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Recent Tasting Notes
First sheng from Farmerleaf.
Of all the Jingmai sheng I’ve tried in the past few weeks, this is the most subtle. The dry leaf aroma is bright and fruity-floral-honey, much stronger than the liquor fragrance which is something close to osmanthus but savory-musky. The profile is light-bodied (becoming medium with longer, later steeps) and oily, very clean, highly mineral with a very active salty mouthfeel. At first it is soothing then plenty of young woody astringency and soft, cactus-like bitterness emerge. Fresh, golden straw glinting in the sun with mild orchid florals — this isn’t giving me a headache like other perfumed Jingmai. Quiet honey-orchid-brown sugar aftertaste. It takes a few steeps, but a stevia returning sweetness presents at my sinuses before emerging from deeper in my throat as brown sugar. Mildly menthol cooling in the chest.
I don’t want to fault this tea for anything, but the caffeine content is much too high for me. The energy is soothing at first until the caffeine kicks in and I become scattered and shakey. Otherwise, this is a fantastic, subtle tea. I’d love to experience the development of this tea over the years. I’d highly recommend Spring 2018 Jingmai Gulan to more experienced drinkers.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Floral, Green Wood, Honey, Menthol, Mineral, Orchid, Osmanthus, Salty, Straw, White Grapes
Using slightly under 8g for 120ml gaiwan. Flash rinse followed by 5s steep, +5s each infusion.
Warmed leaf smells like grape and grapefruit. Rinsed leaf smells like flowers and bitterness.
(Starting the session, getting used to the site). Just rinsed, letting the leaves rehydrate before doing the first steep
First steep is really good. Long lasting taste. Hint of bitterness that appears in the end.
I’m surprised that this first steep is so strong, the tea is already awake!
The second steep is fruitier. It reminds me of their flagship tea, the Jingmai Gulan. The sample has been well rested. Very enjoyable.
The leaves themselves are sturdy and good quality. I wish this was a cake instead of a sample.
Nice qi as well.
I have a cake of KingTeaMall’s LME and this one seems nicer. I think it is the “sweet” variety, compared to KTM’s bitter version.
The fifth steep is still going strong. There is a very strong cooling sensation on my tongue. The tea is very drying as well. I feel a little spacey by now.
Really great LME. The aftertaste lingers for so long. Great longevity!
Flavors: Grapefruit, Grapes
Easy-drinking with light, vibrant flavors and aroma. Delicate malt and florals with a fruity tone that leans citrus, like white grapefruit mixed with stonefruit. Tingly, never bitter or astringent. The fruit pops more when brewed around 200F versus boiling. Good for 2, maybe 3 steeps western. The spent leaves show the low oxidation with a palette of muted red, green and brown splotches. The leaf and bud usually destined for puerh production is healthy, thick and fuzzy. Thanks for the generous sample, Martin :)
Flavors: Citrusy, Floral, Grapefruit, Malt, Mineral, Stonefruits
With my first Farmerleaf order, I got this mini cake for casual drinking. It delivers more or less what one would expect from a Jingmai plantation tea. It is tasty, pungent and not too complex with quite a floral profile. The aroma is green and grassy with notes of dandelion among other flowers. Taste-wise, I found the tea to have a good balance of umami, sweetness and bitterness. At this young age, it is still a bit grassy and a little salty. Mouthfeel is soft and drying, and I get a warming sensation spreading throughout the body after drinking.
Flavors: Bitter, Dandelion, Drying, Floral, Flowers, Grass, Salty, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal
I rarely get to try a sheng this fresh, but after more than a month long journey from China to Ontario, I felt compelled to give it some time to rest and only broke into the cake I got today. Having been hit by a car while cycling earlier today (I came out lucky with no serious injuries), I won’t remember this day for the tea that’s for sure.
In any case, the tea didn’t leave a very strong impression on me in this first encounter of ours, I will try reserve my judgement though. It may need more time to show its true character. At the moment, it is quite crisp, grassy, sweet, and salty, with notes of seaweed and tropical fruits. The body is medium thick with a powdery and slightly astringent mouthfeel.
