What's so Secret About Secret Garden?
This past week has been a rather crazy ride and great test on my patience. As strong willed and as patient as I am, you wouldn’t think that a silly illness would break my mental sanity down to the lowest depths of the ocean, right? I think George R. R. Martin personally concocted this down-spiral of bullshit for me. It started out as a throat infection and ended up as an allergic reaction to the steroid that was supposed to cure said throat infection. The main course - a dish of dry heaving with a side dish of coughing up stomach bile. Disorientation and vertigo being the cherry on top of this torturous pie. Now that I have a barely-passing graded bill of health, it’s safe to say I can resume life back to normal. But first, let’s define normal.
I feel thankful for the online community, along with a boyfriend that went to the store for me through out the night, for keeping my spirits high. I have to give a shout out to Reddit’s tea community along with various friends on instagram for their best wishes and support. Since I’m able to drink tea again, I’m going to resume my obsession with Bitter Leaf Tea’s 2016 Secret Garden! Secret Garden is a very unique tea as its grown along side with wild banana trees. The description of this tea was enough to add it to my cart, and review it.
Bitter Leaf Tea’s set another high standard for puer packing, as this tea was double-wrapped and presented in it’s own custom packed box. The photo on the cake resembles fruit on a banana tree (I assume), and has a medium to tight compression . Unlike Honeycomb, which was fairly easy to pry apart, Secret Garden was rather tight, It didn’t stop me.This was the freshest-pressed puer I’ve had to date, and it made me as excited as a kid on Christmas morning.
Steeps 1 - 8
According to Bitter Leaf Tea’s website, they recommend using spring water as water from the tap might be too hard, which could negatively affect the taste of a bing. I gathered 7g of this tea for my 100ml vessel, did a quick rinse, and waited ten minutes for the tea to open up. In the first three steeps, this tea is noticeably smooth and clear. As a coating of sweet-green tea washes over your tongue, you’re left with the after taste of stone fruit. Around steep 5 this tea started to taste more and more humid which is probably the result of its recent pressing. Even lasting up until its 8th steep, it still had a strong sweetness that seemed to hit you in the face like a brick.
Steeps 9 - 14
Secret Garden sharply lost its fruity sweetness and transformed into a sweet grass, with a faint floral aftertaste. As I push this tea’s boundaries with longer steeps, a bitterness is detectable underneath the freshness that refuses to go silent. I continue to push this tea to longer and longer steeps, and the harder I push it the more bitter it becomes. When I reached steep 14, the tea’s energy was still very noticeable, but all of the sweetness was gone; the only evidence of sweetness was the lasting roughness that was only brought out by these later steeps. After steep 14, which still had a noticeable humid note, it didn’t seem like there was much left for this tea to go on. It was time to hang it up for this session.
2016 Secret Garden is the freshest sheng puer that I’ve had to date. I was happy to drink a tea so fresh because this tea’s clarity was something that I was excited to add to my palate. However, this tea was still too freshly pressed. After already having a good handful of sessions with it, it’s still hard to pinpoint exactly that notes we’re trying to come out of this sheng. It’s recent pressing still left this bing really humid, and is something that I can’t give a fair rating on. However, the intense sweetness that was present in this bing made sure to make its own strong voice heard.
To input, I think that Secret Garden is an amazing offering from Bitter Leaf Tea’s 2016 line-up. I like the way that the flavors played out in this bing because it really told me that this tea was more than two demential; its complex. However, it didn’t seem to hold up very well in the later steeps as it was easy to go bitter. I think that this tea’s potential would really come out more once it has a chance to settle down from pressing. But overall, this is just another gold star in the Book of Good Bings, currently being illustrated for your tastebuds by Bitter Leaf Teas...