18 Tasting Notes
This was my first try from Hatvala and my first experience of a Taiwan oolong. I find it richer and more complex than Three Moons. It has an aftertaste that is layered and comes out in stages — the pear taste blooms some ten or fifteen seconds after drinking. It’s also sweeter.
Wet leaves had a strong toasty smell, but there wasnt much smoke in the tea soup. First steep after the rinse was mellow and almost salty, after which the fruitiness and sweetness became bold, and the astringency crept in around the 5-6th steep. It was smooth enough that I extended brewing time because I wanted some astringency to set it off. Tea soup was thick enough to hold little permanent bubbles. Later steeps could be chewed between the teeth.
10 grams was way too much to accommodate the unfolding leaves and in the end I had to parcel out the leaves in two vessels, which made me use more water than in the beginning. Despite being cramped, every steep was full-flavored and I got finished a steep or two before the leaves did.
I started at 100C and did not advance beyond 5s until the 6th steep. But that’s a feature of using way more leaves than you need to.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Pear
Drank this in very ideal conditions, my nose was actually working for once, and the sample had spent a few days in my new storage system. For fragrant teas one could get into the habit of priming them with a day or two in extra humidity before you plan to drink.
The leaf and soup both were bursting with that peaches and sandalwood smell. It’s a bright and summery tea, it has a little fruity tang, the liquor is pale gold, and the texture is endlessly thick and oily. It keeps the mouth smothered in oil for a long time. I don’t notice a strong huigan even at high temperatures, just memories of tartness. It also has astringency, I started the first few steeps at 90C and the balance was good at that temperature.
I sort of threw out sandalwood for the smell, it has a creamy and maybe dry incense-like smell. That and the fruit are very evenly melded together.
Later steeps get plenty of young sheng sweetness. At this point the sweetness also stays in the mouth longer. At the limits of the leaf I almost think I taste something that will one day develop into spice.
90C – 10s (rinse), 5s, 10s.
100C – 5s, 5s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s
I got a few of these ‘instant puerhs’ because I had a lot of little samples of expensive puerh, but I wanted something I could make and drink guilt free while thinking about the generic qualities of puerh, an unfamiliar genre to me. Also I’m lazy lol.
Quite a dark color, not totally clear, and I taste something nutty and umami that I identify as storage, so it feels like this was from relatively mature tea. The green foil wrapper says ‘gu shu / cha gao’. The brassy green flavor of sheng is present, also a hint of chocolate, and the aftertaste has the bell pepper spiciness that jingmai has. The body is thicker than the jinggu cha gao, which was a bit light and watery for my taste. I get some qi from this. There’s a lingering impression on the mouth, but it’s hard to pinpoint, probably because I had some astringent green tea not long ago. It seems like this method can actually preserve a decent representation of the complexity of the puerh, if done well. I think I’ll use double the dosage next time I try the jinggu.
I saved this tea listing before I was done, and now it won’t let me edit. i wanted to at least mention that this is the July 2018 picking. At 3/4ths of a year old, this is not the prescribed way to enjoy a darjeeling, but the qualities I want in a second flush are more durable.
Jungpana is known to have a pretty much textbook muscatel character. This tea, from the rinse/first steep, has an intense brightness that indeed mimics a white wine exactly. I even get the slightly curdled feeling in the back of the throat on drinking too much white wine. Use low mineral water to further intensify the brightness. Tea soup is very viscous and bubbly, a good surprise with an indian tea. Aroma is grapes in the empty cup, grape skin and grass from the soup. Tartness and astringency seize the whole mouth after drinking, then very slowly and grudgingly release a little sweetness. Longevity is some 5-6 steeps. That crisp tartness pretty much endures forever.
Like with any darjeeling, I don’t risk going above 85C and flash steeps, because the tannic and bitter factor is high. This is more refreshing than comforting, but it really does pick me up as nicely as a lemonade would.
Flavors: Wet Wood, White Grapes
Small, tightly compressed cake, still reasonable to break from the edge. The taste was immediately lovable. Actually I fall in love with any decent black tea, it doesn’t take much, so I’ve been making an effort to judge teas and try to minmax pleasure.
Leaves smell deliciously like paper or oregano when they encounter water. The smell left behind in the cup is of raspberry.
In its first year, I think it has a perfect, if high pitched, balance. Tartness, woodiness, density, berry-sweetness, and herby savoriness, which consistently keep the same levels across steeps. A black tea’s berry taste could get repetitious, but this always has a background of flavor to reference the tartness to.
It only dries the mouth a little, but rather numbs or fuzzes. I’m also pleased to see how long the taste stays in the mouth and throat, thickly vaporous, while leaving some slow-bursting spicy embers. Perhaps it’s named after the mildly liquory aftertaste? It’s a very discreet but present tea, why I like black teas.
Tea energy and the demand on the stomach were both pretty minimal, at least drinking this evening. It seems like a safe tea to have on bad days.
Longevity was good, and I got eight steeps while staying within the 15 second mark. However, now that I’ve leafed it at the super heavy 10 grams, I’ll have to see again how little leaf I can use in a session without compromising on something.
Despite the aftertaste, I don’t yet notice the honey or spice projected to come in a few years. The bitterness has some room to mute down, as long as it gains something piquant in return.
Day later report: I’ve put this through at least 10 rounds in the gaiwan, I’ve thrown it around in a thermos and took it to office, and I’ve boiled it on a stove, but this tea lasts forever.
Leaves were smallish and crumbly, and I rinsed this twice in boiling water, which drew out a bit of bitterness. I don’t have enough knowledge of regions, but this reminded me of a Menghai shou. Sharp bitterness, counterweighted by a dense and smooth mouthfeel from steep 2, soon followed by mineral coolness and sweetness. No wet pile element encountered. The tea soup was very dark, clear, and soil-colored with no red tint. I appreciate black tea that tastes uncluttered like this and I found it very easy to guzzle this. Paired with greasy food it has the function of a sharp unsweetened diner coffee to accompany a heavy breakfast. It has the caffeine kick too. After 5-6 steeps it quickly becomes very mineral and rather dry. The sweetness was less present overall and only really shone in one steep. Age might make this a more relaxing shou.