Flavors: banana, Grass, Green, Marine, Salty, Seaweed, Sweet, Tropical
I didn’t take as many notes on the session as I wanted, but I noted that it had ‘soft, creamy, sweet, honey’ notes. This is one of those young puerh teas that are just too complex to describe in full detail. It is one of those teas that bring you to silence, allowing the time to pass without words. It’s similar to an unwritten love poem, moving you to the point of stillness, which can be called a quiet love, I suppose.
Farmerleaf has a few teas that fill me with such stillness and calm, that I cannot simply spend the time reading, writing, talking, or gaming; rather, I sit in silence, musing only over the tea.
With that said, the tea lasts a short while—not as long as some teas that I typically drink—but it can take a hard hit with boiling water/steep time, without growing bitter, sour, or astringent. It’s light and pleasant, through and through.
I only wish that I was capable of making a better note on this tea. It’s a good one, that’s for sure.
Sample from Farmerleaf, brewed in gaiwan.
First 2 steeps unimpressive, it felt faded. It developed much better character in the following steeps once the leaves opened up.
Feels a bit younger than the age the tag suggests but is still interesting and not too sharp. Fruity, flowery, moderate bitterness that kicks back a nice huigan aftertaste. Comforting, tonic, mild cha qi.
This one leans to the delicate and balanced side of the sheng spectrum. Though generally speaking is a good tea I don’t believe I’ll be ordering a cake. I’d like to contrast it with a further aged version and see where it goes.
Flavors: Fruity, Hay, Lime, Melon
Decided to brew pu-erh in gaiwan again, I need to calm down and this somehow works well to me. Not just tea, but sitting and enjoying the cuppa.
I prepared 5 grams in 85 ml gaiwan, boiling water in thermos. Quick rinse (10 seconds), letting humidity for 5 minutes to entry the chunk of tea.
First steep was ten seconds long and it brewed so dark… bit oily brew. The taste was quite boring, typical shu flavour, woody, no notes of chocolate I noticed last time.
Second one was with 5 seconds extra, brewed even darker, the taste is nice and mellow, but again that typical shu, without any complexity. I haven’t reached that soup is ultra thick and will coat your mouth throughout the session, just like a good old Irish stout! yet too. But it looks like that for sure. Some sweet notes bit reminding vanilla appears.
Third one, 25 seconds. It’s not that dark! Dark mahogany colour right now, clear.
Indeed some sweet notes are there. Not sure about the vanilla, but sweet. What is sweet, but somehow mild? Not sugary sweet? Is it that notes of chocolates I noticed other day?
Another. 30 seconds.
Smooth shu. There are no rough notes. Decent.
45 seconds. I am drinking it somehow fast. Do I hurry? Noo! Why then? Anyway, it’s so nice, mellow, easydrinking.
Another 45 seconds long steep. Did I bite dark chocolate? No, it is just a tea.
Praying for justice and calm heads in US, I hope that methods of police will change too. I don’t consider normal kneeing on someone’s neck. Moreover when he was trying to breath. I don’t say that riots will solve anything, but honestly I am not surprised. What else they can do? Should they remain silent? I am afraid that is what they want.
Flavors: Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Vanilla
I am the first one to write a tasting note? And this tea is actually gone!
Anyway, quick (+- 10 seconds) rinse of 6 grams of tea in my 85 ml gaiwan. That is 1 gram for 14 ml of boiling water in thermos.
1st steep, as usual, was 15 seconds long.
It pours light brown colour. Rinse and first steep has got generic shu aroma, in taste mellow, not-metallic, rather sweet side of chocolate.
2nd steep, 30 seconds
Mellow, still sweet chocolate taste. Not very complex taste. But full-bodied for sure.
3rd, 45 seconds
It becames darker, so does in taste, more like dark chocolate now.
4th, 60 seconds
Full bodied, nice to drink. I do not think it will change flavours, so I will keep drinking. They claim it can be up to 12 steeps, so – I guess it can be true. But I would not write about every single steep.
It is good, but maybe I expected something bit more complex.
Flavors: Chocolate, Dark Chocolate
And now a tea I am drinking while writing. That works best.
I did 10 seconds rinse, then let leaves absorb the humidity for 10-15 minutes and then started with 10 seconds long steep.
1st steep, 10 seconds
What a nice mounthfeel. Smooth, almost velvety, with taste of stonefruits, again as I mentioned before, peaches and apricots. No bitterness, little astringency
2nd steep, 20 seconds
Brew is light green, in taste more astringency; but still very smooth. Taste more green, bit hay.
