|2015 Pin by white2tea|
|Breakfast, or dinner?|
On first brewing, the leaves appear to consist of a mix of very large leaves, some younger buds, and some yellow older leaves or perhaps these were processed at a higher temperature as is often the case for autumn leaf. I’m not sure whether the blend has autumn or spring tea or both as the description doesn’t indicate anything aside from some leaves stored in Menghai. Prior to their move to Guangdong, white2tea maintained storage in both Beijing and Menghai, and I believe the Beijing tea is now completely moved south which is likely to benefit the tea stores.
|Check the clarity. I do strain.|
It’s a drinker tea without a whole lot of complexity, but the brew is clear and the processing excellent as is usually the case with white2tea. Nothing gets in the way of enjoying this pretty floral leaf. I remember last year this tea was supposedly rather astringent. I’m not noticing much astringency now, and with my drying medications I will usually notice astringency more than some people might.
|The leaves open and the brew turns more golden.|
People say “for $50 [or whatever price] the tea should be decent enough I can try it right away.” Any tea is drink-able right out of the mails, but then why judge it when that tea will change more in the next few months? Even an aged tea needs time to open. A drier aged tea will need to return to storage for a time, and a humid aged tea needs time to air. Pin is one of those teas which is probably more comfortable for sheng newbies to drink, and a good choice for a club tea box to please the most number of people. Yet it got a lot of flak from club folk who tried it early, even when the note in the box said “Please wait.” I can understand people won’t like every tea, personal taste is certainly subjective. But I wonder if the “pouncer pronouncer” rushing out an opinion on Steepster or other social media is really in touch with the idea that drinking a sheng cake is a ten, or twenty-year-long tea session.
When people ask me “will I like sheng puerh,” my question back is not “what other teas do you like,” but rather, “what kind of fermented foods do you like?” For if sheng puerh is the King of Teas, it is also certainly the Princess of Fermented Vegetables. Yunnan varietal tea leaf is a distinctly evolved large and bitter leaf. It has very little in common taste-wise with tea leaves from anywhere else. It evolved in a direction completely different from all other sorts of camellia sinensis. If Gyokuro is like unto spinach or lettuce, then Yunnan sheng is like unto cabbage, a sturdy and more strongly flavored cousin.
There is no mistake that sheng lovers also tend to eat sauerkraut or kimchi, or pickles, or drink kombucha and beer or whiskey or bake sourdough bread. So, if you wonder whether you might like sheng, I will ask you, “what other intense foods do you enjoy?” If you can taste the sweetness in a pickle that at first tastes sour, then your tongue is likely to find the returning sweetness in a bitter sheng leaf. If you enjoy the tang of sourdough bread, plain yogurt, or kombucha, then your tongue is looking for fermentation. But if you need your tea sweet, and your yogurt with fruit you might want to explore other teas instead.
I read ratings from people who buy teas because I or another blogger recommend them, and then the buyer gives a poor rating because they don’t like sheng. I would be remiss if I drank a tea I don’t like and then give it a poor rating simply because I don’t like flavored oolong, or whatever. Yet I see people do this all the time with puerh. Even worse are the situations where people spend a ton of money of teas that I recommend, or someone else recommends, the high tier teas, and down-rate all of them. It’s not the fault of the reviewer that you went out and spent a ton of money on something you aren’t sure you will like.
If you are new to sheng, then buy a $20 cake, just one. It won’t be excellent tea, but you have to drink average tea to appreciate the better ones. There is no skipping of tiers. I might not enjoy a $15 Xiaguan tuo so much, but if that is the only sheng I have, then I can drink it and like it just fine. It’s cornflakes instead of oatmeal, but I can and will eat any cereal and I like many types of tea and bitter or sour fermented foods. I can guess that most sheng collectors today can pick up a new Dayi cake and drink it with at least some enjoyment, it is what it is, even though that collector might have other teas they prefer. I’m certain every sheng collector can pick out a dozen “drinker” teas easily that they can consume, as well as their top shelf stuff they aren’t admitting to hoarding.
|Mix of leaf types, some yellow, some large and dark, some buds.|