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Recent Tasting Notes
Thank you very much, derk! I wanted a dark puerh a couple days ago, so here we go. Just what I wanted! I wasn’t sure if I should go with two teaspoons here, but what the heck, I love the deepest darkest puerh. The puerh looks like nuggets but the description says “brick” so that is odd. They are VERY slow to unravel like they look like big oolong pieces. I think I have only had a “nugget” type of puerh once before but they looked much smaller than this. The flavor is perfect and smooth. And because they are slowly unraveling the steeps can keep going and going. The steeps were ridiculously consistent – especially if these nuggets held almost the same shape the entire session. But breaking them apart with my fingers, they aren’t really nuggets at all, and should have really expanded into those smaller leaves. To really look like that PUERH DIRT I love. Very odd. This never really happened with another puerh for me before. So looking at the description, it does call them “nuggets”. " The “cha tou” are the leaves that ball up and get stuck together" during crazy compression using a hydraulic press and can be steeped 20 times! So that explains it. Not really any distinct unique flavors, just a very tasty ripe. I do love the variety of flavors derk noticed! Derk mentioned vanilla cola which is probably why I wanted to try this. Sadly, no vanilla cola for me here. And it seems to have mellowed out a ton since Togo’s tasting note. (Togo, I would love read how this is aging for you!) Not distinct enough for me to be a favorite, but I’m glad I used two teaspoons.
Steep#1 // 2 teaspoons for full mug// 26 minutes after boiling // rinse // 2 minute steep
Steep#2 // 10 min after boiling // 2-3 min
Steep#3 // 10 min after boiling // 3 min
Steep#4 // 3 min after boiling // 3 min
Steep#5 // just boiled // 15 min
2021 sipdowns: 40 (This + Teavivre – High Mountain oolong)
An Ode to Tea, Q entry! (I am missing a tea for Q, but figured this was close enough…)
I am notably not a big puerh fan so I don’t pull them out often. I also very rarely ever have time for gong fu sessions — the only time I can sit down and drink tea in that style is on my days off of work, which severely limits when I can drink certain types of tea. So I’m finally fitting a session in today, on my weekend off…
This was a sample I grabbed from the final Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox, so thanks to all that contributed to that box and tea-sipper for organizing it! I had 3.4g of leaf so I did steeps using only 70ml of water in my little pumpkin pot.
70ml mini pot | 3.4g | 205F | Rinse/10s/13s/16s/19s/22s/25s/28s/31s/34s/37s/40s/43s/46s
My only experience with sheng so far (I think?!) was a very unpleasant one; it was extremely smoky and bitter/sour. The aroma from my first steep had me thinking this would also be really bitter because it had a strong bitter melon/sour plum sort of scent. But it actually was surprisingly smooth, with a stonefruit fruity taste (plum?), with just a slight mineral note at the end of the sip and in the aftertaste. Around the 3rd and 4th steeps a muscatel note joined the plum, but the tea lost its smoothness, gaining a slight bite to it. The fifth steep was an unpleasant anomoly; it tasted how I’m used to sheng pu’erh tasting, with a strong “swamp marsh” taste of wet earth, rocks, and vegetation, with a bitter medicinal taste late in the sip and in the aftertaste. The bitterness went away after that, though, and while the marshy notes remained for a few more steeps, it smoothed out, and an anise-like licoricey note crept into the aftertaste, which I found quite pleasant. The marshiness continued to mellow and some notes of cucumber and melon rind came forth, until it eventually smoothed into a very nice petrichor taste. Late in the session, the tea turned very sweet, and some of the stonefruit came back (more of a light apricot this time), as well as some florality and garden peas. I pretty much never carry a tea through this many steeps, but I was really enjoying this one. I’m left feeling very tea-full though, and am feeling extremely relaxed.
Is this the first pu’erh I’ve really enjoyed?!
Flavors: Anise, Apricot, Bitter, Bitter Melon, Cucumber, Floral, Garden Peas, Medicinal, Mineral, Muscatel, Petrichor, Plums, Smooth, Stonefruit, Sugarcane, Sweet, Vegetal, Wet Earth, Wet Moss, Wet Rocks
March Mad(Hatter) Tea Tournament!
