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Recent Tasting Notes
Tried to have a nice & relaxing outdoor tea session last week but the weather wasn’t having it – so it was very windy and cold. The tea was still good though! VERY sweet liquor, eating early infusions, with syrupy red fruit notes at the top of the sip. The slips into more vegetal body and finishing flavours with fluctuations between floral and refreshing garden peas and more astringent collard greens. This might be my favourite from this year’s Spring puerh ‘dragonball’ sampler – that I’ve tried so far, anyway…
So Roswell Strange shared this with me (thank you!) and its a puerh and a non-flavored one at that so I was particularly worried about trying it. I don’t like puerhs so I didn’t have high hopes here. Yet I decided to brew it up yesterday as part of september sipdown.
I decided to use my gaiwan to brew it and full disclosure…I didn’t like it. However, I was incredibly surprised at my reasoning for not liking it because it was not for the usual puerh/muddy/mushroom/dirt/etc. reasons.
I tried really hard to write this note yesterday by the way but could not access the page. Kept getting a 404 error so instead I took very brief jot notes.
When I started drinking this, the first thing I noticed was a very drying floral quality to it. Like potpourri or like when you get something like the tiniest bit of sanitizer or deodorant in your mouth and it has this horrible drying/bitter quality to it. I got that for the first 5 steeps so those mostly got dumped.
At the 6th steep, I noted that it was still floral but the drying aspect was going away . I also thought it was maybe buttery or possibly had a pea note.
My notes for steep 7 are: floral, but better though still not great. Beans and grass. I then wrote “green tea?” since once I got through the more bitter steeps, it started to have straight green tea qualities. I am not a huge fan of straight green teas either but I do prefer them to puerhs so it was weird to be getting those tasting notes here.
Steeps 8-10 were similar to steep 7 but with a fuller body. They were also less floral. The more I steeped, the more I got oolong instead of green tea.
Ultimately, it was fine. I don’t think I would flag it as a puerh based on the flavors I got. In my case, that is a huge compliment. With that said though, it was not really a tea that possessed flavors I would want anyways. As such, I didn’t like it but I liked it more than expected. Is that a success? Who knows…
Next in my exploration of Yiwu sheng is Windfall, a sample kindly sent by Bitterleaf Teas with an order.
Dry leaf was sweet plums with a hint of bitter-smoke and vegetation. Warmed aroma was of baked red and yellow plums. Rinse provides wet vegetation, forest floor, antique wood and aged florals.
First steep was viscous, mellow. I was reminded of 2016 Last Thoughts from White2Tea in many ways. Beyond that, the liquor was mouth-watering, metallic-brassy. Lingering cooked plum aftertaste. Body warm, sinking.
Second steep was a mishap and was very bitter, thick and oily. Bright tobacco, plummy caramel aftertaste. Clean feeling in the back of the mouth. I’m hot!
As the third steep went down, the texture turned fluffy — marshmallow fluff — a food abomination but good in this context. A plummy caramel taste traveled down the throat as bitterness concurrently rose from the depths.
I did a fourth steep and felt the tea to be very bitter and astringent in an unpleasant way. Any similarity to Last Thoughts vanished. Metallic with a heavy sweetness. The tea left me feeling very out of balance so I let the leaves air dry for consumption the following day but never got around to it. Nor any day this week. The dried leaves smell lovely and look pretty sitting in a tea cup but the desire to have a continuation of the session wanes more every day.
Maybe the abrasive, unbalanced power will age into something pleasant. For drinking young, notsomuch.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Caramel, Flowers, Forest Floor, Fruity, Heavy, Marshmallow, Metallic, Mineral, Plants, Plums, Smoke, Sweet, Tobacco, Wood
It’s been a while, Steepster! I am doing an Instagram tea challenge, #SeptemberSipdown, and it’s gotten me back into drinking teas :) huzzah! This tea fit the bill for a tea I bought but haven’t tried yet (my bad) – so I am doing a gongfu sesh with my Bitterleaf gaiwan on this fine Friday morning. Did about a 15s rinse with boiling water (upon reading reviews, will lower the water temp for subsequent steeps), then two consecutive steeps of about 12s each to fill my small mug. Fruity, a bit sharp, but also mellow. This is good stuff! Smooths out as I drink more of it. Lots of energy in the first few sips as well (hello Friday!!) but seems to be mellowing as I get more caffeine in my system haha. Won’t overdo it with my caffeine intake, but enjoying this one. I do get apricots.
