This is the first time I took notes during a tea session. Normally I just go with the flow and write the review from memory. Taking notes definitely means having more data to work with in the end but I do wonder if I don’t lose something in the process, if, like in quantum mechanics, through the act of observation I change the outcome. Anyway, without further ado, let’s get down to business.
I set my kettle to 95C (203F) and plop the 8g ball in my 130ml gaiwan. I rinse for 20s in order for the ball to start unfolding.
1. 15s steep leads to a rather light liquor, the color of elderflower syrup. The taste is light s well with hints of flowers and muscatel grapes.
2. 20s steep gives a slightly darker liquor which now resembles white grape juice. some bitterness starts to emerge. Aroma of baked tomatoes which I sometimes get in other sheng pu-erhs as well. Taste is sweet and floral with apricots, green apple and quince.
3. Down to 15s in an attempt to escape the bitterness. No luck, it’s still there ant slightly stronger too. The ball has now fully opened. Perhaps it’s a bit much for my gaiwan. Liquor color is light gold. I get apricots and peaches. Green apple turns to yellow, more ripe one. Mouthfeel as if eating quince, drying and somewhat astringent. I get floral notes after the bitterness dissipates. A hint of linden blossom maybe? some lingering sweetness.
4. An even shorter steep, around 12s. Still bitter, slightly vegetal too. Golden color. Strong fruit notes – muscatel, apricots and quince. Floral retronasal olfaction, I get magnolia on the outbreath as I do often with sheng pu-erh. The empty gong dao bei gives of meadow honey and hay. Sudden sweetness after everything has calmed down.
5. Up to 18s again and another spike of bitterness. Liquor acquires an orange tinge, like light honey. Still sweet and fruity with some stewed apple and quince compote. The floral aroma is building up.
6. I decide to add some cold water to the kettle and bring the temperature down to 85C (185F). Let’s see if that affects the bitterness. And it does. After a 25s steep bitterness is much less present than before. Color is just a wee bit lighter. Taste of apples, prunes and honey. Slightly less floral than steep 5.
7. 30s steep again at 85C. Color stays the same. Bitterness is more manageable. Taste is stewed fruit. Flowers are back and strong. On one of the sips I get an unexpected hit of medicinal bitterness at the back of the throat but it goes away quickly. There’s strong sweetness on the tip of the tongue and a mouthwatering effect.
8. 35s, color holding, no development in taste. Liquor starting to thin out but still pleasant.
9. 42s, taste is lighter – apple, plum and quince compote with floral finish.
10. 1:30 minutes, color darkens slightly, but taste feels slightly water albeit still quite aromatic.
I could probably have squeezed a couple more infusions out of this but my head was already buzzing so I stooped here. The quince dryness goes away and leaves behind long lasting floral sweetness. Overall this tea is quite good though with a bit of astringency to overcome.
Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Bitter, Floral, Fruity, Green Apple, Hay, Honey, Muscatel, Peach, Plum, Stewed Fruits, Sweet, Vegetal