3rd steep, 30 seconds
Astringency withdrew, smooth taste. Again some fruits appear, bit woody. Tends to sween notes a bit.
4th steep, 40 seconds
Hmm, stonefruits! Maybe little bit citrusy.
5th steep, 50 seconds
Again astringency creeps a bit. Indeed citrusy with hints of floral notes.
And I will say goodbye to this tasting note as I don’t like long ones, but it keeps giving. Easydrinking sheng for simple and unexperienced puerh tea drinkers as I am. It is though very nice to drink puerh after long time. Or actually any tea in gaiwan.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Citrus Zest, Hay, Peach, Stonefruits
15 seconds rinse
Floral, stone fruits, mineral. Not really bad. Probably stonefruits as apricot / peach, mentioned by others in previous years. Medium astringency.
1st / 30 seconds.
Quite mineral and astringent, not much of fruity notes. Quite drying and long mouthfeel.
2nd / 30 seconds.
As first 30 seconds were quite strong, I decided to make second brew with same time. Yep, it is milder. Bit fruitier. Good steep.
3rd / 45 seconds
This is really nicely balanced between astingency and sweetness. Finishing this steep awfully cold, because I was checking new cars with my dad.
4th / 1 minute
This is following previous note, that it is nice balanced. No cars this time :D
5th / 1:15
I will make more and more brews, but I guess it will be same. Maybe weaker, maybe stronger. Who knows… Just great amount of steeps, I do not want to count it. I am lazy man.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Drying, Floral, Mineral, Peach, Stonefruits
Summer 2018 harvest
Well, lazy morning again.
I do not want to do anything, so I decided to do a gong fu with another new tea. As I never had a compressed white tea, I took this one.
Clean up the gaiwan (oh, come on, I even left leaves in water and forgot it for two days). Dang! Clean up the cup. Boil water to thermos.
And 15 seconds rinse. 5 grams of tea.
It woke up some aromas. Hard to describe, but closest one would be probably raisins? Is it even possible? Certainly it is some sweet aroma.
1st steep is 15 seconds long (as usual for me).
In taste it is mild, but nothing really distinctive.
2nd, much longer – forgot about it a bit. Around 45 seconds.
I was counting and then I thought, oh I am already on fourty.
It won’t be bad, I was complaining it was not distinctive for first steep. It get some floral notes. More thick too. In aroma of wet leaf I notice something refreshing, like a mint.
Yep, it is floral and nicely round. Little astringecy is there, but not really making it bad.
3rd, 1 minute
Cake chunk broke completely. It is loose leaf now. Haha.
Pours golden, with slighlty woody aroma. In taste it is nice, thick tea, kind of honey smoothness.
4th, 75 seconds
It is really bold now. But still so nice smooth, little, almost unnoticable astringency. No bitterness.
And following ones (adding 15 seconds)
are quite similar. It is not very complex tea in tastes, but easydrinking, warming cuppa.
Food pairing: Vanilla yoghurt for breakfast, haha. Not enough. Bread with salami.
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Mint, Raisins, Wood
I took this tea in my gaiwan today morning.
It was more vegetal than I remember from grandpa brewing. Grassy as well, little sweetness, bit of astringency. Brews easily, I did not care much about steeping times, just when I thought it will be ready, I spilled the tea into a cup. It was good. Nothing really fancy, or some scents or aromas development, just easydrinking tea with nice taste. Reminding me bit green teas, but that is probably bit expected.
Overall, it is nice tea (especially for the price).
Flavors: Astringent, Cut grass, Vegetal
Some dust from bag, grandpa, around 4-5 grams.
Why grandpa you ask?
Well, I am kind of lazy. And in Monday I should have exam, but I decided to prepare more – so, 19th August is new date. I still have two attempts remaining. So, I guess I need to study :P
Moreover, I do not know if I slept badly or what was wrong, but I woke up and everything hurts. Shoulders, arms, legs… weird start of the day.
Haha, okay lyrics do not really mean how I feel, but the name of the song :D
To the tea:
Liquor is green-yellow, bit cloudy. Lots of leaves actually, few stems too, I kept everything in. Oh, look at the size of the this leaf! That one particular was indeed quite big – 5×2 cm maybe? And so nicely green, no bites, not even too fried one.
