399 Tasting Notes
Last of my run of 6 Bitterleaf huangpians is “Be Yourself”. This one seems the most ready for casual drinking now. It is smooth, inoffensive and quite tasty.
Dry leaf aroma is mostly floral and honey-like, but there are also notes of cake, cut grass, and gasoline. Wet leaves smell quite different. The fragrance is hard to describe, but it reminds me of various foods like fried potatoes, bok choy, courgette flowers, and coriander seeds.
The taste is sweet, creamy, and vegetal with a decent umami. There is basically no astringency and only a touch of bitterness. Mouthfeel is milky and super smooth with a medium to full body. All in all, a very easy-to-drink tea. The aftertaste is not as prolonged as I would like, which is probably the main ‘issue’ I have with it. There is a light camphor note, which is nice though.
Flavors: Bok Choy, Cake, Camphor, Coriander Seed, Cream, Creamy, Cut grass, Floral, Flowers, Honey, Potato, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Vegetal, Zucchini
Among all the huangpian from BLT, this one is probably the boldest. I haven’t had many Hekai/Pasha teas, but I feel like it represents well the character that people tend to talk about in relation to greater Bu Lang area. I have no doubt this tea would age well, but I don’t think I have the capacity to stock up on tea like this.
The dry leaf smell reminds me of clean smoke, pine, but it has a sweet, metallic character that I noticed in all the huangpian teas I’ve been sampling. There is still some light smoke even in the wet leaf aroma, accompanied by notes of mushrooms and dark, bio-rich soil. There is also a very strong honey fragrance in the cup.
The taste is very astringent, crisp, and tangy with a sour finish. It is somewhat reminiscent of Yunnan green teas of the slightly smoky, woody, and grassy kind. There is a definite dry grass flavour, as well as a pear-like fruitiness. In the aftertaste, notes of fermented fruits/alcohol, rosemary, and myrrh emerge. Overall, it is a pungent profile, although not overly complex in its current young state.
Another positive for “Don’t be Sad” is the thick, colloidal texture. Together with the astringency, it makes for an engaging mouthfeel, which is further complemented by a strong numbing sensation on the sides of the mouth.
Flavors: Astringent, Dry Grass, Earth, Forest Floor, Fruity, Herbaceous, Honey, Metallic, Mushrooms, Pear, Pine, Resin, Smoke, Sour, Tangy, Wood
This morning I felt like having some nice black tea and the choice came down to Mountain Nectar – one of my favourites – that I’ve only had twice thus far. Despite that, the unique profile and unparalleled complexity stuck in my mind.
Dry leaves exude an aroma that’s a blend of cookies, fruits (apricot) and flowers (black locust). In a preheated teapot, this changes to fermented fruits, stewed fresh tomatoes and mango. Yet again, the smell of wet leaves is very different, but beautiful. It has notes of massage lotion, eucalyptus, carrot cake, and forest.
The taste profile is mildly sweet and fruity, with a nutty spiciness, some inexplicable herbaceous quality, and woody finish. Few of the flavours I detected are nutmeg, butter, brown sugar, orange, tomato vine, and marjoram. Second infusion also has notes of roasted hazelnuts and toffee. When brewed more aggressively, the tea displays more of a malty quality too. Aftertaste starts with a quinine-like bitterness, but evolves into an enduring sweetness soon. Further flavours that emerge in the aftertaste include likes of licorice root, burnt food, and spinach.
The texture of the liquor is extremely soft, velvety, and creamy, with a medium body. After swallowing, I get a drying sensation in the throat rather than the mouth and a sandpaper-like mouthfeel.
Flavors: Alcohol, Apricot, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Burnt Food, Butter, Cake, Carrot, Cookie, Drying, Eucalyptus, Flowers, Forest Floor, Fruit Tree Flowers, Fruity, Hazelnut, Herbaceous, Herbs, Licorice, Malt, Mango, Menthol, Nutmeg, Nutty, Orange, Plant Stems, Spices, Spinach, Stewed Fruits, Toffee, Wood
Last tea for the day, doing 4 reviews in one day may be my new record. This one is really solid. It did not wow me as much as “Keep Smiling”, but even here it’s hard to find any drawbacks. It’s full bodied, smooth and flavourful with a character that’s oscillating between floral and fruity.
