348 Tasting Notes
A sample from the Sheng Olympics. :) I had this yesterday and I’m already having trouble remembering the details. This is why it’s necessary for me to log as I sip! Anyway, it was 6-7g in my 4oz gaiwan, water in the 90C range, 10sec steeps to start, and continued until I was steeping for 2-3min. One of the things I found interesting about this was that when I first smelled the wet leaves, I had a moment of being reminded of a black tea – there was this malty note that I’ve never detected in a green/sheng type of tea before. Anyway, it wasn’t there in the flavour, but the early steeps did have a fruitiness that was somewhat reminiscent of a fruity black, that stone fruit thing. After those early steeps it got very vegetal and mellowed out quite a bit. Sweet and smooth. I didn’t really get the bitter/sour notes that other people have described? Anyway, it was good but it didn’t blow me away or anything. Good for drinking now, anyway. :)
My Sheng Olympics sample for the day. :) 6-7g sample in a 4oz gaiwan, water 90-100C. Started with 10sec steeps, gradually added time. This is interesting to drink fairly soon after trying the 2015 version, because you can really see the effect of the aging. Interestingly, there’s not much of an “aged” flavour to this – a bit of that old books note in the scent, especially smelling the wet leaves, but tea liquor itself doesn’t really have the musty, earthy flavours at all. I’m guessing that means the storage was fairly dry? Anyway, what’s noticeable is how much the tea has mellowed out with age. I found the young version a bit more bitter than I prefer, but this has a lovely balance between sweet and bitter. It’s smooth, with a medium thick mouthfeel and aftertaste. I didn’t really pick out a lot of distinct flavour notes, but I found it really easy to drink – I just kept steeping and drinking over and over (while somewhat distracted by my laptop). I had to force myself to slow down and sip more mindfully so I’d have something to write in this note besides “Yum!” It held up to longer steepings very well, getting darker in colour and thicker in flavour without developing any overwhelming bitterness or sour notes. Quite nice.
Another Sheng Olympics sample. :) 7g in the 4oz gaiwan, water 90-100C, short steeps – 10sec for quite a while, then gradually increasing to about 1min. It definitely tastes like a young sheng, quite bright and a bit sharp. A few times I oversteeped it and the bitterness/astringency turned unpleasant. Flavour notes of zucchini and bitter greens. In the later steeps, I was just starting to get bored with the bitterness when the sweet huigan really kicked in, so I kept drinking. :) I wish I had more to say about this one… it was pretty good, but not particularly remarkable.
A Sheng Olympics sample. :) 7g in the 4oz gaiwan, water 90-100C. Now I wish I had tried this one simultaneously with the 2011, to better compare. (This! This is why I need more gaiwans.) It has a similar flavour, a mix of sweet and bitter on a clean and mineral base. I don’t get much fruitiness or apricot, more of a dried hay sort of flavour. It does have a much more obvious aftertaste and sweet huigan than I remember the 2011 having, and maybe a slightly thicker mouthfeel. I don’t seem to be getting at all tea-drunk, unlike Andrew and his beenghole adventures, lol. :)
A Sheng Olympics sample. :) 7g sample in my 4oz gaiwan, steeping at 90-100C. I started drinking this yesterday… or was it 2 days ago? and now I’m taking it for a few more long steeps before I switch to something else. As I was drinking this earlier, I remember thinking that it would be hard to describe in a tasting note. It’s fairly smooth and clean-tasting, with that “old books” note that I associated with slightly-aged sheng. There’s a bit of pleasant bitterness, balanced against some sugar sweetness especially in the later steeps.
Another one from the Sheng Olympics. :) 4g sample in the gaiwan, trying to only partially-fill (just to cover the leaves). I started with 90C water but upgraded to boiling because it was so smooth and light. This is a lovely easy-drinking fresh sheng. It has a nice balance of sweetness and tanginess, closer to my personal tastes than the Whispering Sunshine I had earlier. Smooth, creamy mouthfeel. A little bit fruity, a lot more crisp vegetables and fresh spring water, reminiscent of a fresh green tea. Very clean and light, stands up to long steeps without becoming unpleasantly bitter. Slight huigan building up after drinking several infusions. Another good one for people who like their sheng puer sweet and smooth. :)
My first sample from the Sheng Olympics! Thanks again to Liquid Proust for organizing that, it’s so great to be able to try all these different shengs. I had this yesterday, so this is from memory. The sample was about 4.5g, and my gaiwan is in the 100-120ml range, so I had to get used to only partially filling the gaiwan in order to get the right tea to water ratio. So originally I thought I was getting such a mild flavour because I was adding too much water, but I think this is actually just a really mild sheng! It’s very easy to drink, quite sweet initially, followed by a light, crisp, vegetal note like cucumbers. The finish has a clean and slightly mineral quality, like fresh mountain spring water. Even after increasing the temperature to boiling, I couldn’t manage to get any bitterness out of these leaves, which I found pretty remarkable for a young sheng. The huigan is there, but very subtle. I liked this tea but find myself wishing for bolder flavour and a bit more bitterness. It would be great for people who like their shengs light and sweet though. :)
Another lovely sample from Wymm Tea. :) 6g in the 4oz gaiwan, 2 rinses with boiling water then steeping at 90deg, quick steeps (5-15sec). I really love the scent of the wet leaves of these past couple of shengs. I can’t really describe what it smells like, but I keep sticking my nose into my gaiwan after pouring to get another whiff of it. Clear light golden liquor, not much aroma to it. Wow, the mouthfeel of this tea is amazingly thick, almost syrupy. Intial steeps were very sweet, like honey-soaked apricots. Then later I started getting a sweet grassy flavour, like fresh hay. You can tell there’s a little bit of age on this, since the flavours are rounder and smoother, less of that bright zippy bitterness you see in the fresher shengs. Just a hint of that leather/old book note, and in later steeps a mineral flavour is really coming out. Nice aftertaste, with a lingering sweetness in the mouth and throat, and a slight drying sensation. I really like this one, the complexity of the flavour is quite lovely.
Finally trying some more of my Wymm Tea samples! 5g sample in my 4oz (ish) gaiwan, steeped at 90 deg – very fast steeps initially, then gradually adding some time. This was a very nice sheng, especially in the earlier steeps. The scent of the wet leaves was this amazing spicy tobacco-y freshness, and the flavour was quite complex, with a really prominent sweetness both in the back of the throat and on the lips. As I kept steeping, more of a grape skin bitterness and astringency came to the forefront. And then it eventually just ended up in bitter greens territory, which is when I lost interest. :)
Like last time, I found I like this one better than the Spring from the same set. Still quite brisk, but a bit smoother and fruitier. Clear light golden liquor, nice mouthfeel, sweetness coating the back of my throat. I think these leaves would go on for longer, but after about… I dunno, 10 steeps?… I’ve lost interest and am ready to move on to something else. :)