“Trip to Changtai, vol. 1”

I asked the mechanic friend to pick a card, any card. He drew the youngest Changtai tea in my stash.

Dry leaf has lots of bitter woodsmoke overlaying sour plum and smoked flowers with a slight custard undertone. Warm leaf: woodsmoke, vegetal-buttery-caramel, sour plum. Rinsed leaf: smokey-sour, aged wood, floral and pungent

First steep starts off interesting with a very fluffy, rich, sticky sweetness (caramel-honey-overripe melon-marshmallow) that clings to every crevice in my mouth. Then whoosh, second steep brings massive greenwoody body. Green bitterness comes out as I swallow and it lingers. The sweetness is like sticky spiderwebs. The liquor is slightly coating and moderately drying. Smokeysweet aroma. Floral, light caramel, hint of blueberry perfume in mouth exhales through nose. Somewhat metallic in the aftertaste.

Third steep, mechanic friend says “witch hazel.” Fourth, the wet leaf smells very pungent and fruity. The bitterness dies down a bit. Fifth, sweetness is only available on the sip and somewhat in the retronasal aftertaste. Taste is general green astringency and bitterness. Some slight mouth cooling but overall body warming. Returning sweetness finally makes a meek presence. Sixth becomes very metallic in character. My gut’s a’gurgling so I’ll call it quits.

For a wild tea, this tastes very different from the others I’ve tried and I wonder if it’s due to processing methods. The sweetness gives me an Yiwu vibe, not Menghai, though a walnut-sour plum impression does draw me back toward Menghai. I’m only postulating since I don’t have a ton of experience but this seems like the kind of young sheng that would benefit from aggressive, humid storage. It is one of the greenest sheng I’ve ever had.

Addendum: I think the sweetness might actually be embodied as jujube but I haven’t eaten them enough to be sure.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Bitter Melon, Blueberry, Butter, Caramel, Custard, Drying, Floral, Flowers, Green, Green Wood, Herbs, Honey, Marshmallow, Melon, Metallic, Plums, Smoke, Sour, Sweet, Tannin, Vegetal, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 7 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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