Tyler! The first of the W2T 2016 Puerh I have the pleasure of being introduced to…besides Fade I guess. In both sessions I’ve done, I found this tea got around 12-13 steeps, so decent longevity.
Dry leaf had a pretty light aroma, the sweet hay I get from the dry leaf of a lot of raw puerh. Didn’t smell remarkable. After a brief rinse, the leaves had a touch of sourness to their aroma, kind of vegetal and sweet.
Both sessions, I kept the steeps 10s or below for the first 4-5 infusions before slowly starting to increase the time.
The only time I would call this tea “airy” as the description claims it to be, would be the first steep, as the body didn’t quite thicken up the first steep. For the first couple steeps, the aftertaste is stronger than the initial flavor. The front of the sip is a sweet, wet hay taste, followed (sometimes) by just a touch of bitterness, after which the huigan and qi come quickly. After swallowing, I could feel a bit of tightness in my throat, and got a rush of sweet honey flavor in my mouth accompanied by a rising buzzy feeling. These first couple steeps also made my tongue feel numb on some sips.
Steeps 3-5ish the bitterness picks up a tad, but if brewed correctly, it is quite balanced with the sweetness. The flavor is nicely layered – sweet hay, bit of a bitter note, very sweet huigan – honey with occasional wisps of a more sugary sweetness. In these steeps, and every once in a while afterwards, I noticed a little bit of a buzzy feeling in my stomach, but not as quick or as rising as the first couple steeps.
Around the halfway point, the hay flavor begins to transition into a sort of sweet vegetal flavor, to me like peas. The bitterness picks up just a bit more, and the huigan is sliiightly less honey-like, with a bit of a dry fruit flavor entering the mix. It was kind of apricot-y, but dry. Apricot rind? Do apricots have different tasting rind…? It’s been a while since I had an apricot. This vegetal, pea-tasting stage doesn’t last too long. I only really got it for one steep.
Steeps 7-10 or 11 are more fruity overall. Not an acidic fruitiness in any way, only smooth and sweet. Good flavor, but more subdued now. Mostly apricot notes, though at one point “grape” popped into my head, making me question whether the dry fruitiness might be kind of like grape skin. Describing fruity flavors in puerh can be odd to me, because while I call it apricot, it doesn’t really taste exactly like an apricot. It only reminds me of apricot. This is a weird thing to try to explain to people. Do you guys know what I’m saying? Like – if I ate an apricot, and then drank the most apricot-y sheng I’ve ever had, they’d still clearly be different things. Maybe because so much of how we perceive flavor is based on texture as well. Excuse my tangent – this tea was apricoty, only really in the later steeps though ;)
After this, my last couple steeps were multi-minute steep that yielded pretty weak brews with echoes of fruity flavor.
So…this tea’s description, laconic though it may be, claims the tea leans towards the “light, airy, and sweet.” It also says that it is a good tea for experiencing depth in a not-too-heavy tea. Regarding the first point: Sweet – definitely! Light and airy – I…guess…if you could call any of W2T’s productions “airy,” characteristically thick and oily as they are, perhaps it would be this one. Yes, it was thick, but the thickness wasn’t as in your face as a lot of W2T pu is – more creamy than oily I suppose. Soft in texture if that makes sense. The tea definitely had good depth, between its layered and changing flavors, and it wasn’t too heavy. So the description is accurate enough. Airy/light relative to other W2T puer maybe, but not without thickness. Good stuff!