Twelve Cent Brick
I’ve tasted this tea about a dozen times in the past few months, as part of the tasting panel for Teas We Like. I voted in favour of this tea, and thought it would be useful to explain my impressions. In this session, I used 4.8g in a 70ml gaiwan, and brewed with my usual filtered Toronto tap water at 200 TDS. This is high TDS and would be considered over-extracting, so normally I experiment with different water to get a better global view of a tea. But for relaxed sessions, I am fine with my free (and environmentally friendly) municipal water.
The dry leaf looks like a complete blend, with large twisted leaves, mostly dark and some silvery, with a small amount of huangpian, some stems, and a noticeable amount of tea pods. This is obviously not a refined production but it looks like decent material with traditional processing. The smell is of dry storage, no off notes or warehouse aromas.
- Light, sweet, delicate honey empty cup aroma, pungent resin, slight woody incense. This is on the drier side of natural Taiwan storage.
- Very clean liquor, strong aftertaste sweetness, with a particularly nice openness in the rear throat. Clear breathing, and an obvious uplifting sensation with frisson.
- There is a touch of aged oolong fragrance, as if it was stored alongside some taiwan aged oolong. Bright concentrated liquor, good woody aroma. Clean. It is getting a bit thicker now, compared to lighter first steeps. Some fine chalky astringency shows up.
- Longer steep has more and longer lasting sweetness. Deeper sweetness. Very good energy. Quite strong. Sweating face. Clarity vision. The rear throat activity is again clear. Menthol breathing.
- I oversteep steep 5, this gives quite some bitterness and some moderate astringency, and an interesting aged flavour shows up. This gives a blast of heat energy.
At 15 years, this tea is still relatively young, due to its very moderate dry Taiwan storage. It is very clean, with no intrusive aromas or tastes of storage. The main profile is sweet woodiness with mild resin, very good rear throat activity and aftertaste, medium thickness and a reliable burst of uplifting energy and frisson. It can be brewed to be quite bitter with low-medium astringency, and it does display as a bit younger than 15 years, but I think it demonstrates quite well all the good qualities of mid-aged sheng puerh. As a generic brick with no prestige, I think it functions perfectly as an inexpensive but serious introduction to the category.