2016 “Space Girls” – Crimson Lotus Tea

A wild review appears!

Well, I’ve taken quite a bit of time to figure out exactly what I would like to do with this blog. The original intent was to focus on education and occasionally write reviews, but that seemed to go out the window and I had a terrible time motivating myself to review the ever-growing pile of puerh samples. While reviews may make an appearance, they will most likely be in a varied format and I’ll focus more on a singular, weekly post with more research and education.

That being said… The review that follows was written in August 2016. Since then, the tea has been released to favorable reviews. To the tea!

Today’s tea is the 2016 “Space Girls” from Crimson Lotus Tea. Space Girls is a sheng puerh (生 – sheng; literally “raw”, 普洱 – puerh) pressed into 100 gram square bricks (方茶 – fangcha; literally “square tea”).

Snagged from www.crimsonlotustea.com

Luckily for me, I had this tea before it was pressed into its tight squares. I tend to dislike both fangcha (square) and zhuancha (brick) because they’re hard to break apart, age inconsistently, and are difficult to re-wrap. The maocha (毛茶 – maocha; literally “rough tea”) that I received was quite beautiful – big, full leaves with some buds throughout.

Beautiful maocha

Steeping

Since I was using maocha, I did a flash rinse and a short first steep. If your chunk of tea from the fangcha is tightly compressed, you might want to let the first steep sit slightly longer to open the leaves. Another option is to rinse your gaiwan with hot water, then put the leaves into the gaiwan, replacing the lid. The residual steam will help to open the leaves, as well.

The rinse was rather viscous with a bright sheng flavor, slight notes of asparagus, and a slight astringency (涩味 – sewei; literally “astringent taste”). The first full steep is very smooth with a growing astringency. The taste has a vegetal/green bean nature, but it’s not overly vegetal.

Relevant: SPAAAAAAAAAAAACEEE

Steeps Two through Four- Steep two and three have a growing tobacco taste – not in an off-putting way, but more in an “I don’t know what else to call it” way. Moving into steep four, the tobacco taste dies down and the tea delivers a smooth, crisp taste with vegetal undertones. The hint of astringency brings the sheng puerh experience full circle, balancing the sweetness, astringency, and green, vegetal taste. The tea has also developed a nice yellow-gold color.

Space bound…

Finishing the Session

Steep five brings through more of the floral/orchid nature of this young tea which grow through the rest of the session. I only got to steep eight with this tea, since it’s relatively young. Overall, the tea produces a mild qi, a good level of viscosity, and light vegetal/floral flavors. The tea might not boldly go where no tea has gone before, but it’s definitely a good entry point into puerh, the final frontier.

Until the next cup.

2016 XinZhai – Essence of Tea

​While still on a whirlwind tour of the scenic northwest, I’m taking some time each day to have some tea. Some days it’s an old favorite, but today, I’m having the 2016 XinZhai from Essence of Tea

Oh, and excuse the pictures. Starbucks has terrible lighting, though I’m grateful that they supply me with endless hot water.

EoT’s XinZhai is a sheng puerh (生 – sheng, 普洱 – puerh) pressed into a 200 gram disk shape (餅 – bing; literally “cake”). I got a sample of this cake when it was released, but am just now getting to try it.

Let’s get this party started 

Steeping

I’m not really sure what to expect from this tea, so I gave it a short rinse. The taste is clean and vegetal. A first steep of five seconds yields a light and fragrant tea. It has a slight cooling sensation and a long taste of green fruits.

steep 1 

Steep two has a “full” taste that lingers in the throat and is accompanied by a mid-head feeling. Moving to the third steep, I tried to push it more to find any bit of punchiness, but the tea is quite green and lacks the bitterness and astringency.

Steeps Four and Five

Steep four, I went for 25 seconds. This tea isn’t very viscous, but has a full, lingering feeling. There’s a great intensity in the top of the throat, but is still very green tasting.

steep 4

I went for 45 seconds on steep five. There’s a little more bite on the tongue, but still plainly vegetal. This tea isn’t a rollercoaster of flavor, but more of a pleasant ride through the countryside. 