Dry leaves smell sweet and metallic, while once wet, there is a distinctive apple aroma as well as a flowery scent. The liquor tastes sweet and juicy with very little bitterness or astringency. There are notes of fermented fruits, apple, banana, and various florals. The profile is not so far from a Taiwanese mountain oolong. The aftertaste is very fragrant and slightly cooling with flavours of sugarcane, straw, and rapeseed. One of the highlights is the thick and creamy mouthfeel, it really elevates this tea above the average in the $0.1/g category. I also found the cha qi fairly defocusing and disorienting – this tea may not be the best to drink while working, but it’s hard to judge that from one session alone.
Flavors: Apple, banana, Floral, Flowers, Fruit Tree Flowers, Fruity, Metallic, Smooth, Straw, Sugarcane, Sweet, Thick
This is a fragrant and fairly balanced although light tea. I liked the 2018 version quite a bit more, so I wonder if there is short term improvement to be expected from this one. We will see. The 2019 one seems to lack some punch to it – it’s somewhat boring to be honest.
The aroma is a mix of fruit tree flowers and a metallic one. Specific scent include likes of peach, orange blossom, and peat. The taste is light throughout the session, but the main flavour notes are cream, wood, and an ever present fruity sweetness. The aftertaste is cooling with a slightly more vegetal character, a bit like okra. Texture wise the liquor is smooth and silky, but quite light bodied.
Flavors: Cream, Fruit Tree Flowers, Fruity, Metallic, Orange Blossom, Peach, Peat, Sweet, Vegetal, Wood
ok, this tea took me by surprise. It is so flavourful and tasty! The best huang pian I have tried for sure. The pungent and complex yet balanced character it has is rare to get even among standard sheng. Highly recommended!
The dry leaf smell is vegetal with notes of green peppercorn and cream. The aroma changes considerably after the leaves are immersed in water. Scents reminiscent of freshly cut grass, petrichor, gin, tobacco, dungeon, and peat come to the fore.
Taste is bitter, sweet and tangy with a beautiful fruity tartness. Among all the flavours I would highlight those of forest, lemon, spinach, and grapefruit skin. The aftertaste is warming and long-lasting, changing over time from bittersweet to spicy to floral. There are notes such as butter, cinnamon, black pepper, and a strong orchid fragrance that persists.
The mouthfeel is soft and the body medium thick. The first couple of steeps are drying on the sides of the mouth, and I get a tingling sensation at the back of the mouth throughout the whole session. The cha qi is very pleasant. I would describe its main features as being awakening and chest warming, but the tea does also heighten my perceptions overall.
It is hard to come up with any negatives of this tea whatsoever. Maybe at times one would like a thicker body, but that’s not necessarily always the case, and the mouthfeel here is more than interesting enough. At $0.11/g, this may even be the best value for a sheng I have ever come across.
Flavors: Biting, Bitter, Black Pepper, Butter, Cinnamon, Citrus Zest, Cream, Floral, Flowers, Forest Floor, Freshly Cut Grass, Fruity, Grapefruit, Herbaceous, Lemon, Orchid, Peppercorn, petrichor, Spicy, Spinach, Sweet, Tangy, Tart, Tobacco, Vegetal
I recently got a lot of fresh huang pian from BLT, this being one of the bricks. I plan to use them for drinking at work as well as in the evenings.
I have to start this note with a qualification. I think I overbrewed the first few infusions because I didn’t take into account the extent of leaf breakage. Maybe next time my impression will be better, unhindered by this issue. Despite that, the tea lasted for 10 strong infusions, so it does not seem lack longetivity. Overall, it is a floral sheng that is more about the mouthfeel than the taste.
The dry leaf smell is quite weak and lacks the crispness common in young sheng. Instead, it is more earthy and deep with a floral sweetness. Wet leaf aroma is more complex with notes such as cream, cut grass, bell pepper, gasoline, and seaweed.
