I’m not sure why this is, but in scanning reviews of several Mao Feng green teas on Steepster, I have noticed that impressions of them tend to be all over the map. Just to reiterate, I do not get this at all. Maybe it’s because I have a fairly well-documented love of Mao Feng green teas, especially those coming out of Yunnan Province, but I just do not see why such clean, accessible green teas have such a mixed reputation. Before I started working on posting this review, I took a quick glance over the reviews of this tea and came away from them even more befuddled. I suppose I could just be an outlier when it comes to this particular tea and teas of this style in general because I loved this one and found it to offer a wonderful drinking experience.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After my usual brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes. Yes, I used the same brewing method on the Early Spring 2017 Yunnan Bao Hong Green Tea. I’m totally a creature of habit.
Prior to the rinse, I detected aromas of hay, grass, malt, nuts, smoke, and roasted corn coming from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I noted new scents of corn husk, straw, and cream. The first proper infusion then introduced a hint of butter to the nose. In the mouth, I found mild, smooth notes of butter, cream, and malt balanced by a slight nuttiness, vague hints of hay and grass, and a touch of corn-like character. Subsequent infusions offered clearer, more distinctive impressions of roasted corn and corn husk as well as stronger notes of hay and grass in the mouth. Smoke and straw notes appeared on the palate too, though they were often rather subtle. I began to find a distinct note of chestnut and wholly new impressions of nectar, orchid, squash blossom, sugarcane, lime, minerals, asparagus, bamboo, lettuce, zucchini, pine, spinach, and lemon zest. At times I could even detect hints of soybean and some tart fruitiness (almost like a mix of pear and sour apricot) on the finish. The later infusions offered a clean minerality on the nose and in the mouth. I also found lingering impressions of cream, malt, and hay backed by traces of sugarcane, chestnut, citrus, lettuce, and butter. There was even a little corn husk character that turned up on the swallow.
This was one of those teas that seemed a lot simpler than it was. Had I not taken the time to carefully and patiently ponder each sniff and sip, I undoubtedly would have gotten a lot less out of it. I found that this tea required focus and dedication in order to fully appreciate it, and as such, it was not the kind of tea with which I could allow myself to slack. Each infusion offered something new, even if only a slight variation on what came before, but the tea required me to work to determine what precisely was going on with it as the drinking session progressed. Ultimately I think that may be why reviews for this tea seem so scattershot. This tea was a slow burn; you could not rush it into revealing its charms. It was demanding, even a little temperamental at times. In the end, however, it was extremely satisfying. All of this being said, I will offer the follow assessment: this is not a tea for someone just getting into green teas or those looking for a quick, light, and easy afternoon cuppa. In my opinion, you have to take your time with it, but if/when you do, the pay off can be enormous. If that approach does not work for you, maybe I am just some weird Mao Feng outlier after all.
Flavors: Apricot, Asparagus, Bamboo, Chestnut, Corn Husk, Grass, Hay, Lemon Zest, Lettuce, Lime, Malt, Mineral, Nectar, Orchid, Pear, Pine, Smoke, Spinach, Squash Blossom, Straw, Sugarcane, Zucchini