Happy to be getting back into some tea this month – I really should be taking advantage of this working from home thing more to be having more gonfu tea sessions!
I was excited to see the super cool mountain shaped tuo make a return at BLT, after the initial white tea that was pressed into this form. I was even more excited when I saw it was pressed into a Jingmai sheng!
I had this one earlier in the week during a lunch break on a working from home day. I didn’t take a lot of notes because I had a limited amount of time for the session, but this is what I did note down…
So fragrant, floral, and sweet with notes of fresh honey, elderflowers, peony, and dewy Spring grass. Sticky and coating liquor; a great midday treat!!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cit_qcfg7rU
I blind caked this, like I do all of the YOT teas from BLT, but before I break into my cake I’m trying this in dragon ball format first! This Yiwu raw puer series is my favourite one that BLT does, and maybe my favourite from any company!? So far, this year’s pressing seems slightly more vegetal (fresh Spring/garden greens) than other years, but still has a softness to the liquor and gentle sweetness. I feel like I probably could have pushed my incremental steep time for this tea session so I’ll note that for the future. Looking forward to seeing how this sheng ages!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZglEUhOK-Z8
Last tasting note of the night – feels good to have Steepster back up and running, and to be clearing out some of this backlog of tasting notes. I think I’m about halfway through what I had built up during the freeze…
Between a bunch of new orders and teas sent for me to review, and the TTB I haven’t been having nearly as much straight tea as I used to – and even less of the new Spring pu’erh I’ve ordered. But early this week I found myself dipping into some of my Bitter Leaf Teas spring order with this “8 Ball” 2020 Banpen Dragon Ball while rereading Homestuck Act 1 and getting all those highschool nostalgia feels!!
To be honest, a tea named “8 Ball” is probably more appropriate for one of the later acts (fellow #homestucktrash will know) but regardless it’s a really interesting & pleasant sheng!! Good texture to the liquor, with a medium bodied notes of raw garden peas & bitter leafy greens that get rougher in the “meat” of the session. Really lovely huigan, though! Definitely not the type of sheng profile I normally gravitate towards, but I’m digging it!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOscjUHPY-o
Had this one very shortly after my Spring order arrived – I was so intrigued that I couldn’t wait. The dry leaf is absolutely stunning – the leaves are just so raw and gnarly/overgrown looking, many significantly longer than the length of my hand, even disregarding the stems. I wish I knew more background on the processing/pick, because my first thought was that this is maybe the result of overgrown tea leaves from the period where China couldn’t get workers out to the tea fields because of Covid-19!? I don’t know if there’s truth to that though…
If there is, then what a brilliant way of re-purposing that tea leaf…
In terms of taste – I’m struggling to remember what it was like; I left this sitting in my queue for too long without detailed enough jot notes for myself. I wasn’t sure how much left to use for the brew; the leaf style is so much different that eyeballing isn’t as easy. I went with about eight of the very long leaves, and that might have been a touch thin?
I remember that is was very sweet though, and that I thought the name/description was appropriate for the taste.
Back to short tasting notes – queue is growing.
Had this grandpa style and it was like drinking flower nectar!! I was definitely sad I missed the chance to get a cake of this one last year (so I’ve been savoring my sample), so blind caked this year’s pressing just to be safe!! Haven’t had a chance to steep that one yet, but excited to have a cake all to myself.
Couldn’t wait & decided to steep up one of the dragonballs from my BLT spring pue’rh haul; this one is “Bonbon”, a Bangdong sheng!! The description of this tea really spoke to me, and I was very tempted to blindly go in on a cake of it but logic brain prevailed and I decided to sample first – I agree with BLT’s description of it being quite sweet & honey like in terms of flavour. It’s also a little floral, and has a slight lemon rind pithy bitterness as well. Based on this tea session I’m unsure if blind caking would have been the right choice for me; seems more sampling is necessary to decide…
Still have one more dragonball to try before I make that decision.
