118 Tasting Notes
2. Smells like a breakfast cereal that I can’t place.
3-7 Has a temper if you oversteep, but smells dynamic. I do not have the time today to pay attention to each change. This sessions’s already been interrupted by 4 phone calls and a vast stream of texts. All I can say is that the mystery cereal is gone and has been replaced a sprightly vegetal thing. Throat feels a bit dry.
8. The energy is like the melodic line of “Once Upon A Dream” from Sleeping Beauty. The visual is princess Aurora waltzing with the birds and squirrel and the bunnies in the forest. https://youtu.be/LCCxnuLlS18?t=6
The harshness of newer sheng will give me a tummy ache if I go past 7 or 8 steeps, so I will stop here.
The color of the tea liquid is pretty. There are a few seeds mixed in with the leaf. You will taste what you smell in the wet leaf, which is a good thing here. I bet those who like smoother, blended whiskeys would enjoy this old, complex but rounded out shou with a subtle, sweet aftertaste. If Santa visited, you’d offer him milk and cookies. If Zatoichi visited, maybe you’d see if he’d like some of this even if he is usually more of a hojicha drinker. The wet leaf scent will make you feel like you are taking a wonderful hot spring bath in a very safe, secluded forest. I can see how others taste smoky mushroom or moss or nuts or leather or books. It is a nice gentlemanly older shou that will please most people. I prefer teas with more energy, but mugs of this would be an excellent choice to carry you through an interminable formal event.
Flavors: Caramel, Hay, Wet Wood
Btw, the humidity where I am is out of whack because of the onset of cold weather and the heat that is now on at all times. I bought humidity packs for the tea but have yet to figure out an optimal solution, and have also not yet cleaned/turned on the humidifier for humans in the house. I have been smelling rice on so many CLT productions. I wonder if it’s partly because I use a gaiwan more often now, and I smell the leaves directly and more easily. I also wonder if it’s because I have to figure out how to stabilize humidity at home.
Anyway, I really like this tea. I could tell it was going to be good from the very first sip, so I relaxed and did not pay close attention to the scents and such. There is almost no bitterness well into steep 12, and a very clean, consistent energy throughout. There isn’t much qi to speak of, but at this price point, that’s fair. I was afraid after steep 6 it was going to turn smokey like the expensive Dayi I hated, but it stayed pleasant. It is not nearly as astringent as the one I tried yesterday, 2017 Jinggu Bang, and that makes sense, because this is 1 year older. All in all, I felt reassured by this tea. The scent is subtle and would not be out of place at a high end spa.
I was not a fan of the intense fartlike opening notes, which may be an acquired taste. However, this tea has really won me over within 7 steeps (the first of which was a discarded rinse). The energy is like that of a clear-eyed friend with a fine strength of character who coaxes some sense and calm into you in the midst of chaos. We do not need such valuable friends to smell great.
I was not going to try this for another week, but the hive mind inspired me so into the gaiwan little mr. mushroom went. I agree with everyone who tasted vanilla and cocoa. I not so long ago had a real hot cocoa from scratch with a ton of vanilla extract dumped into it, and this tastes like it, except with an almost menthol like cooling aftertaste. I had Jade Rabbit earlier in the day, so I don’t know how much of it is from that. But what’s for sure is that this petite darling of the shouniverse would make a wonderful après-ski drink. It is like your peppermint hot chocolate w/ vanilla marshmallows went to a strict boarding school and matured into an elegant princess.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Menthol, Vanilla
1. Tasted but did not drink rinse. Seems like Jingmai.
2-4. Faint apricots and fresh rice. Perhaps the rice comes from Kunlu and the apricots from Bangdong. Do raws get scented w/nuomixiang as well?
I started this last night and took many breaks, finishing it today. Kept making me rather sleepy.
My primary experience was that it smelled like sweet rice. I also suspect Jade Rabbit will respond very well to boiling. Going past 15 steeps does yield something more, but the amount of time and patience it takes to get there with gongfu is not in my budget, esp since it makes me so sleepy. I think I will do 10 steeps and grandpa the rest next time.
Flavors: Apricot, Rice
I have ordered another filter just in case that helps, but it has not arrived yet. This had so much fine dust despite long rinses, being a fairly recent sheng, and in a form factor that I assumed would be cleaner than average. I filtered it 3x, and it still has a gross layer of visible floating dust. I can’t pay attention to the flavors or scents because I am thinking about the dust. :T I may have to use disposable teabags from now on.
Did 3 rinses because the first sip post 2 rinses was utterly devoid of flavor. To be fair, I did not time them. I recommend double length steeps for this or maybe just grandpa, because it does not seem to reward the focus lavished upon a tea during a gongfu session. It has no off flavors, but also not much discernable personality for now. We are evidently not yet close enough friends to go off on a road trip together. 7 was a minute long but only yielded a faint added note of caramel. I will have to try this again some other time to be sure, but as of this morning I am not too excited about it.
Tried the steep I left sitting since the morning. It was nearly black and tasted of cocoa. My guess is if you brew this grandpa in a thermos and take it on the road, you will get a crowdpleasing neutral chocolatey thing, but I am a weirdo and like both my politicians and teas to challenge me with strong and detailed opinions. In that regard, this tea fails me, but that’s just me. You may love it.
Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Coffee, Metallic, Wet Wood
At first, I was a bit bored by the opening flavor profile because I’ve had quite a few young yiwu huang pian shous. I was like all right, I guess I’ll finish this so as to not waste it. But it softly chuckles along on a subtle, gradual flavor/sensory progression, and the journey is unexpectedly elaborate. After a few hours of thinking about it, I found a fitting metaphor, but it makes me sound downright batty so I will not share it. However, I will leave you with this. Maybe CLT named this the Iron Forge not because it is the perfect drink for bourbon-swilling blacksmiths, but because of the slow burn of peaceful warmth that emanates from a session.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Forest Floor, Wet Earth, Wet wood
Accidentally did the whole session at the higher leaf ratio of 4g/45-50ml. But it was nice. I hate to break up these balls but 8 grams will often be far too much caffeine for me in one sitting. The scent of apricots is unmistakeable. Whereas the nose in tea is usually of dried fruit, this one smells like we splashed in a bit of preserves or juice. Taste and body are low key. Unassuming. A few steeps in, the juicy apricots give way to baek ahng geum (백앙금) or the sweetened white bean paste filling found in Korean pastries. I pushed a little hard and got some astringency but overall this has been quite a gentle, forgiving tea. Now the sweetness has mostly gone and the scent is of hot savory ground up legumes of some sort, peas, beans, or lentils. I dunno why but steep 6 is my favorite so far in terms of taste and mouthfeel. Do not waste this as a shared beverage during a serious conversation. You will want to focus on the tea. Several of CLT’s offerings have tasted and smelled bean-y to me, and it would be fun to know why. 7 and 8 were also lovely. Comfy scent. Nice mouthfeels. 9 and 10 are also yummy. The scent now has some faint florals in it on top of the beans. Overall, it smells like the kitchen of a very loveable cook. Isn’t that strange? It could give more if boiled, but I am calling this done at 11.
Flavors: Apricot, Beany, Floral, Sugar