447 Tasting Notes
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
One of the first YS sheng productions I tried was the 2011 Autumn Mang Fei. It didn’t leave a particularly strong impression, but I was at a very different stage of my tea journey. Today I had the second from the Mang Fei series – 2018 spring vintage. It is a nice tea with a pronounced character, but its profile doesn’t quite appeal to me personally as much as some other YS teas to be honest.
The aroma is an interesting mix of fish, dry earth, bitter melon, Mediterranean shrubs, and clay bricks. I found the taste to be very mineral, more so than any other raw pu’er I can remember. It is quite bitter and astringent with a lot of umami notes. There are flavours of vegetable broth, oregano, okra, cumin, banana skin, and a light honey towards the end of the session. The aftertaste is probably the highlight. It is long and spicy with a strong fructose sweetness and notes of cape gooseberry and curry leaf. The mouthfeel is also fairly interesting in that it is very warming and creamy.
Flavors: Astringent, banana, Berry, Bitter, Clay, Earth, Fishy, Herbs, Mineral, Plants, Spices, Spicy, Sweet, Umami, Vegetable Broth, Vegetables, Wood
Exquisite Poetry is a nice complex blend with that’s predominately bitter, savoury, and fruity with flowery undertones. As is the case with many raw pu’er teas made from the Ye Sheng variety, the bitterness is not very well integrated in the taste. Since I didn’t have quite enough for two proper sessions, I used an unusually high amount – 10g – but extended it over the whole afternoon. Still, the cha qi was pretty strong and fast. I found it heady, rushy and somewhat ‘hair-raising’.
Now for particular notes – the aroma has strong stonefruit character (mainly apricot) with sweet florals, rust, and laundry detergent in the background. It somehow reminded me of walking through evening streets of some Mediterranean town, but I couldn’t recall which one :D
The taste starts strong and bitter with notes of fruits, nuts, orchid, and allspice. The Ye Sheng character comes out strong in the early steeps. The bitterness weakens a bit after 4 infusions or so, but never quite goes away. Further flavours of courgette, peas, celery, and quinoa emerge throughout the session. Late steeps are quite tart and have a sort of coffee acidity (without the coffee flavours).
The aftertaste is cooling and presents flavours such as those of roasted grains, rice, and green grapes. I quite enjoyed the mouthfeel of this tea, which is viscous, slightly gritty, and numbing. Thanks for the sample tperez :)
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Celery, Flowers, Fruity, Grain, Nutty, Orchid, Peas, Rice, Sour, Spices, Stonefruits, Tart, White Grapes, Zucchini
[Winter 2018 harvest]
I have recently tried two Korean Balhyocha teas (which certainly doesn’t cover such a varied category at all), and this tea reminds me of them, at least when sniffing the dry leaves. However, Winter Special soon shows that it is indeed special. The pronounced and complex profile blends floral, fruity, spicy, and woody aspects into a delightful mix. It is a very fragrant and full bodied tea. In fact, I am tempted to say that it’s the best one from Jun Chiyabari I have tried to date, although with the consistently high quality they produce, it doesn’t have weak competition. One thing is for sure though, I will be bringing this tea out for special occasions.
Dry leaves smell of cocoa, peach pits, cloves, and flowers, while the wet leaves have a very interesting aroma involving notes of pollen, nectarine, chrysanthemum, ammonia, yuzu, and wet rocks.
The liquor has a good bitterness and mild astringency, but a soothing mouthfeel. The texture is thick, bubbly and very active. As I pointed out already, there is an explosion of flavours, from star anise, rose, and orange blossom, all the way to grapefruit zest, cherry, and brown sugar. Aftertaste is incredibly long and fragrant with a colling sensation in the throat, even though the tea is warming the whole body.
Words can’t do this tea justice at all, try it for yourself!
Flavors: Anise, Brown Sugar, Cherry, Citrus, Citrus Zest, Cloves, Cocoa, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Grapefruit, Honey, Mineral, Nectar, Orange Blossom, Peach, Rose, Spices, Spicy, Stonefruits, Thick, Wood
Black Gold is a semi-aged shou with a woody profile that’s not really my jam. I also doesn’t last very long, I can barely get more than 150ml/g of interesting infusions. However, it does have a very nice mouthfeel and a strong aftertaste.
The aroma is quite weak and has notes of wood, forest floor, and honey. Taste is then very woody, sweet and bitter with flavours of roasted hazelnuts and cocoa beans. After swallowing I can further taste mushrooms, honey and various spices.
The mouthfeel is thick, buttery, and slightly constrictive. The full-bodied and lubricating nature of the liquor is truly the highlight of the session. Around steep #3 I also noticed a more bubbly texture to it. There is a calming sort of cha qi, but nothing to write home about.
Flavors: Bitter, Cocoa, Forest Floor, Hazelnut, Honey, Mushrooms, Roasted nuts, Spices, Sweet, Thick, Wood
This tea seems more oxidized than most Ruby 18 whites. As such, it is slightly sweeter, but the largest difference appears to be visual. There is also very little astringency even when brewed aggressively. It is not a cheap tea, but it resteeps very well, it is possible to get 300ml/g from it.