You can see the wrapper in the second photo; it’s really cute and I like how it ties into the name/visually differentiates from the rest of the dragonballs. Slightly concerned that the cake wrapped is the same material though; doesn’t seem like it would be great for long term storage/aging…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdESnyFQDgg
While I let my Bitterleaf 2020 dragon balls chill just a while longer, I decided to dig into this one. Mine is from the non-smoky batch. I must say that the pressed long straws are quite attractive and will help brighten up a tea session.
I used a 130ml gaiwan with a 1g/15ml ratio, steeping times similar to how I brew most sheng. For the first one or two infusions the aroma I got off the wet leaf was akin to that of cooked vegetables like zucchini and eggplant, but after that transformed to an uncanny smell of standing next to a cotton candy stand with that hot, burnt sugar smell. That’s pretty rad.
This tea is very sweet, as one might expect from Jinggu. Immediate upfront sweetness with plenty of flavor. This tea is honestly just straight up liquified cotton candy. Sugarcane is the best way to describe the sweetness and there is even a barely noticeable slight toasted note to this tea as well. Bitterness and astringency are vanishingly low as far as I can tell. The body is really solid and taste very pure and clean.
Overall Lucky Draw is an extremely approachable and very good tea for the price. It’s a great daily drinker and very forgiving to brew, likely making it well suited for brewing grandpa style or iced. I like it a lot and so does my mother who now wants a tin after hearing how affordable it is. I’m actually curious enough myself to order a tin of the smoky variant for comparison.
The tea’s straightforward nature can also be one of its biggest caveats for some. While very pleasant and easygoing, the tea doesn’t have much in terms of complexity or depth to it. The flavor does change gradually over the infusions, but not to a degree that would make Lucky Draw a particularly engaging or rewarding tea to session. The finish is also fairly short, with the aftertaste not lasting particularly long. Don’t expect a qi bomb either and while the leaves themselves have nice aroma to them, in the mouth I didn’t find this Jinggu to be the most aromatic sheng.
As long as you know that you’re looking for something easygoing and straightforward, none of the shortcomings I just mentioned matter. Lucky Draw is a tea that’s very difficult to genuinely dislike and one that will be in regular rotation for me this summer.
Flavors: Cotton Candy, Sweet, Toasted
I finally received samples of Bitterleaf’s 2020 sheng lineup. Since I liked last year’s Full Frontal enough to grab a bing of it for daily drinking and figured this was the closest thing to it in this year’s selection (I believe Bitterleaf has said as much in one of their Instagram posts), I ordered 100g straight away instead of a mere taster.
I tried to pick two mountains totaling as close to 8g as possible for my new 120ml Yixing jiangponi clay gaiwan which I’ve been absolutely loving so far, but the best I could do without going through the whole bag was around 8.4g. I rinsed the lil peaks for half a minute filling the gaiwan to less than full, but this turned out to be too long (or not enough water) as the wash turned out really intense. Despite the seemingly heavy compression, the mountains aren’t too tightly compacted and open up rather quickly, hence I proceeded with the brewing normally as I would do with any sheng.
Right out of the gate, I was very impressed. The early brews were the most floral I’ve ever experienced with any tea. Typically I have a hard time even picking up on floral notes, but this tea literally tasted like I was munching on a bouquet of flowers. I’m no expert on flowers, so the best description I can give is that to me they tasted like white flowers. Bloom is a very flavorful tea, but didn’t come across as an overly intense tea to me as some can be. Even more impressive though is how strong and long-lasting the aftertaste is, only building up as you keep drinking through the early infusions. Around midway through the session I reached a point where the aftertaste was essentially just as strong as the taste while having the tea in your mouth.
