This will probably be exactly what I expect, since their teas tend to always be great. Great is all relative; I mean crowded towards the high quality end of the scale, for both Dan Cong and Wuyi Yancha. A very exceptional Dian Hong (Yunnan black), Darjeeling, or Nepal white tea can be very good, but the quality, intensity, flavor range, complex feel, sophisticated form, and even the simplicity, in one sense, can all be on another level for teas like those oolongs. In comparison other very good teas bang on a few positive notes, while better versions of these types really come together.
So no need for much build-up or further description. Cindy, one owner, and part of two different tea making families, sent these teas for me to try, more so than to review. Reviewing will repeat how great I thought every Ya Shi version I ever tried from them was, but maybe something slightly different will turn up, an interesting way the roast really integrates, or a particular intensity or subtlety.
The teas do vary year to year, I'm just not dialed in enough to pick up very minor differences on that level. There is always a case for another tea out there being better, so I'm not claiming that this is the peak for this type, but these teas would be better than most of what is sold as "a high quality level that never makes it out of China." Don't take my word for that; type Wuyi Origin into a Facebook tea group search bar and see what others say.
I was recommending their teas in an online comment not so long ago and mentioned this might be a rare case of a tea being too good. You don't want to start there, experiencing teas that close to as good as versions ever get. It wouldn't be possible to fully appreciate the experience without some exposure, and it would limit exploration of higher quality range to follow. That doesn't come up often, adding a conditional warning that in some cases teas may be too good to experience, under some circumstances. If you start on more basic versions you can try progressively better teas for a few years, improving brewing technique as you go as well. It would be madness to brew this tea Western style, for example. It would still be good but that's crazy, deciding that you don't need to optimize results for this tea.
I'll add their website description (after review), and get right to making notes for now. That product description (with the actual tea description at the end, after the type background):
Feature : In Fenghuang, the name of Dancong tea varieties is dazzling, which makes everyone very puzzled.
There is also an interesting story about the origin of the name Yashixiang (duckshit)
The mother tree of "Duck Shit Fragrance" grows in Xiaping Kengtou Village, Fengxi District, Chaozhou, at an altitude of 900 meters. Its age is 78 years. It belongs to Wei Chunshi, a tea farmer. Now it is managed by his eldest son.
According to the tea growers:
This famous Bush is ancestral. The original Bush was introduced from Wu Dong Mountain. It was planted in the "duck shit soil" (actually yellow loam soil, but containing mineral chalk) tea garden.
People in the countryside commented on the tea's strong aroma and good flavor, and asked what was the name of the cultivar and what type of fragrance.
Tea growers are afraid of being stolen, so they call it "duck Shit fragrance".
However, some people have managed to obtain tea spikes for cutting and marrying.
As a result, the name "Duck Shit Xiang" was passed on, and tea seedlings were expanded in Fenghuang area.
The aroma of this tea is very special and impressive.
This tea shape is strong, compact, dark green, moist, fragrant after brewing, high-rise, soup green with yellow, mellow and strong taste, slightly sweet and bitter, lasting aftertaste, resistant to brewing.
The bottom of the leaf is dark green and thick.
The taste of the tea thick and round, with long -lasting feedback.
To me this tea is an absolute steal for selling for $38 per 100 gram. There are surely plenty of $1 / gram versions of this type being sold that aren't even close to this quality level, and in a brick and mortar shop in a high rent area this tea would probably sell for $1.50-2 per gram. To me the quality of this tea makes the average $80 sheng cake (357 grams, typically) seem like grocery store tea. Like a cheap loose TGY tin version, I mean, not like Lipton or Twinings; that would be hyperbole.
First infusion: fantastic, of course. There is a characteristic flavor to Ya Shi that's a little hard to pin down. To me it's just a complex floral flavor set, that comes across as simple, and probably supported by limited warm fruit range. Breaking that down is the problem; specific flowers don't come to mind. I tend to guess at floral range flavors sometimes but I'm really pointing towards a range, more than making direct associations. I can't identify 20 or 30 specific floral tones by smell and tasting, and that's what it would take to do that mapping. I don't know what flowers this tastes like.
