955 Tasting Notes


[Spring 2022 harvest]

I quite like this Silver Needle, but it has been 4 years since I ordered the last one. The 2022 harvest is as good as I hoped it would be.

The aromas are complex, with notes of white wine, dry grass, leather, and wood at first; and hints of honey, rocks, lavender, ale, bitter melon, and licorice throughout the session.

The tea is light and elegant in the first two steeps, while the rest of them give rise to a much more robust brew. First one has a broad sweetness that is not overpowering, as well as flavours of dry grass, cucumber, and nectar. From the infusion, the tea is more bitter with a touch of smoke/ash and a strong aftertaste that reminds me of semi-aged sheng.

Throughout, the mouthfeel is very smooth, almost like a session IPA.

Flavors: Ash, Beer, Bitter, Bitter Melon, Cucumber, Dry Grass, Honey, Lavender, Leather, Licorice Root, Mineral, Nectar, Smooth, Sweet, Wet Rocks, White Wine, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This is a very good sheng given its price, it is very flavorful and has a very smooth texture.

Dry leaf aroma reminds me of green apple, rapeseed. After the rinse, it smells quite different. There are hints of eggs, moss, coriander seeds, curry leaves, and mushrooms.

The mouthfeel is thick and buttery throughout the session, which I like a lot. Taste is mineral and nutty at first, with a grassy sourness, some tree bark bitterness, and an astringent finish. There are notes of canola oil, tree sap, and carambola. The aftertaste is particularly strong and somewhat juicy with its pine sweetness. Later steeps also bring some hops and barley notes. Overall, the mix of bitter and sour flavours is very pleasing.

Flavors: Astringent, Bark, Bitter, Coriander Seed, Curry Leaf, Egg, Flowers, Fruity, Grain, Grassy, Green Apple, Hops, Juicy, Mineral, Moss, Mushrooms, Nutty, Oily, Pine, Sap, Smooth, Sour, Thick

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank 2018 Arbor Red by white2tea
955 tasting notes

Still has a great depth of flavour that is perhaps even better integrated now. The taste is bittersweet and metallic with a woody sourness. There are notes of cacao and nectarines, and a cooling aftertaste.

The aromas are smoky at first – I get agarwood, peat and shellfish. Wet leaves have a lovely sweet and comforting smell that is hard to describe, but it does remind me of forest floor somewhat.

Flavors: Bitter, Cacao, Forest Floor, Metallic, Nectarine, Peat, Shellfish, Smoke, Sour, Sweet, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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I love Song Zhong teas and this one is yet another great example. The profile is complex, atftertaste long and evolving, the mouthfeel very coating and the energy is particularly warming and cleansing.

Dry leaf aroma reminds me of cherries and custard, while wet leaves smell more like apricots, durian, peat moss. There are, however, many notes to explore.

The taste is strong, but not overly bitter. The feeling is warming and expansive, and there is also some elegant astringency. Flavours include marmite, snails, tree sap, tomato vine, almond shell and many others. Aftertaste then has more of some herbal spiciness and sourness. There is also a stonefruit fragrance and further hints of tequila, bread, and berries.

Flavors: Alcohol, Almond, Apricot, Astringent, Berries, Bitter, Bread, Cherry, Custard, Fruity, Herbal, Peat Moss, Plant Stems, Pleasantly Sour, Sap, Spicy, Stonefruit, Tomato, Yeasty

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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A very comfortable white tea with sweet leathery aroma of burdock, fresh wheat when dry and of fish/mussels, lemon balm and honey when wet.

The tea is bitter with notes of hay, walnuts, and lemongrass, as well as a particularly warming and sweet aftertaste.

Flavors: Bitter, Dry Grass, Fish, Hay, Honey, Leather, Lemongrass, Sweet, Walnut

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I don’t have much experience with Xiaguan tea, and even less so with aged ones. This one strikes me as a very good example though. It has an engaging aroma, super pungent and enjoyable taste with a fragrant aftertaste coupled with powerful huigan. The tea induces a pretty numbing sensation and there is also significant astringency despite the clearly aged character overall.

The aromas remind me of kahlua and barn when dry, and wet earth and freshly cut wood when wet. The liquor tastes of red grapes, black currants, and has also many sour, woody notes. It is bitter and warming with a good dose of umami too. In the aftertaste, I additionally detect a sandalwood essence.

