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Recent Tasting Notes
This is a high quality tea and was either not cheap, or was a great value if so. Impossible to know as it is sold out on their website. Glad I got a free sample anyways :).
This is a blend of leaves from six large trees from the mountain Ba Da Ye just north of Little Jinggu. The man who sourced and processed the tea is Luo Kai Yin.
Unlike their 2022 Gulan from yesterday, this one had arms wide open from the start. William’s description on the website is spot on. Only a twinkle of bitterness with no astringency. Mouthfeel is medium-thick. Mild sweetness. Hou yun is long and vaporous like a cloud in your throat. Flavor is mild, but incredibly pleasant, soothing, and most noticeable in the aftertaste. Longevity is 16+ infusions.
Wish they still had cakes left…
Dry Leaf: Vegetal.
Wet Leaf: Dried apricots.
Flavors: Bitter, sweet, cream, white grapes.
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Cream, Dried Fruit, Vegetal, White Grapes
Free sample from last FL order. Don’t love this one, honestly. Given the price, I expected more. Smell of the wet leaves is bursting with fruits, but the liquor stays closed until infusion 5.
Mouthfeel is okay, but not very interesting. Aftertaste is mild and vague. Mild bitterness starting at infusion 5. Medium-low astringency starts at infusion 7. Cha qi is quite heady; very loopy by infusion 8. I understand that many puerh drinkers are going for this and care less about flavor. Thus, I’m giving it a higher rating than I would otherwise. Lasts 12+ infusions.
Origin: Blend from 5 gardens: Ai Ban, Nuo Gu Wan, Weng Bo, He Huan, and Guang Jing. All gardens are on the Da Ping Zhang Plateau, elevation 1500-1600 m.
Dry Leaf: Vegetal.
Wet Leaf: Tropical fruit, mango, apricot, star fruit.
Liquor: Vegetal, pepper, sweet, honey.
Flavors: Apricot, Honey, Mango, Pepper, Starfruit, Sweet, Tropical Fruit, Vegetal
As a wino, I love a good Sauternes, Port, Pedro Ximénez, or Beerenauslese. This is the closest thing to a dessert tea I’ve had. Exceptionally sweet from the first infusion! Sad that this beauty is sold out. I only have the rest of my sample to keep me company. Not a complex tea, but one that is sweet enough to love you unconditionally.
Longevity is 8-10 infusions. No astringency or bitterness. Mouthfeel is fairly thick, with good hui gan.
These leaves come from natural tea gardens. According to William, they dry these leaves in a thicker pile than most producers. This causes the leaves to dry in 3 days instead of 1, allowing for some oxidation to occur.
Harvest: March-April, 2022.
Dry Leaf: Toast, wheat.
Wet Leaf: Honey, cotton candy.
Flavors: Sweet, sugar, honey.
Flavors: Cotton Candy, Honey, Sugar, Sweet, Toast, Wheat
This tea is a blind purchase from a new FL order of some puerh cakes. For the price ($0.07/g), this tea is quite complex and enjoyable! I wonder how the tea would have tasted fresh as well, given its now almost two-year age.
Mild bitterness and sweetness with no astringency. Longevity is 6-7 infusions. Mouthfeel and hou yun are leathery.
This tea is made by a man named Li Chao Yuan, who owns a small tea factory on this mountain.
Harvest: Autumn 2021.
Location: Yingpan Shan (20 km SE of Puer City).
Dry leaf: Dried apricot:
Wet leaf: Malt.
Flavor: Apricot, floral, bitter, sweet, leather, honey.
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Dried Fruit, Floral, Honey, Leather, Malt, Sweet
This was such an interesting session. I broke it into two days, with a whole (refrigerated) day in between when I went to work. I probably brewed 4-6 steeps on the first night; these were tasty but lacking much sweetness or huigan; mouthfeel was full and the character was bold in like a… craft beer kind of way? It wasn’t really bitter, but the presence was commanding and felt like it was holding something that I needed to wait for.
