218 Tasting Notes


Brewed 8.5g in my 170ml gaiwan.

Rinse: Wet leaf smells sweet smoky incense. Also fresh like a mineral spring.

1st (10s 95˚C): Leaf smells green grapes, tart fruits, fresh hay. Taste very light and refreshing, pleasant. No bitterness astringency or sourness. Minerally.

2nd (20s 95˚C): Scent of a spring breeze. Liquor: now a tinge of dryness (good, a sign of strength). Not sweet anymore. When I ate with a fresh plum, the tea complemented it quite well, adding solid vegetal and mineral base to counter the sweet and sour of the fruit. Smells of sweet grass. This tea is characterised by mostly sour green fruits and vegetables on the periphery, but with a bit of a void on the palate where I’d usually expect flavour to be – it’s mostly like water.

3rd (25s 97˚C): Leaf smells like stewed vegetables + spring meadow. Savoury, medium-bodied. Hint of bitterness like Chinese herbs (linyong) but that bitterness feels necessary – it’s still balanced and pleasant.

4th (35s 99˚C): Wet leaf smells fresh farm grass in an English summer, verdant. Liquor smells and tastes slightly sweet all of a sudden. Guess it was the right time to raise the temp. Still minerally rocky and slight (good) astringency. This is a great infusion.

5th (45s 100˚C): Velvety mouthfeel.

6th (90s 100˚C): The body is too thin already. This tea is done.

Overall lovely and thirst-quenching – could be an unobjectionable daily drinker – but not my favourite and not serve that purpose for the price. It’s what I imagine a really high-quality ‘ultra-premium’ mineral water could taste like.

Rating: 82

Flavors: Freshly Cut Grass, Green, Herbs, Mineral, Smoke, Vegetables, Vegetal, White Grapes

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 6 OZ / 165 ML

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So I ended up buying a cake of this tea (at US$76! so funny to look back at my notes and complain that it was expensive at US$60+) and I’ve drunk / given away 100g of it already but realised I never did a proper review with tasting notes. Brewed 8g in my 160ml gaiwan with boiling water.

Rinse. Wet leaf smells sweet and musty, like a sweet underground spring. Or clean peat moss. Second rinse: more spicy and herbal notes – savoury, mushrooms. Gorgeous.

1st infusion: Body a bit thin. Flavour is sour and fruity in the silly jade bowl I got as a gift, but not in porcelain mug (curious!). Porcelain mug portion is fuller, tastes savoury and flavourful, even slight bitterness (in a good way).

2nd: Smells of sour plums, mineral-y like pool water / chlorine. Nothing chocolatey about this pu-erh (unlike other ripes like my Elephant Mtn) but sweet and so intoxicating. It just tastes very satisfying.

3rd: I hit it harder, so the liquor is richer and more substantial and now becoming slightly chocolatey – not a sweet caramelly milk chocolate or deep bitter chocolate but the brighter, sour-fruity artisanal chocolate from Madagascar… but still with a rounded creamy fullness at the end. The finish is so satisfying – now one gets more butterscotch and stout notes. Ughhhh love this tea.

4th & 5th infusions: Busy; didn’t record.

The 6th or 7th infusion I let it steep for like 20 minutes to finish off the leaves. Still no bitterness, just a slight astringency. A nice chocolatey stouty richness.

Rating: 90

Flavors: Butterscotch, Creamy, Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Mineral, Musty, Sour

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

I like this one a lot.

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Finished up the last of my sample of this: 9.5g in 200ml water in my Yixing zisha pot.

Rinsed at 95˚C. Wet leaf smells beautiful, floral and clear and crisp, hint of sweetness.

1st infusion (20s): Wet leaf smells like brine. Liquor slight bitterness and a lot of astringency. I don’t get any sweetness. Think I was a bit careless and overbrewed it. I don’t like this dryness.

2nd infusion (18s): Less astringency, nice clarity, but I’m not getting the “nectar-like sweetness” that the YS website is claiming. Tea soup has a thick body and clear briny flavour redolent of fresh oysters, which is a pleasant association. Much better than the 1st infusion, which I clearly messed up.

3rd infusion (20s at 96˚C): Now getting a hint of spiciness in the aroma. Another great infusion.

4th (20s at 96˚C): Clear spring, minerally, flavour too light I didn’t push it hard enough.

5th (25s at 100˚C): Ah, yes I think this is the tea finally calming down and giving me a firm yet mellow flavour. There’s no sweetness or astringency, just I don’t know why but it seems to me that this is the flavour of maturity and wisdom. There is a rounded sweetness in the mouth afterwards. White grape skins. I think I’m finally beginning to ‘get’ this tea. Definitely not one that I’d crave often or call a “favourite”, but I think I can appreciate it for its excellence and durability now.

Note: This tea currently sells for US$132 per cake on YunnanSourcing. It was totally wasted on me a year ago (when I rated it a 45) and is probably still semi-wasted on me now – my nose and palate aren’t refined enough to pick up all the floral and other notes. It’ll be funny to look back on how my tastes have developed if I ever try this tea again.