It smells bit vegetal, mowed grass (I know how it smells :D) and tastes pretty similar. Grassy, easydrinking tea. And it was quite sweet, maybe kind of peas? Overall, I have enjoyed it and for the price! 3 dollars for 25 grams sample?
Flavors: Cut grass, Peas, Sweet, Vegetal
So nice, and easydrinking tea.
Prepared grandpa, one pinch and one smaller pinch, 300 ml glass cup.
Turned same as always. I guess this is my favourite black tea. I could drink it all the time. It’s nicely malty, but not just that, it doesn’t turn bitter and leaves are big and so nice to watch.
Upping a rating from 90 to 96.
Flavors: Honey, Malt
Weirdly, I have only half of this left and… one tasting note?
Well, and few hours backlog; I hate it. I could not go so much into details, because, I just forget them.
Anyway, prepared grandpa, two pinches of tea – no accurate measurment, just boiled water.
Turned out very nice, this time with some stone fruits notes, malty, but still very light tea! Typical black tea flavours appear there as well and what amazes me the most, is that I was steeping it for 45 minutes and it was still delicious without any bitterness.
Anybody wants to make New Year swap (I will include this tea :) )? Just for fun. First two come, first two seved basis. I could not afford more right now.
Flavors: Malt, Stonefruits
I have decided (same as yesterday morning) to make this tea grandpa style. So, four-five grams of tea, 300 ml of hot water (was boiling 3-5 minutes before I used it). So I guess it can have about 90°C.
Anyway, my cup is fulll of leaf now. It is making dark gold, of course bit cloudy – as no rinse was performed, with aroma of sweet malt, but bit spicy and bit of forest honey.
In taste it is light, but still somehow full-bodied tea. Nothing too much to write about, as it is just black tea :) but certainly it is smooth, enjoyable, easydrinking tea with low and nice price tag . Okay, it has got medium malty flavour with hints of spices!I bought it for 14 dollars per 100 grams, now it is 3 dollars more. But still I guess very nice price.
Edit: My Tasting note No. 200 !!! Woohoo!
Flavors: Honey, Malt, Spicy
Apparently this tea lost its nutty flavour it got when fresh.
But still, it is exceptional black tea which don’t turn bitter even prepared grandpa with freshly boiled water.
Yes, that’s how I prepared it! Took two pinches into my favourite tall glass cup, and… boiling water in.
It was more malty than usual, although still very fine tea; simple drinker today. I was not paying too much attention too today. Now, I have one tea for one last cup or last gaiwan. Or I will send it elsewhere? I am haven’t decided yet. Maybe I should pick another pouch as it is still quite cheap (2 US dollars per 20 grams, or 6 US dollars per 100 g) Hmm, decisions, decisions… I still remember how I was nervous last time and getting it home. Is it worth it?
Flavors: Malt, Tannic
Gong-fu time, I have not did it for long time.
4 grams, 85 ml gaiwan.
I was not very precise in steeping times, so it all was in 10 seconds – 90 seconds period. Spiciness was gone, it turned out very malty. But it was great. I liked the taste. Then some sweetness. And in the end, it was like red fruits tea. Interesting development, honestly I miss a bit the spices I had with first steeps in spring-summer, but the red fruits notes were interesting as well. Although I have not listened to it while drinking, here is a song pairing:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q89Urbqe7QA – as it was stuck in my head.
Enjoy the song. Enjoy your tea. Enjoy the life.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Malt, Red Fruits, Sweet
I took it bit stronger today. 5-6 grams per 300 ml grandpa style.
My parents were enjoying the coffee, while I was enjoying great tea.
It is still same as previous notes I wrote. We were talking about lots of things. Some job is needed in garden, so – actually I am bit avoiding it by writing this tasting note. Meh, I really do not want to do anything, just staying at home, listening to music and relaxing. Not this time I guess.
And guess what! As we were sitting on the patio, we have a little bit of flowers there including few sunflowers. A goldfinch arrived and started to eat the seeds. He was there for 10-15 minutes and enjoying it apparently! It was so nice. So nice as this tea.
PS: I know this is rather diary entry than tasting note.
Flavors: Malt, Nutty, Tea