27 Tasting Notes
In contrast to The Oolong Drunk below, I brewed this one at boiling, like I pretty much always do for young sheng. Like him, I found it thick and full of strong qi; however, at boiling, the flavor was anything other than delicate. The front taste fills the mouth with a low-register savoriness that retains hints of prickly tartness even into some of the later steeps; the first steep or two had a distinct hint of orange buried somewhere in there, but that quickly drops. Initially, there’s almost no bitterness, even at boiling, with the finish lingering and sweet. However, somewhere by the fifth steep or so, this finish gets replaced with a long, drying bitterness not unlike the bitter orange of marmalade. Ordinarily, I’d find this off-putting (marmalade is one of the few bitter things I actively dislike), but it mingles well enough with the other flavors that I find myself enjoying it.
On the whole, this is a complex, durable tea that’d almost be worth trying for the heavy, calming qi alone. That said, while I can’t quibble with the quality, the flavor profile isn’t quite to my taste and, at the asking price, I don’t think I’d get a bing. Definitely worth trying, though, and I wouldn’t fault anyone who purchased it.
This is an interesting one, albeit more as an example than for its actual qualities. The description doesn’t lie; the tea is elegant, almost to a fault. The taste is essentially single note: a smooth, slightly bitter flavor that seems typical of the region, but which I have a hard time describing. It’s quite mellow, with low astringency and a bit of thickness; early cups left some tingling and my tongue and the session’s concluded with a nice lingering throat-tightness caused by the tea’s light bitterness carrying over into the finish.
That said, the tea is subtle: I didn’t really notice the finish much until the end of the session and the qi and caffeine are both present, but only if you search for them. I didn’t find much durability here, either, having to start pushing it harder than I would have expected after the first couple of steeps. My sample was very loose, almost like maocha, which may have exacerbated that.
I’m not sure I’ve actually had anything that’s single tree before, which is why I grabbed the sample. As I said, there’s definitely a purity here, but it results in a loss of dynamism. The flavor presents itself at its boldest in the first several cups and then fades (a bit faster than I’d have liked) without really changing much. I have no regrets about having the sample, but I also have no desire to go in for a cake.
This tea is chopped—chopped, and compressed hard enough that the last five gram portion of my sample fell out of the bag with an audible thunk. Breaking that apart took a bit of effort and was only really possible after the rinse. Fortunately, though, it did open up after a steep or two and I could get on with the session without too much difficulty.
The liquor itself brews up an orange-ish brown that’s relatively light for a tea of this age and is indicative of the relatively dry, humid storage this tea’s seen in Malaysia. The taste reflects that as well, with a tart cherry note predominating, along with a cooling finish and some tingling activity on the tongue. It’s got a decently thick mouthfeel and provides a qi that gradually sneaks up on you.
It’s not without its flaws, though. The durability’s merely tolerable—the chopped leaves give up the ghost pretty quickly—and there’s a bit of an unpleasant bitterness not unlike burnt coffee that clashes with the rest of the flavors. It’s not a dealbreaker—you have to look for that flavor and it’s pretty brief—but it does mar the experience a bit. Previous sessions with earlier parts of the sample have been intensely smoky, though this quality’s been absent this time around. My guess is that there’s some variability in the cake.
This was the second sample of this tea that I’ve ordered, as I found myself unable to remember what I thought of it the first time. I’m not sure I’d purchase it in the current market; it’s a pretty decent tea, but I think EoT has some comparable offerings that are better. That said, it’s pretty enjoyable and it’s not the sort of thing I’d complain about owning.
Having been on a bit of an aged tea kick lately, despite the seasonal influx of new tea, I decided to pick up a sample of this with my most recent Essence of Tea order. I’ve brewed it gong fu a couple of times and taken it into work for a grandpa-style session once so far, and I can safely say it’s a pretty solid tea, although one better suited to gong fu.
The parameters here are for my most recent session. My work session with this was a little underwhelming—mostly smoke, not a whole lot of flavor or durability—and I was suspicious that I had underleafed, despite using my normal quantity of tea. Thus, this time, I went for broke on the leaf quantity, pretty well packing the gaiwan. I was rewarded for my efforts with tart, cherry-like flavors that gradually subsided to reveal undertones of softer vanilla. There’s definitely some smoke on this tea, though it’s mostly faded and present primarily when smelling the gaiwan lid; similarly, the camphor in the name seems to appear mostly in the aroma and maybe a bit in the finish.
In terms of less immediately tangible properties, the tea’s texture was nothing remarkable, although not too thin. There’s a calm but noticeable qi, and the caffeine levels seem to be pretty low, which is kind of a feature. The tea proved reasonably durable through the session, though it fell off a cliff towards the end—my steep time increments jumped from five seconds to thirty seconds or more pretty quickly.
For the price, this is a pretty solid tea. If you squint, you could think of it as a budget version of the YQH Teji, as the storage seems to have had similar effects. I’d definitely recommend sampling it, and it might be worth a cake.
Flavors: Cherry, Vanilla
This tea is wonderful. You would be forgiven, if you were ducking in-and-out of a session that someone else was managing, for thinking this is an elegant, almost understated tea—all soft mouthfeel and gentle florals, with calm, uplifting qi and maybe a little bit of honey dancing around the edges of the flavor. However, its demure exterior belies a tea with some serious punchiness, which you might first notice in the long, lingering finish (again, characterized by the florals that dominate the nose and top taste). Push it just a little, especially in the early steeps, and you’ll find the mouthfeel turning viscous and slick, and the liquor picking up some of the almost soapy notes of, say, a 7542 of similar vintage. This potential for aggression translates into quite a bit of staying power, if you’re careful; I never manage to keep track of my infusion count, but I didn’t move on from flash infusions for the first four-to-five steeps or so.
