Thank you David Duckler!! This was a generous sample added to a purchase I made for a sheng cake David found for me on his last sourcing trip to China. I was not expecting any samples or a note since I didn’t actually buy from Verdant Tea. As it turns out, I received both! What a nice guy, that David Duckler.
Anywho, I was excited to try this pleasant surprise. I was not disappointed! This is a very clean sheng. Almost no earthiness, no musty or musky smells, very nice, delicate leaves. I was actually able to see the fuzzy, downy hairs that are quite apparent on the wet leaves, and the dry leaves are abundant with silvery down. There is a huge range of colors, though. They range from a faded yellow to a dark brown-purple. Nearly every leaf has patches of bruising, making them look more like the leaves of an oolong. Some empty stems were present, but nothing abnormal.
When dry, the leaves smell amazing. Definitely one of my favorite dry leaf aromas so far. It’s something like vanilla, cream, and smelling the skin of a ripe fruit. When wet, this transforms into Raisinets, vanilla, florals, and tart berries. Later on, the aroma becomes darker and heavier, with some earthy notes.
The liquor is a beautiful golden amber. In addition to the scents mentioned above, there is this very slight fresh cucumber smell that appears in the eighth or ninth steep. The flavor is pretty light and mellow. Very minimal cha qi to this sheng. The mouthfeel is quite smooth and creamy throughout most steeps, becoming sparkling much later on. There is a very delicate bittersweet huigan, but it isn’t very lasting. It’s most apparent in the first few steeps, along with a tingling spiciness. But again, this tea isn’t very energetic. These “lively” textural features fade off during the middle steeps and return (barely) into the final steeps (around the tenth). I used between 3.5 and 4 grams in my gaiwan, but I think next time I’ll do closer to five. I started out with 13 seconds for the first steep and still received a pretty mild flavor.
There are some very interesting flavors in this sheng. Most notable are the florals and fruity notes. At first they aren’t too noticeable, but they climb in intensity and remain strong from steep 4 on to the end. The fruit notes started somewhat berry-like, and gradually became more plum-like (there is even a hint of melon in the final steeps). These fruity flavors blend well with a strong, lingering sweetness on top of every steep. However, to balance this sweetness, a nice tartness is present, coming through as a grapefruit/citrus flavor. It seems to be taking aging quite well. There isn’t a very strong youthful taste to this one, but then again, I can’t really taste that “aged” quality either.
So, this sheng isn’t as stimulating as I was expecting, but it has great flavor. Oh yeah, another thing I noticed was that the aftertaste didn’t linger much. The flavor evolves slowly, but then just seems to evaporate once the sip was over. Around steeps 4 and 5, this improves a bit, the body becoming more full with increased depth, but still, on average, a very light tea.
Two posts in one! What a deal!
I decided to try this one again before I made a post with a different gong fu method for young sheng pu’ers that I saw online involving a great deal of pouring into multiple vessels to cool water during the infusion: <http://www.puerh.fr/en/article/to_brew_a_young_puerh.htm>. It seems similar to traditional Chinese glass methods used for green teas. It sounded interesting so I thought I’d give it a try with this sheng, since it is relatively young, with more dry leaf than used for the above notes.
It turned out quite well! I was surprised by large difference in the level of depth and complexity. It was much sweeter also. However, I’m not sure whether it was more or less bitter. It t seemed like it was more bitter than the first time, but I’m betting that it’s because I used a higher leaf to water ratio and the extra contact with the water just resulted in natural bitterness from the extra steeping time. Yet, the steep times were far shorter than the first tasting I did (only 3-4 seconds compared to the 13 seconds for the first steep). At any rate, it is a pleasant bitterness, not overpowering, and doesn’t subtract from the actual flavors. However, the sensation of huigan and extra creaminess of the liquor was definitely noticeable. The aftertaste was much sweeter with an added melon-like flavor and left the mouth feeling cool like after eating a mint candy, but without the minty flavor. It’s also a bit more stimulating.
I’m always learning :)