447 Tasting Notes
After having quite a lot of sessions with the 2016 Autumn Da Qing Gu Shu (which I have a cake of), I decided to sample the spring version from the following year. As such, I will inevitably be comparing the two. Overall, I think I prefer the autumn version by a little bit, but both are quite good.
The dry leaf smell here is floral and creamy, similar to the autumn harvest but unsurprisingly weaker. From the wet leaves, I get an aroma of forest floor, tobacco, and bog. It is also slightly nutty and grassy at times.
I found the taste of this tea to be very well integrated in the sense that nothing really sticks out, but at the same time it is not flat. It is vegetal and more bitter than the autumn one. There are flavours of rapini, hops, pasta, bread crust, spinach, and spices, among others. The aftertaste is then sweet in the mouth and sour in the throat, just like the autumn version. I noticed a thyme flower note, as well as a black pepper spiciness that emerges after a while.
The mouthfeel is less smooth then in the autumn tea I think. It is also more watery, but still somewhat oily in mid infusions. It gets more drying and throat-constrictive in the second half of the session. The cha qi subtle and enveloping, nothing very strong, but quite nice. I also found the tea to be quite heavy on the stomach unfortunately.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Bitter, Black Pepper, Creamy, Floral, Flowers, Forest Floor, Grain, Hops, Pleasantly Sour, Spices, Thyme, Tobacco, Vegetal
[Winter 2017 harvest]
The tasting notes for this tea have been more or less covered. It is a very floral, dry tea that seems to have a lot in common with the more floral of Dan Congs. In fact, I think it is too floral for me, there’s not that many occasions I imagine craving this tea. Or more precisely, the issue I have with it is that there doesn’t seem to be all that much beyond the floral notes.
The dry leaf aroma seems to be a mix of cookies, star anise, chocolate, and wood; while wet leaves smell mostly of malt, citrus, and honey. Furthermore, there is an elderberry flower scent rising from the empty cha hai. The taste is savoury, bitter, and floral, with dominant notes such as honeysuckle, walnut, dandelion, all of which were already mentioned by other reviewers. Aftertaste is then sweeter and quite dry. This is where the advertised orange blossom seems to appear as well. Body is medium to light and the mouthfeel is very coating.
Flavors: Anise, Bitter, Chocolate, Citrus, Cookie, Dandelion, Floral, Flowers, Honey, Honeysuckle, Malt, Orange Blossom, Walnut, Wood
My yearly listening of a couple of Deathspell Omega albums back to back around Christmas time was today accompanied by an equally punishing tea – this white label Bu Lang. We don’t know the exact village where it’s from, but I found it to be unique and memorable. My initial impression was that this is probably the best sheng I’ve ever had, but it does get less interesting quite fast. However, it seems to last forever, I got 17 infusions, but a fair few were overdone and it still had steam when I (or rather my stomach) gave up.
Already the dry leaf scent is unlike any other tea I encountered, which is also probably I find it hard to describe. It is fresh, cooling, woody, and sweet, with a light fruitiness and notes of pine and forest floor. This unusual and elusive character is maybe even stronger in the wet leaf aroma, which is metallic, peaty and sort of ‘masculine’. Later on throughout the session I picked up also a wine-like aroma. In the empty cup, on the other hand, I could smell something close to an acacia scent.
Probably the most striking aspect of the first few infusions is the mouthfeel, so let me start by describing that. Already the rinse is oily, numbing, and throat-cooling. The subsequent steeps are then full-bodied, very thick, tongue-numbing, foamy, soft, and creamy.
The taste is bitter and vegetal with notes of honey, butter tart, flowers (such as sunflower), vanilla, and plum. The bitterness gives way to sweetness super fast and transforms into what is probably the strongest huigan I’ve ever experienced. The aftertaste is very sweet and crisp with umami notes as well as a kind of lemon-like flavour.
The cha qi is enveloping and strong. After three steeps I zoned out and I could ‘hear’ the music with my whole body – especially the feet.
