April 2017 White2Tea Club! This month features two oolongs – Milan and Yesheng Dancong, and a couple 2017 Grandpa’s Ripe Balls.
I was torn on what to do for this review at first. This is a lot of dancong to get through for 2 days, especially if I follow the instructions thoroughly. I am also scared of drinking the recent (March) pressed shou – I personally prefer time on these and my gut will unkindly remind me why after the session is complete. I decided to forgo the 2017 Grandpa’s Ripe Balls for now, I will drink it once it has calmed down. If you are interested reading about the taste progression of fresh shou, I drank an White2Tea club experiment last year of fresh, 3 month, and 7 month mark on shou balls.
White2Tea Club Dancong Experiment
This month had instructions to drink both dancongs, but in different order on separate days. Both were first teas of the day, and I did the same everything in terms of steeping method – 1 gram to 12 ml of vessel with boiling water, over 10 infusions. I approached these tasting as casual drinking reflecting on finding differences, rather than owl game face. That said, I used my silver cup for fun.
Going in, I was expecting to taste differences. I certainly notice flavor differences within the same tea consumed on different days, with my own teas and teas sampled at tea shops. It is annoying error I come across on daily drinkers – some days they just taste better than others, especially considering the weather and what I am in the mood for.
First tea of the day and I’m feeling utterly tired. My dad was visiting a few days ago and he burnt me out on many Costco trips, lots of cooking, and complaining at him spoiling my rabbit with treats. The weather was hot and slightly muggy. I had this session a little later in the day, so somehow I went without tea until 3pm. I wasn’t in the mood for dancong either, I am purely drinking this because I’m behind in White2Tea club (ahhh the life of the tea blogger). What I was in the mood for was a matcha smoothie because it is hot.
Milan Dancong was overall quite savory. It was similar to the previous Milan Dancong I had of campy flavors of wood, sticky sap, and rock.
Oddly, I got memories of child hood camp – smell of rocky lakes, foliage, sticky trees, and that sticky goop spit bugs foamed up on plant branches. There was a bit of sweetness from the nectar and mineral notes. The final infusions were bittersweet – as if wood was made into bittersweet chocolate. It was a good session, though a bit too savory for what I was in the mood for.
When I switched to the Yesheng Dancong, I noticed it was sweeter, a big contrast to the Milan Dancong’s savory.
Yesheng Dancong was an uplifting, syrupy, and brassy tea. As the steeps went on, it developed what I call a “hand soap flavor” as it had that perfumey quality that you smell in that typical white pearly liquid hand soap. I enjoyed the sweet contrast of this tea, but felt it was weaker due to the heavy brass and soap. I don’t know why, but too brassy teas rub me the wrong way.
The next day was a cooler day. We had quite a cool front come in, compared to yesterday being hotter. I started my tea session at noon. I was feeling more energetic today. I was indifferent to what tea I was going to drink today, not being in the mood for anything in particular. Though, I was going in knowing there was another dancong session today.
Yesheng Dancong was slightly different today, reflecting back on my notes from yesterday. I got less brass, more citrus pomelo flavor. I got a slight of the note I called “hand soap” at end of sip, but majority of the flavor was citrus and sap. It felt also uplifting in feeling, which was good for an afternoon tea, so overall I felt happy with this session.
There was a big difference here for having the Milan Dancong second. It wasn’t as savory as yesterday, less contrast between the teas, and the notes were different. The flavor is creamy, woodsy, amber sap, and a bit like under ripe pineapple. As the steeps went on, it got more sour. This second session felt like a ice cold bucket of water hitting my face, as it jolted me awake. I didn’t enjoy this session, I felt this tea was just having a bad day due to the sourness going on.
Well then, there is a lot to figure here. Do first teas of the day fair better? Both days I preferred the first tea more than the second. How much did weather impact the tea session? I overall preferred Day 1 over Day 2, despite the Yesheng was better on Day 2. I felt Day 2 had a lot of citrus and sour going on and similar flavors vs Day 1 interesting contrast. I wonder if the cold weather did something to make the tea more sour? How much did mood play into tea, I was in dire need of caffeine on day one than two which also likely impacted the taste.
This also makes me reflect on my tea reviews. I generally do my tea reviews as my second tea of the day, my first tea of the day usually a matcha or a grandpa or western black tea to wake up. Either way, thanks to White2Tea club for this experiment!