Speaking of impressive, Bloom is one of the most full bodied teas I’ve had in a long time. Thick and creamy in the early steeps, the tea coats your mouth and offers a very satisfying textural experience. As the infusions progressed, I began to feel a very pleasant active sensation at the back of my tongue and in my throat, like an almost euphoric massage. As I said, very impressive.
The tea has a lot of upfront sweetness, in the late steeps concentrating in particular on the sides of the tongue. While there’s some green character perceptible, it is largely overshadowed by everything else going on. While I struggle to describe some of the flavors in particular in the mid steeps and also didn’t take notes as I wasn’t expecting to be reviewing this tea based on this first session without it having had any rest at all after arriving, I found this Jingmai surprisingly dynamic and certainly an engaging tea to session. Time seemed to fly by very quickly while drinking it.
There’s certainly some astringency in a tea this young, but I never found it to rise even close to being an issue. For most of this session I actually did two infusions with the same water before reboiling, with the temperature typically having dropped to around 95°C for the second steep. This resulted in every other infusion being a bit more heavy hitting and the ones to follow a bit sweeter. Both approaches worked very well and mixing them up helped make the session even more interesting than it normally would have. I only continued up to a two-minute steep, but the tea was certainly still going at that point.
All in all a really superb tea, especially for the price. This one was like Full Frontal on steroids. It has everything I love about that tea, amped up to the max, and more. Perhaps the one slight disappointment I had was how quickly the flavor started dropping once it did, but by the two-minute steep the tea most certainly still had plenty of strength – just compared to what had come before it seemed much weaker. This will likely improve with age anyway, so certainly a very minor gripe.
As this marks my 100th review here on Steepster, I was a bit worried of not having any kind of special tea planned in advance, but this one somehow managed to really impress me and is most certainly worthy of commemorating this occasion!
Flavors: Floral, Sweet
I’m mainly a sheng drinker and typically only reach for an oolong when eating stir fry, curry or other Asian food. I bought this high end dancong last year (slightly over $1g iirc) , sampled fresh and was underwhelmed. This morning I was in the mood for something different than the young sheng I usually blast my system/tastebuds with, reached into my dancong bag and grabbed this. My oh my what a difference a year makes. Super oily, sweet, plums, lychee, hoisin and sesame oil notes complimented by notes of herbs I have yet to taste (and I have a big herb garden. Typically I only crave roasted oolongs when eating food that’s heavy on toasted sesame oil as they go together so well. I rarely drink them on their own. I could drink this stuff all the time. It steeped forever too. The qi is great too but different then sheng. A chilled out wave of relaxation and contentment. I’m beginning to understand oolong fanatics. I only wish I had a Peking Duck to go with this but they’re a little hard to come by in a small town in Central Pennsylvania at 9am. Luckily I have about 2 sessions left so I see a Peking duck in my near future
I’ve never had a Hekai/Pasha/Nannuo tea that I would love and this offering from BLT doesn’t change that. It has a smooth texture and well-balanced profile, but nothing really stands out about it to elevate it above the rest.
In dry form, the aroma is a mix of floral and fruity notes with a distinctive nectarine scent. After the rinse, I find the smell interesting but also hard to identify. Some weak associations would be gardenia flowers, wet hay, seeds, and garden pond. In the empty cup, there is a mostly creamy scent. In total, the aroma does seem to be quite unique for a sheng, but it didn’t turn out to be very memorable to be honest.
The liquor has a very refreshing, juicy character. There are fruity notes (citrus, green apple), as well as straw, grape vine, and butter flavours. The finish is tart and provides a transition into the mildly spicy and sweet aftertaste.
Flavors: Citrusy, Fruity, Gardenias, Green Apple, Hay, Nutty, Plants, Smooth, Stonefruits, Straw, Sweet, Tart, Vegetal
Bitterleaf kindly threw in a full bing of this with my recent order, so I decided to give it a shot while the tea was at its greenest. The artwork is a looker and the cake loose enough in compression to make breaking off leaves a breeze without much risk of breaking too many of the leaves themselves. The appearance of the dry leaves can be deceptive, as their dark hue reveals a very verdant green color when reintroduced to water.