Finishing the Session

Steeps six through eight were increasingly longer. Steep eight went for five full minutes, but still didn’t yield any stronger sheng flavors. 

The wet leaves are very green and most likely need some time to mature into a decent sheng puerh. If you’re a fan of green tea, this could be a good entry point into puerh, but I’m not sure how well this will actually age. There’s the feeling of punchiness, but it’s just… so far away from the tongue, like it’s there but you just can’t quite taste it.

very green

Until the next cup.

2016 “Year of the Monkey” Spring Yiwu – Bitterleaf Teas

I’m about to make a lot of assumptions and draw a lot of conclusions. Buckle up.

Today is a special day. I’m writing this post from the airport on my phone. I’m headed to the scenic northwest United States 1.) To travel, and 2.) To visit some tea friends. This will mean fewer posts over the next two weeks.

Today’s tea review is of the 2016 “Year of the Monkey” Spring Yiwu from Bitterleaf Teas, or, as I like to call it, the “smoking monkey.”

I’ve mentioned yiwu teas many times. One of my favorite teas is a 2003 yiwu. Yiwu is one of the six famous tea mountains, though today it’s probably the most famous. 

The 2016 “Year of the Monkey” comes in a 357 gram bing.

The dry leaf is floral and immediately catches my attention. All of my favorite yiwu notes are present in the scent. I only mention this because out of all the 2016 yiwu teas that I’ve tried, this seems to be the most on point. All of the other yiwu teas have been “blends” of some sort… but what are they blended with?

Let’s get it started

Steeping

From the rinse, you can tell this is going to be a spectacular tea. When you drink enough puerh, you can get a true sense of a tea without drinking a ton of it. Sure, you don’t get all the nuance and there might be unexpected flavors, but sometimes, you just know.

The first steep, I let go for a longer than average time, about 15 seconds. No bitterness. No astringency. Just perfect and classic yiwu flavors. 

Deliciously Yiwu 

Okay, now you can ask. “What are classic yiwu flavors?”

I’m glad you asked. To me, classic yiwu has notes of wood, floral, sweetness, and minerals. The mineral taste usually comes from the nearby rivers, etc. but I’m sure there are plenty of other contributing factors.

Steeps Two through Five

This tea is as exquisite as it is simple. The notes are soft. You have to listen to the tea. You can’t oversteep it (I’m sure you could, technically, but you’d have to try hard). 

The build of flavors, the lack of bitterness, and only a hint of astringency through the heart of the session. I can’t even give you details about each steep in a way that will make sense. This tea is an experience that must be felt.

By the fourth steep, I’m sweating like crazy. The energy hides in the tea and jumps out at you when you least expect it. There are no signs of slowing down; the flavor keeps escalating in only the best way possible.

Amazing tea so far

Finishing the Session

My least informative review, by far, but perhaps one of the best teas of the year (2016 harvest, not 2016 releases). The tea starts it’s decrease around 8 steeps and lasts for a little while longer. The longevity isn’t a problem, since it’s a young tea. 

Til we meet again

There are few teas that I’m blown away by, but this is one of them. I’m so glad to have a whole cake… maybe more is needed. For now, I’m just glad I threw another helping in my bag to have on my trip.

Until the next cup.

2016 “Teadontlie” – White2Tea

The supply of 2016 teas is almost endless. I have so many to try and so many more to review, not to mention other purchases and trades. Being a puerh junkie can get pretty overwhelming!

Today, I’m trying another new tea from White2Tea – 2016 “Teadontlie.” Teadontlie is a sheng puerh (生 – sheng, 普洱 – puerh) pressed into a 200 gram disk shape (餅 – bing; literally “cake”). The only notes on White2Tea’s site regarding this tea are:

A blend of raw Puer material that has a sweet, thick body. A heavy interior fruity floral fragrance and a strong astringency that will calm down with age.

