Storage experiment: 2016 Essence of Tea, one year in
More tea from the same storage experiment that I’ve been writing about. Today we have more subtle changes in the case of two Spring 2016 teas from Essence of Tea. Each of these underwent a year of 24C storage at 56% RH (the percentage they generated when they were fresh, slightly lower than expected) and then a large portion of each cake was stored at 32C at natural generated RH of 61% for one year (it remained at 61-63% over the entire year). Can you tell which tea is the hotter-stored one above?
1. 2016 EoT Huangshanshu
Unclear from the dry leaf if there are any visual differences. In all cases I put the heated version of the tea on the Left. Differences begin with the smell of the dry leaf: Right is more vinegary and strikingly pungent. On the Left is a more tobacco like smell. Pungent but rounder.
On the wet leaf, R is smokier and more farmyard, whereas we have Del Monte fruit salad like smell.
The differences in colour are more subtle than in the previous tests, but still visible.
Tasting the teas, the differences are also more subtle but still clear. On the right, strikingly green, roasty, and a burst of tannins right off the bat. Definitely more harsh and wet leaf smells very roasty and unpleasant. Even in mid-steeps, initially quite harsh and roasty, with juicy sweet aftertaste. Immediate tannin coat. The heated tea on the left is thicker initially, and sweeter. Has a nice briny dominant taste with sweet aftertaste. Roastiness is still there but there is more resinous aroma and it has a thicker mouthfeel. Much lusher empty cup aroma on the left, surprisingly. After steep 5, both teas are quite green and harsh but the left is more enjoyable, sweeter, and thicker.
The tea is, incidentally, quite potent, with lots of vibration feeling about the legs and back, and intense heat and face numbing. For this tea, the heated storage appears to have made a significant difference, but not as drastic a difference as in the previous cases I looked at.
2. 2016 EoT Manlin
This was a more interesting comparison than the 2016 HSS. The unheated tea, on the Right, had a sweet pungent dry leaf, but with a more tomato-vine vinegary pungency. The first steep was milky and bitter, and further steeps were like floral herbal tea, very light, notoginseng, chamomile, and with a juicy huigan. Milky, lots of heat, very light, floral. Mid-steeps had green oolong notes. Upon long steeps this gives unripe persimmon-level tannins. Very astringent.
The heated tea, on the other hand, had a serious young sheng signature, without the green oolong notes, and it wasn’t like a herbal tea. The wet leaf smelled much sweeter, with dried fruits. Initial steeps have immediate sweet salivation after swallow – very good huigan. More orange colour, thicker, sweeter, more flavour and a much stronger juiciness following swallowing. ECA was more pungent and resinous. Both teas have an incense signature on ECA, very musky, but the heated tea is noticeably stronger. Long steep is bitter, astringent, but definitely not as cotton-mouth as on the Right, and the concentrated resinous incense in the long steep was much easier to experience and clearer on the Left.