With my Farmerleaf sample order, I received a couple of samples which were not for sale on their site. They were labeled 2014 Jingmai Shengtai, and there was both a Spring and Autumn version. This seemed like a fun opportunity for a comparative tasting, so I went back and forth between the two for a couple of days. I really don’t know much about these teas – for all I know, they might not be very related at all, and they did in fact taste quite different.
The spring tea’s leaf had an aroma which included grass, spice, straw, tobacco, and fruit. It was a very interesting tea. Early in the session, I noticed notes of pine and sweetness, along with just a bit of mintiness. The texture was thick and creamy, and the flavor filled my mouth upon swallowing. The middle of the session was more of a sugarcane sweetness, with a bit of fruity to back it up. The late session threw me for a loop, as the sweetness remained alongside a resurgent minty flavor – it was kind of like drinking Creme de Menthe. The tea went for a good 15 steeps before it was done also.
The Autumn tea was also enjoyable, but had a much less diverse and deep character to it. This tea had similar notes in the aroma, but it was a little more airy if that makes sense. The early session was characterized by a crisp and vegetal sweetness – I would almost call it beany. It was not particularly heavy though there was a bit of thickness in my mouth. Later in the session, the flavor was more sweet floral hay, like an alfalfa field in bloom. The flavor did not linger for more than a few seconds, a marked difference from this tea’s spring counterpart. The Autumn did have similar longevity.
I have often heard Autumn puer described as more aromatic and less thick or deep than Spring puer, and I certainly found that to be the case when comparing these two. There were many differences in flavor as well, which was another fun comparison to make. I think I enjoyed the Spring one more, but the Autumn tea was easier to drink, both because it was more approachable and simple (not a bad thing), and not quite as heavy in the mouth or stomach.
Thanks, Farmerleaf, for including these samples in my order!