Sounds pretty good to me.

DO IT NOW
DO IT NOW

The cake has pretty loose compression and relatively large leaves.

All ready to go
All ready to go

Steeping

Just a quick rinse for this young tea. The rinse is lightly floral with a wood base. Automatically, I think this tea has a yiwu (易武) base, but is most likely blended with leaf from other mountains/regions. The first five-second steep brings out more of the woodiness and some creeping astringency. This astringency increases greatly at steep two (five seconds) and there is also an increase in the floral notes. Hiding in the background is a fruit taste which lingers on the top of the mouth.

Steep 1
Steep 1

Steeps Three through Five

Steep three, seven seconds long, delivers a high viscosity. The astringency also levels out at this point, but doesn’t decrease. The fourth steep, and the heart of the session, has the astringency starting to fade. There’s a decrease in bitterness, but the tea is still heavy on floral notes. The tea remains thick and sweet, also providing a sharp punch of tea energy (茶气 – cha qi).

The heart of the session
The heart of the session

Steep five, increasing to 15 seconds, is still quite thick and sweet. The floral nature is fading, but is being replaced by softer fruit notes, which I’m identifying as pear-like.

Steeps Six through Eight

Steep six, also at 15 seconds, is much sweeter and amplifies the wood base, which was relatively hidden under the other flavors since the start of the session. The fruit taste moves into an apricot-like state. A 20-second seventh steep is much thinner with the peak of the tea obviously behind it. There’s still a great sweetness and wood/apricot blend. Steep eight, for 30 seconds, is much thinner, but still provides a good taste and sweetness.

Eighth steep, dying fast
Eighth steep, dying fast

Finishing the Session

I’m sure I could push this tea to about 11 steeps or so, but since the tea is dying rapidly, I’m losing interest. Overall, I’m still confident in my yiwu base assessment, though I’m not always right about these sorts of things. The leaves are nice and large; however, there are a lot of stems. The leaf size definitely lends to the sweetness of the tea – typically, the larger the leaf, the more sweetness, but that’s not always the case.

Pretty large leaf size, lots of stems
Pretty large leaf size, lots of stems

This tea is pretty magnificent right now. The length of the session will grow with age and some of those harsher, more astringent notes will die down over time, as well. I would highly recommend this tea for a sample (a cake is a sample) for further hoarding. This is a great tea to drink now or let age for a few years.

Until the next cup.

Warrior Wednesday – 2016 “Fade” – White2Tea

Warrior Wednesday! We all know western style (little leaf, lots of water, long time), grandpa style (little leaf, cup of water, continuous steeping/re-steeping), and traditional gongfu style (lots of leaf, little water, little time).

But… what if there were another way?

Enter warrior style. This is a method that my good friend paxl13 and I had invented over a year ago. Warrior style takes an extremely high ratio of leaf to water, roughly 1 gram per every 10 ml of water for sheng and potentially even higher for shou. Warrior style started as a “challenge” featuring New Amerykah 2 from White2Tea, so, how fitting that I introduce it to the world with yet another White2Tea product.

Today, I’m revisiting an “older” 2016 tea: Fade from White2Tea. This tea was initially in the April 2016 White2Tea club box… and I hated it. A lot of people raved about the tea, but I just couldn’t find any good qualities. I buried the brick in the back of the pumidor and said I’d try it again in six months. Well, it’s been five and a half, so.. close enough.

Snagged from www.white2tea.com
Snagged from www.white2tea.com

Fade is a huangpian (黄片 – huangpian; literally “yellow leaf”), which I’ve already ranted about in detail in my “Alter Ego” review. It’s a sheng puerh (生 – sheng, 普洱 – puerh) pressed into a 200g brick shape (砖茶 – zhuancha; literally “tea brick”).

Why not try it.. warrior style?

