Received a sample of this in Liquid Proust’s 2017 Sheng Olympiad. This is my second session with this tea as I had a generous 12g sample bag. I enjoyed my previous session with this tea and remember thinking that it definitely stands above the other Bang Dong samples in the package. Dry leaf has a typical young sheng clean apricot and grassy smell. Thrown into a dry, hot gaiwan, the aroma is similar, but more pronounced and fuller.
The color of the rinse is a pale yellow trending towards orange, not unexpected for the age of this tea. The gaiwan lid smells of spiced apricot, a bit more nuanced than the younger shengs I typically drink in the $.10-$.15/g price range.
The first steep brews up about the same as the rinse, perhaps a little darker. There’s a bit of cloudiness in the liquor. The taste is very soft and mellow with a pleasant lingering apricot aftertaste in the back of the mouth.
Steep number two is darker still and I can tell I’m getting close to reaching the juicy center of this tea. The fruity sweet taste is still there, but it’s now joined by a creamy vegetal note and increasing thickness. The vegetal flavor is, to me, reminiscent of white2tea’s Poundcake.
I let the third steep go on a little longer to see what happens when I push this tea a bit. It’s still sweet and getting thicker, but a pleasant bitterness has appeared.
By the fourth steep, the cloudiness has cleared up almost completely. The sweet creamy vegetable taste begins to overtake the apricot up front but the apricot is as present as ever in the aftertaste. This is, in my opinion, a rather dynamic tea. It’s something I look for as it adds interest to a session.
The fifth steep, at about 35 seconds, continues the trend of the vegetal, green taste overshadowing the soft apricot. We’re not at the stewed greens stage yet, but I can tell we’ll probably get there in time.
The leaves have just about fully opened at this point and the young green flavor has built up substantially. There’s some astringency creeping in and the bitterness has remained at a nice, manageable level. The qi is relaxing – not something I’d want to drink first thing in the morning.
For the back half of this tea, I’m bumping up the temperature to see what else I can get out of the leaves. At 205F, I’m getting more astringency and bitterness, but also sweetness. With quick back-to-back steeps, my face is feeling numb and my body’s warming up. This tea just keeps going. The color has been consistent since steep three and the flavor refuses to drop off.
After about 12 steeps, the aforementioned green sheng flavor is still quite present and doesn’t show any signs of changing.
This is a really agreeable tea. Approachable for puer newbies and enjoyable for vets. There’s something for everyone here, but it comes at a price. This cake looks to be sold out as of January 2017, but at $.44/g, it’s on the expensive side. Would I buy a whole cake? Probably not. Would I drink a whole cake? Yep!
Flavors: Apricot, Creamy, Green, Spices, Thick, Vegetal