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Recent Tasting Notes
The weather is beginning to turn, and my garden is slowly starting to wither. We had a light rain, and I try to spend time with them before they all disappear. Each year is always bittersweet for me to say goodbye to my friends. Weird; I know.
I decided to sit out in the soil and brew this alongside my plants and the little critters about. This shu is partially fermented, so it’s on the dry side. the leaves are very well done and invite a unique experience. I was welcomed with stable notes of red oak, petrichor, and spiced rye. The finish introduced a subtle sweetness, fungus, and warm earth. These leaves carry a vibrant energy that builds with each steep; truly invigorating. I sat among my green survivors, with soft music, and warm tea. This brew wrapped the experience warmly and delivered soft gentle kisses among the rain.
Flavors: Cherry, Drying, Earth, Mushrooms, Oak, Petrichor, Rye
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You know those happy little tea samples that make their way to your table, and you break it open and begin steeping, and by the first sip you grab your phone and look up if it’s still for sale and how much you can afford to buy?? No?? … me neither….
Lol, this was that tea for me! great stuff; a beautiful blend!
The sample was a small edge of cake loosely thread with a lovely array of colors. I wasn’t pay too much attention, but I lowered it into my yixing and began steeping while listening to some tunes. The first sip grabbed ahold of my attention. Pungent, smooth, sweet, and nourishing. A complex fascinating array of feelings and tastes. if you’ll allow, I’ll ramble on for a minute, I’m reaching the point in my puerh journey where my horde is out of control and not many cakes peak my interest. I can categorize teas into just a handful of categories. It’s an attitude I’m recently working on adjusting. To circle back, this brew helped with that attitude adjustment. Simple yet refined, no frills, marketing tactics, single origin or terroir specific notes. It was straightforward with intriguing qualities for those wanting more. This is a tea i could comfortably serve to friends and families alike. This is an early Sunday morning brew, or an after-harvest pick-me-up, or even an evening broth to melt the stress off from the chores of the day. It opens with soft vegetive tones and a nourishing spring water background. The movement continues to watercress, lily pads, and bamboo shoots. The gulp ends with a mild tannin on the tongue and returning sweetness that lingers in the throat. You can expect Menghai fruitiness, Lincang clarity, and Yiwu tenderness.
Flavors: Alfalfa, Almond, Bamboo, Grass, Limestone, Powdered Sugar, Spring Water, Stonefruit
6/90. dry was raisin, a bit of sour, spices. wet leaf is woody, spicy.
1. medicinal, woody, cinnamon, raisin. mineral/celery coating on tongue.
2. smoky, roasty, medicinal, woody sweetness. aftertaste extends into throat
3. kind of one note. bright, something like clove
remaining 3.7 in a mug. got stiffed .3g lol. aroma is nutty and butter cookies. taste is roasty, minerally, and kind of sweet
It was okay. Not sure if I’d repurchase
High praise from EoT for this 7542 imitation cake by CNNP, but I drank it just prior to a sample of 2003 7542 Menghai (via derk, via mrmopar), and they are quite different. Of course storage is a factor, too — this one having come from Guangzhou.
I would agree with EoT’s “comfortable to drink” assessment. It is largely basement camphor, with some initial cooling in the back of the throat that moves into the top of the mouth as steeps progress. I am nearing steep-out and didn’t take detailed notes, so I’ll probably be back around on this one. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the presumably-authentic 7542 from Menghai, to be sure — it’s much less complex and doesn’t taste as clean — but will be happy enough to revisit it in the future.
Flavors: Camphor, Wet Rocks
8.3g, 90 mL, Brita filtered tap. Again, ran through this with a friend over so no specific notes. Regret using a gaiwan for this, since it might’ve needed some extra heat that the gaiwan didn’t provide. It could be a number of factors, but this really didn’t blow me away during session (esp. given cost). However, the thermos of the remainder is pretty decent. Roasty chocolate-y in a cocoa sort of way, slight medicinal, a bit heady and fuzzy in that sense. Not particularly deep in the throat per description, nor was aftertaste particularly lasting or transformative during the session or in thermos. From session, I remember the roasty notes and a deeper medicinal taste that I associate with shui xian, as well as some of the minty aftertaste that seems to come with oolongs. Cold cup was pretty chocolate-y. This is above average oolong for sure, but wasn’t worth the price to me and I would not re-purchase. The TShop oolong and a few of the ones I’ve been gifted have been better.
Also just generally, re-evaluating my approach to having tea with others. Sure, blowing through over $50 of tea in three hours is nothing in the grand scheme of things and pretty cheap entertainment I suppose, but it still feels wasteful when the other party thinks nothing of it and then I was also not able to be as focused as I would’ve liked. Meh. Depends on the guest, but this afternoon felt like a waste of good tea.
Not much has been said about this tea and the few reviews I’ve read have been rather lukewarm. These are my thoughts on this tea after consuming about half a cake and I’m having a session whilst writing this. Perhaps I’m off base here but to me this is one of the best performing moderate priced semi aged Yiwuish blends readily available on the western focused market. Many boutique teas from this era like YQH are showing that the light processing that makes them approachable when young can lead to a dull tea when aged. Conversely more heavily processed boutique teas like the BYH from this era may have a huge backbone and resinous quality that enables them to age well but with their dry storage still have another decade or so before they’d be something I’d reach for on a regular basis. I wish some of these teas would be available with traditional HK storage as I think they’d be perfect for consumption now.
Back to this tea. The processing and storage both strike me as moderate resulting in a tea that is great for drinking now. The body and bitterness are medium and there is a good balance of aged bottom notes (incense, tobacco, leather, dates) and original top notes (herbs, floral, tropical fruit in later steeps). These top notes remind me of some YQH I’ve had from the era that were sealed storage for most of their existence. There is also a whiff of cedar and some smaller leaves that make me suspect some Yibang in the blend. The tropical fruit notes remind me of Manzhuan while I’d guess the more herbal notes are indicative of Mansa. Just my speculation.
The stamina, huigan and price are moderate. The qi is a wild card. Sometimes I get very little from the session. Sometimes it knocks my socks off but it is always balanced. One of the interesting things about it is it often qualifies as creeper qi. During many sessions there was a building mild qi throughout the session followed by a huge wave of relaxing qi 20 minutes after the session was over. My dad, who is much less sensitive to qi than I confirmed this after leaving my house and having a huge burst of qi hit him while driving.
This tea is not as amazing as CYH teas from the era but it’s 1/3 the price and to me represents a solid tea of moderate age and price that is ready to drink now.