42 Tasting Notes
This caused great confusion, because to me the initial scent and taste are of mugicha, roast barley tea! When you steep it on the long side and get a slight bitter edge on the roast. The sheng characteristics then come in, with lots of sweetness and a lingering astringency. I’ve not had any other shengs like this.
I’ve been drinking Bitterleaf’s Sterling (Mengku 2017 Spring) sheng today. This is a choco-bar style tea, though it requires a bit of pick-drilling before you can break a square off. Quite astringent but has a good taste towards the end of a sip. Gummy mouthfeel and lingering taste, greenish at the top of the mouth plus vaguely metallic and some sweetness. It isn’t my favourite profile, but it does go down very easily!
The squares open up fast despite being quite dense. Leaf is chopped. The square I broke off was 4.3g, which is a bit more leaf than I usually use – it didn’t make it too strong, however. A cooling feeling stays in the mouth for a long while after.
(This is for the 2006. I got some of Awazon’s large samples to try out the cheaper end of the market).
I got one of their 100g samples of this for $4.99, and am pleasantly surprised! It is still quite fruity to start with plus a bit of smoke. The smoke kicks in harder at steep 3 but doesn’t take over entirely.
Decent-sized leaf, mostly whole – this isn’t a chop cake.
I was feeling very dozy and it woke me up!
Nicer to drink than it has any right to be.
I’m going to put my note in as I wrote it, because I found this interestingly changeable for shou. It is actually the 2012 that has varied reviews, but the reason could be similar.
Continuing with the shou because of my cold, I broke out my 2009 Nan Jian 801 tuo from YS. This doesn’t seem to have much to show for the age – it’s another quite woody and earthy shou, has good thickness, but there isn’t really anything that says it is older than the 2016 Yong De I was drinking before. Wouldn’t get this one again because there isn’t much point (yeah, it was a cheap tuo). The tuo and the wet leaves in the pot both smell much more interesting than the tea.
Oh hang on! I am now on my second 500ml water in my thermos, and now I get huigan if I riffle it in my mouth, which admittedly I don’t do that much when drinking shou. That makes some sense of the split in reviews for this tea – it has multiple entries under slightly different names on Steepster, and some say it is sweet and some say it isn’t. Either that, or the character really does change after 500ml of steeps, which is odd given that it isn’t that tightly compressed and the leaf I put in the pot was not a single big chunk but mostly loose.
Ok tea, you have risen in my estimation mid-review and become significantly more interesting. (I do prefer it if my shou isn’t finicky though!)
I’ve been putting in ~6g of these to give me more thicker infusions for my throat – that’s more leaf than I’d usually use. (Gongfu in 140ml clay pot, not entirely full – I’m getting 85ml out in my cup, most steeps about 25s, increasing as it thins out).
ETA: Water temp. Close enough to just-boiled gives huigan, once it has cooled a bit it doesn’t.
W2T 2017 Waffles – I brought some squares in to work to drink in a mug.
(I found the cake size amusing: it is a largish very thin round cake, making it easy to snap along the grooves by hand, but you don’t usually see round cakes that thin!)
One rinse and it opens up surprisingly quickly.
Quickly brews nice and dark and thick with an earthy smell. No off flavours, a little sweetness and something vaguely datey but less sweet when I drink what’s concentrated in the drip catcher of my brewing basket, basically what I want in a work shou.
3.4g in 65ml Yixing, 1 rinse.
I really liked this. Day 1 had no hint of smoke, but a minty tingle in the mouth afterwards.
Day 2 was less minty and a bit of aged smoke taste instead (I think the minty is what I get from fully aged-out smoke). Not smoky as such, and still some mouth tingle. I still liked it.
I’m on day 3 and nearly steeped out, I think.
Seemed fairly energetic, as much as these things affect me (which isn’t much).
I didn’t really pick out any particular flavours as the main thing that stuck out to me was the mouth-tingle, and I’m recovering from a cold so my tastebuds aren’t at their best.