The apparent simplicity and apparent complexity, at the same time, set up a cool contradiction. It's floral, for sure, but then some sweetness and richness could be from fruit range, like a citrus-intensive dried mango, which are warmer in effect for the dried presentation. I'll keep going with guesses and interpretation across infusions.
Second infusion: warmth picks up a little. Honey-like sweetness is present, a warm version of honey. Mineral tone is limited. Further roasting would draw out even more warmth, and caramel or toffee sweetness, but this balance seems quite positive, left unchanged in relation to the upper-medium roast level effect. It's moderate in this, letting the natural positive nature of the tea shine through.
To look for flaws, this could be a little thicker in feel, or I suppose aftertaste could be longer. I'm brewing it at moderate infusion strength, and bumping that just a little would ramp up both. There is no astringency or any other negative range to brew around, so it's just a matter of preference related to optimum form of experience.
Related to flavor a claim that this shares ground with peach wouldn't be wrong, I don't think, it's just not the most natural interpretation, to me. The brightness, refined nature, and intensity are all really pleasant in this.
I could imagine someone expecting a different style related to that level of roast, so a criticism would be most natural related to that, a style interpretation, related to other specific expectations. For being in this type range it's quite pleasant. Even though the feel could be a little thicker it has a creamy effect that's quite nice. Even though the aftertaste could linger longer, or be stronger, that complex set of flavors is great, and the way a bit of floral, towards-lemon citrus, and subdued mineral tone trail off is great.
Third infusion: I did let this brew a little longer, towards 20 seconds, and it is a lot more intense for that. I finally ended up not pushing the dry leaf amount to what would fill up the gaiwan when wetted. That's not completely an accident when I drink more than 9 out of every 10 teas proportioned in exactly that same way. It's what I'm accustomed to, probably more so than what works best.
Mineral plays a larger role brewed slightly stronger, a bit of rock flavor. Feel is cool like this; it's still smooth and creamy, but a trace of dryness along your tongue adds complexity to that part. You seem to taste the mineral with the sides and back of your tongue, in a strange sense.
To me the "characteristic astringency" people connect with Dan Cong is related more to lower quality Dan Cong. I can see a bit of connection with that feel range and that type of effect but it's just not a part of the best versions in the same way. Just breaking up these leaves a good bit would probably add to that effect; people might often be drinking the poorer quality sorted parts of batches, with more whole leaf going to other sales channels. I suppose that could be part of the "quality level that never makes it out of China" effect. Per my limited background knowledge take people are also buying Dan Cong from lower elevation sources, from younger conventional monoculture-grown plants, with output boosted through chemical use, and the teas just aren't processed as skillfully.
Fourth infusion: a perfume-like effect picks up. Better Wuyi Yancha often exhibits this too, a heavy floral tone that is reminiscent of perfume, with an aromatic part that also seems to match the solvent a bit too. I don't mean this tastes something like acetone smells, nothing like that, but instead that it's an effect that often reminds me of cognac.
Feel is actually transitioning round-to-round too; that's different. It had been creamy but light, then brewing a round stronger drew out more structure, and this round is absolutely velvety, where two rounds ago it was more thick in feel like cream. The flavors are just as complex but maybe more tightly integrated now, coming across as that one dominant flavor tone, which again is really a set. I can't imagine anyone trying this tea and saying that they don't like Dan Cong. My imagination has limits; maybe it could still happen.
Fifth infusion: not so different than last time, but a lemony citrus supporting tone seems a little stronger. For a tea this complex and subtle minor shifts in brewing time would shift the proportion of what you experience. I think the next two or three rounds would be more about that story, both about later round transitions and how changing brewing approach changes things.
Sixth infusion: not so different than last time. I'm going to skip the part about highlighting subtle shifts from here on out, or checking if this makes a dozen strong infusions, or fades at 9 or so, with stretching out intensity changing character. You already get the idea. Per my past experience the two steps that change character, higher oxidation level and additional roasting, tend to extract that flavor change at a cost of limiting durability, number of positive rounds, so this should be fine into a late count, for using moderate degrees of those inputs to change the character.
Beyond that I'm off to swimming class, the usual Sunday routine. I could write a thousand word post about how much playing my kids have done in the last ten days, during a school break, but this step is just the normal routine.
she said it was cold. it is the cold season, but it was close to 30 C / over 80 F.
with a cousin a week ago; they love doing poses