The bing gives off a pleasant sweet fragrance, whilst the wet leaves reveal more of a vegetal character. My order included a 120ml Yixing jiangponi clay gaiwan which I intend to dedicate to dry stored sheng of all ages, so Mickey made a natural choice for breaking it in. I used 8g of leaf and freshly boiled water as is standard for me. I didn’t keep notes as this was more of a casual session, but I used more or less my standard brewing times for sheng.
For such a young sheng, the first thing I noted about the tea was how fragrant it already is. Typically I find young raws processed according to my tastes to lack fragrance in the first year, but gradually start to develop it as the months and years go by. Then, as I took my first sip of the rinse, what immediately hit me was the potency of these leaves. I’ve had the year of the rooster and year of the dog iterations of this tea, and I can say this year’s harvest is a real powerhouse. The trout this year was even worse than last year from what I hear, resulting in even denser, more concentrated tea than many of last year’s offerings from Yunnan. If this tea is any indication of what to expect from the rest of this year’s teas, I’m excited to taste them.
The flavor is immediate. Aftertaste is much more subtle, but it’s there and lasted me hours after the session. Sweetness is the most prominent characteristic. There’s definitely a verdant freshness present in such a young tea, but it’s not a leafy or grassy greenness, rather more of a vegetal character. While it’s been a few years since I last had it, I’m reminded of the Yunnan Sourcing spring 2015 Da Qing Gu Shu and Jinggu teas in general. I got hardly any bitterness and astringency was kept largely in check. Later longer steeps saw a growing roughness creeping in, which in my experience seems to be typical for young teas and tea produced from younger trees. I found longevity to be good, but stopped the session prematurely to avoid dealing with the roughness.
Overall an excellent tea and one that performs well above its price point. I prefer this year’s iteration to previous vintages I’ve tried and it’s the first one I can recommend without reservations for someone looking for a quality tea that doesn’t break the bank. Mickey is a great daily drinker for immediate consumption, but the added potency and frankly crazy oiliness present in the tea soup this year make this one a great candidate for aging. Not a tea I would have caked myself as I tend to prefer teas that are a bit closer to midrange or even high end, but definitely a tea that I’m happy to receive a bing of and one that will be in regular rotation this summer.
Flavors: Sweet, Vegetal
This is what one could call a classic Yiwu tea. It has the floral sweetness and a nice soft texture. It is fairly consistent throughout the session but also not that complex you could say.
The wet leaf aroma is floral, a bit grassy and it includes notes of bay leaf, compost, thyme and a light smokiness. Taste is well integrated with next to no distinctive flavours. It is sweet, floral, and very fragrant with hints of nutty oil flavour. The liquor has medium to full body with some astringency and it induces a cooling feeling in the mouth. What follows is a very nice huigan and a warm sensation spreading throughout the body.
Flavors: Compost, Floral, Grass, Nutty, Plants, Smoke, Sweet, Thick, Thyme
Bitter End Xtra is undoubtedly a high end tea. It gives almost neverending sessions and with passing years, it should brew even longer and display more complexity. Today I got 21 steeps (that would be almost 300ml/g), but it is clear that one could push it even further.
The dry leaf aroma is fairly standard as far as young sheng goes – it is sweet and metallic with a strong dry grass character. After the rinse, I get the impression of a forest with a sort of cooling sensation. Over the course of the session, the aromas then become quite complex and elusive until they settle into a mix of fruits and flowers towards the end.
As expected, the tea is bitter, although not in any particularly negative way. The bitterness is far from overpowering. As TJ Elite mentions, it is not abrasive. I would say that there are two kinds present.
In the first quarter of the session, there is a fast grapefruit-like bitterness that subsides quickly. Other flavours include licorice root, straw, apricot pits, and beech wood, with some black pepper and grapefruit notes in the aftertaste. The liquor is very active in the mouth and there is no astringency whatsoever. The cha qi creeps up fairly slowly and at this point it is mostly energizing.
