28 Tasting Notes
This is the oldest tea I have poured for myself at home. That’s part of why I bought a sample. That and that it has golden flowers and is really affordable. My sample did not have any golden flowers and consisted of 2 corner pieces and an edge. Almost as if it was the first sample off a brick. Not disappointed with that.
Fresh out the gate this tea is pretty mellow and maybe even bland. Not much flavor or aroma. A tad bit of camphor. Wet leaf smell pretty mellow though with a hint of something in the maple/molasses realm. Tea soup pretty clear and brilliant and a bit towards the lighter side.
This tea got more interesting as the session went on which is unusual for a ripe in my experience. It did continue to be mellow with subdued flavors though. I found that in the middle steeps there was hints of interesting things going on under the surface. Kinda like a word on the tip of your tongue that you can’t quite bring forth. I imagine there are plenty of folks who might really enjoy that. Myself, I’m not a subtle flavor chaser and prefer my ripes especially to be potent and direct.
This tea sesshed out pretty well. Maybe not the longest legs around though held up through plenty of steeps. It seemed to get thicker and richer as the session went on and the subtle middle steeps gave way to a round stewed green hardwoods thing (although not too green).
Overall I’m pleased with this tea. Not impressed though pleased. Nothing off about it. Nice glowy body feels. It’s going on the want list though not near the top. Especially as it’s coming towards spring and I’m starting to concentrate on stocking up on sheng puer for the warmer months.
The last thing to say about this tea is I think it would benefit from a couple years in storage that is warmer and wetter than Kunming. With a tea this old that still has a hint of greenness I feel it could still develop into something more interesting. If a wetter home could bring out just a tad bit more of some camphor and spices then this tea would be way more attractive.
Had one of those mornings where I couldn’t decide what to drink so I dug this out of my sample stash to give it a go.
The early steeps are good. Some pile funk on the nose and plenty in the empty cup though it doesn’t really show through in the taste. Has the chocolatey bready fruity thing going on and no camphor. Definitely a lively and complex tea in these early steeps.
In the middle steeps this tea starts to warm up and round out. It gets sweeter here as well and starts to leave a coating of sweetness in the mouth. Up to this point I am impressed with this tea and find it to by very dynamic.
Then suddenly this tea seems to fall flat on it’s face. At this point with most of the ripes I’ve been drinking lately I would expect the tea to have a couple more interesting steeps before settling in to the stewed green hardwoods flavors that most young ripes seem to have in common after steeping the fermentation off the top. The first thing to go was the mouthfeel. Then the flavor. And though the tea soup kept up a decent color there just wasn’t anything left in flavor or texture through the last several steeps.
I’ll come back to this tea as I have more of the sample left. It’s only been in my stash for about 10 days so I’ll give it another try when it has rested a while longer.
I’ve gone back and forth on whether I like the wild “ye sheng” varietal. There is a certain mystique about these teas that makes me want to like them more than I really do.
I recently watched an interview with MarshalN done by Crimson Lotus. During this interview MarshalN said that these teas aren’t really pu’er and even went so far as to call it “tisane” and that it’s not really tea at all. Well this certainly wiped away the mystique for me and helped give myself permission to forget about the wild varietal completely.
Then surprise surprise my tea order that was lost in the mail for almost four months has a sample of this tea that I had completely forgot I had ordered. I figured it would be good to drink this tea and evaluate it with a blank slate.
This is the oldest wild varietal tea I have had. And like all wild teas I have had, despite a reputation for being bitter, it lacks real bitterness and instead has a sharp brittle boring thing going on that could be thought of as bitter though is nothing like the true satisfying bitterness that one would find with some Lao Man ‘E or many other teas. The mouthfeel is good. I didn’t really enjoy the taste for the first few steeps though it got better in the mid steeps.
What this tea does have going for it is an immediate and strong body feel. I don’t have much experience with tai qi and qi gong or yoga so I can’t really say definitively though I imagine the cha qi on this tea is strong.
I ended up dumping the leaf and went on to drinking something else if that tells you anything.
I haven’t given up on this tea or the wild varietal completely though I don’t have high hopes. Will try again when the weather is warmer.