Taste-wise, I found the tea to be a mix of metallic and floral with an astringent finish and a sour bite in the throat. The aftertaste is expansive and cooling with a strong huigan. I detected flavours like sourdough bread, stewed vegetables, vanilla, and apple.
The mouthfeel is quite numbing and throat-clenching. As for the cha qi, it is mellow but noticeable, with a calming and mind-clearing quality.
Flavors: Apple, Astringent, Baked Bread, Bell Pepper, Cream, Cut grass, Floral, Marine, Metallic, Seaweed, Sour, Vanilla, Vegetables
This is a great tea with complex aromas, awesome mouthfeel, and a balanced taste. The aroma is cooling, floral, and sweet with notes of leather, old books, jiaogulan, honey, and urine. Taste is slightly sour and bitter with a tannic finish. Flavours include those of fenugreek, coriander seeds, and camphor, complemented by wood, peat, and molasses after swallowing. It is a long-lasting, metallic, and spicy aftertaste that induces a warming sensation. The liquor texture is extremely soft, lubricating, and mouth-watering – very nice.
Flavors: Bitter, Camphor, Coriander Seed, Floral, Honey, Leather, Metallic, Molasses, Peat, Spicy, Tannic, Wood
Unlike for TWT, my impression of this tea improved as the session went on. It also lasted about 14 infusions, which is fairly good. Early on, I found the tea too astringent and light bodied. On the other hand, the second half of the session shows more enduring sweetness and a creamier, thicker mouthfeel that remains interesting all the way until the last steep.
I found the aroma of this blend very weak and uninteresting. The only notes sticking out in early stages were those of spearmint and anise. The taste of the rinse is juicy and mineral with a vegetal bitterness. Early infusions are bittersweet and astringent with flavours of honey, green bell pepper, black pepper, fennel seeds and slightly marine character. Late steeps were more floral and agreeable for me personally. The aftertaste is tangy and kind of green tea like. As for the texture, it is coating, drying, and waxy at first, but get very creamy later on as I already alluded to.
2018 Ghosts seems like a mix of the profiles of two other W2T teas I own, namely Year of the Rooster and Demon Slayer. Ultimately, I find it less enjoyable than both, despite being more expensive than either. It is quite an unremarkable tea without a distinctive character all in all.
Flavors: Anise, Astringent, Bitter, Black Pepper, Fennel, Fennel Seed, Floral, Green Bell Peppers, Marine, Spearmint, Sweet, Vegetal
This is a green tea that can take some heat. In my first session I used 75°C, which I then upped to 85°C in the second session today together with using high leaf/water ratio and short steeps. The latter session was more enjoyable if, like me, you prefer some bite to your green tea as well as thick texture. The former, on the other hand, was more mellow in taste with no astringency whatsoever and a smoother, silkier mouthfeel. It lacked a bit of staying power in the aftertaste, but the taste was definitely pronounced and complex enough even with lower temperatures. In the end, it’s up to one’s preference, and I feel like it is a sign of good quality tea when you can get a satisfying and distinct experience with varying parameters, rather than having to stick to a precise optimum in order to avoid the pitfalls of a flat profile of overpowering astringency.
Another aspect of the tea that is noticeable no matter how it is brewed is its pungent aroma. Dry leaves smell quite floral rather than vegetal with notes such as honey, popcorn and cinnamon. The wet leaf smell is complex and also very strong for a green tea. I found scents of meadow, mint, courgette, and white grapes, among others.
The taste profile is sweet and earthy with distinctive (root) vegetable flavours like celery root, kohlrabi, cassava, and pattypan squash. With the more aggressive brewing, there is also stronger mineral taste, a marine character, and a slightly more fruity flavour. I noticed carambola-like note in particular, but that’s quite a faint one. The aftertaste is then cooling with grassy and buttery notes.
Flavors: Butter, Celery, Cinnamon, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Grass, Honey, Marine, Mineral, Mint, Popcorn, Smooth, Straw, Sweet, Thick, Vegetables, White Grapes, Zucchini