I thought it would be really cool to do a side by side sheng pu’er comparison session. I had planned to do a side by side tasting with a pair of shou pu’er I have, but Crimson Lotus Tea was sending me some samples and I thought it would be cool to compare their Jingmais together.
The two Crimson Lotus Tea sheng pu’ers are:
I was planning to just drink a small sample each, say 5 grams. I didn’t realize after the fact that Planet Jingmai is a weighty 8 gram ball of pu’er. I seriously thought Planet Jingmai was like 5 or 6 grams, just like your standard mini tuocha.
It would be totally awful of me to attack a nice hand-rolled whole leaf pu’er with a hammer. However, Ambitious Tea Owl was in support of the tea crushing.
I then hesitated. Maybe I should just drink these separate, they would be great tea sessions on their own. After much debate, I said screw it – I’ll drink them full sized together. I’ve drank 12 matchas together multiple times now, how hard is 16 grams of sheng pu’er? I’m still young. There’s people who have drank much more than that, cough Cwyn cough.
Planet Jingmai is super compact, hand rolled ball of leaf. Midas Touch has a stronger scent of sweet grass.
So I failed and just saw the instructions on Crimson Lotus Tea. For Planet Jingmai they gave it a long couple minute rinse to loosen the ball. I didn’t do that, I just did a quick rinse. The obvious is due to the shape of Planet Jingmai it will steep up a lot different. Another error that will come up is I think I will have issues telling dryness apart as it adds up when you drink it.
Anyways, I did 200F water temperature, a single rinse and started with quick 20 second infusions.
Tasting of Crimson Lotus Teas’ 2014 Planet Jingmai and 2015 Spring Jingmai Sheng “Midas Touch”
Midas Touch on the left, Planet Jingmai on the right.
First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion:
Midas Touch steeped up a golden peach cup. The flavor is stronger than Planet Jingmai, being sweet, smooth and creamy. Midas Touch develops a nice apricot note with a hint of amber. At the 3rd steep I’m introduced to a bit of bitterness and thick mouth coating that I find pleasing. Yum, I’m already liking how this is going.
Planet Jingmai steeped up super light with barely any flavor. First and Second steepings were just too light, so practically just rinses and poured out. Third infusion was better but still lightish. The flavor is meyer lemon, linen, savory elements, and cream. Planet Jingmai has a nice silky texture already. 4 steeps in and the ball is still solid in the middle.
After 2 rounds I started feeling the effects. I’m tanked. The world is spinning. I guess it’s not from the Jingmai Planet as it is weak in flavor. After I drank 4 rounds, I decided to take a quick break and the room started spinning when I leaned over to pick up my Nintendo 3DS off a low side table. After that, I took a longer rest on the couch eating protein balls playing Pokemon Shuffle.
Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion:
Midas Touch is in full force! The flavor is peachy, thick, light sweet bitterness with a great peachy apricot aftertaste. I find this pu’er the perfect level of bitter, dry and sweet. I would be happy to drown in this one. I slammed a cup and ran to my garage weight room and banged out some deadlifts. Hell yeah!
Planet Jingmai is gaining flavor and it’s light milky, citrus and linen. On the 6th round the flavor finally hit – delicously creamy, sweet amber, woodsy, and a bit of grapefruit. The mix of flavor is on the mellow side.
I took another break here as I felt like my brain is exploding. The smoke detector also started going off randomly and I had to turn on some metal to drown it out. I was alone in the house and didn’t trust using a ladder while tea drunk. Playing Devin Townsend’s Ziltiod, a sci-fi prog metal opera, was perfect! HUMANS, BRING ME YOUR FINEST CUP OF TEA. MAKE IT PERFECT. YOU HAVE 10 EARTH MINUTES. /guitar solo!
I was totally inspired of aliens from the Planet Jingmai and its crazy lumpy appearance.
Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Infusion:
We have a colour switch! Midas Touch is lighter than Planet Jingmai. At the 8th infusion Planet Jingmai still has a hard core. The leaf difference is showing with Planet Jingmai being a touch red and big leafy.
Midas Touch is now starting to lighten. It’s creamy sweet and lost some fruity and moved to a bit savory. Each steeping got more vegetal and started tasting 100% like edamame. So good as I love edamame, creamy and beany is my kind of thing! Bitterness is gone but a weird dryness on my teeth. I could almost think the teas got swapped.
Planet Jingmai… Oh yeah that’s good! The flavor is strong, thick and heady finally. I’m getting notes of woodsy cedar, sap with a bit of sourness and at end of sip there is an essence of artichokes. The texture is smooth. Very interesting flavor for a Sheng!
Yet another break I had to take here. I was way too jittery and crazy. I decided I should eat lunch and tea drunk jitters made peeling boiled eggs ragingly impossible. It was a whole lot of swearing and lettuce on the floor. Ambitious Tea Owl was catatonic, buzzing with the pu’er wrapper on his head. Handling a knife was a bad idea so I resorted to smashing eggs (they were already smashed) and a ripped half a red pepper into a salad.
Twelfth and Thirteenth Infusion:
Midas Touch is softening and on its last legs. It finishes sweet, smooth and little beany. On the 14th infusion it was dead.
Planet Jingmai finally fell apart and whoa that’s bitter! Each sip is a bitter one with artichokes and wood with a dry finish. My guess is the outer leaves have just been steeped out to death, whereas the middle is still wanting to tea.
Fourteenth, Fifteen, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Infusion:
Planet Jingmai is still going! The flavor is consistently savory, amber sap and woodsy with dryness. Finally died on 17th infusion.
Out of the two Crimson Lotus Teas‘ shengs, I like 2015 Spring Jingmai “Midas Touch” more for that tasty beany flavor at the end. My preference is total personal preference, both jingmai shengs were very good!
2014 Planet Jingmai Ancient Tree Single Serving Pu’er was also pretty good and long lasting. I could see actually taking the time to rinsing it better or maybe breaking it up would change the flavor a lot from what I got. What I find really appealing about Planet Jingmai is it’s a single serving and much better than all the mini tuochas I’ve had.
Finally…yeah, don’t drink 16 grams of sheng at once, especially if you are sensitive to pu’er tea drunken craziness and you are alone. I didn’t finish every cup and I poured leftovers into tea tumblers that I drank later. I can’t recall much of what happened that evening after I drank all that tea.
Pu’er wrapper hats!
(tea provided for review)