This is my second session with this tea. I wanted to give it at least two sessions and compare my notes before I wrote up a report. This tea is outside of my normal purchasing range. One thing I wanted to know was do I have the palate to distinguish between really good tea and OK tea. This one has a wide following as being very good to excellent, so I ordered a sample.
When I smell the dry leaves, it smells nice. I like this scent profile in teas. It is rich and dark and has that dark dried fruit aroma that I find appealing in tea. There is also a little smokiness in the dry leaf aroma.
The wet leaves smell more of younger sheng camphor and the smoke comes forward more. The dark fruits retreat. Smelling the lid after the first rinse is interesting. The lid retains the dark dried fruits smell and a little smokiness, but there is also a very bright and light aroma. Some might call it citrus. It’s like a very sweet lemon/lime. OK, full disclosure, it smells a little like Sprite to me. I’ll never get to join the inner circle of tea aficionados, now. Should have said lemoncello ;-)
First infusion — flash steeped for seconds in a clay shui ping. Liquor is amber. Taste is very sweet with no bitterness. I also get no immediate astringency. There is a bit of a cooling menthol effect. Coats the mouth. My lips feel as if I have lip balm on them.
Second infusion – 6 seconds. Liquor darkens slightly. High pour produces bubbles that last for over 30 seconds. Lid of pot smells of camphor and smoke now with some leather. Wet leaves smell the same. A little bitterness in this infusion. Mouth watering effect. A little astringency. Back of throat feel – slight. In the mouth, tea feels soft and medium thickness. Mouth becomes thicker and stickier after swallowing. Aftertaste lingers slightly bitter.
Third infusion – 8 seconds. Lid smells again of dried dark fruit and light smoke and leather. Leaves less camphor and more smoke. Liquor remains a darker amber. Very slight bitterness this time compared to the second infusion; however, it is more astringent. Menthol cooling effect is pronounced. Sweet but tempered by that slight bitterness. There is a new flavor, but I can’t name it. It is kind of malty but that isn’t quite right. Mouthfeel is still thickening. First two infusions I felt a flush of warmth, but assumed that was simply from drinking the hot tea. Now I’m getting a small amount of feeling in my head like I’ve just awoken from a nap and I’m a little out of it and groggy.
Fourth infusion – flavors and aromas remain unchanged. I’m getting more head feelings.
We pause for a word from our taster — I am using a 70 ml clay pot. I’m drinking alone. That means, I’m drinking almost two shots of tea every infusion. The first one I drink hot, the second has obviously cooled. The second cooler cup often is more flavorful and intense than the first hot cup of each infusion. This also means I’m usually getting lit up faster with a strong tea. Now back to our program…
Fifth infusion (tenth cup - my God!) – smoke is almost gone from wet leaves. Lid has that bright note again. ‘Bout dropped the lid. My fingers are tingling now. Hands feel tight. For the doubters out there, cha qi is a real thing no doubt about it. I’m up to about 15 +/ seconds now. It takes me a couple of seconds to fill the clay pot with my gooseneck pot. The pour takes another 6 seconds. Tea is sweet and smooth and no bitterness present. No astringency on this infusion. Still a little bit of smokiness in this. I was given some samples of Xiaguan recently, and it reminds me of their flavor profile at this stage. This infusion is easy going tea…on the tastebuds, that is. Inside my body, it’s a party.
Sixth infusion — cups 11 and 12. I have to call it here. I’ll continue using these leaves later this evening and see how far I can take it. Taste is getting a little sweeter as one would expect with leather and smoke fading. A little of the young sheng camphor is present again, but it isn’t overpowering. I do not get any hui gan sweetness with this tea. The sweetness is all in the initial taste for me. I do get back of throat sensations and some mouth watering and a thickening coating inside the mouth. I am literally getting somewhat bleary-eyed. Menthol cooling remains strong. Lips feel slightly buzzy like I’ve taken up my trombone and played after not playing for years. You old brass players know what I’m talking about.
My opinion only, but this tea is an all-star in the cha qi category. I’ve been sitting here now for about 10 minutes, and I’m floaty, relaxed, and a wet noodle. If you’re looking for a tea drunk tea, this one will fit the bill. This one also tasted “good.” Most of the young green sheng taste is gone, but not completely. It’s getting there on the aging. But is it worth around $2 a gram? For me, no. I have experienced teas that are similar for far cheaper and that actually had more complexity in the taste. I’m glad I had the opportunity to try this tea. It was a nice educational experience.
Flavors: Bitter, Camphor, Dried Fruit, Leather, Smoke, Sweet