This tea is pretty mellow and overall has a somewhat dry flavor profile that I find to be particularly unique. It has some of the deep florals and savory type flavors that I associate with ripes that have a prominent compost camphor petrichor profile, only this tea has the camphor etc tuned way down. Also there is some chocolatey things going on though without the wetter bready fruity flavors I associate with chocolatey ripes. So yeah dry mellow flavor.
Mouthfeel decent. Nothing to complain about.
Sessions with this tea are steady going. Not particularly dynamic. It’s not a very dark tea though it doesn’t lose color for many steeps. I’m actually surprised by how long this tea steeps out considering the conventional wisdom that says smaller leaf grades steep less times.
So definitely worth trying. Probably won’t drink this tea often and am undecided weather I would buy another cake if I ran out though I am glad to have it. It’s good quality “wild arbor” material. It’s good for varieties sake. It’s easy going and easy to enjoy without having to concentrate on it too hard. Steeps out many brews. Not exciting though very comforting.
Decided to do more reviewing of this tea as it is quite likely to be the last cold rainy day I will see for five or six months and I don’t see myself drinking something this rich, thick, and dark very often till this autumn.
I put 3.5 grams in a 60ml gaiwan (though it actually measures closer to 50ml). I measure out 40ml of water with a graduated cylinder and boil each steep seperately using a 1/2liter electric kettle. It takes about 15 to 20 seconds to bring 40ml to a boil. I do my water this way almost always when brewing gong fu. I don’t understand why no one else does this and why they boil a big jug of water and let it cool off and boil it again etc. My water technique is very good for having a smooth and steady flow to a session and for upping or lowering the temp on the fly (I tend to start hong cha at crab eye and work my way up to full boil during the session). It’s also good for making sure the water doesn’t get overboiled and lose it’s structure.
After the first rinse I let the tea sit with gaiwan lid on for five minutes or however long it takes for the brick pieces to loosen up. Next I grab the tea and use a bamboo pick to fully break apart the all the leaves. One benefit of this is that the tea will leave a noticable smell on my fingertips which helps me get to know a tea very well. With this tea being so young it of course left some pile smell on my hands but not too funky. Pretty damn clean actually. Second rinse washes away any dust or cloudiness.
This tea gets going pretty strong right away. It’s a dark inky one for sure. Very rich, thick and creamy with a touch of dry aftertaste. The flavor on this tea is big. Big chocolate cherry sweet syrupy awesomness. If you are looking for camphor and chen xiang then find another tea cause you won’t find it here.
I get 5 to 7 dark steeps depending on how hard I push the tea plus several more woody slightly green steeps after.
Winner for 2018 Sheng. Has a wholesome nourishing quality and the high is so very pleasant. I don’t feel like I have to pay close attention to this tea to get a great amount of enjoyment from it. That’s kinda the magic of it. It just feels good and quiets your mind and takes you somewhere else. It’s some astringent and not very bitter which is the opposite of how I prefer a tea but I don’t mind. It more than makes up for that in the feels.
Step 1: Smash tea with hammer.
Step 2: Allow pieces to air out or adjust to your storage.
Step 3: Rinse 12 to 14 times to open up the leaf.
Step 4: Drink.
All kidding aside, this is a very heavily compressed tea. You’ll make plenty of dust breaking it apart. That said, I think this is a wonderful tea. Very clean storage not wet tasting but not Kunming tasting either, and definitely aged tasting. Lots of fruity flavors. It has some bitterness left to it and a little astringency too (I’m leafing pretty heavy and using full boil). I recommend this tea if you want bitterness and aged flavor together without any kind of staleness or musty wet stored taste. It brews out so remarkably long that I almost don’t believe it’s a plantation tea. Also I feel that this tea is pretty clean as far as agrochemicals go. Who knows really but I know my body reacts well to it and there’s none of that tip of the tongue sensation I’m coming to associate with synthetically fertilized tea. Again, who knows, I’m still learning this but my diet has been free of chemicals for some years now.
I’m wondering if there is a connection between heavily compressed tea and how many steeps it can get. I’ve tried a few heavy compressed ripe and raw aged that seem to steep well past their price tag. Almost like the machine compressing is another step of the rolling process and opens up things in the tea that may otherwise need to be boiled out??? Please comment on this if you have any thoughts.