Yunnan Sourcing sheng tasting, Jan 2018
The five teas shown are alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and epsilon, in order from Left to Right. They are a blind tasting of YS teas organized by Matt and Scott. Thanks for organizing and sending these teas. Once they reveal what these teas are, I will update this post. I am going to be a good sport and actually guess what these teas might be, but I must emphasize: I do not make these guesses with a high degree of confidence.
My preferences and then a detailed review and score below
β > δ > γ >>>> α >>> ε
Material looks very young, green, and is dry and quite brittle. Vinegary pungent aroma. Warmed leaves have a smoked ham aroma. Wet leaves are pungent with a sweet green aroma, and have some popcorn and tomato vine.
Early steeps have good texture and mouthcoat, savoury more than sweet. Good huigan. Rising heat, alertness, and salivation on the front and sides of tongue. Has some saltiness as well in the aftertaste. There is some smoke, and some increasing astringency, with quite a lot more heat. It doesn’t strike me as too green or oolongy but it is very grassy, and even eggy.
By steep 6 it is greener and more bitter, it still has good aftertaste effect on sides and front of tongue and is still thick. The liquor is very green, and there is much less empty cup aroma, and the warming decreases. It is a bit vegetal from steep 8.
It doesn’t strike me as a Yiwu or a Bulang, and the leaves are relatively small. While it does show some astringency it is far from being aggressively rough. If I had to guess I’d say it’s a 2017 Mengku or Jinggu tea, or maybe a Yibang… I give this one a C (3.9).
Very sweet-pungent dry leaf. Very Yiwu-ish. Much nicer material, brown-black, not brittle or overly green, larger leaves. Not as green and loose compression. The wash is light beige, with slight smoke, some sweet funk. The wet leaf is sweet with a deep pungency and no off notes and only a small amount of sweet green aroma.
Begins quite thick, with some oily brininess. The aroma is deep resin, and the liquor is sweet and drinkable. Wet leaf has some green oolong aroma but this doesn’t translate into the taste or aroma of the tea itself. Yellow-orange liquor, good colour. Early steeps are mild, salivation on tip and sides of tongue. Very clean profile. By steep 3 there is some bitterness and a nice strength activation pattern on sides and middle of tongue. A good amount of concentrated bittersweet complex flavour.
In mid steeps there are darker flavours, leather, bittersweet oily texture. Heat on face, strength effect coating mouth. But it is green, and will disturb the stomach. lingering sweetness — late sweetness is of bark spices, licorice or cinnamon. . Still low in astringency, sweet, and thick, cereal. Heat in chest, arms, and face, with relaxation.
Long steeps give more astringency but not much, and a nice sweet incense note on empty cup. Heat in lower abdomen, mild alertness, not jittery.
This turns out to be my favourite of the five teas, I would guess it might be a Manzhuan, or maybe possibly a Yiwu, and maybe it has a couple years of age on it. It could be as old as 2013 or 2014 I suppose. Also I would guess it is Autumn, based on the gentleness, the heating, and the very large leaves. I give this a B (6.4).
Very high compression, very chopped, very grassy, more than alpha. Bitter. Gut puncher. But it is an excellent example of bitterness with a quick conversion to an intense sweetness afterwards. I think this is a blend: early on there is a northern profile with high ringing florals and grassiness, but then more Mengla characteristics come though in mid and late steeps. It really reminds me of a young 7542, and especially 1701-7542, although the Dayi is quite a bit more aromatic.
Besides the good demonstration of huigan, I got some rose florals from liquor, quite a lot of sweetness, and by the 6th steep the astringency was very strong indeed. Some phlegm buildup and very bitter, with continuing transformation to sweetness. Very alert. Hyperactive. The tannins are so strong I have to stop.
This is a super strong bitter-astringent high compression tea which is not for drinking now. It clearly has some good aspects and I would bank on this one as being the right choice for long term aging among the five. My main criticism is that the actual taste lacks a bit in the lower notes. It goes more towards the green, floral, citrus pungent aspects, and while it does have some deep sweetness and dark aspects it is not as concentrated in these. I give this a B- (5.9)
High compression. Green pungent fruity. Better material than Beta. It strikes me as a 2016 or 2017 Yiwu (although it does show more Yibang style in the later steeps) Wash is light yellow-beige, not green. The wet leaf has a grains aroma and a sweet cherries aroma, as well as green grass.
Arrival is not bitter, gentle mild with sweet aftertaste. Has some gyokuro and rear tongue activation. Could be a Yiwu gushu possibly. In the third steep it gave a key oily bittersweet-briny thick liquor which I really value. I got strong and dynamic qi from this, with frisson and heat moving about the shoulders and chest. Uplift, long lasting salivation, and more heat on face and temples.
It is not very astringent but the greenness does show and it will irritate stomach a bit. The astringency grows but it does dissolve into sweetness. It becomes more bitter and vegetal and weak by the 6th steep.
This would definitely be my favourite if it had lasted a bit longer. I feel that there is a Yiwu gushu element to this, but maybe it is blended with something else. The best aspect of it is the qi, which is good. I give this a B (6.2)
Material is decent looking, wash is very light yellow-green. First two steeps show a thickness, very adherent, savoury and drinkable, with lots of salivation on the finish. But then this takes a turn into green tea. Green, not very good, soft. Really mild, good for a green/oolong drinker who wants a bit of satisfying huigan. Not intense but it’s there. Material is small leaves and doesn’t strike me as Northern. Maybe it’s a weak taidi Yiwu from 2015-2016? I didn’t get much from this and give it a C- (3.0)