Mattcha’s mystery tea A
Thanks to one of my favourite Canadian crown corporations, Matt over at mattcha’s tea blog and I exchanged blind sample sets as explained here. After we’ve written about all seven of the teas, we will reveal to each other what the set of teas were — we will then try guessing which tea is which. I tasted through Matt’s teas over the past two weeks, and now I will go through again, writing about each one. I need at least two tries with a sample before having a reliable impression, and what follows is that impression – only an impression, mind you.
First session was in a porcelain gaiwan, second session was 4.4g/70ml Yixing pot. The dry leaf has some silvery beige leaves, some brown leaves and some dark brown/gray leaves. I smell Hong Kong style traditional storage, nutty and mineral, and with some funk humid aroma, but no beetiness. It looks midaged, could be early 2000s or 90s, the leaves are on the smaller side with a decent number of buds, like a 7542 blend. When damp, the geosmin comes out. Humid storage, fungal, nutty, betel aroma, good underlying aroma on the wet leaves. It smells a lot like sheng Liubao.
- Dark red liquor, high clarity. Mineral aroma. Seems older than 2000s, could be 90s or earlier. Bitter. Pill-bitter. Low geosmin. Much more concrete pavement minerality. Fine astringency. Aroma is quite sweet, but the taste is stiff and bitter — but with very fine astringency.
- Wet leaf is smaller, more oxidized, almost like it might be partially fermented. Very bitter, could be LME or bulang but perhaps kucha? Quite serenely bitter and narrow, but silky. There is a subtle sweet roasted oolong aroma but this is not present in the taste. Striking bitterness, with internal heating and external cooling. Frisson. This whole experience reminds me of drinking a really strong sheng Malaysian stored Liubao.
- The liquor is not that thick but it does coat the entire throat. Extreme bitterness. Beautiful liquor, dense colour but crystal clear. Concentrated taste, super uplifting now. Intense throat bitterness and intense sweating.
- The bitterness is strong, but not rough. Stiff minerality. With longer brews this becomes more bitter but also more silken and creamy. Very interesting tea.
- In the late steeps, some smokiness actually comes out, a kind of meat smoke! Very surprising, presumably this is the original processing coming through after so long.
It’s pretty easy to summarize my experience with this tea. First of all, it is reminiscent of a very strong 80s Malaysian stored Liubao. But this is likely traditionally stored sheng, maybe from 90s or early 2000s. At least it looks like mostly sheng, there may be a very small percentage of shu added. The geosmin and fungal funk dissipates immediately, leaving a very strong rocks/gravel/mineral taste. The tea is intensely bitter, but not very astringent – it has a very fine astringency, which probably contributes to its extremely silky texture. The body effect is pretty intense: concentrated internal heat, with a cooling frisson all around the skin, and sweating, leading to a significant uplift, which can be a bit jittery. This tea does not seem like a wide blend, it seems very narrow and powerful: a silky, bitter, mineral tea that gives me the sweats… While I find this tea very impressive, I can’t say that I really enjoyed this singular profile. But for the bitter lovers, this would be a very good aging outcome.