121 Tasting Notes
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.
Yesterday I used Szechuan peppercorns generously in my soup and my tongue has not yet recovered. But this tea is pleasant today. I think all previous times I had done 5g, but maybe that is usually too much caffeine for me. Will have to try all the teas with less leaf.
Flavors: Butter, Toasted, Vanilla
I was simply gnawing on goji berries like they are raisins all these years until someone reintroduced them to me last week as something that can be brewed as a tea (and eaten). Added to my pot w/ some fresh sliced ginger.
This is a baller winter beverage. After months of mostly drinking puer and some green and heicha to break up the monotony, ginger goji tea is a flavor party. All of my sessions for the next week will perhaps stink of ginger, but that is not necessarily a bad thing during flu season. Anything to ward off the sniffles.
Flavors: Ginger, Goji
This was my very first fu zhuan tea. The outer part of the brick does not show any golden flowers, but when you dig a bit deeper into the brick, the tiny beneficial mold spheres reveal themselves. It is repulsive because we are conditioned to not ingest anything so scary looking, especially from a foreign country labeled in a language we cannot completely read, but a relief to verify that I had found the right thing on the first try despite acquiring it unopened and brand new from a grandpa I do not know who was downsizing his tea collection. I tasted the outer chunk first after two long rinses. It is really a perfect digestive beverage. You can feel the large meal you ate actively dissolve with great haste within you after you drink this. Later in the day, I tried the inner chunk dotted with golden flowers. As promised, the leaves smelled convincingly of dark honey and the soup tasted sweeter than the first chunk. The color of the liquid ranges from a deep gold to a warm red depending on the length of the steeps, but it loses most of its flavor by around steep 8. In the latter steeps, it tastes more like a strong black tea than anything else, but the early steeps are quite unique, I imagine, to this genre of “golden flowers”. It is such an interesting tea. I will be drinking it regularly this winter to learn more about it. I don’t see how anyone can refrain from eating more food after a session or two of this tea, though. It is like 15 out of 10 on the munchies meter.
Flavors: Berries, Honey
Rinsed it hot twice in case it was dank like the 80’s one people complained about. The first few steeps tasted old and vanilla-y. I like sour foods generally, so maybe I am not the best judge of unpleasant sour tastes, because my threshold is likely higher than that of others due to the sheer quantity of sour fermented foods and drinks I consume. Is this a little sour? A little? Dunno. But it is surely nothing compared to a sour ale.. Not much energy in this tea, though. Will need to leaf it harder next time.
This tea is too expensive for anyone to get it solely for this purpose, but here’s the thing. I don’t have a good reaction to it during gong fu sessions, but even 3 grams of spent leaves added to a 500ml pot of more spent leaves brewed grandpa style really elevates the brew and gives it a great energy. :shrug: Maybe this tea just gets good results from straight up boiling?
It may be the tea is so mild/mellow that all I taste is the bamboo. I have tried this many times since ordering a brick blind this past spring. It’s not bad, and will rev you up for sure, but it can kind of feel like you’re sucking on clean disposable bamboo chopsticks for the first 10 steeps or so. I will try fewer grams next time.