After the great Zi Pin, Qing Teng comes. It seems to me that Mengsong is a favourite place of maocha for small producers these days. Although all of the young Mengsongs were quite drinkable, none of them felt particularly interesting to me. If they get to 2003 in similar shape as this Qing Teng, good for them!
The leaves are green-orange, good looking. They don't smell/feel as aged as those of the Zi Pin, but they're far from young stuff too. The leaves are basically unbroken, there was no need for a strainer throughout the session (this also points to good cake-breaking skills of SilentChaos).
When I opened the pouch with the tea and smelled it, I thought "Hot summer meadow, with a lot of flowers (especially mullein and St. John's wort) blooming". Another parallel is when you have various herbs/flowers drying in a veranda and you enter it, sniffing all that goodness. We get this aroma a lot near our country house and it does appeal to me.
It is also enjoyable to keep the leaves for a while in a preheated pot, the aroma gets more intense and even more sunny. I need sun a lot these days, so I enjoyed that greatly.
The wet leaves still have a strong element of the hot meadow, but it is complemented by the aroma of "stone fruit" known from Banzhang (sort of like garden fruit with clay after light spring rain), however, it's a bit different from the Banzhang style.
The liquor has an interesting pale brown color and good clarity:
The taste itself is sweet and long. It consists of stone fruit (the clay element is pleasantly accentuated when I brew it in Yixing), hot meadow (though not as dominant as in the aroma), meadow honey. It is interesting how strong and long the taste is, while it feels very light (in a positive way) and sunny. I really like it drinking it these days, when spring seems to be a bit closer and the sun sheds nontrivial amount of warmth, at last.
While the taste seems a lot less distant than the Zi Pin, it still feels a bit like behind a thick glass. Nevertheless, it is strong enough for me to claim that the taste is an important and positive component of this tea. And I guess that the fact that it is not entirely "in your face" tasting tea may be a consequence of its good thickness.
In the aftertaste, there is a mixture of the meadow and pomelo. The pomelo, I admit, is not originally out of my head - the pomelo is an observation made by TwoDog here. I did not realize it there myself, but when I read his description and retasted the tea, it struck me how obvious the pomelo there was. The later taste and aftertaste are accompanied by a very good old-tree cooling.
All this description pertains to clay teapot. I prepared the Qing Teng in a tester and in a porcelain pot too and the results were worse. The stone fruit became generic garden fruit instead, with a tendency to slight sourness. That sourness was ok in the main taste, but I did not enjoy it in the long-term aftertaste, it was quite disturbing there. Maybe I could get used to it with time.
Bitterness is zero; there is some astringency, but nothing too bad.
While the tea has balanced and nice qi, it is not a body-breaker like the Zi Pin for me.
The qi is why I enjoyed the Zi Pin a bit more, but don't get me wrong - this Mengsong is still a lovely and enjoyable, high-quality tea. As I said before, it's sunny temperament appeals to me very much.