Later in the second quarter, there is a very long-lasting woody bitterness that can linger on for more than an hour after drinking. The texture is buttery and reaches peak viscosity. I also get a notable apple flavour around these steeps. They carry the strongest mind-numbing sensations accompanying the drinking. The effect of the tea seems much more meditative than before.
In the second half, bitter flavours recede, allowing other aspect to come to the fore. The third quarter of my today’s session was actually the most flavourful! Fruity and floral flavours dominate with notes such as banana and yellow beans. Mouthfeel is more on the oily side, although not as full-bodied anymore.
Around steep 16 is when some astringency finally appears. From then on, the flavours gradually weaken and the overall character becomes increasingly floral with no bitterness left.
Flavors: Apricot, banana, Bitter, Black Pepper, Dry Grass, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Grapefruit, Green Beans, Licorice, Metallic, Oak wood, Straw, Thick
Mengsong seems to produce a lot of good tea. Plum Beauty sold by BLT is one of them, and at a very good price too. It has a complex bouquet, strong and well-integrated bitterness, and a long-lasting aftertaste, all being hallmarks of a quality tea in my opinion. It does, however, upset the stomach a little bit, make sure not to drink it on an empty stomach!
Before the session, the aroma is sweet, floral, and metallic and it explodes into a multitude of directions after the rinse. There are notes of popcorn, stewed beef, green peas, semolina, vanilla ice cream, cedar, and honeysuckle as well as other plants and flowers.
Already the rinse is very flavourful. It has a bitter and savoury profile with a peppery finish – a sign of things to come. The bitterness is continually present throughout the session, but it is well-integrated as I mentioned already and doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Complementing it are various vegetal, floral and tart flavours. I can detect hints of apricot pits, stone fruit skins, jasmine and pine needles.
The tea has a medium to full body with a colloidal mouthfeel and a medium astringency. The aftertaste is crisp and cooling and shows a lot of sweetness alongside the persisting bitterness – the huigan is pretty strong. Despite being floral and sweet, it is not a honey-like aftertaste I’d often associate with teas from He Kai and some other nearby Menghai areas. Instead, there are also notes of malt, rosemary, and salt. Rounding out the experience is a fairly lively and energizing qi that is not overpowering in any way.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Bitter, Cedar, Floral, Flowers, Herbs, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Malt, Meat, Metallic, Peas, Pepper, Pine, Plants, Popcorn, Salt, Stonefruits, Sweet, Tart, Thick, Umami, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wheat
Had this yesterday evening as an excuse to break in some beautiful new teaware that I recently received in the mail from Viter Ceramics! The tea was sweet and fruity; delicious as always – I’m really looking forward to this year’s pressing! The shibo is GORGEOUS and pours like a dream, as well. It’s the perfect size, the cup it came with is stunning and it feels great to hold/drink from.
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NnSEdOp5zI
Downside to a large tea stash is that sometimes samples get neglected; such is the case for this dancong that was a free tea sample with an order at one point. At the time, I just didn’t have an appreciation for dancong so I waited to try it, and then it wound up forgotten about until recently. The dry leaf is still stunning, and the liquor its producing in this session is enjoyable; more of a heady floral with very slight nutty and cherry undertones than marzipan/almond but I suppose cherry and almond are often a bit indistinguishable. Still, I can’t help but wonder what my experience would have been like when it was fresh…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5Rqe_kr99A
In their 2019 line-up, BLT offered 4 different teas from Lao Man E and this is the last one I got around writing a review for. I found this one lacking a little bit. It obviously is not as good value as the huang pian ones, and it also isn’t nearly as memorable as the bitter varietal’s Bitter End Extra.
There are lots of subtle notes that only last a moment and it seems like the flavours intensify mostly after swallowing. However, I didn’t find the huigan unusually strong. The aftertaste is astringent with a lasting bitterness that is not abrasive, and a citrusy character (more of a lemon kind rather than grapefruit). Shortly after drinking, the savoury notes dominate and even though the sweetness eventually comes to turn things around, it doesn’t completely steal the show.
