446 Tasting Notes
I still have a couple of samples from derk to go through, this being one ticked off the list today. It’s a nice semi-aged tea that’s different from the ones I own in a similar age category. Instead of being herbaceuos or fruity, it is more on the nutty and bitter side.
In the aroma, I could smell some wet storage notes, but this didn’t translate into the taste. Instead, the profile was sweet, vegetal, bitter, and nutty (walnut skin, chestnut). The aftertaste was nicely warming with a touch of a camphor note to it.
I also quite liked the mouthfeel, something I often find to be a weak point of these kind of teas. It was soft and active with good viscosity, but felt light in the mouth at the same time. I also got a hint of a sedating sort of cha qi.
Flavors: Bitter, Camphor, Chestnut, Nuts, Nutty, Sweet, Vegetal, Vinegar, Walnut
In my recent CS order, I added this sencha. It is much more expensive than your average sencha, but based on the description I wasn’t sure why exactly was it special. Having tried it now, I can see why its uniqueness may be hard to convey in words.
There are no specific aspects of it that are very unusual on their own I would say. The tea has an aroma of freshly cut grass, while the taste profile has a strong umami, nice grassy sweetness, good minerality and almost no harsh bitterness or astringency. It is very elegant and balanced, yet strong tasting. There are many fleeting notes to be uncovered, let me just mention lime and pine nuts, others escape my mind now.
The aftertaste is long, grassy, expansive and cooling with an interesting returning fragrance. Later on it gets a bit more spicy and herbaceous. Texture wise, the tea is viscous, thick and buttery, plus I get a good body warming sensation.
All in all, this is just such an elegant and tasty green tea that I think it might even be worth the high price for special occasions. The fact that it lasts almost twice as long as an average sencha just underscores that.
Flavors: Freshly Cut Grass, Grass, Herbaceous, Lime, Mineral, Nuts, Pine, Spicy, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal
Here’s a yearly report on my Crimson Rooster cake. About one year after I got it, there are no off fermentation flavours left as far as I can tell. I can detect more umami, woody and creamy notes than I remember, and overall the complexity seems to have improved. I really like the cocoa bitterness present, which don’t seem to have faded since a year ago. The aftertaste then has a good nuttiness to it. As far as the aroma is concerned, a bit of leather and spices appears in the dry leaf smell, while the wet leaf aroma has notes of cream, chicken meat, clean wet earth on top of the ones in my previous note.
Flavors: Bitter, Cocoa, Cream, Leather, Meat, Nutty, Spices, Umami, Wet Earth, Wood
As far as I can remember, I haven’t had a purple (Zi Juan) varietal made in sheng before. I’ve had a the Purple Beauty green tea, which although I found very unique, I couldn’t quite get behind; and then also some Kenyan white and oolong teas. I am also still yet to try a black tea from this varietal, which I think should work well. In spite of my inconsistent reception of Zi Cha, I decided to get a whole cake (albeit a small 100g one) of Dragon Blood, aiming to try to understand it better than a couple of sessions from a sample allow for. And after my first session with the tea today, I am glad I did. The profile is reminiscent of Purple Beauty, but the overall experience is more positive.
The dry leaves smell of forest floor, smoke – a sign of things to come. On the other hand, the aromas emerging from the wet leaves are so unique I can’t place them at all. The scent is a bit cedar/forest like, a bit like an aged sheng, but also unlike anything I know. Maybe if I were familiar with the dragon blood incense, I could make a better comparison. The aroma in the empty cup is then very woody and sweet, which matches the aftertaste to a certain degree as one would expect.
The rinse is already very flavourful – citrusy, mushroomy, and metallic. It has a frothy texture and a buttery aftertaste. The first infusion has the profile of an aged sheng, with a good sweetness and a strong note of citrus zest. It is very smooth and viscous initially, then a little powdery, and sandpaper-like after swallowing, without much astringency. Some astringency does however appear from 2nd infusion onward. The taste profile then becomes more woody and smoky, with flavours of conifer trees, carambola, copper, bok choy, and charcoal roasted aubergine. There is a strong woody sweetness throughout that persists into the aftertaste, which also displays notes of licorice root and pine needles.
I was also happy to learn that the tea has a strong defocusing cha qi, which is exactly what I needed today. It helps me fight some mild paranoia and makes me want to dance at the same time.
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEOYY4rLJrE
Flavors: Astringent, Butter, Cedar, Char, Citrus, Citrus Zest, Earth, Forest Floor, Fruity, Licorice, Metallic, Mineral, Mushrooms, Pine, Smoke, Sweet, Umami, Vegetables, Wood
Boychik kindly sent me a sample of this tea together with a bunch of teas I bought from her, and I drank it today as I was craving some aged sheng. I definitely enjoyed it and found it to be quite easy to drink with no noticeable off notes. It ranks above average as far as the semi-aged sheng I’ve tried thus far goes.
The taste is very smooth and somewhat herbaceous (pine) and fruity, with a strong menthol/camphor note and a sour finish. Aftertaste is cooling with a lasting sweetness and notes of wood and papaya. I found body decently thick and the texture quite bubbly, especially in the first few steeps.
One downside of this tea is that it doesn’t really last beyond 9 or 10 infusions, but frankly for a 14 year old tea at this price, one probably shouldn’t expect much more.