Round #1 – Match #14 Yunnan Sourcing – Premium Grade Anxi Ben Shan oolong Spring 2017 VS. Tea Haus – Marzipan
If anything this tournament is forcing me to write notes for teas I haven’t yet. Teas that are five years old. Teas I bought new. I’m glad I sent some of this to LuckyMe way back then, to confirm there is nothing really special with this tea (even when fresher). Which is why I haven’t written a note yet. To my knowledge, I also haven’t had any Ben Shan oolongs before, so not sure what I’m looking for. The first steep is incredibly silky and reminds me of hints of peaches and cream. The second steep is a bit like tamarind while still peachy. I shouldn’t be neglecting this one! This never gets astringent, maintaining a thick quality throughout. It’s soothing and tasty enough.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for full mug // 20 minutes after boiling // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 18 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep#3 // just boiled // 2 min
The Marizpan has SO MUCH flavor and it’s SO OLD. How is this possible? It’s also a soothing cup today. It’s the most actual marzipan tea of any tea I’ve had, both with flavoring and actual almonds that take it to another level. It would certainly win the Marzipan Tea Award. I’d buy this one again, but I doubt any flavoring used today would last this long. (I have a theory that new flavoring, like bergamot or almond, has to be more “natural” these days, meaning not only Less Good and Accurate but also not as lasting when the tea ages.) Another tough call but the winner today is: Premium Grade Anxi Ben Shan
I tried the April 2020 harvest. Visually, this is a very attractive tea, with fluffy, multicoloured leaves.
The dry leaves smell incredibly like apricots. When wet, they still smell like apricots, but a little less strongly.
The taste is balanced, mostly fruity but with some floral flavour coming through, and an initial bitterness that quickly fades. The texture is thick and silky. I usually don’t find textures like that in teas with predominantly fruity tastes, and it works really well here. Overall, a very nice tea!
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Floral, Fruity, Sweet
A bit odd. Mine was from the autumn harvest of 2020. The dry leaves smell very ‘green.’ The wet leaves smell a bit vegetal, quite a bit grassy, and ‘green’ in a way that reminds me less of green tea than of spring leaves from some sort of tree. There is a less pleasant note to the scent of the wet leaves as well; it almost reminds me of wet fur.
The taste is more mineral than I expected based on the smell. It’s predominantly vegetal, though, in a bold, sort of thick way slightly reminiscent of some senchas I’ve had.
The texture isn’t notable except that it caused a slight tingling on my tongue. I wonder if this is due to the hair on the tea leaves; I get a similar sensation from eating kiwis, which also have little hairs.
Flavors: Grass, Green, Mineral, Vegetal
Silky, nourishing, grounding, clean. Cooling, lingers in the mouth and throat down into chest. Mild sweetness, mild tang, salivation, tingling. Gently stimulates digestion. Brews much darker than the taste. Excellent tea, especially after acupuncture and dinner, and a stark contrast to the other Fu Zhuan tea I’ve tried which is sharp, smokey and dry. This is loaded with golden flowers. My my.
This one was very good, and if it didn’t cost an arm and a leg I would definitely make it a regular order. I tried the spring 2017 version.
The dry leaves have a strong passion fruit scent. That carries into the aroma of the brewed tea, but unlike many fruit tastes, it doesn’t bring any acidity along with it. The wet leaves smell a bit tangy, but that doesn’t come through in the flavour of the tea, which is very smooth and full, with a milky taste and texture. In later steeps, a pecan flavour comes through as well.
While the tea is pretty strong even in the early steeps, it never developed any real bitterness. I would call it a savory tea, though, as there was no particular sweetness either. It lasted for quite a few steeps – I think six or seven.
Flavors: Milk, Passion Fruit, Pecan, Round , Smooth
Sweetish and gently floral – it’s a milder tea than I’d anticipated. I tried the March 2020 harvest version. The floral taste isn’t overly flowery, if that makes any sense; it reminds me a bit of violets, though possibly that’s partly because I had purple on the mind on account of this being a purple tea. The flavour has a small amount of bitterness, but this mainly just balances the other tastes and doesn’t stand out much on its own. It’s quite good overall!
Flavors: Bitter, Flowers
This one took me by surprise. The liquor is an interesting greyish colour, which doesn’t sound appetizing, but which is actually quite attractive. It reminds me of the colour you get from steeping lavender. I tried the April 2020 harvest.
The taste isn’t overwhelmingly strong; however, it leans very heavily into an umami flavour that isn’t fishy but nonetheless reminds me a little of mussels. That taste is reflected in the scent of the wet leaves as well.
I’m not quite sure what I think of this tea; it’s unique and not unpleasant, but I don’t know that I’d want to get it again or drink it regularly.
Flavors: Dry Grass, Umami, Vegetables
Pretty good, but I found it a little lacking in complexity compared to other similar teas. It is well-balanced, with some sweetness and astringency joined by a strong, savoury flavour that’s sort of bitter and sort of earthy. The initial taste has a note that almost reminds me of shou, though it fades quickly, and the tea is recognizably a dan cong oolong. It resteeps many times without losing flavour. The leaves I tried were from the spring 2020 harvest.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Earth, Milk, Sweet
I tried the spring 2016 version. This tea has a very strong, fragrant aroma. The taste is relatively complex, very ‘round,’ with a little minerality and some characteristic dan cong fruity creaminess, but it’s less sweet than other dan congs I’ve tried. It also has some bitterness. The wet leaves have a flowery and slightly fruity smell.