The cha qi is very awakening and energizing, but not aggressive in any way. There is a strong chest warming sensation for sure though, as well as a light throat-cooling one.
As for the specific notes, there are aromas of roasted peanut, clean barn, chilli, cabbage, and salt emerging from the teapot. The liquor displays a mild sourness at times and it has a back of the mouth bite almost like a TGY, but more pleasant I’d say. Other than than, flavours present include milk, dandelion, coconut water, and bran. Herbaceous bitterness and of course some sweetness are noticeable too as one would expect.
Flavors: Bitter, Char, Citrusy, Coconut, Dandelion, Herbaceous, Milk, Oats, Peanut, Roasted nuts, Salt, Sour, Sweet, Vegetables, Vegetal
Are we getting Steepster back? I hope so! :)
Anyway, here’s a tea I drank today. It is very much a feel-good and energizing tea. At its present state, it is more bitter than sweet, and definitely more bitter than “Keep Smiling”. The bitterness never lets go, but at the same time it doesn’t completely suppress other flavours. It also has less of the metallic and bell pepper like character that a lot of huangpian teas have. For the price, this is some of the best tea one can get imo, just like its cousin – Keep Smiling. The fact that it easily brews 200ml/g just underscores that.
It displays aromas of apricots, peat, carob, candlewax, and a rural, hot hay like scent. Furthermore, in the empty cup one can find a cooling, nutty, and vegetal aroma that is somewhat unique among sheng pu’er. The taste is very pungent, bitter and vegetal with notes of chard, grapefruit skin and rye among other ones. Liquor has a full body and a creamy texture with just a touch of chalkiness in late steeps. As one would expect from the bitter Lao Man E varietal, the bitterness persists into the aftertaste, which is also a bit citrusy, spicy and warming. Towards the end of the session there is the slightest hint of smokiness too.
All in all, I would highly recommend this tea to anyone who likes bitter flavours in their pu-erh.
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Citrus, Citrus Zest, Floral, Grapefruit, Hot hay, Nutty, Peat, Rye, Spicy, Vegetal
This was a nice tea to try, but even if it was still available, I wouldn’t be buying more of it. Ultimately, I found it to be fairly unremarkable beyond the pine-like aftertaste. The pine note is not overpowering but also unmistakable. Besides that, there is an aroma of unripe walnuts and forest floor. As for the taste, I found it to be mostly crisp and sweet with a mild spiciness and a resinous quality in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is smooth and milky.
Flavors: Forest Floor, Milk, Pine, Resin, Smooth, Spicy, Sweet, Walnut
This is a tea I received a free sample of. At one year of age, it finally felt like a good time to give it a shot. The parameters and brewing times were my standard ones for sheng. I won’t repeat them here, so go look at one of my other reviews for reference if you so wish.
Full Frontal sips very clean, most of the flavor arriving in the aftertaste, immediately after you swallow. This is exactly what I look for in quality pu’er, so high marks here. The tea soup is quite oily; taste floral and dense. Though light in nature, the liquor is very flavorful and the aftertaste long-lasting. In the mid steeps the floral notes are joined by soapiness in the aftertaste. I mean that by no means as a negative. In my experience Jingmai teas tend to express very little bitterness, but in its stead a fair amount of astringency or dryness. That was not the case here, with only a modest amount of astringency at best appearing in the late steeps.
The leaves themselves are very small, presumably at least in part due to many trees in Jingmai being mixed leaf varietal as I understand. This no doubt contributes in part to the strength found in the early brews. Many small-leaf teas tend to brew out quicker than their large-leaf counterparts, but for me Full Frontal continued to deliver perfectly acceptable results till the two-minute infusion which is where I stopped. I wager they had at least one more good brew in them, so longevity is good.
Personally I’ve never been a fan of Jingmai. I’ve had one sheng that I liked from there in the past — one also of the floral kind — but the teas veering more towards honied, greener notes I’ve always hated. This tea on the other hand I can wholeheartedly recommend. I might even pick up a cake myself as the price is more than reasonable relative to the quality.
Flavors: Floral, Jasmine, Olive Oil, Soap, Sweet