I got a sample of this tea earlier this year and after one session went and bought the cake straight away. It’s a pungent and clean tasting tea with a unique aroma, bitter and floral taste, and a lightly fruity aftertaste with a strong huigan. The price is relatively good at the moment as well, so I had no reason to hesitate. Interestingly, the leaves have a relatively dark olive green colour, darker than any young sheng from standard varietals that I can recall.
Starting with the dry leaf aroma, I can smell nuts, apricot and spinach most of all, but also some kind of flowery scent. The aroma of wet leaves is strong, complex and hard to identify. It is a little bit oolong like (think Taiwanese high mountain oolong without a lot of the florals). Some all-over-the-place fleeting notes I get include coffee, tangerine, stewed vegetables, and popcorn.
The rinse already gives a good impression of the tea’s taste profile. It is a mix of bitter, floral and sweet; very viscous and yet it feels light in the mouth. Later on the tea gets incredibly fragrant, but not as perfumy as some other Yi Wu shengs I’ve tried. Apart from that, it tastes grassy and woody, with a decent umami and notes of roasted nuts, white grapes, swiss chard, and burnt food. Deep bitterness persists throughout the whole session, but the tea never gets overly astringent.
Ding Jia Zhai is an all-round great tea, but its aftertaste is one of the highlights for sure. It has some spiciness and a kind of sticky sweetness to it. On top of that, a few fruity flavours emerge that are absent when drinking the tea, most notably tones of orange, grapefruit, pawpaw, and chamomile. The huigan is remarkable even relative to other (supposedly) gu shu teas. The flavours of this tea stay with you and slowly evolve for a long time.
Mouthfeel wise, I found the tea maybe a bit less interesting, but still very enjoyable. The texture is smooth and oily and the body is medium. As for the cha qi, this tea has a nice subtly creeping, calming energy that’s not rushy. It is not one that would send you to the stratosphere I reckon, but I like it. I think this would be a good tea for social occasions.
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wxZ1DV9xO4
edit: I ended the session at 17 steeps today, but the tea seemed like it had a bit more to give, being still quite flavourful and thick even at these late stages.
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Burnt Food, Butter, Citrus, Coffee, Floral, Fruity, Grapefruit, Grass, Nuts, Orange, Popcorn, Roasted nuts, Smooth, Spinach, Sweet, Tropical, Umami, Vegetables, White Grapes, Wood