Sample from my amazing secret Santea (thanks, twinofmunin!), but I’ve also had the pleasure to try it briefly at Floating Leaves Tea with Glen and Lamu. I didn’t take notes then, but this was just as clean and deep forest floor as I remember, with virtually none of that shou funk and all of the lovely thick texture shou tends to give (although that’s compared to sheng, this is actually not super thick on the shou spectrum).
I really dislike shou fermentation funk, so I’m finding I really enjoy aged shou that has cleared, the more completely the better, like this one. I only gave it the one, normal rinse as opposed to my usual two long ones once I get a whiff of the leaf and it still came out nice and clean. I went with around 8g to a 100ml in ruyao gaiwan, boiling water. It’s a little thin at the very start due to my being too lazy to do more than throw a condensed chunk in the gaiwan, but already has a heavy up front flavor of old wood core and forest floor. As it opens up, it gets thicker and sweeter, with a subtle camphor cooling quality throughout (I noticed it by steep 2, but I had also been choking on it from trying to talk and drink at the same time, so I doubt I would have noticed it for a while longer if it hadn’t been numbing the sensitive tissues of my vocal chords, heh). A mineral mossiness takes over the wood flavors towards the end, around steep 6 or 7.
When steeped with a very light hand, this kind of reminds me of coffee in character without the bitterness with the mellow yet prominent wood flavor that lingers. Steeped more to my standard slow flash steeps, it’s predominantly thick and rich and tastes like if I cored an ancient tree and boiled it in water for an hour or two and maybe threw a handful of some of the equally ancient forest floor in for good measure.
There is a certain lingering quality to this tea, however, that I’m hard put to describe. There’s a review on their website of this as having indescribable ‘emotion’ and I would have to agree—there’s a certain taste to it that I can’t put words to, but evokes the smell and memory of my favorite aged (now deceased) grandma, despite the fact that she smelled nothing like this tea. It simply tastes like nostalgic old age to me underneath the very upfront wood, minerals, and sweetness. Coupled with a very relaxing, grounding (as in, it feels like all your muscles are being dragged to the ground) qi that was quite strong for me, I really enjoyed this. I got 11 steeps out of it, but could have probably pushed it for more if we didn’t have another tea lined up for the day.
Flavors: Camphor, Forest Floor, Mineral, Moss, Sugarcane, Wood