My ridiculous parameters for the session? 13g/100ml

Leaf stacked up!
Leaf stacked up!

Steeping

Fade has relatively loose compression for a zhuancha, so I was able to do a five-second rinse. The wet leaf is heavy on the wet tobacco scent. The rinse has tastes of stone fruit and a citrus top note. The first, full, five-second steep was a rich orange/yellow color. The sour citrus notes are much stronger as the leaf opens and the tea also develops a decent amount of astringency (bearing in mind that I’m severely over-leafing a young sheng).

Already punchy
Already punchy

Steeps Two through Five – Steep two moves into a vegetal sweetness and is still very heavy on the citrus top notes. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of this weird sour taste in my tea, but I’m also feeling it as an attribute of young tea that would fade (heh, fade) with time. The tea starts to smooth out through the next few steeps, but really punches with astringency. Keep in mind that I’m basically flash steeping this for the first eight steeps due to the amount of leaf in the gaiwan.

The tea energy (茶气 – cha qi) is striking me hard around steep four. The tea starts developing a sweeter fruit profile – stone fruit and green apple are the predominant flavors along with the citrus top notes.

Drunken warrior...
Drunken warrior…

Finishing the Session

Out of respect for everyone’s reading attention span, I’m not going to break this into every steep. The amount of leaf that I’m pushing gives me 20+ steeps, even on a young tea.

Look at all of that leaf!
Look at all of that leaf!

Most importantly, Fade delivers a sweet fruit taste throughout the session. There is some astringency and a strange sour note, but I imagine that these will improve over time. Being a huangpian, Fade is relatively cheap. Would I keep drinking it now? Maybe not, but I sure will enjoy it in 2020!

So, maybe next time you break out an old favorite, you might want to brew fast and hard… in the WAY OF THE WARRIOR!

Until the next cup.

2016 “Alter Ego” Huangpian – Bitterleaf Teas

Another review today of another new Bitterleaf Teas production. This tea is the 2016 “Alter Ego” huangpian sheng puerh. Huangpian (黄片 – huangpian; literally “yellow leaf”) is the term for the larger and/or yellow leaves that are removed from maocha (毛茶 – maocha; literally “rough tea”) after processing, but before pressing. These leaves are usually the 4th and 5th leaves, much older and larger. Good news for puerh drinkers – that means it’s also cheaper.

Swiped from www.bitterleafteas.com
Swiped from www.bitterleafteas.com

Alter Ego is a sheng puerh (生 – sheng, 普洱 – puerh) pressed into a 250g brick shape (砖茶 – zhuancha; literally “tea brick”). Obviously, the leaves are large and imperfect.

Note about compression and shape: I’m not a fan of the zhuancha for a few reasons. One, bricks are typically tightly compressed which makes them hard to pry apart without breaking a lot of leaves. Two, this tight compression slows the aging of the tea, especially the tea in the center of the brick. Three, they’re just so hard to re-wrap!

Big leaves, lots of stems
Big leaves, lots of stems

Steeping

Bitterleaf recommends a five-second rinse and a five-second first steep. I respectfully disagree with this. I rinsed for about 20 seconds to get the brick to open up. Sure, if you broke up the brick into smaller pieces, use less time, but if you have a solid chunk of leaf, brew it longer at the beginning until it opens up. The rinse and first steep are light and sweet, creamy in texture.

Just starting to open up
Just starting to open up

Steeps Two through Five – I smelled the wet leaves at this point. I was kind of shocked to get a notable camphor/menthol tobacco scent, which I don’t normally find in younger sheng, let alone huangpian. Camphor (樟 – zhang) is sometimes present in puerh from older trees. Most notably, the scent/taste comes from the camphor laurels planted in/near the tea gardens.

In steep three, the camphor taste comes through a little more. The tea is starting to hit me hard in energy (茶气 – cha qi). I’m also getting a soft bitterness on the back on my tongue. The tea is also starting to have a great throat feeling (喉韵 – hou yun; literally “throat charm”). Through steeps four and five, the same great feelings persist and there’s a wood-like note that’s also creeping up.

