215 Tasting Notes
I recently ordered three shengs and one shu from Liquid Proust, and the first I cracked, the 2006 Mengku Qiao Mu Wang, was amazing. Subsequently, my next two teas were total duds. This is one of them.
Old, dried leaf and some ruby fruits. Flavors have distant sweetness, distant fruits, some woodiness, a heavier than desired sourness and some moderate, bland astringency. What is here? This is very empty and hollow. Also throws some throat scratchiness. Almost no wet leaf aroma. Long, long, long returning sweetness. Takes a while and doesn’t give much. The redeeming factor of this tea is the wonderful calming qi.
Like yesterday’s sampling of the 2005 Yang Qing Hao Yiwu Chawang, this tastes like it has suffered through dry storage and is so unremarkable for the price that I’m suspicious that it is in fact authentic.
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Red Fruits, Stems
Sample from Liquid Proust. Moderate composted leaf litter and dampness on a stone aroma. Initial sweetness and light thickness in the first few steeps, but it doesn’t seem very distinct, maybe a hint of distant smoke, a cursory lick of light acidity. Needs to be pushed and hollows out very quickly. It’s one of the first shengs that tastes a little bit like modern shu, with some of the zookplantoniferous “wo dui” in a few places. Woody is probably the only shining quality here. This is what I think happens when you store mediocre sheng for 13 years and what I fear will become of all my teas in a dry climate, plainly woody and hollow. I feel that perhaps this sample may not have been stored well for some chunk of its life.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Drying, Wood
Sample. Absent aroma and minimal up front flavor. Yiwu sweet thickness present in the first two steeps, but then empties into Bulang bitterness and astringency (I get more Bulang character out of this one than I do with the ’14 CL Bulang Shan Tribute Tea). Really moderate throughout. Fast, bubbling energy to it.
Flavors: Grain, Mint, Sugar
Sample. Light aged aroma, bits of earth, basement, and older leaf. Cloudy first few pours. This is highly astringent, paired with some throat scratchiness. Medicinal is a good way to characterize this tea. However, I feel like it takes forever to wash down to the characteristic Bulang qualities I look for, the camphor, menthol and clean balancing bitterness. This is a bit rough on the edges. The theanine content is highly and pleasantly brain dampening. Overall, though, it seems to have gone through some advanced aging, only being 3-4 years old…perhaps the maocha sat around a bit before being pressed? Time may really help this tea, but it’s a little awkward right now.
Flavors: Ash, Bark, Medicinal, Plants
Drank through a full sample in most settings and really came to enjoy this tea. It’s subtle and a bit quiet, but productive and yields nice things. Dry and wet leaf aromas a light, floral, and fragrant. The body is reasonably thick and balanced with a cooling mintiness, balanced by some green bitterness and a bit of moderate astrigency, giving it a rounded quality. The huigan takes awhile to kick in. Nicely calming on the whole.
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Mint, Plant Stems
Have sampled this tea twice now. The most enduring quality of this tea is certainly the pleasant, dampening buzz, it must have a high amount of theanine. The aromas and flavors are a little more confused and muddled, but overall it’s a thick-bodied tea with lots of strength. Rinsed leaves smell potent and the first few steeps give graininess, phytochemicals, and minerals. Moderate astringency and bitterness. I see this tea having good aging potential. I’d give it a higher score if the soup was a bit sweeter and if the flavor profile was more distinct.
Flavors: Grain, Grass, Hay, Rye
Distinct yellow tea notes in dry and wet leaf. First steep is blazing yellow and has that unfinished raw greenness of yellow tea in the first steep. Distinct astringency and freshness present this as a quite nice yellow tea, but a long ways from being puer. Lacking bitterness, but has a bit of returning sweetness. This tea really feels like improperly processed leaf, with too much kill-green or too much drying. Clean, delicious yellow tea.
Flavors: Butter, Grass
Dry leaf aromas of black tea and light flowers. Wet leaf more muted, sunshine and damp softwood. Moderately thick, focused heavily on grainy wheat flavors, paired with muted astringency and absent balancing bitterness. Distantly, some light returning sweetness. Most disappointing is that this tea emptied out by the third steep at 10s! Clean and fragrant, but hollow and tepid.
Flavors: Black Currant, Flowers, Wheat
As of now, this tea is wretchedly terrible. Sure it was $8, but either the cake or the maocha was stored improperly. I haven’t given up on it yet, as I’m hoping the burnt-tire, rotting vegetable material scent and flavor will dissipate with time. But this cake may be heading for the compost pile in the future.
I’ve drank this tea a fair amount lately and I have to stop and ask myself why. I think because this tea is kind of a throw away. It’s not bad, it’s not great and it was cheap. The maocha was obviously heavily cleaned and maybe processed a little stiffly. There’s an odd papery sensation to the whole tea and I think for now, I’ll stop drinking it and see what becomes of it in 10 years.