(Auf Deutsch werde ich diese Verkostung im Forum Teetalk.de beschreiben - wenn's vollbracht ist, poste ich den Link dazu im Kommentar zu diesem Beitrag).
Which tea should I highlight by writing the first review in my blog?
Perhaps it would be a good idea to start with something I've become quite familiar with:
my trusty Mangfei 2008 from Bannacha.
When I took my first steps in the exiting new world of sheng puer this spring, I soon stumbled upon this vendor (or rather: tea enthusiast who is happy to share young sheng in exchange for small(!) amounts of money). His first shipment to me included a sample of the tea in question ... and I got instantly hooked. So I ordered an entire bing.
Tonight I had a session with this trusty fellow:
Don't let the virgin looks up front deceive you - I've been busy on the other side. (By the way: why is the the side with the dimple considered a bing's reverse? To me it is the front, as it is the first to look at when opening the wrapper.)
Have a look at the progress I've made with this bing and at the quantity I've used for this session:
My notes on the dry leaves say "very dark green with some hints of brown, especially the stalks seem brownish. Hardly any silvery buds, but even mature leaves show some downy hair" - the photographs appear less green than the tea actually looks. My nose finds "clearly apparent but not dominant smoke smell. Some saltiness (soy sauce aroma?) and slight hints of fruit. Somehow like grilled and pickled bell pepper."
All right, a quick rinse and the the tasting gets going:
|Though only four years have passed since production, this tea brews amazingly dark - more orange than yellow.|
|To help those who might be unfamiliar with binary numbers: the matches indicate brew #3!|
Then there was a turning point (never had a sheng where this didn't happen: a previously dominant taste characteristic receeded and another flavour came to the front):
After walking our dog I returned to the tea and made the 9th brew to find its sweetness hardly noticeable. Instead a cooling quality appeared, which didn't show up earlier.
From brew #13 the sweetness returned, but only for two more infusions, before the tea was spent. One final look at brew #15:
|Final brew - not caused by the limit of my binary matches ;-)|
Strange how it all started: in the first cup I was totally distracted from the tea's taste by a sudden feeling of something clear and refreshing - like drinking cool water from a mountain spring. Then the mouthfeel was weird: increased salivation and a feeling of being more aware of my tongue and teeth ... but only in the front half of my mouth. Has anyone else ever experienced such a clear distinction between front and back? There was none of the "throatiness" my blogging heroes go on about - actually there was no sensation at all in my throat.
Strange as that locally limited sensation was, soon it passed and made way for a long and sweet aftertaste.
When Mangfei and I reached brew #13, suddenly a throat cooling feeling kicked in to last for the final brews. By this time I felt the tea's effect on my state of mind: both relaxed and envigorated.
Let me change the focus back from me to the tea - time to take a look at the spent leaves:
15 good brews is a good number for a plantation tea! Okay, there was no great sensation of chaqi and I don't see myself getting teadrunk on this Mangfei. But it really is a decent tea with amazing sweetness coupled to its mineralic freshness. I am definitely happy I bought this bing! Did I mention the price? 13€ for the entire 400g bing is amazing!
I have tasted some teas which boasted to be "wild arbor" or "ancient trees" ... but failed to deliver. Then you stumble upon a humble plantation tea which gives you a pleasant 15 brews ... great!
Well, when speaking about the qualities of tea, there can be no objectiviTEA, as some people might not tolerate even the mild smokiness of the Mangfei 2008 or other water qualities will lead to totally different experiences you might make. So take this review with a grain of salt or two. Just my impressions, based on the meager experience of 6 months since I started drinking sheng puer.
Anyone out there who knows this tea? Whether you're a well versed tea sage or even newer to sheng than I am - I would be happy to read your opinion on this tea in the comments.
Or if you have any suggestions for improving my reviews - being the absolute beginner on blogging that I am, I will gladly read what you would like to comment.