Time for my last check in on Bitterleaf Teas’ Pretty, Pretty, Pretty Good of the decade! If you’re a regular, you know the drill here. If you’re finding this for the first time, I have been doing monthly updates on this cake since it showed up at my door, and you can check on the previous notes here, if you like. Last month was a bit of an odd one, with the tea coming across dull and muted compared to previous tastings. I had suspected that a change in the weather and my storage being quite cool may be part of the issue, so out of curiosity I was planning to move a chunk to a warmer area of my house and compare but… it slipped my mind. So, todays tasting is off the cake in my pumidor, stored in more or less the same way as before.
Breaking the Cake
Just like the last couple months, this cake is really lacking in aroma. Both the wet and dry leaves have a faint floral scent but I really have to get up close and breath deep to pick up on it.
For this session I am using 3.85 grams of tea in my 55ml gaiwan, 90C water, and infusion times starting at five seconds and increasing by five each additional steeping.
Pretty, Pretty, Pretty Good starts out with a syrupy medicinal taste, and has some dark fruity notes low in the mix. It’s not what I would call full flavoured but it’s not also not muted like I was expecting. Bitterness and astringency grow through the second infusion, but the tea remains nice and warming. The third steeping takes a bit leap up in flavour, adding in some floral qualities. The mild bitterness from the last infusion is gone and the tea is sweet and smooth. The texture continues to thicken and is extremely syrupy now.
The fourth steeping gains a herb-y taste and bright metallic, brassy notes. The bitterness is staying away but astringency is picking up steam – immediately sucking the moisture from your mouth then making you salivate for minutes after. Infusions five and six continue to grow in flavour and at the tail end I start to get a bit of berry notes in the realm of blueberries and saskatoons.
Infusions seven through nine see the berry note develop and morph, going from saskatoon to blackberries to something vaguely strawberry-esq. Light seaweed notes start to come in around infusions eight but it stays in the background, never fully forming. Flavour starts to drop off at the tenth infusion and continues until the thirteenth. During the fade out, Pretty, Pretty, Pretty Good becomes predominantly floral, sweet, and smooth.
Well, last month I spent a whole lot of time fretting about my cool storage but it seems like it was unfounded. If I’m comparing todays tasting to past ones it still does feel like it’s a bit of a step down, but absolutely nothing like last month. Had today been my first tasting of it I wouldn’t have walked away thinking this was a weak tea. So my storage might be impacting my teas right now but I would lean towards last month just being a dip in the ups and downs of a young sheng.