However, after infusion 5 or so, the texture was no longer as intriguing and several infusion (that I brewed longer than I should have I guess) were very bitter tasting and somewhat acrid. There is no doubt that this tea can benefit a lot from further aging. I wasn’t as attentive to the tea in its late stages, but one note that stuck out to me in steep #13 is that of coffee, a slightly strange one to appear at this stage.
In any case, I would like to have a good Bu Lang sheng in my collection (which I don’t at the moment). If this tea remained as interesting as it was in the first three infusions, I would undoubtedly try to get it. As it stands, I will try to sample other teas from the region and decide later whether to get this one to age or not.
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5M78jWUuJ4
Flavors: Bitter, Butter, Coffee, Creamy, Flowers, Forest Floor, Honey, Lemon, Metallic, Peat, Pine, Plums, Red Wine, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood
This is one of those elusive teas that I feel I don’t have the right words to describe. It is a bit like a cross between Dong Ding and high mountain Jade oolong. One thing is for sure though, I like it a lot!
The aroma has a lot going on, but I really can’t place it. There are some notes of pastries and stone fruits, but that’s far from a complete list. Taste starts off vegetal, grassy, and bitter with a very sweet finish. There is a nice short-lasting astringent bite and flavours such as butter, flowers, apple, peach. Aftertaste is more floral and has notes of forest floor and pine as well as a long-lasting sweetness. As derk mentioned, there is also a strong menthol quality in late steeps. I also got a bit of a fenugreek flavour, not unlike the one you get from some wild Taiwanese varietals.
The mouthfeel is thick, oily, soft, and slightly numbing with a throat-cooling quality – this tea certainly doesn’t lack in the texture department. It is also very calming and body-warming and makes me sweat a bit. A final point to note is that it lasts a long time, I can easily get 200ml/g from it, and if pushed, even quite a bit more.
Flavors: Apple, Bitter, Butter, Floral, Flowers, Forest Floor, Grass, Menthol, Pastries, Peach, Pine, Stonefruits, Sweet, Thick, Vegetal
At two years of age, this tea lost most of its sharp roastiness. Instead, it seems to have allowed the floral qualities to come to the fore. Other than that, there is not a huge change in the profile since a year ago. The tea is quite body warming and induces an incredibly strong throat-cooling sensation. The chocolate notes seemed mostly gone too initially, but they appeared in the aftertaste, which is quite sweet and expansive.
Flavors: Chocolate, Floral, Mineral, Molasses, Pleasantly Sour, Tart
Daydream is one of my favourite Crimson Lotus teas I’ve tried. Its highlight is the dreamy stoning cha qi coupled with a long evolving aftertaste. It seems to me, however, that it might be a tea to drink now rather than to age; the processing of most of the material seems very “green”.
It has a grassy aroma almost like a sencha with notes of apricot pits, wet wood, cream, cinnamon, cucumber, seaweed and grain appearing after the rinse.
The taste starts out savoury, floral, bitter, and vegetal with flavours such as thistles, freshly cut grass, watermelon skin (the light green part), hay, broccoli, and lavender. It has a butter-like finish and a drying citrusy afertaste reminiscent of lime and citrus zest. Later on I notice further flavours of agar wood, pine, green wood and an edamame-like sweetness. There are also some jasmine and lavender notes in the aftertaste now.
The liquor has a medium body and a lubricating, creamy mouthfeel. It is very soft and somewhat effervescent. As I mentioned already, I really like the energy of this tea. It provides a dizzying and elevating sensation that’s really a full body experience.
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Broccoli, Butter, Cinnamon, Citrus Zest, Cream, Creamy, Cucumber, Floral, Freshly Cut Grass, Grain, Grass, Green Wood, Hay, Jasmine, Lavender, Lime, Melon, Pine, Seaweed, Soybean, Sweet, warm grass, Vegetal, Wet Wood, Wood
Finished this Oriental Beauty today, but it is not one that will be stuck in my mind. It is fairly weak in its aroma and simply in its flavours, both qualities I would like to have in a tea like this. The mouthfeel is very soft, but not all that interesting either.
As for particular notes, the smell reminds me of sawdust, flowers, peach, coffee, and autumn leaf pile. The taste is super sweet and nectar-like, with a bittersweet aspect similar to the taste of burnt onion. The sweetness persists into the aftertaste, which is slightly sickly and drying with a citrusy note (tangerine).
