314 Tasting Notes
From the 2016 Sheng Olympiad.
I have a new year’s resolution that I’m trying to start early. In order to drink up all my samples, I’m going to sit down and have a formal session, with tasting notes and Steepster entry every single day. Lately I’ve been just grabbing something to drink while I work or watch TV so don’t really focus on the tea. Since I’m not paying enough attention to the tea, I tend to drink average-quality teas that I own a lot of, and leave the samples alone (all ~200!). So, let’s see how long it takes me to drink down all my samples – longer than I think: I have samples on the way from Farmer-Leaf teas, and intend to order the 2017 Sheng Olympiad (and probably everything else the Liquid Proust puts together).
So, after this long introduction, what about the tea? My first sip was very bitter. Usually I don’t like bitter tea, but this was also deep and rich with overtones of tar and fruit that I found enjoyable. The second steep lost some of the fruit, though it was still there.A short steep didn’t reduce the bitterness, so I decided to embrace it: think of this as the espresso of teas!.
Around the 5th steep, sweetness began to challenge the bitterness for dominance, but the finish stayed bitter. The interesting flavors faded along with the bitterness. An interesting tea, but not one I would purchase.
From the Puerh Plus TTB 2
This is actually a tale of two tastings. I really liked my first sample of this tea. It was light but elegant, with citrus and floral notes. As I drank it, the flavors grew on meand my enjoyment increased through many cups. Thinking I might like to buy a cake, I kept the remaining 3 grams of the tea to enable me to try it again, before making a purchase decision.
The second tasting started out similar to the first, with a light, elegant flavor with floral and citrus highlights. However, this time the tea seemed to get worse, rather than better, losing the fruit and becoming bland. At the 4th cup, it was a slightly bitter straw; not bad but not the lovely tea I expected. A shorter steep at cup 5 removed the bitterness, but left a pleasant but not very interesting tea. I suspect that different steep times, temperature, etc. could develop different characteristics, so you could have some fun with it.
I wound up recommending this tea, because I think it is good value as an everyday tea. However, I’ve made a vow to not buy any more everyday teas, so I’m going to pass on this one. My numerical score is the average of the 87 I gave this on the first session and the 81 I’m giving it for the second session.
From the Puerh TTB-5
One of my favorite teas is the 2013 TU Peacock, so when I saw a 2016 peacock in the TTB I got greedy and took all 10 grams. It’s been resting for a few weeks, and it’s now time to taste it. I decided to make a big deal out of it and am tasting it side-by-side with the 2013.
Both teas have 3 grams, with roughly 70 cc steeps of 10, 10, 20, 30, 40, 60 seconds at 200 degrees.
1st steep: Both have a fairly light straw color, with the 2016 a bit more green. 2016 has a light nose with hints of fruit, straw, and spice. The taste is more of the same. The nose is more subdued in the 2013 and it has less fruit but a richer texture in the mouth. Later steeps show a tropical fruit underneath a straw flavor. The 2016 has good mouth-feel but the flavors are more on the surface, with much less richness or depth. The Finish is very good, but light and fruity rather than deep and complex. In the absence of a comparison, I would like the 2016 quite a bit, but it suffers in comparison with the 2013, though when I come back to the now much cooler 2013 it doesn’t seem as good as it did.
2nd steep (after 15 minutes to let the cha qi settle; I can still taste the tea a bit!): 2016 tastes richer than before with spice and some fruit. Excellent finish, despite the fact that the flavor seems to be mostly on the surface. The 2013 has less spice but a rich fruitiness that is further back in the mouth, and continues through a long finish. Both teas has such a long finish that the whole side-by-side tasting is compromised: I sip one tea while the finish of the other is still very active. I’m also feeling a full-body cha qi that is probably affecting my tasting. I’m also noticing a significant level of astringency.
The third steep is usually my favorite. Here, after another 15 minute break, the 2016 has a nice, spicy nose, and a crisp acidic taste with hints of fruit and spice. The finish seems more powerful than the taste, which to me usually indicates a need for aging (at least with wine). The cha qi hits me almost immediately. The 2013 is much less aromatic, and the flavor is richer yet more subdued. This tea also seems to get bigger after I swallow. Big and rich, and I’m riding a tea drunk. Drinking the two teas in short succession brings out the best in both, due to the long finishes. Awesome tea drunk.
I waited a couple of hours to continue. 4th steep is spicy but too astringent, but I really like the finish. 5th steep is sweeter, but also with less fruit and spice. The flavor seems to have moved to the roof of my mouth. It has a thick, chewy texture that fills the mouth and lingers in the finish.
Bottom line is that I like this tea a lot, but I don’t think it’s quite as good as the 2013. The question is whether it will age into what the 2013 is today. I may need to buy a cake to find out.