Fast forward 36 hours to this morning… I pulled my ceramic pot out of the fridge, warmed it from the outside, and continued on my merry way. Must have gotten 10-12 more steeps, and herrrrre came the break. The beautiful full mouthfeel held, and creamy apricot sweetness gently crept in. No bitterness, really, regardless of how hard I pushed.
There are so many shengs Iike this, that absolutely pique my curiosity and make me wonder how they’ll taste in 5-10-15 years. This one, for instance — without some big brash bitterness, does it have enough oomph to go anywhere else? Or is this — happily — its peak? I know nothing about the processing here — maybe this is boutique-style that isn’t meant for patience.
Anyway. Always learning. Thank you for the lesson, derk. <3
Why did I buy this sample? My wallet is trembling. This stuff is perfectly balanced, complex, and refined. It’s not just the high price (although I’m certainly not immune to that bias) that makes me like this tea. I’ve tried plenty of more expensive teas that I don’t like.
This is the last sample from my FL order and definitely the most impressive. This tea is from an ancient garden in the town Ba Meng, which is located directly below the highest peak in the Xishuangbanna mountain range and in all of the southern Puerh-producing regions. The tea definitely has that sophisticated air that high mountain teas tend to have.
According to the FL website and consistent with my own observations, these leaves are smaller than those in other samples. I believe this is somewhat common in mountainous areas. The closer you get in elevation to the treeline, the shorter trees get. In general, shorter trees in forests with higher, thicker canopies by necessity have larger leaves in order to collect more sunlight from the little bits that make it through the thick canopy. The inverse could contribute to smaller leaf size in these higher elevation trees…
Anyways, bitterness is trace with medium-low astringency. Longevity is 16+ infusions. Mouthfeel is generous, juicy, and full. Aftertaste is tangy-sweet and lasts many minutesssss.
Probably out of my budget to cake this at $0.60/g, but I might splurge after I finish the rest of the sample and weep tears of great loss.
Flavors: Apple Skins, Astringent, Bitter, Grapes, Sweet, Tangy
The description on FL’s website for this tea is pretty spot on. An all-around balanced, generic sheng with subtle flavor, no bitterness, and enough astringency to make you want more. Certainly a nice tea, but not sure if I will cake it yet. Might rather cake one of the first two for the money. Jury’s still out and will decide after further comparison.
Mouthfeel is medium fullness. Longevity is 10+ infusions.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Honey, Sweet
Probably my least favorite FL tea yet. I wanted to love it because the initial flavor is gorgeous and the smell of the wet leaves is dried fruit heaven! Main issue is that the flavor fell off after the first couple of steeps. Otherwise, it’s a nice tea.
Mouthfeel is juicy with no bitterness and medium-low astringency. Aftertaste doesn’t last too long either.
Another Jingmai tea – their specialty. This one is called “shengtai,” which means a natural gardening technique was used.
If Jingmai teas are known for being light, then this one might be considered light for Jingmai :). No cake for this one…
Wet leaf: Dried kiwi, dried apricot.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Cream, Dried Fruit, Juicy, Kiwi, Sugar, Sweet, Vanilla
Another quite nice tea from FL! I’m really vibing with their teas. This one comes from a small village just across the border from Yiwu in Laos called Huey Wa. The farmer’s name there is Houngkeo. First time trying a Laotian tea! Supposed to have similarities to Yiwu tea for a fraction of the price (this one is $0.10/g!). I certainly see the similarity, but the mouthfeel is not as nice as some Yiwu I’ve had. Can’t tell if that’s the age or location for this one, though.
No bitterness and trace astringency. Mild flavor to start that increases to medium intensity by infusion 5-6. Sweet and fruity, with a medium-low to medium mouthfeel.
Probably worth the money to cake this hehe :).
Flavors: Apple, Astringent, Fruity, Hay, Honey, Sweet, Tangy
Fresh order from FL just arrived and I’m very excited to try some of their teas. All the samples I got were 2021-2022, so quite fresh. This one is the first sheng I’ve tried under the “magical” 2 year age.
