Hello again! After some time, I at least gained enough momentum to get some new samples, this time from White2tea. Before getting to the juicy puerh stuff (and there are several noteworthy teas indeed), let's have a quick post on the non-puerh teas. A sequel to Good, Bad, and the Ugly, this is, for me, OK, OK-ish, and Good...
The OK - 2017 Ice Green Fujian
This is a classical fujianese green tea, light and elegant. It's like walking in a botanic garden in a way, being surrounded by a mixture of flowery fragrances and tastes. There is a fair bit of hay in the aroma. It feels a bit anonymous to me in the spectrum of tastes - I had probably dozens similar teas already. That's not a problem though, I suppose. As I see it, the point of this tea is not to be novel, but to rather be a decent worker that is available soon after winter... not that UK weather noticed it's not winter anymore; it's very season-fluid. I'm writing this sitting in a reclining chair in the garden, that's true, but I'm wrapped in sheets and have an umbrella to prevent the nonstopping rain from reaching me.
I suppose I still prefer teas that have an extra element beyond the floral aspect, such as Mankouxiang, but ok... that's how I find this tea - ok.
The OKish - 2017 Mi Lan Dan Cong
When opening the box with teas, the usually huge bag of Mi Lan was among the first I've searched for - and couldn't find it! That's because this one comes from a small leaf varietal apparently... the leaves are small indeed:
Not sure if this is a Mi Lan or D.S., given the website description (unless duck bowels produce honey orchid, which would reconcile the discrepancy, of course, but based on the evidence collected alongside Thames where ducks are abundant and honey orchids rare, it's unlikely).
The dry leaves smell promising, still with a lot of dark chocolatey goodness from roasting. And after steeping?
I mean... it's not bad. But unfortunately, it's not nearly $0.5 per gram good for me, rather a half of that. It's an okay Dan Cong, but at this price level, in a Mi Lan, I'd like to see a strong honey line in the taste at this price level and it's rather faint here. The orchid taste is slightly muted with the rocky/woody/baked character coming from roasting, which will probably change in a couple of months. Hopefully, some of the roughness/astringency that is unfortunately present will go away as well, but I'm not sure how much. I find smoothness and lack of astringency, accompanied by fullness of body, to be probably the main feature for which one pays in expensive Dan Congs and I'd like to have more (wouldn't we all, I know). In the absolute terms though, this is still a decent Dan Cong tea, one that will make people happy in general, it's not like it's not tasty or pleasant.
Gongfu is not really the preferable way of brewing this tea in the end (see also http://www.marshaln.com/2017/07/gongfu-is-not-always-better/), as the ok-ish-ness of the tea just comes out too much and the relative roughness combined with not that powerful and complex character highlight what's lacking for me, rather than what's good. When the ratio of leaves-to-water is lowered and the tea is drunk e.g. as photographed above, it becomes quite good. While there is very little of honey taste still, the orchids become clearer and are pleasant indeed; one just has to balance the amount of leaves to not get a slightly sour brew. The potential for sourness that I've just also noticed to be mentioned by the Oolong owl is something you don't want in a tea for sure.
For those enjoying this genre, I also heartily recommend Teahabitat, a specialist in Dan Congs that offers the beast teas from there I've ever had.
The Good - 2017 Turtle Dove
Being a proton in the previous life, let's end on a positive note... This is a white tea, which usually excites me about as much as a single photon. However, George McFly would write this down - this is good stuff!
Not sure how to describe a typical white tea taste - probably hay (lots and lots), usually sweetness, and sometimes a bit of honey taste. This Turtle Dove has all of those in ample quantity and quality. On top of the hay, it offers a rich mixture of happy summer-flowery aromas and tastes, which makes the taste much more exciting than is common in a white tea. It really brings back happy memories of summer and is overall a really happy tea.
What strikes me about this tea, is the very high thickness, combined with a super-pleasant sweetness and smoothness. Consequently, you don't get the thin-ish haywater that happens with some white teas, but a really rather complex and full-bodied tea.
Being almost impossible to oversteep, this is a really good fire-and-forget pleasure maker. And it is cheap on top - nothing to dislike here, really...