OK, just so everyone doesn’t think I only write glowing reviews or that I somehow never hit on a dud… I give you my view on Huang Shan Mao Feng. Also, I do realize I may be committing a massive sin by daring to disparage one of the 10 famous teas, but I’ve never been one to let other’s opinions or awards to cloud my judgment. I will also say that I have much more experimentation in store before I render this verdict final. The jasmine oolong I got from Kam Man has worn out of my favor and I believe that over time I’ve found there to be some sort of chemical in there that has totally put me off, so I’m never afraid to revisit or go back on previous reviews. My now strange love of Kudingcha is another. I swore up and down that this bitter holly leaf was unfit for even my worst enemies… and now I get cravings for it every now and then, so Huang Shan Mao Feng may still win my favor yet.
I guess my main issue is the light flavor. I didn’t find it overly complex or outstanding in any way that would wow me. It was thin, light, clear, very slightly sweet, and a bit nutty. I have been a bit sick so maybe my taste buds aren’t at their peak. I tried the brewing suggestions on the teaspring site, and it didn’t change much for me. I’m also left confused by the customer reviews of this tea. The site claims it is a “strong” flavor, yet most customer reviews use and reuse the term “delicate” and “light.” Then there is the fact that almost every review is different, some claim it worthy of six stars, some say good, some say very good, some say bitter… it covers the spectrum almost as if each person was tasting a different tea. When I see this kind of disparity in a highly-rated tea I tend to believe what is actually happening is that many people bought into a supposed “top” tea and feel that it *has* to be good since it is one of China’s top 10. I mean, it’s sort of expensive, 4.6 out of 5 rating, one of the 10 famous Chinese teas, etc. how could someone dare to say otherwise?
I think I just did.
UPDATE: After some more brewing and playing with temperature and amount of leaf, I have finally come across something a bit more noteworthy. Hotter water than I’d normally use for a green and more leaf in my gaiwan produces much more sweetness and the orchid notes. Now it’s a strange creature in that to smell the leaf dry brings a ton of roasted and nutty notes, but the brew is anything but! Basically, it still follows with my first diagnosis but just intensified. The sweetness lingers for a very long time in the middle to back of the tongue after drinking, which is nice. I still do not see much more to it than sweet orchid water, but at least that is a step up from what I got during my first trials. It seems like a tea that could be good every now and then, but certainly not a steady diet of it. A nice novelty and the chameleon-like quality is about it for me.