Sometimes, miniature painting is a giant pain. I have this really neat mini of two ladies with their arms around each other, in a most obvious ‘we are kinda posing while looking natural’ pose, in renaissance garb. Since one of the ladies is a bit shorter I decided it would be really cool to make it as my mom and myself, problem is, this miniature has some seriously ugly faces. Not even in the way that some of the older miniatures have where it is hideous but fun (think epic shouts or was supposed to be an elf but really looks like an orc with a face scar.) No these are ugly as in they look like potatoes with noses, so that means any real definition I have to get with shading, and since the features are sooo small I keep losing it under layers of paint, meaning I have stripped this miniature twice and this is my third time giving it a go. Curse of the potato people!!
Miniature woes aside, today I am taking a look at 2015 Early Spring Harvest Enchanting Beauty Raw Pu-erh from Denong Tea. A spring harvest from Xishuangbanna described as being fruity, smooth, and soft…just what I like in my younger Shengs. The aroma of the tea is pretty potent, sweet notes of grapes, apples, and apricots blend with a surprisingly floral note of magnolia. Seriously, first time I have ever run into a magnolia note in a Puerh, usually that is one I find in Oolong. Magnolia trees are a thing in the South, so that note is hugely nostalgic to me and it goes really well with the fruity notes.
Into the gaiwan the little cake chunk went, rinsed and first steep concluded it was time for sniffing again. No magnolia this time, instead it is a balance between fruity and green, with notes of apricot, apples, grapes (the white ones specifically) raw spinach, and a bit of hay at the finish. The aroma of the first steep is sweet grapes and apricots with a touch of fruity tartness and a bit of raw honey and pollen, very mellow and pleasantly sweet.
The first couple of steeps are light and delicate with a smooth and gentle mouthfeel. The notes confuse me, they are very Oolong like, with notes of gardenia and magnolia combining with apples and a bit of grapes, it reminds me a bit of a Dancong. The third steep starts to change, bringing in a lemon zest and spinach note, finally reminding me that this is a Sheng rather than an Oolong. The best part about the first part of the session is the aftertaste of slightly under-ripe apricots being both sweet and a bit tart.
On to the middle steeps! So a lot of younger Shengs I find the middle steeps to be brisk and bitter, but not these, instead of bitterness we have sour lemony quality which has the delightful effect on my salivary glands that eating a lemon would. Toss in a growing tart fruit quality and a dry to thick and wet mouthfeel and this is a refreshing ‘my mouth is awake now’ Sheng. At steep five the lemony note is joined by cooked spinach giving a savory quality and the dryness has faded away entirely. This quality carries on to steep six and starts to have a very long lingering smooth texture.
For the end of the steeping session, the vegetal notes start to fade, as do the lemony sour notes, instead all that is left is crisp sweet apples and a bit of honey and lettuce. It is thick and sweet with a lingering honey note and long lasting smooth mouthfeel. Conveniently this tea does not bother my belly at all, so I was able to see this session to its finish. That finish was a gentle fade of apples and apple blossoms and a touch of mineral. I really enjoyed this tea, but I am a sucker for fruity shengs.