One thing I would count as a potential negative is that the tea really doesn’t last so long. As it is very pungent though, one could try to brew it less aggressively to prolong the session, which is however not so easy given the leaf size.

Flavors: Alcohol, Astringent, Barnyard, Bitter, Black Currant, Grapes, Sandalwood, Sawdust, Sour, Umami, Wet Earth, Wood, Woody

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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It’s been almost 2 years since my last report on this bitter shou. It has improved a little, mostly by virtue of losing its fresh fermentation character. The taste profile is thus more nuanced.

The aroma is not very pronounced, I detected hints of blackberry and myrrh there. First infusion reminds me very much of whiskey in its flavours, as well as almond shells and coffee beans. Later I also get peanuts and sour earhty notes. The aftertaste is long-lasting, cooling and quite savoury, almost herbaceous, I’d say.

First few steeps have a thick brothy texture, others are a bit less distinctive with a smooth and slightly tingling mouthfeel.

Flavors: Almond, Bitter, Blackberry, Coffee, Earthy, Herbaceous, Incense, Peanut, Sour, Thick, Whiskey

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 160 OZ / 4731 ML

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Such a superb ripe pu-erh which has great depth and a satisfying sweetness is not seen every day. Together with a complex aftertaste, calming qi, and a smooth, thick and colloidal mouthfeel, they make it one of the clear highlights of YS selection in this category. Of course, the price is appropriately higher than average, but in this case it is certainly worth it if one is interested in drinking shou with more focus.

The aroma is clean and subtle, but it reminds me of the green undergrowth in waterlogged forests. Flavours tehn include nuts, butter, sage, and molasses. The tea is very mineral and also has a mild crisp bitterness. The aftertaste, besides the strong huigan, is a bit sour, earthy, metallic with notes of camphor, cheese, and popcorn.

Flavors: Bitter, Butter, Camphor, Cheese, Earthy, Floral, Forest Floor, Metallic, Mineral, Molasses, Nutty, Popcorn, Sage, Salt, Smooth, Sweet, Vegetal

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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This is an overall very strong tea, not necessarily one to serve to strangers. It has a complex aroma, bitter flavour profile with a fragrant aftertaste and a punching, heady cha qi. I would recommend quite short infusions generally, the tea can then also last for a pretty long time.

The aromas remind me of blackberry, winter honey, pine sap, and sawdust. It is a meaty and sweet, foresty scent. Wet leaf bouquet is more like beeswax and cocoa.

The taste is bitter and woody with a good astringency. There are flavours of honey, curry leaves, baked aubergine to be found, while the aftertaste is quite folwery. Texture-wise, I find the tea soft and colloidal with a coating finish. Also, the piercing bitterness can be felt almost as much as a mouthfeel than as a taste.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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A great tea for autumn times, which however doesn’t impress in any particular dimension. It has sweet aromatics and a taste that is mineral and a bit more savoury at first, but later turns into a little flat taste permeated by grape sweetness. The liquor feels light in the mouth, the aftertaste seems to have more presence.

Specific notes remind me of baked goods, pear liqueur, and custard in dry leaf aroma; and then wood, nectar, grape vine, and bubblegum in the wet leaf aroma.

Flavors: Alcohol, Bubblegum, Custard, Grapes, Mineral, Nectar, Pastries, Pear, Perfume, Sweet, Vineyards, Woody

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Hi, I am a researcher in math, physics and computer science. Apart from teas and mathematics, I enjoy sports and traveling, as well as music of all kinds. Connect at https://rateyourmusic.com/~Togo

I had been drinking Japanese green tea for a while before discovering the world of tea in 2017. I rarely drink blends and generally avoid artificially scented teas. Other than that I try to keep it varied.

My rating description:
100 _ Unforgettable tea, an experience that changes your life.
90 – 100 _ Excellent tea.
80 – 90 _ Very enjoyable, I will buy again.
70 – 80 _ I enjoyed it, but I most likely won’t be buying it again.
60 – 70 _ Decent.
50 – 60 _ Average, forgettable.
40 – 50 _ I didn’t really like the tea, but it is drinkable.
0 – 40 _ I would prefer to avoid the tea.


Innsbruck, Austria

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