Dry leaf aroma is a mix of hay and nectarine, while the characteristic menthol is more present in wet leaves. The scent is pungent and very enjoyable, but I can’t think of many faithful comparisons. On the other hand, the tea doesn’t have a strong aroma in the empty cup, which also shows up in a weaker aftertaste.
The taste has a nice quinine bitterness, floral sweetness, and a fruity tartness. There are flavours like apple, grass, peach, and star anise, among others. The texture is very good too, velvety and lubricating.
Flavors: Anise, Apple, Biting, Bitter, Floral, Grass, Hay, Menthol, Peach, Stonefruits, Sweet, Tart
Thanks for the sample derk, I am going to end the decade with a tea unlike any other in my current stash. I have no idea how old this tea is, but it’s safe to say it’s quite old, possibly older than I am. The leaves look and smell like decaying autumn leaves (in the later stages of their decay) mixed with somewhat bioactive soil. Throughout the session, the aroma gets more and more cavernous.
There is not all that much I remember about the taste. It was mineral, spicy, mushroomy and very earthy. The aftertaste is sweet and cooling, but again doesn’t have all that much beyond the earthiness. Texture-wise, I found the tea very nice – slick and buttery although not too thick. However, one of the main takeaways for me is the cha qi, which I found interesting. It was very strong, but not at all aggressive. I would describe it as grounding overall, but the session came in three stages, mimicking the music selection (in brackets) – 1. primal (Amenra), 2. hypnotic (Burzum), and 3. meditative (Basinski).
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NZRzIVURvI
As many light fermentation ripes, this is an unusual tea that bears a lot of similarities in profile to light roast coffee. It is rough and earthy despite being mildly aged already – wet piled in 2013. The flavours are pretty strong and varied. It could age into a very smooth, complex, and elegant tea, but it might need a decade or two to get there.
The aroma at the moment is quite unique with notes of yellow apple, wood, candlewax, and light smoke. Taste-wise, it is also a mix pulling in various directions. It is bitter, vegetal, sour, savoury, and herbaceous all at once. Flavours are hard to pin down, but I can taste citrus, dry earth, turmeric, mint, wood, and cranberry at times. The aftertaste is a little fishy, sweet, and spicy. There are notes of nuts, coffee, fenugreek (both leaves and seeds), milk, and rock sugar.
The liquor texture is initially very mouth-watering and smooth, but gets more numbing and a little powdery later on. All in all, it’s a unique tea that’s priced well and can offer a specific experience given the right mood – I wouldn’t mind owning a brick of it.
Flavors: Apple, Bitter, Citrus, Coffee, Cranberry, Earth, Fishy, Herbaceous, Herbs, Milk, Mint, Nuts, Sour, Spices, Sugar, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal, Wood
Here’s another great Jinggu sheng that YS offers, Long Tang Gu Shu. It is extremely smooth and clean tasting with a unique profile that’s hard to describe.
The dry leaf aroma is sweet and floral, with notes of bell pepper and oregano, while wet leaves smell nutty and vegetal with scents like sugarcane, pine, persimmon, and ficus.
The taste is strong and balanced with great clarity, moderate to high bitterness, and medium astringency. It is very vegetal with a floral sweetness not unlike honey. Particular flavours are quite elusive, but some I picked up include vanilla, green bell pepper, star anise, thyme, and fish meat. Aftertaste is then savoury, crisp, and tangy with a lasting bitterness.
I like the mouthfeel a lot, it is creamy, thick, and numbing. As I mentioned already, the liquor is very smooth. I get a nice calming sensation from the tea, but the cha qi doesn’t seem to be overly strong here.
Flavors: Anise, Bell Pepper, Bitter, Creamy, Fish Broth, Floral, Green Bell Peppers, Herbs, Honey, Meat, Pine, Smooth, Spices, Sugarcane, Sweet, Tangy, Thyme, Umami, Vanilla, Vegetal
[Spring 2019 harvest]
This is one of the most interesting of the Yunnan green teas. Pure Bud Silver Strands has a dry aroma of apple, florals, and a butter-fried carrot. Wet leaves then smell of freshly cut grass, cooked vegetables, and cinnamon.
The taste is quite complex so my note will only scratch the surface of the flavours present. First infusion is herbaceous, metallic and alcohol-like (think gin). Later, it becomes more savoury with a tart finish and I get notes such as fennel and straw. The aftertaste then displays a tangy profile with flavours of sugarcane, malt, butter, and plant stems. It is slightly drying, but the astringency never becomes overwhelming.
I also really like the velvety, bubbly, and mouth-watering texture, as well as the relaxing cha qi. It’s a truly great green tea in all respects.
Flavors: Alcohol, Apple, Butter, Carrot, Cinnamon, Cut grass, Drying, Fennel, Floral, Herbaceous, Malt, Metallic, Nutty, Plant Stems, Spicy, Straw, Sugarcane, Tangy, Tart, Umami, Vegetables