So, this is one of the three samples sent to me more than a month ago by Crimson Lotus Tea. I’m sorry for my tardiness, but still grateful for the opportunity to try these out! Unfortunately my life hasn’t left me with the time to sit down and gongfu lately, but I carved out an hour yesterday to try this one out a bit. Glen billed this as a sheng that even shou lovers would like, which was very compelling as I am not very experienced with sheng.
I did four steeps back to back and lined them up for the beau and I to compare. I actually really liked this approach as we could see/smell/taste each one and compare it immediately to another. It helped us be sure of our impressions as it gave second chances. It still has plenty more to go and I hope to do that tonight if the leaves are still good.
The details: 7 g sample in 150 ml gaiwan (I finally measured it!). 95 degree water, 3 second wash.
Dry: The compressed piece is beautiful. Green/black/golden leaves all pressed together. Looks like camo but more attractive. Smells like light smoke and hay. Sort of like a roasty oolong. There were some broken crumbs along with the one larger piece and I steeped it all up. Those pieces inevitably slipped through into the steeps but they didn’t create any adverse affect.
1st steep: 6 seconds. Pale amber. Not bitter, but not much taste. Slightly dry tongue so a hint of astringency. We came back to this one repeatedly but there just wasn’t much there that we could detect.
2nd steep: 6 seconds. Slight smoke is emerging, and a bit more drying on the tongue. Sill no bitter. I mention it because all I hear about sheng is that it can be bitter (and that should be pleasant). I hate bitter, so I’m pleased to not be getting anything like that.
3rd steep: 8 seconds. Sweetness is coming in gradually and building with each sip. Not as sweet as I expected but it is starting to emerge. This is the first steep to really have an aroma. Increased astringency, and continued light smoke.
4th steep: 10 seconds. Aroma is shou-esque. Reminds me pleasantly of a barn. This one is less astringent but it can build up on the sip. There is a mineral taste and remaining light smoke. I made a note that this is “very sippable.” This was both of our favourite, by far. Hubby felt it tastes like a black/oolong mix at this stage which explains why we preferred it.
Unfortunately we had to stop here but I definitely think if we had the opportunity to continue it would have kept getting better. I look forward to having a second round tonight and will try to update with my notes.
EDIT: We did another four steeps last night and took a few notes. All at 95 degrees again. Why not? I gave the leaves two flash rinses in warm water to “wake them up.”
5th steep: 15 seconds. Aroma was like salt fish. Not that it was fishy, but it smelled salty and slightly smoky. Weird. Taste was mineral and slightly bitter, with some astringency which remained to the end. Not a fan of this steep, but I think it had something to do with waking the leaves back up.
6th steep: 20 seconds. Aroma was mineral and smoke, flavour was mineral but not bitter. Hubby found this the best of all and thought it was almost fruity.
7th steep: 25 seconds. Aroma of toasted rice. What the? It smelled and tasted like Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmicha on the second steep if it were left too long (slightly bitter/astringent).
8th steep: 30 seconds. No discernible aroma or flavour. Not much for the leaves to give without ramping up the time/temp and we’re tea-ed out. I know it could go further but it has more endurance than I do. Off to the compost with these leaves. What an interesting experience!
Flavors: Mineral, Smoke