I liked it less than any other dan cong oolong I’ve tried, but that’s not to say it isn’t an excellent tea; if I had not tried any other dan cong oolongs, this would definitely be up there among my favourite teas.
Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Mineral
Sixth tea for March Mad(Hatter)ness! This is for the oolong tea round, going against TeaSource’s Strawberry Oolong.
This is the Spring 2017 harvest, ordered in 2018 sometime. I shared it with my friend Todd during advent season but still haven’t tried it myself yet! Brewed 3.5g to 350ml 205F water for 3 minutes. (And guys, I think my kettle is trying to die… may know exactly what I’m getting myself for my birthday in a week this year!)
The brewed tea smells lovely, I’m getting notes of caramel, subtle roast, nuts (pecan?), and minerals. It sort of smells like a “more roasty” praline! On the sip I’m getting notes of minerally earth, roasted nuts, and a touch of honey-baked bread. There is a florality in the aftertaste, but I can’t place it. The sweetness and toasty/nutty notes really do give me a sort of praline or nougat impression. I think my only complaint is that it is a touch drying, and I wonder if dropping my leaf amount just slightly might smooth that out.
Very satisfying! This is a tough call against the Strawberry Oolong; I have really enjoyed both today, and they both have quite a range of flavors as well. But I think, side by side, this is the superior tea. Ya Shi Xiang “King of Duck Shit Aroma” Dan Cong Oolong moves on!
(It’s strange, I feel like lately I’ve been reaching for green, floral, and fruity teas, but clearly the results of March Mad(hatter)ness have shown I’m really into roasted flavors right now! Huh…)
Flavors: Baked Bread, Candy, Caramel, Drying, Earth, Floral, Honey, Mineral, Nutty, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Sweet
Yummy. Brothy and earthy. Cocoa and bitterness as well but it’s quite mellow. Aroma reminds me of… dank castle armories. Strange association but not an unwelcome one.
Flavors: Bitter, Broth, Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Earth, Mushrooms, Savory, Wet Rocks, Wood
This is the oldest tea I have poured for myself at home. That’s part of why I bought a sample. That and that it has golden flowers and is really affordable. My sample did not have any golden flowers and consisted of 2 corner pieces and an edge. Almost as if it was the first sample off a brick. Not disappointed with that.
Fresh out the gate this tea is pretty mellow and maybe even bland. Not much flavor or aroma. A tad bit of camphor. Wet leaf smell pretty mellow though with a hint of something in the maple/molasses realm. Tea soup pretty clear and brilliant and a bit towards the lighter side.
This tea got more interesting as the session went on which is unusual for a ripe in my experience. It did continue to be mellow with subdued flavors though. I found that in the middle steeps there was hints of interesting things going on under the surface. Kinda like a word on the tip of your tongue that you can’t quite bring forth. I imagine there are plenty of folks who might really enjoy that. Myself, I’m not a subtle flavor chaser and prefer my ripes especially to be potent and direct.
This tea sesshed out pretty well. Maybe not the longest legs around though held up through plenty of steeps. It seemed to get thicker and richer as the session went on and the subtle middle steeps gave way to a round stewed green hardwoods thing (although not too green).
Overall I’m pleased with this tea. Not impressed though pleased. Nothing off about it. Nice glowy body feels. It’s going on the want list though not near the top. Especially as it’s coming towards spring and I’m starting to concentrate on stocking up on sheng puer for the warmer months.
The last thing to say about this tea is I think it would benefit from a couple years in storage that is warmer and wetter than Kunming. With a tea this old that still has a hint of greenness I feel it could still develop into something more interesting. If a wetter home could bring out just a tad bit more of some camphor and spices then this tea would be way more attractive.
Had one of those mornings where I couldn’t decide what to drink so I dug this out of my sample stash to give it a go.
The early steeps are good. Some pile funk on the nose and plenty in the empty cup though it doesn’t really show through in the taste. Has the chocolatey bready fruity thing going on and no camphor. Definitely a lively and complex tea in these early steeps.
In the middle steeps this tea starts to warm up and round out. It gets sweeter here as well and starts to leave a coating of sweetness in the mouth. Up to this point I am impressed with this tea and find it to by very dynamic.
Then suddenly this tea seems to fall flat on it’s face. At this point with most of the ripes I’ve been drinking lately I would expect the tea to have a couple more interesting steeps before settling in to the stewed green hardwoods flavors that most young ripes seem to have in common after steeping the fermentation off the top. The first thing to go was the mouthfeel. Then the flavor. And though the tea soup kept up a decent color there just wasn’t anything left in flavor or texture through the last several steeps.
