My first experience with sheng and I have to say – I am quite impressed! The change in flavors as the infusions progress is unprecedented. Even more than the oolongs I’ve tried.
Mouthfeel is full throughout, but its character changes. Early on, the liquor leaves your tongue feeling as if it is still coated in liquid even long after swallowing a sip. By the middle of the infusions, the character becomes more of a lingering tingly feeling, especially prominent at the front of the tongue. This feeling is similar to the one I got with the OWT Qi Dan, but a bit less intense. It is reminiscent of pop rocks sitting on your tongue.
The tea has quite a bit of longevity. I went for 20 infusions (95 C, wash then 10s, + 3 s per subsequent infusion) – over 2 L of tea! I would say that how long the tea goes depends on your ability to tolerate mild flavor. It certainly gets 14-15 good infusions. At that point, the tingly sensation begins to wear off, and a mild sweet flavor remains. The mildness from about infusions 14-17 was akin to that of the initial 1-2 infusions of Yin Zhen. After infusion 17, the tea lost even a bit more flavor, but still clung to a ledge just above colored water. I think this was a good stopping point for my taste, but I wanted to try to make it to 20 infusions, and I am impressed with the (albeit quite mild) flavor left at that time.
This is certainly a high quality and complex tea for the price ($0.19-$0.20/g for the 200 g brick). Most complex tea I’ve had before – even more complex than the Qi Dan I’ve sampled! Flavor profile begins with lychee and white-flesh-fruit-forward taste with an aroma/feel of wood. Spicy notes evolve soon thereafter, with pepper and thyme predominant among these. Smoke enters about this same point (infusion ~3-4). The tea peaked for me from infusions 4-12. During the latter part of this time, tangy, sour, lemon, honeydew, and brown sugar flavors develop. After the spices finally wear off, the palate finishes with sweet honey flavor.
Pretty much all of the flavors were on the palate for me – not much of an aroma to the dry or wet leaves.
Flavors: Apple Skins, Astringent, Brown Sugar, Fruity, Honey, Honeydew, Lemon, Lychee, Pepper, Pleasantly Sour, Smoke, Spices, Sweet, Tangy, Thyme, Woody