395 Tasting Notes
This is the first Shui Jin Gui I have ever tried I think. Despite the dark coloured leaves, the liquor is actually not as dark. It a very aromatic and complex tea, but I’d say its aroma is more interesting than taste. I am not quite sure if it’s worth the price for me personally. Maybe yes, but not as a high priority buy, rather to keep diversity in my stash. It also doesn’t last very long, I can’t seem get much more than 100 ml/g of tea from it.
That being said, the range of aromas really is mind-blowing and I just can’t stop sniffing it :D
Dry leaves smell floral with a stonefruit note not unlike some Dan Cong oolongs. In a preheated gaiwan, I get further notes of dark wood, coffee and caramel. Once soaked in water, the aromas change significantly. There are notes of char, toffee, peat, smoke, petrichor, volcanic soil, black pepper and others. It is a sweet and somewhat metallic scent. In an empty cup, I detect further notes of frankincense and maple.
The rinse has a nice bubbly mouthfeel and full body, but it’s not very flavourful, just a roasty sweet (and thick) water. Later infusions showcase a mineral and smooth taste profile with no bitterness or astringency. Particular flavours include caramel, wood, hops, nectarine, sage, apricot pits, and licorice. There is a decent complexity in the taste, but it’s nowhere near as pungent as the aroma. The aftertaste is stronger, with a spicy, fragrant, and woody character.
The mouthfeel is very slick and soft, with a cooling and mouth-watering effect. I also notice a quick and relaxing cha qi.
Flavors: Apricot, Black Pepper, Caramel, Char, Coffee, Dark Wood, Earth, Floral, Hops, Licorice, Maple, Medicinal, Metallic, Mineral, Peat, petrichor, Sage, Sap, Smoke, Spicy, Stonefruits, Sweet, Toffee, Wet Rocks
Having sampled the 2017 vintage of this tea, I had my first session with this new cake in my collection today. I actually also have the 2014 version as a sample, so I plan to do some side by side comparisons soon. I am a bit surprised that even though I’ve had the 2017 harvest only twice and quite a long time ago, this tea is so unique that I might have been able to connect the two even through a blind tasting.
I used the leaves that broke off the cake, which came to 9g in the end. In hindsight I should have reduced that given also the large amount of broken leaves. Even with flash brews, 1g/10ml makes for some intense tea.
The uniqueness of Qing Mei Shan is definitely noticeable in its aromas. Dry leaves smell of candies and marshmallow. It is a very sweet smell, but mellow and subtle at the same time, not overpoweringly sweet or artificial. In the wet leaves, I can detect aromas of bubblegum, leather, swamp vegetation, clover/thyme flowers, cinnamon, medicinal notes, and baked bread. I am not sure if it’s just the power of suggestion, but I can smell some rapeseed flowers in the empty cup here too, like I mentioned in my note for the 2017 version.
The taste is crisp and fairly well balanced, although very pungent when brewed like this. It is mostly vegetal overall with notable woody flavour, good bitterness and an emergent grain-like sweetness. There are notes of spices like cinnamon, a sour finish reminiscent of plant stems and a sort of briny character that reminds me of fish. Furthermore, fleeting notes of butter, thistles, and peach skin cropped up throughout the session.
The aftertaste is very fragrant and quite dry, biting, and tannic. It has notes of swamp, ginger and lavender. The sweetness takes a while to arrive and thus allows for more complexity to arise. Nevertheless, there is also a persistent bitterness in the aftertaste.
Mouthfeel is buttery, coating, and astringent, not the most interesting aspect to be honest. I got a decent cooling sensation in the body from this tea, but otherwise the cha qi is not particularly strong either.
Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Biting, Bitter, Broth, Butter, Candy, Cinnamon, Drying, Fish Broth, Flowers, Ginger, Grain, Lavender, Leather, Marshmallow, Mud, Peach, Plant Stems, Sour, Sweet, Tannic, Thyme, Vegetal, Wood
I was in a mood for some medium roasted oolong while working this evening and this one seemed to fit the bill. However, I forgot that GABA teas can at times be incompatible with nontrivial cognitive processes. And so it happened that I zoned out (probably also thanks to the music I had playing at the time, see below) and entered some lucid dreams instead of reading about quantum information theory. Nevertheless, afterwards I drank a few shots of cold-brewed sheng (the 2016 Autumn Da Qing Gu Shu in particular) and became productive again fortunately.
What to say about this tea? It’s very nice, albeit a bit more roasted notes than I expected based on the dry leaf scent, which is fruity with notes of apple, quince, and narcissus. The wet leaves do showcase some deep charcoal aroma though, complemented by licorice, cumin, and more fruits.