Rating: 85

Flavors: Astringent, Mineral, Spicy, White Grapes

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 9 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

I like to read the reviews where people completely reevaluate their original takes. It shows that our perception and appreciation are ever-evolving qualities.

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Brewed in my porcelain gaiwan. Decided to try this after a horrible experience with some Mandarin peel Pu erh from “Yu Teahouse” (beautiful classy packaging, lousy tea – embodying everything I hate about receiving 礼品茶).

Dry leaf smells fishy in a bad way (neither of the other two cakes in my collection, the 2011 Xin Hai Bai Nian or 2007 Hong Zhuang, smell like this)
After 2 rinses, fishiness is gone. Wet leaf smells like sweet incense wood smoke and sweet baked wholemeal bread

First infusion: wet leaf intoxicating sweet herbal + baking brown-crust bread smell OMG.
Tastes clean, clear herbal + cacao flavour, not sweet. Light on flavour (normal for 1st infusion). No bitterness, but teensy bit of dryness / saliva-induction in the aftertaste (good!)

2nd infusion: Weak, not fragrant, maybe my nose was blocked or eclipsed by the noodles I was having for lunch. Ordinary cacao / tea flavour, medium body.

3rd infusion: Because the 2nd was so weak, I hit it hard (1 min+) and wow super strong aroma of red dates / jujubes! Body still a bit thin, but a bit of a tingly sensation (perhaps like camphor or menthol, though I’m not actually getting those notes).

4th & 5th infusions: red date aroma and tingly sensation are still there but the flavour is really really weak. This tea is done. Not too many infusions but hopefully it will get better with age… and if it doesn’t, then this is a perfectly respectable daily drinker for days when I don’t have time to do more than 2 steepings. Great value for money and still far smoother and more complex than any overpriced “fancy hotel spa”-type gift tea.

Rating: 85

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cacao, Dates

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 OZ / 160 ML

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(This review is actually for the Spring 2019 harvest of YS’s Yue Guang Bai Air-Dried White Tea.)

This tea has a lot to give. I started at 60˚C and increased by 4-5˚C for each infusion – got 5 solid infusions out of it!

Clean shaving foam, sweet cotton candy, melon, tropical fruit.

Brewed this in my Yixing zisha pot and also got the additional clay-ey smell (probably from the pot) which I recognised as the formerly unidentifiable scent of hairdressers – maybe from hair mud masks? Haha. This tea is not bad brewed in a pot (I heard from Mei Leaf that white teas like steady heat so clay is good for heat retention) though I think the clay does absorb some of the higher aromatics, but this tea has enough depth to it even in the medium and bass notes that there’s still a lot to enjoy despite that. Fantastic, esp for the price!

Rating: 88

Flavors: Honey, Melon

140 °F / 60 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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Rinsed once with boiling water.

First infusion was alright, generally minerally but a bit blunt with everything jumbled together (possibly because I went a bit long – 10s steep + my pot has a 10s pour time).

Afterwards, wet leaves smell like something comforting like clean tobacco / woodsmoke. Faintest whiff of light, clear honey or dried fruit.

Second infusion is nicer, clearer and more interesting notes. All three infusions not bitter or astringent, only the very slightest dry, pleasant saliva-stimulating mouthfeel.

It’s my first time brewing aged sheng pu-erh in my Yixing zisha pot and it’s been a much better experience than the young sheng I tried yesterday (2017 Autumn Da Qing Gu Shu). I guess the age mellows it out? With almost no bitterness or astringency, this is a very approachable first sheng pu-erh.

Increasing rating from 81 to 83. (25 Jun 2020)

Flavors: Honey, Mineral, Tobacco, Wood

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

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Okay, last 5g of my sample brewed at 95˚C – better, less astringent but still has some astringency in the third infusion onwards, and still no flavour / notes / wow factor.

Increasing rating from 40 to 50.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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Raw pu-erh n00b here, but this one gives me only astringency with no flavour payoff. I don’t know about cha qi or anything but this tea is just unforgiving to brew – the first infusion was lovely and light (but no particular fruity or floral notes) and gets astringent really quickly in subsequent infusions. No thank you and happy to be almost done with this sample.

[Brewed in an Yixing zisha teapot at 100˚C, 5s then 10s then 10s.]

Rating: 40

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 tsp 4 OZ / 120 ML

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This tea has grown on me. Still has that fishy, musty flavour in the first couple of steepings but when I really push it in the fourth infusion it opens up into this lovely, mellow, comforting old friend. Love that “clean leather” aroma. Might consider buying a full cake of this if I don’t find anything else that catches my eye.

Rating: 74

Flavors: Fishy, Leather, Musty

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Rinsed once.

First infusion (6s) smells of white grape skins (not sweet, a bit tannic). Tastes light and but quite bitter and tannic. Not pleasant.

Second infusion (10s): Still bitter with not much other flavours. It’s like bitter mineral spring water. Don’t like this tea.

Rating: 45

Flavors: Mineral

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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