143 Tasting Notes
Quite a unique tea. I’ve finished my sample bag a few months back, but realized I hadn’t shared my notes. The dried leaves are large, intact, and have a pleasant floral scent. After the rinse, the floral/grassy scent is stronger and accompanied by sweet hay and hint of dried tomatoes. The tea brews a very clear darker gold hue and has a clean, refreshing taste. This tea is dynamic in the mouth—flavors and tingly sensations dancing on all parts of the tongue. It’s medium bodied with a pleasurable mouthfeel and qi.
The first thing I noticed was it’s slightly mid-aged taste—more notes of sweet sandalwood, sweet hay, vine tomatoes, autumn flowers, brown sugar, and raw honey. I am not experienced enough to tell whether this more aged taste resulted from processing or terrior, but it does have a very interesting flavor profile I have yet to come across. I’ve let this tea sit for months after the first and second sessions. It’s much improved since then, which makes me wonder how it would taste at this juncture.
This sample arrived as a cluster of intact, long spindly leaves from the gently compressed edge of a cake that appears to have been processed with finesse. When dry, the leaves have a faint floral and sweet grass aroma. When dry, there is a nutty aroma of steamed Chinese mustard greens and fall wild flowers. I’ve noticed how flavor and overall visual impact are enhanced whenever leaves are pressed in a way that preserves their structural integrity.
The first few steeps have what I would describe as layered vegetal bitterness (steamed dandelion greens and wild herbs) with accents of floral notes. There is a three-dimensional aspect to this tea’s mouthfeel. Subtle cooling vibrations are initially felt at the back of the tongue then move simultaneously to middle and the roof of the mouth. Decent qi on this one that’s as grounding as it is heady, but never overwhelming.
Sampling Scott’s 2016 line has allowed me to learn that some teas under 1 year old are best left to rest for a year after being pressed. Right now, the 2015 Huang Shan Gu Shu is showing much improvement in terms of flavors, texture, and fragrance than it had this past spring.
I think this tea, along with the 2016 Da Qing Gu Shu and CLT’s 2016 Hidden Song (coming soon), needs more time to rest so that individual flavors and textures can be further developed and enjoyed. It seems only right that to treat good teas with a bit of respect and patience. I will update this log next year.
I used my points in my Yunomi account to purchase 200g of this tea. It’s simple, nutrient-dense, consistent, and has a long aftertaste. In some ways, this tea reminds me of a kabuse-cha more than a sencha. The dry leaves include long dark leaves with stems that are less chopped and have a scent of roasted seaweed and faint sweet seagrass.
I brewed this in a unglazed kyusu but using Chinese gongfu-style with 2 – 5 sec steeps, hotter water (85 to 90 C), and 6 – 7 grams of leaves.
It yields more steeps (about 6 or so depending on how much leaf used), as the leaves release their flavors more gradually since they’re not chopped, than regular sencha. The result is less up front astringency and leaves that yield more gentle and savory notes of baked grains and a faint nuttiness in the first steep. Later steeps gave roasted zucchini and asparagus along with some of that savory roasted nori in the aftertaste. Wonderful morning pick-me-up!
Thick, tasty, aged, and low-priced shu. It arrived as two 225 g bricks with layers of largely intact leaves are easily pried apart. Initial rinses have a faint fermented smell but that is gone after the 2nd rinse and replaced by an aroma of sweet creamed butter. Tea liquor is dark burgundy and clear. It’s very comfortable in the mouth and throat and quite warming. Along with notes of sweet creamed butter, leather, sweet bamboo, and damp forest there is also noticeable qi and mouth activity. Perfect evening tea.
I appreciate sheng with depth, power, and kuwei, or pleasant bitterness. I might as well admit that I am a total sucker for descriptions/tales of teas that come from remote mountains—especially if they’re accompanied by photos. Scott knows this well. Needless to say, I had high expectations for this tea.