I’ll come back to this tea as I have more of the sample left. It’s only been in my stash for about 10 days so I’ll give it another try when it has rested a while longer.
This is the first time drinking this tea! When I warmed the leaves in the gaiwan without waster the leaves had a fruity, nutty, and toasty aroma. I did a 10 s wash and the first steeping was for 10 s at 194 degrees F. The tea liquor was golden as I outed and had a dark golden / reddish hue. I had tea foam from the tea wash and first two pours. When I smelled the leaves after the wash and first steeping the leaves had a citrus aroma. I can’t help but say as I steeped in the tea leaves had a fruity pebble aroma to them. The tea was warm, toasty, sweet sometimes on the inhale. Overall a fun and complex yummy brew. Can’t wait to try again!
Flavors: Fruity, Nutty, Toasty
I’ve gone back and forth on whether I like the wild “ye sheng” varietal. There is a certain mystique about these teas that makes me want to like them more than I really do.
I recently watched an interview with MarshalN done by Crimson Lotus. During this interview MarshalN said that these teas aren’t really pu’er and even went so far as to call it “tisane” and that it’s not really tea at all. Well this certainly wiped away the mystique for me and helped give myself permission to forget about the wild varietal completely.
Then surprise surprise my tea order that was lost in the mail for almost four months has a sample of this tea that I had completely forgot I had ordered. I figured it would be good to drink this tea and evaluate it with a blank slate.
This is the oldest wild varietal tea I have had. And like all wild teas I have had, despite a reputation for being bitter, it lacks real bitterness and instead has a sharp brittle boring thing going on that could be thought of as bitter though is nothing like the true satisfying bitterness that one would find with some Lao Man ‘E or many other teas. The mouthfeel is good. I didn’t really enjoy the taste for the first few steeps though it got better in the mid steeps.
What this tea does have going for it is an immediate and strong body feel. I don’t have much experience with tai qi and qi gong or yoga so I can’t really say definitively though I imagine the cha qi on this tea is strong.
I ended up dumping the leaf and went on to drinking something else if that tells you anything.
I haven’t given up on this tea or the wild varietal completely though I don’t have high hopes. Will try again when the weather is warmer.
This tea is pretty mellow and overall has a somewhat dry flavor profile that I find to be particularly unique. It has some of the deep florals and savory type flavors that I associate with ripes that have a prominent compost camphor petrichor profile, only this tea has the camphor etc tuned way down. Also there is some chocolatey things going on though without the wetter bready fruity flavors I associate with chocolatey ripes. So yeah dry mellow flavor.
Mouthfeel decent. Nothing to complain about.
Sessions with this tea are steady going. Not particularly dynamic. It’s not a very dark tea though it doesn’t lose color for many steeps. I’m actually surprised by how long this tea steeps out considering the conventional wisdom that says smaller leaf grades steep less times.
So definitely worth trying. Probably won’t drink this tea often and am undecided weather I would buy another cake if I ran out though I am glad to have it. It’s good quality “wild arbor” material. It’s good for varieties sake. It’s easy going and easy to enjoy without having to concentrate on it too hard. Steeps out many brews. Not exciting though very comforting.
So I bought this in early 2021, but judging by the other reviews here, the tea has not changed much in five years. Except that the price has risen considerably! It starts off with a punch of smoke and astringent bitterness, but after five steeps or so, it mellowed out to a very enjoyable brew. Even at steep #10, the leaves were intact and dark green in shade. It seems this tea is aging very slowly, I’m not sure if I live long enough to drink it at its prime! So I will just enjoy it now. :-)
I thought being tea drunk was already a great feeling. Hello, tea high. Or even, dare I say, tea stoned?
I don’t like weed and what it does to me. Either it does nothing or it makes me feel nothing which is an absolutely terrifying experience. I’ve given up on it.
So imagine my surprise as I’m having this tea and I notice my heart rate suddenly dropping, my muscles relaxing, my eye lids closing together, my rate of speech slowing, my senses dulling certain aspects of my environment yet clarifying others, my extremities tingling, and just overall feeling pretty decent. It’s what I always imagined being high was like. Still feeling it residually after seven hours though it was most pronounced during the first three. To be clear, this had a very significant effect on my mental state, and I would not consider myself sober during this time, which is astonishing. It’s tea.
I almost offered my partner some before she had therapy appointments with her clients. Glad I didn’t!
The tea itself was nice and light, not very complex in flavor, good for 8 steepings. Rating is mostly for the feelings it produced. But I will go back to this and, erm, attempt to focus more on the tea and take notes.
Seriously, what the hell?