My first taste of Wymm Tea’s stuff was so good that when they had a sale in October for the Mid-Autumn Festival, I made an order. I got more of the Bingdao Laozhai Huangpian and the Mangnuo Tengtiao “Cane Tea” from last time, plus a bunch of samples. Today I’m going to look at 2 samples in particular.
Jingmai Sheng Pu-erh 2013
First up is this tea, which I purchased a single 6-gram sample of. Here’s what Wymm Tea has to say about it:
This is a sheng pu-erh that brews bright golden liquor with a heady orchid aroma, and can last for around 15 steeps. First spring leaves make the best-valued tea because of the concentrated nutrients, and the infused liquid emanates strongest aroma and flavour. Picked from the first spring of 2011, our Jingmai pu-erh possesses opulent aroma and intense flavour that is reminiscence of wilderness of Jingmai.
The dry tea leaf looks dark and spindly with the occasional silver tip; its smell was fairly neutral — sort of an earthy forest floor note. There was a bit of dust, but the wrapper kept it all contained.
I used my usual steeping parameters for this tea: 90°C water, my gaiwan, and a quick 5-second rinse to start things off. After the rinse, the tea gave off a really strong funky, fermented smell, followed by a fruity finish.
I didn’t time the steeps too much, but I tried to keep them under 10 seconds. The first steep resulted in a pale gold liquor that tasted smooth and mild with no astringency. The flavour hadn’t woken up yet, but I could taste minerals and pale wood, like birch. What’s really cool is that after the first steep — and throughout the rest of the tea session — the leaves themselves smelled like sultana raisins. Raisins! Hell yeah.
The second steep resulted in a cup of tea that was deep gold edging into amber. The flavours were still very mild, but stronger than the first steep; I tasted metal, earth, wood, and autumn leaves. There was a little bit of astringency starting to peek through — on the back of my tongue I sensed a sharp aftertaste reminiscent of chewing on grapeskin.
The third steep was a deep goldenrod yellow. The wet leaf still smelled like raisins, and there was still a strong mineral/autumn leaf/wood note in the taste. However, I didn’t go much further beyond this point. I only did about 5-6 steeps in total because I was starting to get a headache. Still, the used leaf looked pretty nice in the gaiwan:
Mahei Zhai Sheng 2011
I had the Mahei Zhai sheng later on in the day after my headache cleared up. The description below is from Wymm Tea again:
Handmade with tea leaves picked from Mahei village in the spring of 2011, this sheng pu-erh brews bright yellow liquor with a delicate taste and silky texture. The tea is full-bodied with minimal astringency and bitterness, and brings back a prolonged honey-like aftertaste.
I could tell the difference from the Jingmai sheng right away: while the dry leaf for that tea smelled like a forest, this one smelled intensely sweet. It also looked a lot different — the main chunk of leaf was a murky tangle of dark green and brown, like camouflage.
I used the same parameters for the Mahei sheng as I did the Jingmai sheng above, including giving the tea a 5-second rinse to wake it up. The rinsed leaf smelled creamy, sour, sweet and smoky — a combination of tobacco, prunes, and cheesecake that I found quite compelling.
The first and second steeps were similar in flavour and colour, with both being a pale gold. However, the second steep tasted more intense, with a smoky flavour that had a dry, sweet aftertaste similar to licorice. (That I kept on drinking this tea is amazing, because I absolutely hate licorice.)
The third steep was a rich golden colour and the brew smelled like tobacco. I liked this a lot, especially with the sweet aftertaste. The sweetness was dry and herbal, like stevia or dry wine, rather than being fruity, juicy, or honey-like.
The fourth, fifth and sixth steeps were similar: I got a deep golden brew, but the sweet flavour morphed to both metallic and fruity. I also noticed some nuttiness, like walnuts.
Where this tea really shines is in the mouthfeel, though. As I was drinking it, it felt like my mouth was full, like the tea was taking up more real estate than it had any right to. I could feel its warmth and lingering flavours inside my cheeks, on the sides of my tongue, and even on my hard palate. There was a roughness, too, to the tea in my mouth, like construction paper was sliding over my tongue.
The tea smoothed out by the sixth steep, but by then I had also started to notice a warm tickle at the back of my throat. I let the tea run its course over a few more steeps, but by then I was all tired and I could feel the liquid sloshing around in my belly. Not a bad way to end the evening!