I’ve heard online that Jingmai shengs are quite mild, so I was expecting that. In this sample, that certainly rings true at the start, but intensity and complexity ramp up rapidly to shatter that prejudice.
A smooth tea with medium-low bitterness and medium astringency. An undertone of sweetness is present from the first infusion. Mouthfeel is that complex, exquisite paradox wherein the tea feels full and wet, but on swallowing, leaves the perfect level of astringency to make you crave more. Aftertaste is sweet and lasts minutes.The leaves are large and fairly whole with stems still attached. Liquor is very light yellow as expected. Progression is robust with the flavor intensity increasing until about infusion 5-6, when it then plateaus before declining. 12+ infusions.
Apparently, Nanzuo is the smallest village on Jingmai mountain. This tea has leaves from the small factory of You Guo, who lives in Nanzuo and is a friend of William and Yubai. One of the most interesting parts of this sample set is the ability to try teas from different terroirs and see how microclimates and soil variation might affect the flavor.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Bitter, Dried Fruit, Fruity, Green Apple, Pleasantly Sour, Straw, Sweet, Tangy, Vegetal
I bought this tea some years ago, and at first, I wasn’t very much into it. The tea was ok, but nothing remarkable.
I put it away and forgot about it.
Recently I’ve been in the mood for white teas, and I have been trying a lot of my stack.
Today I had a session of 2018 Jangmai Moonlight, and I was impressed by the brew.
It’s much sweeter and thicker, as I remember it, and it keeps going.
I did 18 steeps in total (5gr in a 126ml white Yixing teapot I only use for (aged) whites). 10-15-20-25-30-35-40-50-60-80-120-150-180-240-300-330-360-400 seconds.
It kept on going; I could have had more steeps; next time, I have to start drinking this tea earlier in the morning, so I can keep going all day.
Too bad it sold out. Otherwise, I would have bought a tong of this.
I’ll try the 2021 version soon (I hope the .fr website will get some stock soon), but it will probably also take a couple of years to develop fully.
Decent pu-erh! I got this tea from my Farmerleaf order and it’d be a great daily drinker. Beautiful leaves with a beautiful aroma and a beautiful liquor. Flavour was decent, nothing special but it holds its own weight. Character was mediocre but I wasn’t expecting much for the price either. Texture was juicy and unexpectedly good. Finish & aftertaste was decent and prominent, cha-qi was decent, good buzzy and heady feeling, and steep longevity was decent lasting up to steep 10+.
Flavors: Floral, Hay, Herbaceous, Jasmine, Juicy, Mineral, Spices, Straw, Traditional Chinese Medicine
Decently nice tea! I got this tea from my recent FL order, and it’s a good example of a white tea. Great leaves with great aroma and vibrant liquor, decent flavour lacking a bit of richness and nuance with smooth yet juicy texture. Character is a bit lacking, where the finish & aftertaste were lacking too. Cha-qi is average to mediocre and steep longevity is really good.
Flavors: Caramelized Sugar, Cotton Candy, Grass, Honey, Marshmallow, Marzipan, Pastries, Sweet
Decent pu-erh! I got these little squares of this tea from my recent FL order, and it really was a nice brew. Beautiful leaves compressed into these cute squares, with a beautiful light, dusty (in a good way), floral aroma which was paired with a vibrant liquor. Decent flavour but lacks richness and a bit of nuance, with great texture that was quite juicy, an average finish but a great aftertaste. Character of this tea is decent but the cha-qi is unnoticeable. To end it off, this tea has a slightly better than average steep longevity. Good tea but could be better.
