Monday, July 18, 2016

Denong Tea: 2015 Early Spring Harvest Elegant Tranquility Raw Pu-erh, A Tea Review

I am back from my wee hiatus, feeling better, though still with a bit of recovery left to go, but I am able to write at least a little so as far as the blog is concerned I am perfectly fine. The past weekend was Evo (and I apologize to my twitter followers, I was quite vociferous compared to usual) and what a fantastic one it was. For the first time Street Fighter finals were aired on ESPN, an awesome achievement! It has been fun watching tournaments change over the years, as esports and the FGC become more pro, though I do miss how the commentators have had to clean up a bit, meaning the FGC's distinct lingo is sadly dying. Not that it stops Ben and myself from still using it to the confusion of those around us!

Today's tea comes from Denong Tea, Elegant Tranquility, a 2015 spring Sheng Puerh from Lincang. I actually have not had a lot of experience with Lincang material as a Sheng (pretty decent amount for Hongcha) so sadly I won't be able to say 'oh yeah, this is classic Lincang' instead it is a bit of an adventure into the only lightly known! I will say this, the combination of the name and the wrapper is so evocative, definitely one for the wrapper collectors out there. The aroma of the tea is very springy, fresh and light with notes of spinach, hay, sharp eucalyptus and a slight undertone of raw honey. It has a subtle woodiness as well, but it is fairly light.

The aroma of the leaves after a rinse and first steep is so green, sharp notes of eucalyptus and lemon leaves, cooked spinach, crushed hay, thyme, and a bit of greenwood and bamboo at the finish. The liquid smells light and a balance of green and sweet, with hay and honey balancing out spinach and bamboo with a hint of lemon leaves.

I was pleased with the initial thickness of this tea, from the first steep onwards it has a great mouthcoating thickness, and considering this tea has a really light start that is impressive. The first couple of steeps are green, with notes of spinach and hay, with a building lemon leaf and eucalyptus leaf finish, giving a great cooling effect. Around steep three it starts to pick up some kale like bitterness and a touch of dryness in the middle that quickly switches to lingering lilac nectar sweetness, that floral note was surprising and pleasant.

So here is where things get weird, around steep four the sweetness increases, as does the lemony aspect, now the tea vaguely reminds me of lemon cake! It went from being spring like in the beginning to summery in the middle, how fun! I really like how instead of being bitter the middle has a sour quality, it goes really well with the sugar cane like sweetness and the green fresh spinach and lemon leaves. Towards the end of the middle steeps, so steep six, it gets a fresh crisp bamboo note and the gentle eucalyptus note builds to an intense cooling. I had a bit of a sore throat while I was drinking this tea and the cooling was immensely soothing on it, so points there.

One of the biggest compliments I can give this tea, it is a young Sheng that doesn't give me the dreaded gut-rot stomach ache. Even mild ones can start to cause discomfort towards the latter steeps, this one not so much, so I was able to outlast it. The finishing steeps are a combination of eucalyptus cooling and sugar cane sweetness, with a very long lasting sweet aftertaste. Definitely a tea where you want to go a bit between steeps to really appreciate how long the aftertaste lasts. The last couple of steeps also picked up a wet slate note at the middle, and the eucalyptus notes start to fade until gone, though the sweetness remains. The very last steep was the only one without a thick mouthfeel, it was light like water. This tea is light, though not at all dull or boring (as some teas touted as light can be) and I greatly enjoyed my session with it.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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