Thick and viscous
Thick and viscous

Finishing the Session

This tea is pretty amazing for huangpian. If you’ve had huangpian before, you’ll know that the leaves will steep for quite some time. The general taste of huangpian is sweeter due to the larger, older leaves that have lost some of the punch that younger leaves have. The viscosity of the tea is nice and heavy, which is evidence of the age of the material. Even getting up through steep ten, there’s great energy in this tea. For a bargain basement price of $0.10/g, it’s worth grabbing at least a sample to experience for yourself.

You can see the yellowing of some of these leaves
You can see the yellowing of some of these leaves

Until the next cup.

2006 “Mad King” Banzhang – Bitterleaf Teas

Today’s tea is a new release from Bitterleaf Teas, but has been around for quite some time. This is the 2006 “Mad King” Banzhang sheng puerh. Banzhang (班章) is a growing area in Bulangshan (布朗山) that is known for high quality teas. Since 2007, the area of Banzhang has delineation between Lao (老 – literally “old”) and Xin (新 – literally “new”) Banzhang, based on the age of the trees therein.

Swiped from www.bitterleafteas.com
Swiped from www.bitterleafteas.com

Mad King is a 2006 Banzhang sheng puerh (生 – sheng, 普洱 – puerh) which is pressed into a 357 gram disk shape (餅 – bing; literally “cake”). The dry leaf has a nice, sharp scent and it seems the compression of the bing is pretty tight (or at least it was for my sample).

Dry, leafy goodness
Dry, leafy goodness

Steeping

Due to the higher compression, I did a longer, ten-second rinse, which didn’t really reveal anything about the tea besides some residual astringency (涩味se wei; literally “astringent taste”). The first full steep was also for ten seconds. This steep gave me some bitterness (苦味ku wei; literally “bitter taste”) on the side of the tongue; however, the steep finishes with a cooling sensation and some minor floral notes.

Steep 1
Steep One

Steeps Two through Five – Steep two, also for ten seconds since the leaves loosened up, yielded a brilliant orange/gold color. There was plenty of bitterness and astringency, but balanced with a nice sweetness (回甜 – huigan; literally “sweet return”). Also noted in the steep are smoke, wood, and tobacco notes. I’m also impressed that there is such a great tea energy (茶气 – cha qi), even in this early steep. By steep four, the tea develops some stone fruit notes and builds on the sweetness. Steep five, for 20 seconds, continues to develop the sweetness and, at this point, the bitterness is dying down quite noticeably.

Stone fruit, wood, and a little smoke
Stone fruit, wood, and a little smoke

Finishing the session

As the session continues, the bitterness and astringency both fade into sweet, powerful notes. The energy of this tea is great, which is fantastic for leaf that is being marketed as qiaomu (乔木 – qiaomu; literally “tall tree” or “arbor”). Unfortunately, there are only a handful of cakes of this tea available, so if you want one, head on over to Bitterleaf Teas’ site and check out before I do.

Good for 12-15 steeps
Good for 12-15 steeps

Until the next cup.

Taobao Tuesday – 2000 Jianshen Tuo

Welcome to the first Taobao Tuesday! Not only is today an alliteration, it’s a day where I try one of my random Taobao purchases and see if it’s any good. If you’ve never experienced Taobao, it’s basically like a Chinese version of Amazon. There are a few downsides to ordering from Taobao:

  1. You have no idea what you’re really getting – There’s a reason I refer to Taobao shopping as “fishing.” You don’t know much about what you’re buying beyond the picture.
  2. You have to read/translate Chinese – Sure, there’s Google Translate and Babelcarp, but are you going to find all of the answers or correct translations?…
  3. You have to use an agent (and pay a lot for shipping) – There are many Taobao agents that help you buy from Taobao. They’re simple to use, but they all charge commissions and the shipping fees are pretty high in most cases. It does a lot to even out the savings on an item when you pay more to ship it.

