This tea has been a real rollercoaster. I got the whole cake as part of the White2Tea club, and it really has changed every time I’ve tried it. The first time was pretty different than the later two, and the last one specifically put me in such a weird headspace that I couldn’t sleep for hours after having tried it. With smokiness, distinct tastes of aged material, and possible a qi that really punches above it’s price point, this is a hard one to pin. If anything, I take comfort in the fact that everyone else reviewing this tea so soon after its pressing is in the same position as I am, as time is beyond us all.
Beginning with steep one, the color of this tea resembled a deeper gold than most young shengs its age. The flavor immediately hit hard, with an aggressive smokiness that brought hefty astringency with it, along with a bit of a vegetal taste. Encapsulated in this was a sweetness that crept up from under my tongue, and lingered. A honey-like underlying taste was present, but was buried in the deep body.
As the steeps developed up to the third and fourth, any vegetal tastes turned into earthy ones. A distinct hint of aged material began to come through as well, but with none of the tame qualities that aged sheng has. The light sweetness continued to shine through, but had a hard time getting through the bitterness and astringency that continued to develop and amplify. The bitterness shouldn’t be feared though, as it had no negative mouthfeel, just a bitter taste. This is something very familiar to good raw puers. After steep four, starting with the middle of my tongue, the bitterness began to plateau.
From steeps five to seven, the tea gave it’s final fights. The sweetness in the tea, when it wasn’t lingering, was still something that needed to be worked towards, as it was shrouded in such a hearty-bodied woody / smokey flavor. By steep seven though, the boldness of the brew began to curb, signaling the end of this tea’s power through steeps.
Between steeps 8 and 12, the liquor thinned and sweetened. While this isn’t unusual for many shengs, it didn’t present this entirely independently; the astringency of previous steeps was so strong, that this stripped-away sweetness towards the end of this brew was still contested by bold smokiness from the earlier steeps. Finishing off the tea, I was left with a resonating sweetness, but a dry mouth.
In conclusion, this tea is a great example of money going towards complexity rather than feel-good taste. It’s intricate, changing, and rewarding for continuing through the steeps, even if just to see how the flavors interact with each other. This tea is too young to say if I’d enjoy drinking it’s bold progression daily, but at $38, it’s an excellent price for a daily drinker, and I enjoyed last years Green Hype very much as well.
6.9g / 100ml
100c (boiling) water
Steep time = 5x seconds, where x = steep number