The amroma of the dry leaves is heavenly! Smells almost of marzipan it’s so sweet. Maybe that’s just the holidays. Think candied plums, peaches, apples and dates. Awesome!
Wet leaves smell a bit more vegetal but the fruity sweet notes are still very upfront.
1/5s: What an odd first steep! Highly vegetal with a bitter finish yet the taste of fruit is very apparent while the tea is in the mouth. Interesting mouth feel too. More body than I’d expect on the first cup. Still, the bitterness is very upfront. Perhaps too much leaf in my little pot or too many broken leaves? What’s weird is how sweet the tea is in the mouth to end so bitter. It’s just about the exact opposite of what I’d expect with a sheng. I had enough tea for just under a half cup so I topped it off with hot water and got something more along the lines of what I was expecting by way of vegetal broth with fruit soaked in. Clean crisp finish. Lets see how later steeps go.
2/3s: Vegetal, sweet, oddly fruity, with a bitter finish. Pretty much a flash steep.
3/5s: That bitter note is agressive and persistent. Taste otherwise the same.
4/3s: Bitter, sour, vegetal, fruity. Sooo damn weird. The interesting thing is if you cut with water you get something that’s actually quite good. Makes me feel like I used too much leaf. Cut with water it becomes quite palatable with the sour taste receding the bitter note softening into something almost pleasant.
5-8: Same as steep 3. Just taking the bitter head on.
9/5s: Just doesn’t quit with the bitter/sour notes. A tad more manageable at this point. Cha qi is a nice punch in the face though.
10/5s: Same as previous
11/8s: Vegetal note peaking back in over the bitter/sour note. Sour is more noticable than the bitter
12/10s: Guess the leaves were just waking up on that previous steep. Bitter note back up front, but better blended with the sour and vegetal notes.
13/10s: Hmm… bit of sweetness showing up in the mix of bitter, sour and vegetal.
14/12s: Sour note is tapering off, bitter still very present. Vegetal note will blended, but I’m also picking up a bit of fruit in the background.
15/12s: So obviously this tea has lasting power. Also great qi as 5 steeps in I’m feeling it again. Bitter and sweet mixed throughout, even at the back of the throat and in the aftertaste. Vegetal and fruit notes still present. What an interesting tea.
16/14s: Wow, sticking it out pays off, LOL! Sweetness has finally overtaken the bitterness in the mouth. The sweetness lingers on the tip of the tongue, but mid way back to the back of the throat the bitterness is prominent. Still about to pick out the sour note in the background
17/14s: Ok, this would be the first up of this tea that I can say tastes good. Only a tiny taste of bitterness and no sourness detectible. Sweetness is now upfront and the taste leans more fruity than vegetal. Qi felt in the head, sort of relaxed but energized and very alert.
18/16s: Fruity note is upfront now. Still bitter at the back of the throat, but less so. Vegetal note has mellowed to something almost hay like. No sour notes apparent now. Probably need to push the next steep to get more flavor.
19/22s: More mellow but similar to the previous. Really quick drop off there. I’ll push the steep time a bit more.
20/30s: A bit more vegetal and the bitterness is up just a touch. I think the leaves are done here. One more for fun.
21/35s: Oh there’s a mouth full of bitter and fruit! LOL! At this point I can’t decide if it’s a good or bad thing, but the qi is definitely up.
22/45s: Man, gotta love having the mind of an experimenter. Decided to take this a step further. Moved the tea leaves from my 90mL teapot to my 300mL teapot with the thought that it would better allow the leaves to expand and might give up a bit more flavor and perhaps a different flavor profile. The taste is now brighter though there is a small amount of lingering bitterness in the aftertaste. The most noticable difference is the mouthfeel. Previously it was very dry, almost puckering to the mouth. Now it has a very creamy sort of feel. More sweetness at the tip of the tongue too. Still has a very dry finish. And man does that bump the cha qi WAY up! Of course that may be because I’m downing 300mL pretty quickly, LOL! Much more palatable here though some of that likely has to do with being so
23/90s: Fruit and vegatal notes are gone. Tastes more of hay. Sweetness has mellowed, but for the first time is more prominent than the bitter note. Not much left in the leaves at this point.
I REALLY wanted to like this tea, but the bitter/sour notes in early steepings was just too overwhelming and completely contrary to the sweet, fruity aroma of the leaves.
The early steeps of this tea seem to be on a mission to disprove the notion that you wouldn’t know bitter if it slapped you in the face because it walks up and introduces itself by slapping you in the face. Hard.
If I had more of this tea I’d spend a bit of time playing around with water temp and the amount of leaf to use , but as it stands I’ll be setting this one aside for a couple of years to see how it evolves. It’s quite possible that the very things that make it unpalatable now will make it amazing in a few years.