Flavors: Acidic, Bitter, Citrus, Elderberry, Floral, Fruity, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeysuckle, Lily, Mineral, Raspberry, Sawdust, Sweet
Wonderful tea! I got this tea from my recent Farmerleaf order, and this tea really is a juicy bomb. Beautiful fine picked leaves with a high bud ratio, paired with a decent wet leaf aroma and a decent liquor. This tea has a wonderfully nuanced taste that strikes a balance between bitterness, sweetness, fruity and minerality. It could’ve been slightly more potent, but that’s beside the point really. Intensly immense juiciness in the texture paired with a permeating astringency, with the juiciness lasting strong into the finish which is also accompanied by a fresh minty feeling and a nice honeysuckle aftertaste. Beautiful character that this tea possesses, changing its flavours and profile between the different steeps, making for an interesting session. The biggest complaints about this tea that I have is the lack of a potent cha-qi, with a mediocre, but nice, buzzy and warming cha-qi present, and a relatviely average steep longevity compared to other shengs.
If those aspects were present, this tea could’ve easily been a 85+, but nonetheless a good tea for honestly a decent-ish price.
Flavors: Acidic, Astringent, Beer, Bitter, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Hay, Honey, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Juicy, Kiwi, Limestone, Mango, Mineral, Savory, Spearmint, Stewed Vegetables, Stonefruit, Sweet, Sweet Corn, Sweet Potatoes, Sweet, Warm Grass, Vegetal
A decent young raw! I got this tea from my recent Farmerleaf order, and I’d say it’s above average or mediocre. Beautiful leaves full of buds with trichomes topped with a decent aroma and vibrant liquor, this tea had plenty to offer in terms of a slight bitey texture paired with a strong aftertaste that lingers for hours. This tea however didn’t have the most potent or complex flavour and it generally lacked a potent cha-qi and good steep longevity. Overall, a good tea for a decent price.
Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Fruity, Guava, Hay, Mint, Pear, Roasted, Spices, Sweet Potatoes, Sweet, Warm Grass
I pulled this one out to add to the TTB. Its nicely roasty, slightly nutty and not astringent or bitter. I don’t mind it but I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to purchase. It’s not quite boring, but not too exciting either. The first steep became a little bitter as it cooled, and the second steep was much the same as the first.
The rinsed leaves smell intensely refreshing. The scents are fresh and foresty, in a sweet way. The brew is really sweet, syrupy, mouth-coating sweet rather than foresty. This is a very pleasant and comforting tea. It remains sweet, never becoming grassy or harsh in later brews. It seems like good value to me, but it’s a little bit above my budget to buy a cake of. Maybe I would if it would really click with me, the sweetness is very nice, however this doesn’t feel 100% my thing, I guess it lacks that bit of edge or mystery for me. It’s just too accessible and pleasing perhaps. Really great tea though.
I would not really agree with the ‘medium oxidation’. As visible in the image quite a lot of green shines through these leaves, making it relatively light for a dianhong. That also doesn’t make it a ‘classic Yunnan black tea’ for me. It is pretty complex, with flowery, fruity and even somewhat vegetal aspects, and it lacks the classic honeyish, caramelly, sweet, thick and smooth dianhong thing.
If you don’t expect this to have that typical dianhong profile, it is a nice, lively and refreshing black tea with much character for its price.
Still in the throws of Covid. Though they are becoming gentle punches. It is more like a cold now. Be careful my friends. If you feel a cold coming on test for covid so you don’t spread it to our more vulnerable population. Ah, but I was truly worried I would lose my sense of taste and smell. Which I did for a bit but it is back now. Perfect time for this tea. It starts off with an aroma of sweet woods and then moves to hay. Composting hay and burnt squash. The flavor is similar but no burnt notes. There is an earthy depth to this tea that is somewhat difficult to wrangle.
Not a fan of this tea. It’s not terrible. This is already my third steeping but my palate doesn’t seem to jive with it. The initial aroma was nice. Woodsy. But the wet aroma is sparse. Slightly reminiscent of a cold day. There’s that something in the very cold air that is also found in the cup. The flavor is all over the place. Earthy but I can’t quite place what I am tasting. Like a brittle desert wood. With a rose?