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Bitter, Burnt Food, Citrusy, Coffee, Drying, Floral, Nectar, Peach, Sawdust, Sweet
Today, I had my second session with Lucky Puppy. It is a long time since the first one, but as soon as I started drinking it, memories of the old one started cropping up. This tea is quite simply special, I can’t think of any other one that comes close to its complexity. My notes will only scratch the surface of the range of experiences you can get from it. But this tea really has everything. It is also very tasty, and a great tea all round, not just by virtue of its depth and elusive nature.
The aroma is still quite green and spring-like with notes of wet earth, dandelion, wheat, cocoa, bread crust and cinnamon among others. Towards the end of the session, marine and roast beef aromas come to the fore.
The taste profile of early infusions is grassy, tart, and metallic with a quinine like bitterness that persists and a lasting huigan. It is a very strong, complex, and evolving taste, yet it remains well-balanced. There are flavours such as artichoke, cactus, tangerine, asparagus, citrus zest, nutmeg, and wood. The aftertaste is vegetal, tart, and sweet with a subtly floral character. There are notes of green beans, dry grass, char, and honey.
Later parts of the session sees more of a juicy and spicy profile with a nice umami and an enhancement of the woody and nutty aspects. New notes like pine, sandalwood, cloves, bell pepper, and green apple emerge. Aftertaste displays new flavours as well, the ones I picked up on include bok choy and custard. In late steeps, the bitterness returns again, but in slightly different form. There is also an interesting white wine vinegar like acidity.
The body of the liquor ranged from medium to full and the texture is actually also more dynamic than in vast majority of teas one encounters. It is very numbing and tickling initially, with a sort of burning acidic sensation at the back of my mouth and in the throat. Somewhere around the middle of the session, it becomes airy and fleeting and it rolls off the tongue very easily. Progressively, I get more dryness on the side of the mouth. Later on, the mouthfeel becomes very soft, mouth-watering, and bubbly. In the very late infusions, it is then mostly creamy.
Drinking Lucky Puppy puts me into a peaceful state and elevates my mood, but the cha qi is not particularly strong for a tea of this price point. It is heady and also seems to have a bit less than average amount of caffeine.
I haven’t had this tea in a while, being one of those sitting at the bottom of my sheng box. I was thus looking forward to trying it today, I have fond memories of it. I don’t think the tea changed all that much in the last year or so, although it is less bright for sure. However, what I noticed is that my previous notes about late infusions seemed to match today’s experience already in earlier steeps.
The aspect that changed the most is the aroma I reckon. I find it much more cooling, pungent and musty, but less fruity. Today, I got notes of menthol, rapeseed, perfume, bog, and cannabis; in addition to the green olives, light apricot, danish pastry, and wet rocks I already mentioned previously.
Already the rinse is quite flavourful and full bodied. It is fruity, vegetal, and mineral with a sort of sour aftertaste. Subsequent infusions are more grassy, with a floral bitterness, thick sweetness and flavours such as butter and apple. The aftertaste is very sweet and fragrant, with the same kind of mouthfeel I noticed a year ago – drying in the mouth and throat clenching. The liquor itself is very thick and mouth-watering with a velvety texture.
Flavors: Apple, Butter, Cannabis, Flowers, Grass, Menthol, Mineral, Musty, Olives, Perfume, Sweet, Vegetal, Wet Rocks
Almost a year ago now, I got some teas from Cha Gloriette at the 2019 Toronto Tea Festival. This is one of them. It has a standard Ruby 18 scent with some sawdust, milk chocolate, and peat notes on top. Wet leaf aroma is then more like tomato vine, molasses, eucalyptus, and tobacco. The taste of this tea is not super distinctive, but it is well balanced with a strong sweetness and notes of vanilla, wood, and cashew nuts. The texture is very nice overall, even though the body is actually quite light. It has an oily mouthfeel with a light astringency to it.
Flavors: Chocolate, Eucalyptus, Molasses, Nuts, Peat, Plant Stems, Sawdust, Sweet, Tobacco, Vanilla, Wood