144 Tasting Notes
Among all of the YS 2017 presses, this was my favorite for several reasons.
1. It has an intriguing complexity that reminds me of some Yiwu teas, yet it’s distinctively Jinggu. That complexity is well described in the tea’s description, but I would add that there’s good depth and a mellow qi. There’s a brothy richness that reminds me of truffles and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it, but that doesn’t matter since the tea is less than 1 year old at the time of this writing and flavors change most rapidly during the first few years. I expect this will develop very nicely.
2. The price is right. I think this was $74, which will go up in a week or so as YS gets ready to welcome 2018 teas. It’s not cheap tea, but it’s very reasonable considering the current market.
3. I don’t have other teas like this in my collection.
I finished this sample quickly and ordered a cake.
I’ve been returning to senchas after having consistently drank raw pu’er and to a lesser extent, Chinese greens, Taiwanese and Wuyi oolongs, and heichas. That’s not to say I’m done with these teas. I’ve just been craving that distict combination of steamed bitter greens, brininess, moss, and floral and piney notes that are unique to Japanese sencha. I’m definitely a green tea kind of guy and I consider senchas to be at the greenest end of the spectrum in both taste and color.
I began my tea nerd journey with sencha, so maybe this is my baseline for all teas? I find them to be the most comforting of all teas. Maybe it’s that final roasting stage that makes this so, or maybe it’s the lack of fuss with regards to tea ware? No need for a chahai and no fussy filter, tea table, tea pets, or anything like that. Just a kyusu and mid-sized cup. Done.
There’s nothing remarkable about this tea. It’s even less fussy in nature since it’s aracha and tea stems and tea dust have not been sorted, making it a cheaper but IMO just as tasty. It’s seems to be mid to heavily steamed, as some of the leaves are in tact, but most are in pieces. The initial steeps are sweet and savory grass with faint hints of young pine shoots and wild flowers. I like it.
Mid steeps reveal more sweet grassy notes and roasted zucchini and broccoli. The tea soup begins an attractive light lime green with tea bits settling in the bottom, but mid steeps yield a more swampy dark green. So this isn’t the most visually appealing tea, but it’s still quite tasty and comforting. I’ve been wanting this for a while. I found myself in a slightly more meditative and focused state for the rest of the day.
The fifth and sixth steeps were lighter of course, but still revealed similar roasted veggie and sweet grass notes to those mid-steeps and was never unpleasant in its astringency. Perfect way to celebrate Daylight Savings Time and the coming of spring.
I wanted to see how similar this was to the He Tao Di, since they shared a very similar description. The teas are indeed quite similar in flavor profile (see YS description…it’s spot on), but less so in structure and body feel. There is a lovely brinyness and orchid essence in both flavor and fragrance. This one, however, has more depth and saccharin-like sweetness without going overboard. It’s medium bodied while the HTD is more viscous and floral. My wife first thought she was drinking a Dan Cong oolong!
Less qi than the HTD, but still not bad at all. My whole body is relaxed after 2 cups. There’s more sweetness, a very nice, prolonged mouthfeel. and a pleasant feeling in the throat. The leaves are highly in tact and have a pungent floral/chocolaty scent. Nice structure in this tea. I can feel it in the back of the throat, yet it’s still gentle. I would describe the mouthfeel like a blooming sensation while also penetrating. It’s a very fine tea, but a little over my budget.
This was a surprise. I inadvertently did a blind tasting with this and I really like it. What I appreciate most about this tea is the combination of good depth, power, and interesting flavors that are not one particular note. The liquor is a clear, pale yellow and the leaves have a smoky and wet, old-growth forest scent. Immediately, it displays great depth and three-dimensionality. It’s quite smooth with medium viscosity. The mouthfeel sits very nicely and is accompanied by powerful qi after the 3rd steep. I agree with Paul’s description of “subtle strength”. It sneaks up on the drinker and then takes the driver’s seat.
Fantastic subtlety, yet with a boldness conveyed through the huigan, mouthfeel, and qi. This tea doesn’t exude very much of that Yiwu-sweetness that I am used to. The sweetness lies in its high floral notes which are coupled with strong bitterness and notes of tart/dry grape skin. I’m sure there’s a lot more going on in there I am not covering, but there you have it. There is that mossy, old-growth forest note (not simply earthy) that I found in the Colbert Holand and 2 Late. This is noticeable right away, here. The hay and tobacco are gentle, but are probably the key indicators of the tea’s eastern Xishuangbanna provenance. It’s an excellent blend that I wish I could afford.
I’ve had many sessions with this tea and it continues to impress. Dried leaves smell like roasted leaves without any remarkable scent, but once hot water hits them I am immediately hit with rich, almond (yes, really!) essence, sweet buttercream, orchids, and hazelnut. The rinse is thin-bodied, but already exudes a nice mouthfeel. This is a testament to the skill and expertise that went into the roasting, which has enhanced the inherent qualities in the leaf.
The next 4 steeps intensify in aroma, qi, texture, mouthfeel, and flavor. The almond here reminds me of fresh traditional Cantonese almond cookies. It’s very full in the mouth and feels nice in the throat. This one goes strong until the 7th or so steep where it gradually fades. It performs best in a chaozhou red clay teapot.
I didn’t know what to expect from this tea. Honestly, I don’t think Paul’s descriptions on the W2T website are very helpful, so I emailed him describing the teas I enjoyed most from his selection and he recommended the FDT. So I added it to my cart, taking advantage of the free shipping weekend.
