Harvest: Spring 2013
So I’ve bought quite a lot of Shan Valley’s tea in a sale sometime last year and finally decided to start sampling them. Today I decided to look at their 2013First Flush Green Tea, I do have the 2014 version and I probably will compare it to this at a later date.
Dry Leaves: I bought a six ounce bag because of the low price and it comes in a paper-foil bag that I am not really fond of. As you can see it has quite a few dings, but surprisingly the bag was not punctured. Regardless the leaves are quite bark like appearance, in fact the leaves are rather pliable firm. There is a pungent smell about them almost like fermented fruit with a little smoke, but not unpleasant. It is quite dark for a green tea.
Brewing Time: One Minute
Aroma: Char and Fruity
Flavor: Fruity, Smoky and Spice
Tasting Notes: I decided to not brew this for the recommended three to four minutes because this is quite a potent tea, almost like a young sheng puerh, although it does not have that same harshness that is common in many shengs, but there is a bit of a bite. Even after one short minute I could taste some of the sting of this tea.
I rather enjoyed this infusion. It had a nice balance between being fruity and smoky with a nice spicy kick, it almost reminds me of a purple tea, but it feels unique somehow. Even though it is a green it is easy to imagine this being sold as maocha and while it does remind me of a sheng, it is missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on.
Brewing Time: One and a half Minutes
Aroma: Fruity and Wood
Flavor: Fruity, Smoky, Vegetal and Spice
Tasting Notes: It had quite a lovely aroma, almost like burning woodchips mixed with peaches. It wasn’t as balanced as the last infusion, the fruity noes became much more prominent and while the smoky taste is still there it is becoming weaker. There were new vegetal notes this time, along with the smoky notes I almost would have said they were the dominant tastes, but the fruity part lingers and is quite nice when you start to taste the spicy almost peppery notes.
It still is very sheng-like, but it is becoming a little more like a purple tea. Although this infusion is the most complex of the three, it is my least favorite. The spicy notes are becoming more distinct, but the vegetal notes are making this a little murky.
Brewing Time: Two Minutes
Flavor: Fruity, Vegetal and Pepper
Tasting Notes: This was the best infusion! Even though I was sad to see the smoky notes disappear, I was quite happy to taste that it had finally achieved a perfect balance between fruity and vegetal with a nice peppery taste that comes in at the very end. The peppery notes were not as sharp as the fruity ones, but it was quite lovely.
This was the most sheng-like of the three infusions.
If I didn’t have so much of this leftover I’d definitely buy this again, for $3.00 an ounce this is a steal. As for whether or not I’d recommend this to a green tea drinker, definitely, even though it has some sharp puerh-like elements to it, it isn’t an expensive tea to try. I was rather impressed with this even though I initially was expecting a more traditional green tea taste, but I am rather content with this tea. I almost want to call it a Sheng-Lite, but that feels unfair to this tea.