The Tea

Today’s Taobao experiment is the 2000 Jianshen Tuo (健身 – jianshen; literally “healthy body”, 沱茶 – tuocha; literally “bird’s nest tea”) and is a sheng puerh (生 – sheng, 普洱 – puerh). Unfortunately, this tea isn’t available on Taobao anymore that I can find, but White2Tea is selling the 2004 version of this tea.

"The Yunnan Bowl-Shaped Compressed Mass of Tea Leaves"
“The Yunnan Bowl-Shaped Compressed Mass of Tea Leaves”
Ball of goodness...
Ball of goodness…

The tea was pretty tightly compressed, but dry enough to flake right off. Looks pretty well aged and the wrapper on mine is really frail. I may have ripped it a little bit when trying to re-wrap the tuo.

2000 jianshen taobao dry leaf
Om nom nom nom

Steeping

A short rinse of this tea didn’t really open it up, so I left the lid on for a little bit and had the residual steam open the leaves before I went further. The first steep was quite thin, slight smoke flavor, tobacco and wood notes throughout.

Thin so far
Thin so far

Steeps Two through Five

This tea starts very slowly. With short beginning steeps, the result is a very thin viscosity with subtle notes of flavor. At steep three, I accidentally let the tea steep for a good 30 seconds, which produced a much stronger, but not off-putting tea. Steep three was heavy on smoke, tobacco, and wood notes. I don’t smoke cigars, but I imagine that if you did, you’d be happy drinking this tea right now. What’s great about this tea is that it softens after you drink it and leaves a nice sweetness (回甜 – huigan; literally “sweet return”). Going through steeps four and five yield more of the same. I recommend steeping it longer for a bigger flavor. If the smokiness is too much, dial it back to shorter steeps. The tea also hits pretty hard in tea energy (茶气 – cha qi).

Getting darker and stronger
Getting darker and stronger

Finishing the Session

Honestly brutal tea. This tea can be anything you want – assuming, of course, that “anything” is a smoke-filled tea. It’s seems pretty legit for being off of Taobao, so score one for my fishing expedition. This one steeps out for quite some time, so sit back on a Sunday afternoon on your front porch and put some of this delicious tea in your gaiwan. If this sounds up your alley, give me a shout and I’ll see about getting you some.

Long lasting...
Long lasting…

Until the next cup.

2016 “Whispering Sunshine” – Crimson Lotus Tea

Today, I’m taking another puerh from the huge pile of 2016 spring samples. Today’s tea is the 2016 “Whispering Sunshine” from Crimson Lotus Tea.

I actually don't own a cake, so... photo credit to www.crimsonlotustea.com
I actually don’t own a cake, so… photo credit to www.crimsonlotustea.com

Whispering Sunshine is a sheng puerh (生 – sheng, 普洱 – puerh) pressed into a disk shape (餅 – bing; literally “cake”). The material is from Bai Ying Shan (bai ying shan; literally “white warbler mountain”). I had a sample of the maocha (毛茶 – maocha; literally “rough tea”), so I really got to see the long, full leaves that are present in the cake.

This just looks sooooo good
This just looks sooooo good

Steeping

Since it’s a very young sheng, you don’t need to rinse it for very long (or at all, if you don’t want). The rinse tasted as if it were from Jingmai (景迈) – notes of butter, honey, and overall sweetness. The first five-second steep is lightly vegetal with a distinct creaminess. There are also tastes of crisp green apples and a little bit of spice.

2016 whispering sunshine CLT steep 1
Light and sweet with bright energy

Steeps Two through Four – These next few steeps are a journey through the life of a young sheng. It’s finally hitting it’s stride and giving some of the bitterness, astringency, and floral nature that you expect to find in young, abrasive sheng. Steep two actually hit me with some energy and a strong headfeel. This was followed up by some cooling notes on the tongue. Steeps three and four built up the floral aspects of the tea and an increase in the vegetal flavor. The overall taste is still light and sweet.

