8 Tasting Notes
This one really surprised me. The nose is robustly roasty, almost chemical, and that roast definitely translates to the cup. Taste is unexpectedly sweet, at times resembling some sort of coffee ice cream. The hui gan is remarkable- thick and lingering. My boyfriend, a much more casual drinker than I, tells me this is the best tea I have shown him so far. At $62/357g the price is remarkably good for a sheng this distinct.
Flavors: Almond, Coffee, Roasted
I ordered fifty grams of this pretty early on in my (good) tea journey, when three or four shous and maybe two young shengs were the extent of my experience with fermented tea. Initially I was put off- it was nothing like the pu’ers I had tried, tasting not unpleasant but definitely alien, and for a while I rarely ever pulled it out (it didn’t help that it’s very tightly compressed and a real hassle to chisel out).
Eventually something clicked and it became quite nice; it has a strong, uniquely sweet aroma and an intense cinnamon-sugar taste. On the other hand, it’s something of a one trick pony, and even with more than a decade on it, there doesn’t seem to be much underneath that slightly exotic sugar sweetness, and little changes from brew to brew.
Overall I’m very happy to have tried it and to have given it a second chance. You could do a lot worse if you want to branch out into non-Yunnan heicha, though I have a hard time imagining going through the whole kilo of it that is a full-size brick.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cinnamon
While nothing much stands out as remarkable about this tea, it was one of those I constantly reached for, and I finished off my supply in near record time. The most impressive thing about it was the leaf quality; after they unfurled, I isolated some of the largest and most intact leaves I have ever encountered in an oolong. All in all, this is a good quality, aesthetically pleasing green oolong, and it should be approachable for drinkers of all stripes.
One of the more intense shous out there, Year of the Snake turned off a few people I shared it with, especially the early steeps, which are the darkest I have seen a tea get. I didn’t detect much outside of the standard ripe pu’er profile (particularly dark chocolate), but what was there felt turned up a notch in potency. This isn’t terribly complex, but when you get the urge for something strong, or want to show a tea newbie that tea can in fact pack a punch, it’s a very solid option.
This is a highly affordable silver needle with a bit more complexity than others of the genre I have tried. There’s a definite hay note to it, plus a subtle fruity sweetness that’s quite pleasant- melon, perhaps? More experienced folks could surely find more to compare it to, but in any case I found it good enough to order twice. Perhaps with some more years on it, this white could become something very special.
The cake is also quite pretty, for what it’s worth.
Flavors: Fruity, Grass, Hay, Melon
From the very first steep, Iron Forge joined the ranks of my favorite ripe pu’ers. The early infusions have a delightful smooth texture and a pleasant hot chocolate thing going, which I haven’t quite encountered in other teas. Unfortunately, this is a shou that peters out quicker than most; after four or five steeps, Iron Forge loses that special character and fades to a thin, unremarkable drink. However, when it’s good, it’s remarkably good, and it’s well worth getting at least a sample to get that experience.