118 Tasting Notes
After all the hyper exxy pu, it is hard to believe this darj was a mere 3 cents per gram. Gave it the gongfu treatment for comparison’s sake. The fragrance is still beautiful. Dried stone fruits. Leaves not fully intact but rehydrate into large chunks. It is mixed with a great deal of dust, so use a very fine filter or teabag. I have been hearing so much hatred against all darj lately, but this tea is not so terrible, especially for this price. I am skeptical it is really organic and the grade labeled on the bag – FTGFOP1. But it is absolutely drinkable. Smells great. Tastes all right. I don’t see the problem besides possible vendor dishonesty.
Scent is bacon. Taste is beany. I am using a gaiwan and pouring when it gets to be a color I want to drink. Every sip is filtered. This had some dust in the beginning. This tea is not dynamic in terms of flavor. It is probably too smoky for my taste. It isn’t outright offensive or anything, but given the potentially polarizing persistent char element, it does not offer much else. If there is a hidden song of flavor or sensation in this tea, I have yet to find it.
Flavors: Beany, Meat, Smoke
This tea is every bit as fragrant as potpourri in the first few steeps. It feels like I am being allowed/forced to drink a strong perfume. It largely dissipates by steep 4 or 5, and there is no way to know if the people lovingly packing [Btw these rectangular sample packets are very thoughtfully wrapped. After months of opening designer ziploc bags (hip and efficient but soulless, and basically impossible to reach the final bits of tea wedged into the hard inner folded corners) from other sources, I was moved by the meditative novelty of unwrapping chunks of tea swaddled like a baby in a single sheet of very intentionally designed paper. It is non-intuitive for modern times, I would not have gone with this palette, and maybe it will get tiresome as time passes, but it is a lovely human touch nonetheless. Koreans hold dear an untranslatable value called 정성 that includes, among other things, an extraordinarily high level of attention paid throughout a given task, and a version of it is palpable in this sort of packaging, which exudes warmth, expertise, focus, and care, all in one go. I think the slang for this sort of thing is “so extra”. Top marks here for memorable user experience design.] the samples are matching up the labels to the correct teas, but I would not describe this scent as vegetal or “sweet corn”. To me, it’s aggressively floral, more like lilies or lilacs or hyacinths or some other very pungent flower. I would believe it if they told me they’d accidentally splashed an eau de parfum on this tiny chunk of dried leaf. I was apprehensive to taste it at all, because I had not enjoyed teas labeled “Lincang” before. Then again, my process for brewing sheng has evolved considerably over this past year, so perhaps I should go back and give the other one another go. I don’t know yet if it’s good or bad, but these teas from CLT are so far not what I expected. The first sheng I tried from them was like warm sticky rice water, and this one was most like concentrated floral perfume. I am very curious now what the others will be like.
Flavors: Floral, Perfume
Broke ball in half and brewed in a 80ml yellow clay pot that takes forever to empty. It took a while to get the hang of this tea. It smells quite nice for the price. The first post-rinse steep was tasteless, because the chunk had yet to loosen up. Discard.
The next one I oversteeped. The tea does not react well to oversteeping. It is a cat that swipes right at your eyes for f-ing up. I eventually fixed the problem by beginning to drain immediately after pouring the water in. Then it purrs like it’s gonna fall asleep right in your lap.
Steep 8 was fascinating, because it did not taste like tea, but a comfy, savory leafy veggie broth. Almost rice-y, like the final sips of sungnyung, but with no toasted flavor to it. I think people who taste this will agree with me.
If this could be kept more or less at the steep 8 flavor, I’d want to add some salt to a whole pot of it and try it with some somyun as an experiment.
After it hits the rice-y, mineral-y point, it doesn’t change much. It has a good body throughout, and no qi to speak of.
I like it. I would not have identified it in a blind tasting as a sheng at all. I kept staring at the pot to make sure I was still brewing tea. But I like rice and sungnyung, so I had a good time. I wonder what a shou made of this material would taste like.
Flavors: Mineral, Rice, Seaweed
Can’t just have tea all the time. My favorite use of valrhona used to be ice cold chocolate milk during the dog days of summer, but a. it’s almost winter, and b. I can’t have dairy anymore. I am also out of nut milk. So this was just pure cocoa powder, ceylon cinnamon, coriander, an amount of vanilla extract that we shall not talk about, brown sugar, and a few squares of unsweetened dark chocolate whisked together in hot water. Effect immediate. Mood excellent.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Coriander, Dark Chocolate, Vanilla
I’m about halfway through this whole set. Some of the cakes I liked, and some I do not care for at all, which is I suppose the entire purpose of an offering such as this one. But I would be surprised if anyone liked all four of these. Compared to the better cakes where you can find whole leaves and somewhat better hygiene, these are more mulch-y with much more dust and random tiny human hairs. With some minor extra labor, you can still squeeze some fairly decent tea out of it. But I would say do not drink the rinses on these out of curiosity, and use the finest filter you have to avoid the real dust, the tea dust, as well as other random unappetizing detritus. It was a reasonably priced provision of 400grams of raw puer, but I do not think anyone who has tried it would buy this set twice.
Finished my tiny sample. It still felt like spending a bunch of time with someone who wears many products w/ a subtle synthetic fragrance, strong enough to be noticed but not distinct enough to be identified. The taste and scent are not really my speed, but the energy, as others have noted, is upbeat. Other shengs can make you feel weird or too relaxed. This one will have you feeling like you can go socialize with normal people who spend too much time at the mall. It took about an hour for me to get to steep 11 (after which I set aside the leaves to brew grandpa later).
Tried this again several times, with different leaf to water ratios and steep times. The experience remains fairly consistent. The first 6 steeps or so can be fairly pleasant, but after that, it becomes terribly smoky no matter how carefully I filter it. It is not the enjoyable peatiness of a Laphroaig, but a thick, dirty feeling coat in the mouth and throat like you’ve been gagged with a huge wad of soggy cigarette butts. This is decidedly not what I am looking for in a young sheng, and if this is what’s “necessary” to get a certain taste profile when aged, I’m still not interested, because it really just tastes gross after ~5 cups and I will never be able to dis-associate that yuckiness from a related taste profile.