I bought 50 g of this a couple of years ago; unfortunately, it seems to be sold out, now. If you can track some down, though, it’ll be worth your while.
EDIT: I steeped this overnight and came back to it late the next day. At this point, the tea tasted almost like pure honey, which was a very pleasant surprise given that I had only noted hints of honey during the main session.
To cut to the chase, this is among the best ripe puerhs I’ve had, and it rates well among all puerhs in general. Although the leaves were a little reticent to open up thanks to some fairly tight compression, once they did, they offered up a dark, viscous liquor with herbal, medicinal notes and a lengthy finish. At its peak, I got some distinct dark chocolate, not unlike cocoa powder, towards the swallow. The endurance was pretty remarkable for a ripe (around 12 steeps), as was the qi, which peaked with a sort of languid bliss around steep seven or eight. I found only one really off note: a fishiness in the initial aroma, which didn’t persist into the flavor. (This was a five gram sample that languished in the bag for about half a year; that may have had something to do with it)
The main issue here is the price tag, which is comparable to a number of premium shengs (Treachery of Storytelling Part 2, 2004 YQH Dingji, etc.). I’m not sure I could recommend investing heavily in this tea over those, but it’s worth having at least once.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Herbs, Medicinal
Decided to finish off a sample today that I’ve had lying around for a little over a year. This is a strongly minty tea, both in the aroma and on the tongue, with some initial pine-iness, as well. The durability here is unremarkable; neither is it a marathon tea nor giving up in a few steeps. Similarly, qi is debatable, with the tea leaving a vague calmness that, while pleasant, may be mostly caffeine. That said, the flavor’s great and the mouthfeel thick and syrupy, so on the balance, this is a winner. I’m not mourning the fact that I missed out on this tea, but I do feel an indistinct regret.
Flavors: Mint, Pine
This tea seems pretty classic Yiwu, albeit a high quality example thereof and more changeable than I expected. Throughout the session I had with it today, it kept a noticeable honey aroma and maintained a decent thickness. Oddly, the tea started lighter in flavor than it ended, beginning with predominantly sharp notes amid background sweetness, but developing an almost juicy fruitiness in the last several steeps after a brief citric period. The mouth activity was pretty solid on this; the aftertaste lingers and a few steeps towards the end had a genuinely cooling finish. Other than a little bit of head feeling, I didn’t notice much actual qi on this; mostly just some uncomfortable jitteriness early on from a fairly strong caffeine presence (I overdosed on caffeine some yesterday, and some of this may have been aftershocks).
This was the latter half of a sample I’ve had around for a good seven months. I ended more impressed with this tea than I started, but I’m not totally sure how I’d rate it; ideally, I’d really want to play around more with it. As it is, I’ve got a lot of tea sitting around, and I’m not enough of a Yiwu fanboy to pay the asking price at this point. That said, if you consider yourself a stronger fan of the genre than I, it’s definitely at least worth a look.
This is one that I have almost exclusively at work, grandpa-style, but after having had White2tea’s 2016 Prolaxicorvatin, I decided to break this one out today in the gaiwan. The comparison wasn’t as straightforward as I’d have thought: this one operates in a much higher register, with almost all the flavor concentrated on front of the mouth bitterness. There’s some finish in the back of the throat, but most everything lingers, again, in the front of the mouth. I’m mostly getting sharper pine flavors from this, rather than some of the lower, slightly fruity bitterness from some of the other Menghai teas I’ve had; this combines with the mouthfeel to offer something of a soapy impression on the early steeps, which, despite the sound of it, is actually pretty enjoyable. I also got taken by surprise on some actual qi in the early steeps, though this didn’t last terribly long. The durability is so-so, and the taste gets pretty hollow in later steeps.
If this reminds me of anything, it’s probably a Dayi 7542 that I picked up from Yunnan Sourcing, although this doesn’t have quite the menthol character that that one does. In fact, I’ve had the back to back at work a couple of times and had to concentrate a little to tell the difference. If you’re into the bitter side of young sheng (and I am), you’ll probably like this one. It’s not the most complex tea out there, but it’s enjoyable for a workhorse, daily drinker.
As advertised, this is very much a Menghai daily drinker, with that low, fruity bitterness characteristic of the region. That said, even at its punchiest, it never quite veers off into punishing territory; my wife, for whom New Amerykah 2 is essentially non-drinkable, quite enjoyed this session. There’s no real qi and the tea isn’t particularly thick, but it leaves behind a nice, penetrating aftertaste (kuwei, I guess?) throughout most of the steeps. The smoke is decidedly present, but, in this session anyway, mostly unobtrusive (I seemed to notice it more in prior sessions, so there may be some variability in the cake, or waiting a couple months caused the sample to smooth out; hard to say). The later steeps held up better than I expected, with the bitterness transmuting into actual sweetness, rather than just fading into vacuity.
All told, this is a pleasant tea, maybe even a bit better than that. At the current price point, I’m not totally sure I’d get it. A couple dollars more will land you New Amerykah 2—which, although a harsher drinker, is decidedly the better tea—and a bit more than half the price will get you Milk, Cream, and Alcohol—which is admittedly not as good, but lacks the smoke. Still, I wouldn’t turn this down, and this could eventually work its way into my collection, especially after the 2017 price increases.
(As a disclaimer, this is based on a sample; your mileage may vary, especially after a year or two)
Edit: after having had Milk, Cream, and Alcohol in a direct comparison, I’m bumping the rating on this. This is a much deeper tea, on the balance, and has more interesting stuff going on with it, especially in the later steeps. Both teas are priced appropriately for the quality, at least as far as they compare to each other (still not sure with regards to NA 2).