2020 ZSL Mahei Tea Tasting (Tea Encounter)

  • Last edited: October 5, 2022
  • Time to read: 3 min.

I usually stay away from fresh sheng puerh, but Tiago from Tea Encounter convinced me to try his 2020 ZSL Mahei sheng puerh. Mahei is my favourite puerh region right now so I did not hesitate and I couldn’t wait to try it. He told me this one was different from other 2020 teas. He sent me some samples and I did a tasting to see if he was right.

2020 ZSL Mahei

As I already mentioned above, Mahei is my favourite puerh region right now so every chance to taste tea from that area is a nice opportunity.

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Mahei is a village in the Yiwu area and is known for its sweet and smooth flavour profile. These leaves are spring 2020 material and were harvested from gushu tea trees.

Tea Tasting

  • 99°C water
  • 6.1g for a 140ml Qing dynasty teapot

The leaves of this 2020 ZSL Mahei have a dark olive green colour with some bright tints. I see smaller and medium-sized leaves. The aroma of the leaves is sweet with a sharper edge. It smells really fresh and even a bit grassy.

2020 ZSL Mahei Tea Encounter Tea Adventures

Infusion 1 (15 sec): the sweetness is already coming through, even though it’s a subtle infusion. There is a hint of freshness to top it off. It also has a cooling mouthfeel as it’s even a bit minty.

Infusion 2 (20 sec): the liquor looks oily! It’s still sweet as it has some traces of honey. This sweetness is a bit overpowered by the freshness of these leaves. It’s not too fresh, but fresher than what I’m used to. The sweetness really shines in the aftertaste.

Infusion 3 (20 sec): another infusion of 20 seconds because I was afraid it might become too fresh and edgy if I do longer infusions. It’s a bit more bitter, despite the short infusion. The undertone is definitely sweet, but the main impression is fresh and edgy; there is a bit of a bite. The aftertaste is long-lasting.

Infusion 4 (20 sec): I’m not really getting the typical Mahei sweetness, but it’s more of a combination of different flavours. It’s a tiny bit sweet and there is a minty freshness to top it all off. Really nice combination, but unlike my regular puerh sessions.

Infusion 5 (25 sec): the sweetness has diminished and the edgy notes are nicely balanced. The aftertaste is sweet with a fresh touch.

Infusion 6 (30 sec): more of the same flavours. Nicely balanced, but the flavours are fading a bit. The sweetness seems to be back in the aftertaste.

Infusion 7 (35 sec): I feel the flavours are fading more so this is the final infusion.


This was an interesting experience because I usually stay away from puerh this young. Mahei is my favourite puerh region so I couldn’t resist trying this one, despite being from 2020.

There were definitely traces of the typical Mahei sweetness, but they did not really break through. What I did get was a minty freshness, which might be because it was so fresh.

Nothing was unbalanced, but not what I’m used to. Usually, when I drink very fresh puerh, my stomach feels weird, but this was not the case after this session. I feel that the 2020 ZSL Mahei can be great if it has the time to rest for a couple of years. For me personally, it would be perfect if it was sweeter and not as fresh. Right now, it’s good but not perfect.

If you want to buy the 2020 ZSL Mahei, click here.

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