2016 whispering sunshine CLT steep 4
Delicious session so far

Finishing the Session

Going into the fifth and sixth steeps, there’s a much stronger vegetal/floral nature and some pointed bitterness. Lots of bitterness and astringency (苦 – ku; literally “bitter”, 涩 – se; literally “astringent”); however, these are followed by a pleasant sweetness. The tea starts to get very heavy in the stomach. I think it’s no longer whispering to me anymore.

Happy cat, happy life
Happy cat, happy life

This tea finishes off by slowly fading back into the original sweetness found in the rinse and first steep. The tea may whisper, but through the heart of the session, it sure had a lot to say.

Until the next cup.

2016 “Secret Garden” – Bitterleaf Teas

Bitterleaf Teas is a relatively new puerh vendor that has been making quite a splash on social media. In fact, until I kept seeing everyone else’s posts about this company, I didn’t even know it existed! With that being said, I did what any other sane puerh addict would do – bought some tea. The tea for today is the 2016 “Secret Garden” which is a sheng puerh (生 – sheng, 普洱 – puerh) pressed into a 200 gram disk shape (餅 – bing; literally “cake”).

So much color
So much color

Bitterleaf states that this tea is from an area just outside of Yiwu and is made from “old tree (100+ year) material.” In a broad definition, that would make this tea gushu (树 – gushu; literally “ancient tree”).

Note on tea tree age: There are a few mixed opinions on what are the different age ranges for tea trees. There are three general ranges:

  • xiaoshu (小树 – xiaoshu; literally “young tree”) – less than 20 years old; cultivated tree
  • qiaomu (乔木 – qiaomu; literally “tall tree” or “arbor”) – more than 20, but less than 80 years old; non-cultivated tree
  • gushu/dashu (古树 – gushu; literally “ancient tree”/大树 – dashu; literally “big tree”) – more than 80 years old

Buyer warning: Buying from unknown vendors or companies that don’t source their own tea may list things as “gushu” when they really aren’t. It might even be marked “gushu” on the wrapper! That doesn’t really apply here, but it’s a helpful tip when shopping around.

Gaiwan'd up and ready to go
Gaiwan’d up and ready to go

Steeping

The flash rinse is a very light peach color and has an interesting pear note. The leaf smells slightly vegetal, but not as much as other young shengs such as the 2016 “Whispering Sunshine” from Crimson Lotus Tea. The first full steep has a much fuller flavor with crisp apple notes and a slight floral aroma. I can feel the energy in my head, but that might also be because I’m drinking young sheng on an empty stomach…

Just getting started...
Just getting started…

Steeps Two through Four

There’s a beautiful depth to this tea even in the early steeps. Sweetness is subduing a mild bitterness across the tongue. There’s also a very nice throat-feel (喉韵 – houyun; literally “throat charm”) that lingers for quite some time. Building through the steeps to the heart of the session, there is more of the floral bitterness followed by a nice sweetness (回甜 – huigan; literally “sweet return”). There is some slight tea energy (茶气 – cha qi), which is more typical of older tree material.

Great mouthfeel and flavor
Great mouthfeel and flavor

Steeps Five through Eight

Through the rest of the session and as the steeps get longer, the bitter characteristics wane and reveal a floral, sweet, wood profile. There is still some crisp fruit flavors as secondary notes. After the steeps get to a minute long, the sweet floral notes are the dominating characteristics of the tea.

I need a snack now...
I need a snack now…

Finishing the Session

This tea is characteristic, to me, of one that will get better with age. While you could drink it all now, the bitterness will fade with age and the lingering qi will grow. I think that this could be a special tea in 15 years, but who knows if it’ll be gone by then. I guess the best thing to do is to throw it in the back of the pumidor and wait.. and wait… and wait.

Until the next cup.