The taste is very tart with a distinctive roasted pear flavour, light sweetness, and a dry wood backbone. The sourness, despite being strong, disappears fairly quickly and gives way to a comforting nutty aftertaste with a persistent sweetness. Mouthfeel is very velvety and soft, very good for a tea at this price point I’d say. Generally, the quality/price ratio is very good for this one.
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntuC-VUNtDo
Flavors: Apple, Char, Fruity, Licorice, Narcissus, Nutty, Pear, Roasted, Smooth, Sour, Spices, Sweet, Tart, Wood
This is another cake I bought from boychik. At first impression (after first few infusions), it appeared to me to be quite muted in its complexity. I thought I will probably not be drinking too much of it in the near future. However, the leaves went steeping on and on for a long time and by the end of the session, the tea presented its multi-faceted nature that wasn’t obvious at first. I ended up really enjoying especially the aftertaste and the qi.
I totally agree with Scott’s description of the tea having layered bitterness and sweetness. There are several different kinds of bitterness cropping up at various stages of the session, none of which is overpowering. Early on, the bitterness is short while later it takes over the finish and at the very last steeps I can detect some further bitter notes in the aftertaste as well. The sweetness is very strong, especially in the aftertaste, which lasts for a long time. I also agree that the tea has a sort of pure/clean character. Astringency is present throughout, but never gets too strong. The body is full and the mouthfeel very thick and smooth. In the middle of the session it gets somewhat numbing too. Interestingly, the mouthfeel stays nice until the end of what ended up being a long session, which is definitely not the standard.
At this stage of the development of this tea, the aroma seems light and ill defined with fleeting notes of marsh and decaying grass. Taste of the tea starts off mineral, spicy and nutty, fairly muted overall as I mentioned already. It is fairly sweet, one flavour that particularly stood out to me as interesting was that of rice paper. Aftertaste is floral and very sweet, late in the session gets spicy and buttery as well.
After the end of the session, I was left with an enormous evolving aftertaste with a very unusual character especially with its returning mineral and sour notes in the mouth. There is much more to it though, and rather than trying to discern all its nuances, I let myself be absorbed by it. To say that the tea ends on a high note would be an understatement, especially when paired with the strong and relaxing cha qi. I am glad I have a cake of this intriguing tea, as it’s quite different from my other teas and I look forward to getting to know it better in the future.
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8b4-6E8zjA
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Cut grass, Floral, Green Bell Peppers, Mineral, Mud, Nutty, Pleasantly Sour, Rice, Spicy, Sweet, Thick
My preferences for shou don’t seem to agree well with this one, despite the praise it has garnered. Its most interesting aspect is the aftertaste with notes like brown sugar, soy sauce, and cloves. Otherwise, I found it to be fairly mediocre. The aroma is mild and woody with a hint of petrichor and gasoline. Taste is also somewhat flat and savoury. The main flavours I noticed were those of nuts, wood and cola. Body is medium at best and the liquor has a creamy, warming mouthfeel. All in all, not a tea I will be looking to purchase more of.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cloves, Creamy, Nuts, petrichor, Soy sauce, Wood
[Spring 2019 harvest]
This green tea is very sencha-like, both in terms of appearance and the flavours. It is also very reminiscent of the other Laoshan greens, but with stronger sourness I think.
The aroma is lightly fishy with notes of cookies, freshly cut grass, soy beans, and carrot cake. First infusion yields a sweet, crisp, creamy and flowery tea. The subsequent one then get much more vegetal. The taste profile is a nice mix of sweet, umami, and sour with flavours of grass, peas, chard, vanilla, and lettuce. In the aftertaste I further get notes like nutmeg, plant stems and courgette flowers. Mouthfeel is quite nice too – creamy and bubbly.
Flavors: Cake, Cookie, Cream, Creamy, Fishy, Flowers, Freshly Cut Grass, Grass, Lettuce, Nutmeg, Peas, Plant Stems, Pleasantly Sour, Soybean, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal, Zucchini
I recently bought a hei cha sampler in order to expand my knowledge of these teas. Having tried all of them, I can now document my thoughts. They all have a very comforting quality, and this particular one especially.
The aroma is fairly complex with notes of honey in dry leaf; sweet bread, yeast, fermented apples, earth and some medicinal smell in wet leaves. Taste is quite well defined and stable with a sweet metallic character and a very spicy aftertaste. I notice flavours like those of fermented grains and soy beans. The liquor has a medium body and a smooth, fleeting mouthfeel.