Flavors: Camphor, Fruity, Herbaceous, Menthol, Pine, Smooth, Sour, Sweet, Tropical, Wood
Here’s a tea to remind one of the immense variety found in this plant and raw pu’er specifically. This Jing Mai is really quite different from anything I’ve had but it reminds me a bit of W2T’s If You’re Reading This (but it’s more floral) and some Dan Cong oolongs (but it’s more vegetal). The complexity of the tea and its uniqueness mean that you shouldn’t expect anything close to a complete description of its character from this note. As Scott says, this is a tea that should be experienced first hand.
Among the aromatics present, none were particularly dominant, but I could smell honey, decaying grass, roasted nuts, raisins, and there is a sort of metallic tinge to the aroma. Later on in the session, I get a scent of vomit and decaying apples.
The taste truly escapes any words I can attach to it. It has medium to strong bitterness and a very herbaceous, mineral character. There is a fruity sweetness and juiciness (raspberries and apples), medicinal notes (think cough syrup), strong umami and savoury backbone, floral fragrance (orchid and dandelion) that dances on the back of my tongue and gets somewhat overwhelming in late steeps, and other aspects including notes of bog and tree bark.
The bitterness fades fairly quickly and leaves a numbing sensation, especially on the sides of the mouth. The aftertaste is very long, floral and metallic with notes of sweet grass, straw, white wine, and blood, among others. Within about an hour after drinking I get a kind of a dong ding like aftertaste!
The liquor has a medium body with a decent astringency, while I would describe the mouthfeel as oily and active. Completing the experience is a strong, grounding cha qi, that is of the mind numbing and dreamy kind.
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6ljyqDB15o
Flavors: Alcohol, Apple, Astringent, Bark, Bitter, Cut grass, Dandelion, Floral, Honey, Medicinal, Metallic, Mineral, Orchid, Raspberry, Roast nuts, Salt, Straw, Sweet, warm grass, Umami, Vegetal, White Wine
[Summer 2019 harvest]
It’s always fun to drink teas without knowing much what to expect, but these experiences seem to get rarer as we move along our tea journey, at least unless we specifically design them to be such. Today was the first time I tried a Japanese black tea and I really wasn’t sure what to expect. It turned out to be a bit like an autumn flush Darjeeling with extra umami notes. The most striking feature was the long, pungent and abrasive aftertaste, but the flavour notes were quite interesting too.
Dry leaves smelled of stonefruit pits and burnt meadow/hay, while the wet leaf aroma was more on the side of sweet wood, butter, peach, and anchovies. In the empty cup, I could also detect lavender and aged red wine.
The first infusion was very sharp and astringent with a light body, but a bold spicy, tart and bitter taste. Subsequent steeps didn’t really have any of that bitterness, but had more sourness (rice vinegar), umami (soy sauce), sweetness (caramel), woody and malty notes. The texture also became very smooth quickly, while still retaining a lot of that astringency. The body was medium to light and the mouthfeel fairly bubbly.
Flavors: Astringent, Biting, Burnt, Butter, Caramel, Drying, Hay, Lavender, Malt, Oak wood, Peach, Red Wine, Rice, Sour, Soy sauce, Spices, Spicy, Stonefruits, Sweet, Tart, Umami, Vinegar, Wood
It’s been a year since I started this little storage experiment with my two identical cakes of He Kai sheng from Jalam Teas. One of them is stored in the “natural” Canadian storage in my living space (I will call this one the “dry” one), the other one together with all the other cakes in a controlled environment (which I will refer to as the “humid” one). Let’s see what the difference is, if any, after one year.
From the very start, there is a startling difference in terms of the aroma. The “dry” version has a strong creamy, sweet, grassy, and milky scent, while the leaves of the “humid” version smell flowery with notes of honey and breckland thyme. The two are really quite different, but neither seems ‘better’ per se.
The humid one has a very slightly darker liquor and is less green in the leaves. The next significant difference comes about in the taste. The profiles are not that different, but the dry tea has a short finish, and is more subdued and metallic in general. The humid version has a much more pronounced taste with a stronger huigan. It is grassy with a biting finish and a sweet, cooling aftertaste. The late infusions seems to be more similar overall.
As for the mouthfeel, I’d say the humid tea thicker body, is more astringent and has a more distinctively creamy and lubricating texture.
It’s hard to extract any significant conclusion from this session, but at the very least it doesn’t make me disassemble my pu’er storage solutions :D
Flavors: Biting, Bitter, Creamy, Floral, Grass, Honey, Metallic, Sweet, Thyme
This is not the most complex or unique sencha, it’s just very solid. It has clear liquor, a well balanced astringency and bitterness as well as a good range of flavours. The body is medium and the mouthfeel on the oily side I’d say.
I didn’t find the aroma to be particularly strong, but I did detect notes of green vegetables, banana, baked bread in the dry leaf scent. First infusion is very mineral and yeasty with a light sweetness and an intriguing spiciness. There are marine notes as well as a bone broth flavour. Subsequent steeps highlight more of vegetable and fruity flavours, such as broccoli and peach. The aftertaste has a sugary sweetness throughout, but not that much going on beyond that.
Flavors: Baked Bread, banana, Broccoli, Broth, Drying, Fruity, Marine, Mineral, Peach, Pleasantly Sour, Spicy, Sugar, Sweet, Umami, Vegetables, Yeast
This tea teaches you restraint…or makes you broke. On the other hand, it steeps at least 1.5 times longer than most cheaper tea, which I guess makes it cheaper, relatively speaking.
Any tea that makes me crave it 3 months after the only time I’ve had it is a special one…or maybe I’m just addicted to tea.
Actually, I definitely am