The dried leaves in my sample are mid-sized spindly tendrils that smell of sweet grass and wild flowers. Wet leaves are of a candied, high floral aroma. Steeps 1 to 6 start out soft and candy-like, then quickly turn towards a dandelion greens-type of bitterness quickly replaced by high sweet floral and raw honey notes. After steep 2 the tea soup becomes thick and heavy with with the sweet (floral), bitter (dandelion greens), and savory mingling together.
Those flavors are accompanied by a delightful, saliva-inducing, very strong mouthfeel that quickly fills the mouth and throat and lingers for a long time after drinking. It’s as euphoric as it is tranquil. The energy is out of this world. It sets in my entire body. I am transported back to that remote, high altitude forest whence these leaves came. At this point, I don’t care where they came from because this is powerful stuff.
Edit: I recommend very short 5 sec steeps until 6. As the bitterness increases with each steep so does the huigan and mouth feel. The empty cup and cha hai are covered in an intense tropical orchid fragrance. I can see this tea becoming more textured and impactful in the coming years.
This one is solid. Despite having absorbed some of those off-putting ‘aged’ prune/leather/medicinal flavors of EoT’s other cakes, the underlying quality of the leaves are clear. There is a very solid base in these leaves that is indicative of old trees. The tasting experience isn’t entirely compromised by those initial storage flavors. After the 4th or 5th steep the tea’s unique flavors are revealed—raisins, menthol, cedar wood, and green apple. There is substantial body, prolonged aftertaste, big cha qi and dynamic mouth activity (cooling and tingly sensations) here. This tea performs exceptionally well in my Ni Xing teapot. This clay in particular subdues those storage flavors and releveals more of those fruity notes and fragrances. I got at least 15 steeps out of this tea and a distinct fragrance of honey crisp apples. It’s a bit out of my budget, but I’m glad I could at least sample this tea.
Teas from Bang Dong have very recently gotten a lot more expensive. I threw this sample in my checkout basket while revisiting Puerhshop’s offerings. I had no idea what to expect since their Band Dong sheng pu’er offering is almost half the price of other vendors. Dry leaves are tippy, thin silver and dark grey tendrils with a subtle floral scent. Hydrated leaves are intact, delicate-looking, and a lighter olive green. It’s highly fragrant…in a vegetal and medicinal kind of way. The brew has a vibrant golden hue.
It’s pungent in both flavor and qi. It has decent mouthfeel, good energy, and strong huigan. However, it isn’t as subtle or deep as the 2015 version from Yunnan Sourcing. Tasting notes include honeysuckle, steamed asparagus, raw almonds, honey, stewed edamame, and stir-fried mustard greens. This might be too vegetal for some.
Admittedly, this experience was unexpected as a low-priced tea from this vendor. The tea is consistently full-bodied, potent, very flavorful, and imparts a spicy/numbing feeling that covers my entire tongue for 12+ steeps.
This is one of those teas where the spent leaves are too pretty to toss right away.
Dried leaves: mild sweet grass aroma.
Wet Leaves: sweeter tropical fruit on top of what seems almost like steamed potatoes.
Mostly small, in-tact plump buds and the tea soup is of a deeper gold tone with nice clarity. Great base material here—full-bodied, nice kuwei and huigan, and notes of tropical fruits, raw honey, and sweet hay-like base. The energy in the tea creates a nice body-feel. For now, in terms of 2015 chawangpu ranking, it’s Hekai, Lao Yu, and then Mengsong—though I anticipate this order will change with age. I still need to try their 2015 Bada Old Tree.
Addendum: After 7 to 8 months of resting and settling, this tea is now performing well, better than the other teas I’ve purchased from CWS. Cooling and mouth activity are turned up a notch compared to earlier this spring. Bitterness and tobacco mingle nicely with dominant sweet caramelized pineapple notes. There isn’t much depth here but a solid Menghai base of sweet hay and bitters.