From the Puerh Plus TTB #2
I really enjoyed this tea. The flavor is a good mix of straw and spice with hints of tropical fruit and just enough astringency. The texture is velvety in the first couple of steeps, but the growing astringency gave it more bite in later steeps.
The best feature may be the finish, which smoothly extended the taste for what seemed like several minutes. Not much cha qi, but some was noticeable.
I’m just about out of this tea, so really need to write a review. The thing is, my scores have been all over the map, ranging from 84 to 89. The main reason for the variation is that the dominant flavor is a meaty herbaceous taste that I sometimes really like but that often is off-putting. The flavor is strong, with slight bitterness and some smoke. Best part of the tea might be the finish, which is long and pleasant.
As you can probably judge from the above description, the flavor is quite complex, which is a major plus for me. I was going to check the recommend box, but realized that while I enjoyed the tea, I won’t buy more when the sample is gone, so perhaps that is not a very strong recommendation.
From LP Dark Matter
This tea was great. I’m not a fan of shou, but this had zero fermentation flavor and was fruity, complex, and well-balanced. I kept going back to the gaiwan. Didn’t keep count, but I think I had at least 20 steeps over a period of 5 days. Later steeps were more fuity and complex, to the point where I bumped my rating up a couple of points.
From PTTB-5. Thanks for the donation.
I set aside samples of the three Bitterleaf teas before mailing out the box. I needed a treat tonight so decided to try one. I was a bit nervous due to the name: I’m not a fan of bitter tea. Turns out I didn’t need to worry.The initial steep didn’t have much nose. The taste is straw with pretty good texture and finish. Slightly sweet. In the 2nd steep the nose is much more prominent. Taste is a bit richer, but the finish is what really impresses. Long and smooth with straw and a bit of fruit (not quite apricot, but close). 3rd steep: Lots of wood in the nose. Wood also in the taste, but the fruit and straw are still apparent. Feeling some cha qi, but not awfully strong. Not a tea for the tea-drunks.
Here I screwed up. I got distracted, so my 4th steep lasted 2 minutes. I was surprised that it was drinkable: It had a much darker color. Very woody, but only slightly bitter. Surprisingly drinkable! The 5th steep was the biggest surprise. Despite my brutality on the previous steep the tea was sweet and smooth, with pretty good mouth-feel and complexity. Still quite fruity. At this point I’ve gotten 15 ounces of tea out of a 3 gram sample (including the over-steep), but the tea is still going strong.
My overall impression is that this is a tea that is very approachable in its youth, but has reasonable complexity and the sort of good texture in the mouth that I’d expect from a quality Yiwu.
Rich, meaty aroma. Good mature flavor is mostly leather and tobacco, with some meat and fruit. 2nd steep is even better. Lots of camphor appearing, with strong tobacco notes. By the 3rd steep, I was getting tired of the heavy camphor though there was nice tobacco underneath, as well as some spice in the finish. Some would consider this a really fine tea, but I’m not all that into camphor.
The tea had great longevity. Still going strong after about 8 steeps. I went back about 8 hours later and it was still going strong, and it started to grow on me. At this point I was steeping for about a minute, and the flavor is just camphor and tobacco, but it is fairly strong and still has good mouth feel and a nice balance between nose, taste, and finish. I just kept steeping and it was probably about the 15th steep that I finally decided there was no more flavor in the leaves.
I’m not going to give the tea a score, since I rated it down on my personal ambivalence about camphor. If you are into camphor, you will think this is an excellent tea.
From Puerh TTB-4
This is about the 4th Awazon tea I’ve tried and this is my favorite so far. The powerful nose is grassy with some vegetive qualities. The nose suggested richness and the taste delivers. Good texture, with round, slightly fruity taste. Decent finish. 2nd steep was a bit disappointing. Just plain wood/straw flavor with a hint of bitterness at the finish. I oversteeped the third cup 3rd (40 s vs 20 s) but I like the tea. It’s woody and slightly bitter. Not much cha qi. Several more good steeps. Not a star, but a good solid tea and probably good value.
This is a bit disappointing. I got a sample of this tea during Liquid Proust’s aged oolong group buy and liked it so much that I bought some in my recent CWS order. However, this time around I’m not enjoying it as much. My previous review saw a lot of subtle flavors that I’m just not seeing. All I get is a fairly pleasant tea with a leafy tobacco flavor with a light roast overlay. My previous rating was 89. This time it is 81, so I’ve adjusted my rating to be the average between the two.
I will need to experiment with my brewing technique. First time was a modified Western technique: 3 grams in 6 oz for 60 s steeps. This time was 3 g in 3 oz for 30 s. I actually increased to 60 s steeps but didn’t seem to get more flavor.