Crimson Lotus Tea was the first vendor I purchased puerh tea from a little over a year ago. It was quite a wild ride, as I had no expectations for what it would even taste or smell like. That first order, I purchased several teas including a sample of a shou, a wet-stored aged sheng, and a small cake of the young sheng named "Hidden Song." I was totally unprepared for the shou and aged sheng, and only with time have I come to understand and appreciate their flavors and aromas, but I was instantly intrigued by the more approachable (to me, at that time) Hidden Song cake. That was the tea that really led me into the world of puerh, and while its long gone at this point in time, it has stuck with me in my "aroma memory."
While I'm not talking about the 2016 rendition of "Hidden Song," the 2016 "Whispering Sunshine" instantly takes me back to those first few sessions in August 2015. I find it interesting that it seems each puerh producer and/or curator has a distinct perspective that comes across in their productions, like a chef or designer. I feel like I have come to understand Crimson Lotus' voice, and can fully trust in purchasing multiple cakes blindly, knowing that what I will receive is top-notch. This was certainly true for 2016. Today I'll elaborate on the Whispering Sunshine and continue with a few posts in the future about other teas they've released this year.
First off, the leaf quality is immediately evident peering at the pressed cake. Large, full, complete leaves slither around one another in a network that emits a fantastically pungent aroma. This pungency is what I've come to expect and love from the Bai Ying Shan teas released by CLT. There are allusions to fresh tobacco, but only superficially, because there's much more depth and the direction is significantly sweeter and rounded. There are no sharp edges, just intensely pungent rounded aromas with a slightly oily snap and botanical accents.
Upon rinsing a collection of pried leaves, which pull quite easily from the cake, there's indeed fresh vegetal aromas that indicate the youthfulness of the tea, but this isn't just some "green tea" aroma, its so distinct in its complexity. The fragrance is masculine, with pleasant distillates and petrichor. There's a musk to this tea as well that is entrancing, and one of the features that I have looked for in puerh ever since that first encounter with Hidden Song.
My first infusions, roughly 10s in a gaiwan, produce a transparent light green liquor that fades quickly to a light golden color. The leaves emit a sweeter aroma than after the rinse, and the brew's fragrance follows suit. The mouth feel is so thick, and leans more savory than sweet while retaining a nice balance. There's no real bitterness or astringency, just thick pungent brew that gives you everything the leaves promised.
The second infusion reveals a more arboreal fragrance from the leaves, kind of like walking past a few pine trees in the woods. The tea also opens up more sweetness, striking me almost with a candy-like feeling (in context). The brew is similar to the first but accented by the added botanical terpene notes and additional sweetness.
Further infusions of this tea gradually evolve in their complexity, with certain aromas and flavors sticking around longer than others. The thickness is well pronounced throughout, and leads to a satisfying set of steeps that easily hit the double digits. I've been very happy and satisfied with this tea. As I've not tried any aged teas from Bai Ying Shan, and CLT is a young outfit, its hard for me to extrapolate on the aging potential other than the fact that the character of this seems like it would be well complemented by those found in aged puerh. Perhaps a second (or third) cake is in order for long term storage...