2003 Cang’er Xiaguan -Liquid Proust
Sheng Puerh cake sample
195°F 10s rinse
Infusion 1: 10s
Added 5 seconds to each infusion (2-8)
Infusion 9- 60s, 10 – 65s
It was a very compact cake with greenish gold leaves and buds mixed with dark brown leaves with gold flecks.
The cake smelled of sweet honey, light caramel, with notes of menthol and indistinct dried herbs.
It took several steepings to loosen the cake, but it smelled sweet with a light herbal/menthol scent. It had light notes of undergrowth and almost a caramelized baked goods smell.
In the first infusion it was sweet and light. It reminded me of delicate flowers and honey. It had a bit of honeysuckle without the fruity notes, and strongly like honeybush. The aftertaste coated my mouth sweetly and was reminiscent of honey. It was complex and interesting.
The following infusions smelled sweet, much like cane sugar. It had a light herbality to it with delicate menthol notes.
As the infusions continued, the tea got sharper. It started in the back end and eventually was throughout the tasting. The second infusion was a lot like honeybush, but by the third it was much more like rooibos.
In the third infusion it started to have an herbal tanginess to it that I couldn’t place. By the fourth and fifth I realized it was like lemon balm without the fruity and lemon notes. If you’ve never had a pure dried herb lemon balm infusion that might sound a little strange.
I started eating an Asian sesame salad with cabbage with wontons with the fifth infusion:
The salad brought out the savory nature of the tea. The herbal notes stood out more. As a contrasting pairing it was very pleasant.
Infusion 6 was herbal, mild, pleasant and the aftertaste of the salad softened the bite of the tea.
As the infusions went on (6-9), the taste of honeybush became stronger and the tea developed a sharp bite. It maintained a nice sweetness. Though it became less complex, it was still interesting and enjoyable.
I left the leaves in my gaiwan overnight and when I went for infusion 10, it didn’t really taste like anything. It was still sweet, but it was mild and indistinct.
I enjoyed this tea and I look forward to trying it again after a few decades in controlled storage.
Flavors: Caramel, Flowers, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeysuckle, Menthol, Pastries, Rooibos, Sugarcane, Tangy