The last of the samples I’ve ordered from white2tea. So far I’ve not been impressed with any of their teas, but perhaps my mistake was ordering fresh 2017 spring productions instead of going for teas from 2016. Anyway, this one has some age on it so it should not suffer from being too young at least. I’ve only tried around half a dozen or so semi-aged raw pu’ers so far as I’ve been quite content with drinking and sampling young raws for the time being, so bear in mind that my experience and palate when it comes to these teas is still quite limited.
I used 12 grams in my 180ml teapot made from clay from Dehua. The sample smelled extremely dank when I received it, which is why I’ve given it several months in my pumidor to air out. Fortunately this worked and I didn’t note any off notes in the smell or taste during this session. I rinsed the leaves for ten seconds and let them rest for five minutes before I began brewing proper. I did a total of nine steeps, for 10s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 75s, 2 min. and 3 min. The wet leaves have a scent of pinewood and bark. Perhaps slightly wet or decaying in the beginning, but it moves toward more fresh wood over the course of the steeps, eventually resembling warm wood stacked beside the fireplace.
The first steep surprised with its honey-like sweetness. It wasn’t nearly as intense as some of the sweetest young raws I’ve had, but definitely the sweetest of the handful of semi-aged shengs I’ve tried. The sweetness was accompanied by a dryness I’m accustomed to with every aged sheng I’ve tried. Note that this dry character does not often mean the tea is actually drying as well, although some steeps with this tea were a little bit of that as well. The mouthfeel was quite interesting and something you definitely took note of. The second steep was still quite sweet. It had now moved from honey to somewhere between honey and apricot. The dry finish was naturally still there as well.
The sweetness was gone by the third infusion, with the tea beginning to taste a bit sour now. There was also some bitterness in the finish now as well. So far the mouthfeel had remained the same. The next steep provided very typical semi-aged flavors. Dry, smoky, a bit bitter and prickly on the tongue. After a few small cups, the tea starts tasting a bit creamy. It got even creamier in the fifth steeping, with more pronounced flavors across the board, including the bitterness, but it was by no means any sort of bad kind of bitterness.
The tea started getting better in the sixth brew. The sweetness from the beginning was now starting to come back while the dryness was beginning to fall off. While the seventh steep was clearly a strong extraction, the flavors were beginning to taper off. The taste was a basic aged dry bitter taste. The tea was still quite drinkable though. It was slightly refreshing, but the dry finish also demanded you to keep drinking more. Even at this point the tea still retained most of its original mouthfeel.
The eighth steep was pretty basic now. The tea had a sort of slightly sweet woody taste. The mouthfeel was nice, slick, actually now somewhat oily. I actually quite liked this steep and it was possibly my favorite of the bunch. I could have possibly extended the brewing time for steep nine by more than just a minute as it ended up being slightly sweet, but clearly quite watery now. However, I thought that this tea was pretty much done by this point so I decided to end it there.
This tea was pretty decent. Clearly not made from high-end material, but not low-grade stuff either. As far as semi-aged teas go, this was actually the best one I’ve had so far, although not something I liked terribly much either. A couple of steeps were pretty good, but overall this is not a tea I would purchase for myself. However it is something that I can recommend for someone who is looking for a semi-aged sheng that doesn’t break the bank to try. Some people may enjoy drinking it now, but with further aging I would expect the bitterness to gradually die down and the sweetness to become even more pronounced. I think the price for this one is right, so if you like it go for it.
Flavors: Bitter, Creamy, Drying, Honey, Sweet