is a lot of sweetness and umami, which gives the wash a green tea like character. Some woody notes are present too. I am now really excited for what the tea has to offer :D
The first infusion is already a proper one. There is no astringency of note and the bitterness is weak too. However, the overall flavour is super strong. It is surprisingly tart and almost fruity. I cannot associate it with any particular fruit though, it just has that kind of character. The concrete associations are more in the vegetal realm – pickled cucumber, grass (not hay, which is more common in sheng) and others. Second steep has some astringency and bitterness appearing, a progression that is nice to see. The taste is more mineral now and by the third steep becomes quite earthy, but not like wet earth or peat. Aftertaste is long and fragrant, now with some tingling and slightly drying sensation in the throat.
The first few infusions had a medium viscosity, but the mouthfeel is interesting. It feels as if the liquor was dissolving in the mouth, if that makes any sense.
Fourth and fifth infusion are similar to the third, but due to the high complexity I always find something new. There is a peppery note in the former, while the latter has a very heavy sweetness I would associate with a stout. The sweetness lasts for a very long time in the aftertaste, but slowly transforms as well. It reminds me of the sweetness of red grapes and milk.
The flavour remains strong and interesting in the later steeps too, the tea doesn’t seem to get flat taste profile until very late. The eighth infusion sees the onset of quite a bitey astringency and in the ninth one I notice a nice coffee like bitterness. Neither the astringency nor the bitterness persist for too long in the aftertaste though, which is still mostly on the sweet and spicy side with an alcohol character.
Overall, I would say the Guardian is a very flavourful and complex tea with an enduring sweetness and no obvious flaws. The price went up recently, but it’s still a great value. Check it out!
Flavors: Alcohol, Coffee, Cookie, Cucumber, Drying, Earth, Forest Floor, Fruity, Grapes, Grass, Milk, Mineral, Moss, Mushrooms, Oats, Pepper, Spicy, Sweet, Tart, Umami, Vegetal, Vinegar, Wood