Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nannuoshan: Dian Yin Zhen, A Tea Review

My dear friends and readers, I have a terrible confession, I am rather ill and a little bit worried. At first I had a sniffle and sore throat and I just assumed allergies (which apparently I don't have, still weirded out by that) but nope, this is something much more annoying. Not sure if it is a terrible cold or what, but it has decided to move to my lungs (like they always do) and I am coughing and wheezing up a storm. So I am unhappily living on lots of cold meds, expectorants, antihistamines, and my inhaler...long story short, I am super loopy and so glad that I take really long winded notes in my tea notebooks! It was actually me becoming ill when I first started my tea blogger that I came up with the idea of logging all my notes in a notebook ahead of time, certainly one of my better decisions. 

Day two of our Nannuoshan adventure takes us to Yunnan, home of Puerh and a ton of other fascinating teas. One such tea is Dian Yin Zhen, a silver needle white tea whose name translates to Yunnan silver needle, very direct this time. It is important to distinguish that this silver needle is from Yunnan, because it is way different from its Fujian twin. See, Yunnan teas are definitely distinct, they have one of the more defined 'terroir' markers of tea with an at times really intense camphor to menthol note in taste and aroma, and if you are really lucky a distant smokiness. And sniffing the leaves did not disappoint, I found notes of hay, lettuce, melon, and a distinct note of sharp camphor and a hint of smoke. The aroma reminds me of a Sheng Puerh with a fruitier, sweeter tone to it, such is the beauty of tea from Yunnan!

Brewing the leaves is an adventure, the aroma really had me confused, if I had closed my eyes and sniffed I would have at first thought it was a Sheng. Upon closer nose examination I can detect notes of melon and crisp cucumber, along with that is the signature hay and strong camphor and faint smokiness. It is a pretty potent smelling pile of wet leaves. The liquid is fruity sweet with notes of melon and peaches with a bit of hay, and of course, crisp camphor. 

First steeping, and let me say, if you are a fan of young Sheng you would love this tea. It is crisp with an accompanying fuzzy tingling from trichomes and gentle smoothness. It starts with a rich camphor and smokiness, this moves to hay and a bit of spinach, and a finish of lettuce and cucumber. This tea has a nice hui gan that really lasts and cools the throat. 

Second time around this tea's aroma takes on a slightly bready, yeasty, almost sourdough tone along with sweet straw and a bit of smoke and camphor at the finish. Tasting the tea, the camphor and smoke notes have definitely mellowed out a good bit, they are still present, but this time they are only at the finish. The beginning of the sip is sweet and fruity, with notes of peaches and hay, this moves to a yeasty bread sweetness along with a hint of sourness that transitions nicely to the camphorous finish. I have really mixed feelings on Dian Yin Zhen, it is a fascinating tea with intense flavors, but I am not sure if I like it, and this is definitely not the first Dian Yin Zhen I have had where I spend the entire sipping session not sure if I like it or not, and I certainly foresee many more sessions like this. 

2 comments:

  1. About two springs/summers ago I went through a phase where I was hooked on a few Dianhongs I'd picked up from I believe Pu'er shop. Definitely, as you said, distinctively flavored. I saw some tiny little Dian yin zhen cakes as well at a few different vendors, but I've not pulled the trigger. Given that Bai Hao Yin Zhen is my favorite I'd figure I would have scooped them up by now but for whatever reason it just hasn't happened. Maybe on my next Yunan-slanted order!

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    1. Dian Hongs can be really addictive, I have gone through binges of the stuff my self! I certainly recommend trying this tea, it is very different from Bai Hao Yin Zhen, but in a really fascinating way, one of these days I should do a side by side taste comparison!

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