This is a very nice tea that is well defined, which means it can be quite memorable and suited to specific scenarios. It is not my favourite from the hei cha sampler at the moment though.
Flavors: Alcohol, Apple, Baked Bread, Earth, Grain, Honey, Medicinal, Metallic, Pastries, Soybean, Spices, Sweet, Yeast
I recently acquired a few pu-erh cakes from boychik, and this is one of them. I didn’t sample it, but given the description of the tea and my experience with YS and similar teas, I was pretty sure I’d like it and I wasn’t mistaken. This 5 year old tea impressed me quite a bit already in my first session with it. I would summarize it as having a fairly unique and complex aroma, pungent yet balanced taste, and a thick buttery mouthfeel.
The dry leaf smell has notes of aromatic wood and spices like cinnamon. It is a very clean and somewhat sweet aroma that I can’t get enough of. From the wet leaves, I get scents like fresh hazelnut, petrichor, and parsley.
Already the rinse makes a strong impression with strong umami. It tastes of chicken broth, fresh bamboo, and butter. The mouthfeel after swallowing is very interesting too – oily, slick and slightly drying. Subsequent infusions become progressively more bitter and pungent. They have more of a floral quality with a bit of fruitiness that reminds me of carambola and lemongrass. After the peak, the taste profile gets more creamy and I can detect some very light smokiness. The aftertaste stays for a long time and evolves quite a bit. It is nutty and aromatic, with a cooling sensation in the throat.
As for the mouthfeel, it starts soft, drying and buttery, but later becomes more active and bubbly. In this session, I didn’t detect a particularly strong cha qi, but I do think the tea helped declutter my mind. I look forward to the future progression of this new item in my line-up.
Flavors: Bamboo, Bitter, Broth, Butter, Chicken Soup, Cinnamon, Cream, Drying, Floral, Fruity, Hazelnut, Lemongrass, Parsley, petrichor, Tart, Thick, Umami, Walnut, Wood
This one of the better teas I got from Yunomi. The leaves are beautiful with a deep green colour and have an aroma of pine, green apple and green beans, complemented by yeast in a preheated pot. Wet leaves, on the other hand smell of freshly cut grass and cream.
The taste is well balanced and crisp with nutty bitterness, almost fruit-like sweetness and a light citrusy finish. First infusion is more similar to a gyokuro with strong umami, bready notes, and sweet aftertaste. Later infusions are more grassy with more bitterness as well.
Mouthfeel is very thick and unusually creamy for a sencha. It is active and warming in the throat, very nice overall.
Flavors: Bitter, Citrus, Creamy, Freshly Cut Grass, Grass, Green Apple, Green Beans, Pine, Straw, Sweet, Umami, Yeast
This is an awesome tea and is likely one of the best autumn Simao shengs you can come across. The only slight drawback is that I would prefer a more pungent bitterness in a young tea, but I am hoping the spring one from 2019 would fare better in that regard. Otherwise it is a very clean tasting tea, memorable with hard to describe flavours, complex aroma, and a very interesting mouthfeel. It also has a sort of comforting cha qi, a great one all across the board. I find this tea to be hard to overbrew, the bitterness and astringency intensify of course, but it remains very much drinkable and interesting even when pushed.
The dry leaves smell very floral and sweet with hints of cauliflower, honey, and ginger cookies. In a preheated pot, the aroma reminds me of some cough syrup, and is quite unusual. Once wet, I detect various other aromas of peppercorn, fenugreek, mushrooms, and orchid. It is strong, floral and slightly earthy I’d say. Interestingly, there’s an additional scent I found when smelling the empty cup, which is that of incense. All in all, an explosion of aromas :D
The taste is grassy, sweet and floral with a muted bitterness and some tartness in the background. Flavour wise it reminds me of forest, hay and bay leaf, but I realize that doesn’t quite do the tea justice, I am just finding it hard to find the right words to describe it. The aftertaste is warming and dry, but not too astringent. It has a cinnamon spiciness and white grape tartness, both of which are fairly prominent. The flavour stays for a very long time and there is a strong hui gan as well.
As for the mouthfeel, the tea is full bodied, slick, coating, and soft. I found it to be active and mouth-watering as well. Drinking it makes me feel relaxed and calm, there is no caffeine rush as far as I can tell. I recommend this tea very much!
Flavors: Bitter, Cinnamon, Cookie, Drying, Earth, Floral, Ginger, Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Honey, Mushrooms, Orchid, Peppercorn, Sweet, Tart, Thick, Vegetables, White Grapes