Friday, November 14, 2008

Chunming 2007 Yunnan Pu'er Seven Color Spring

Today I had the pleasure of trying this small 100 gram bing of sheng. It's fairly mild and benign, but it still has a good taste to it, not unlike the Kunming Guyi 2006 JingMai Spring bing I have which is considerably bigger (350g) and has a bigger kick to it. Camphor and menthol tastes are there along with a little sweetness, but the overly medicinal taste and sweetness of the Jingmai bing isn't present. At first when I tried this tea two days ago I kept thinking that I was tasting the Jingmai's flavor that had seeped into the yixing clay. I scrubbed, scrubbed, scrubbed, and soaked the teapot, rinsed it out, and kept trying to brew the tea and taste drastic differences between it and the teas I'd already had. No such luck.

Still, it's not as sharp as the Jingmai, and a nice light fruit note contrasts with the very heavy mouthfeel of the tea. The finish is very clean, with maybe a little sweetness lingering on the back of the tongue. The last infusion hasn't yielded very much change from the first infusion, apart from a slight reduction in astringency. However, there was not much astringency to begin with.

Overall, I like this little bing. I think its small size may have contributed to some slight aging that took the edge off any bitterness or astringency, which is still very much present in the Jingmai bing. It's not strong in taste nor caffeine, but the flavor that is there is good and simple. I'm beginning to wonder if all spring cakes are supposed to have a camphor taste to them (who knows? Maybe that's when the camphor leaves start to fall in Yunnan), but I'll obviously have to have more spring teas to determine that for certain. However, I don't think I would save a bing of this tea for later drinking. It's pleasant and mild enough that you could drink it immediately.

Nov. 15th: I've had a total of 11 infusions of this tea, and it's still good. The tastes have gotten lighter, with the fruit and camphor fading into the background, but a simple green sweetness pervading throughout the tea. It kills me how I can spend so little on tea leaves that will last for two days of continued brewing, and spend 4 times as much on chopped store brand tea leaves that will last for 2 steepings.

21 Nov: The same tasting notes as the last time. Using enough leaf to fill the teapot up halfway, there's a rustic sort of taste to it that I can't pin down. I can taste the camphor of the tea leaf, the bitterness, and the sweetness, but there's an underlying taste that's hard to describe in the first three infusions. It smells somewhat like the leaf. Later infusions make me think this is a similar tea leaf and recipe to the Kunming Jingmai spring bing. It's heavily mentholated with camphor, and a nice taste underneath it, but it's not quite as sweet as the Jingmai bing. Still, I like it.

29 November: 15 second rinse

5s infusion: mild and timid at the start of the cup yielding a satisfying taste with wonderful aftertaste that is sweet, but with rustic, woodsy tastes lingering.

5s infusion: bitter with "chewy" feel and wood note. Mild sweetness.

mid-cup: same taste with sweetness poking around. Mild astringency.

Bottom: sweet, sour, same tastes as above.

15s infusion: too long, mostly middle tastes with bitterness and no sweetness. I've used too many leaves. Instead of a good strength, the tea is overwhelming, coating my mouth, and hard to taste subtleties of subsequent cups.

~I've removed several of the leaves from the teapot and the familiar taste is coming back with camphor and menthol in the aftertaste.

22 December 2008: Using enough leaf to fill the yixing up to the lid has yielded 5 very wonderful infusions. The sheng really hit its stride in the 3rd and 4th infusions with ephemeral sweetness that is impossible to describe. It's sweet, but with a chewy texture to it. Very good stuff.

28 December 2008: I've finally polished off this bing. I have enjoyed its camphor taste and creamy sweetness but the fruit tastes I noticed in earlier tastings have diminished, perhaps caused by the lack of aged pu'er or tips, in the center of the bing. I don't really think this would be a great candidate for aging; it's already tame and enjoyable as is. I wouldn't say this sheng knocks my socks off, but I really enjoyed the chewiness and creaminess of the tea.
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