This one fits the profile I was looking for. I somehow manage to be that guy who receives the center of the bing, which took some time to pry apart. I’m not a fan of tightly compressed cakes, but I do see some benefits to this if those living in tropical Asia that want to maintain the youth of their sheng. This one felt as if it was still freshly pressed. It had a juiciness and stickiness to it. The initial infusions are light, sweet, floral, and a bit fruity (kiwi/white grapes?)…suspiciously Hekai. The tight compression warranted for longer steeping times.
After the 3rd infusion, I tried to pry apart the chucks while minimizing the ripping of leaves. The tea suddenly becomes thick, a bit cloudy, enzyme-y (almost carbonated!), multi-layered, and nicely textured. Notes of lilies, green apple, cedar wood, white pine, and grape skins join in a chorus of flavors and textures.
The brew is almost singing in my mouth and I feel wonderful. This one lingers nicely after the tea goes down and has a good body feel. The tea keeps this up for the next 6 to 7 steeps until I loose count. Later steeps have a bitter zing that rings for a bit—reminding me of Bulang bitterness. There is good depth in this one all the way to the end.
Refreshing, light, and persistent – this is a simple, yet unique tea. Layers of leaves come apart easily with a pu’er pick. There is a pungent, sweet, sharp verdant, and almost metallic, scent to the dry leaf. The steeped leaves are large, thick, and a dark olive tone. The liquor is like clear, clean, golden citrin. It’s a visually appealing tea.
The first two steeps yield sweet, gentle notes of florals, cotton candy, and muscato. 3rd steep onwards reveal a bitterness (dandelion greens and Kuding cha) that is sharp, clarifying, penetrating, and lingers along side a pleasurable huigan that lasts for a loooong time after drinking. Good qi on this one, too! It’s one of those teas that corrects my posture. I got at least 10 tasty steeps and still not done.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of this tea is the strong mouthfeel that is accentuated by the lingering bitterness. Kudos to Scott for finding another unique tea off the beaten path!
After having several sessions with this, I feel more confident about my impressions of this tea. It’s one of the most complex teas I’ve tried (just barely a notch below the Colbert Holland – my favorite W2T pressing). Certainly something to savor slowly and quietly. These brewed leaves are gorgeous. I must thank Paul or who ever thoughtfully took apart this cake so that the leaves in my sample could remain intact. They exude a green-ish floral and dried fruit fragrance after rinsed.
Very powerful, rich, deeply penetrating, soothing, calming, and highly energizing. I drank the rinse on this one. Good clarity here. Nice density combined with a penetrating and lasting mouthfeel and huigan from the rinse onwards. This tea quickly fills the mouth moving throughout and down into the throat. It then lingers in the cheeks for a long time.
I’m actually not a fan of the flavor in its early steeps. Too much sugary dried fruit and clove – reminding me of a Christmas fruitcake which I just love to hate. Fortunately, by steep 4, my tolerance is rewarded with more intense mouthfeel and enveloping qi that is felt in at first cerebral and then moves to the chest and spine. My eyes are wide open; posture corrected. I am all Here.
Early sweet medicinal flavors are replaced with the notes of honeysuckle, tamarind, cherries, peaches (farmers market-fresh), and aged rum. I get an interesting mingling of bitterness/tartness (green apple), spiciness (juniper berries), and hardwood/mineral base that reminds me of cherrywood.
Later steeps much fruitier, especially in the prolonged aftertaste – honeycrisp apples, red plums, and yellow peaches, to be exact. It’s less thick and dense, yet still strong in terms of mouthfeel and body-feel.
Afterthoughts: This be the good stuff, and I know it is because I questioned it for some time. I thought my first 3 sessions were only somewhat memorable, but not enough to demand >$100 for a 200g xiao bing. I’m now reconsidering that value per gram assessment.
This reminds me of the small batch of wild oolong (see testing note) Cindy had harvested and crafted from the same tea leaves used to process their popular wild lapsang souchong. The tea liquor is a crystal clear orange hue and is very smooth in texture. The tea can be felt in the corners of my cheeks and in the back of the throat. I would say the aroma is more of the show-stopper, while the tea flavor is extremely soothing, lively, and bright. Both in aroma and flavor, it has a definitive granite/karst mineral base, highly floral, and something juicy that is reminiscent of a very ripe vine tomato. I can get a good 7 steeps out of this one before it looses flavor.
I haven’t familiarized myself with Yiwu teas due to limited budget and the availability of good teas from less pricy regions. Nonetheless, with the price of most teas skyrocketing, it made sense to sample some reasonably priced Yiwu material from Scott’s pressings while I still can. I also have a strong bias for spring teas, but here I am again forced to sample autumn teas from expensive regions.
I had a mixed experiences with Scott’s 2013 line, but this was a very nice surprise. I will echo his description that the tea “is not autumn in character”. Indeed, it’s quite concentrated with a strong mouthfeel and heavy qi.
Typical Yiwu sweet hay and grain-like base. It coats the entire mouth cavity with its expansive and intense presence. It’s sweet, spicy, woody, and moderately bitter, with prominent notes of raw honey, nutmeg, dried apricots, and hay. It’s consistent through many steeps and lingers for a long time. Love the qi on this!
I am reminded of W2T’s 2009 Yiwu Gushu, only this one has smaller leaves. Another bonus is the very pleasant raw honey and floral fragrances coming off the empty cup!