127 Tasting Notes
Backlog from yesterday but after airing out this sample I tasted very different more pleasing but still not to my tastes. This time the mineral and “autumn leaf pile” went away but the buttery roundness stayed. From what I remember it was slightly sweet and vegetal light a par-grilled zucchini, I could taste the slightly astringent seeds of the fruit also the lightly bitter skin. Not talking bulang bitter but slightly noticeable although it was rounded out but a herbaceous buttery smoothness not cream or thick but the flavors seems to transition smoothly as if I was tasting a buttered vegetable not saying it tasted like butter nor did it have a thick buttery texture. While not a bad tea I just may not like jingmai terrior I still have a few other samples to chug from bannacha from their jingmai harvest so we shall see.
Not only are flavors subjective from person to person based on their memories and associations but even in this short period of storage the tastes changed within one person’s perception of one tea has changed dramatically. I remember when I first started drinking teas if I tasted a tea once I would make a binding decision in that exact moment. It seems that definitive opinions can’t be truly formed until you have not only changed brewing parameters(time, temperature, vessel) but also water type, our body’s hydration(I tend to be dehydrated which is the equlivent of your taste buds having a cold so I always try to carefully breathe in the stream from the kettle to moisten my nasal and throat passages), but also storage. I am not talking small barely noticeable minuscule changes, with this tea originally it tasted like sucked on a metallic rack after cleaning a leaf pile super minerally super “autumn leaf pile” now it was a slightly under cooked caramelized herbed butter fried zucchini.
Flavors: Butternut Squash, Herbaceous, Zucchini
When the cake arrived I couldn’t help but smell it and I was greeted with a light plum-esque fruity sweetness, which I again smelled from the warmed leaves in a gaiwan. Unfortunately I never got to taste it through all the infusions. The liquor brewed up a clear yellow orange which I did not expect given it’s age. By comparison the white whale and yangpinhao brewed up deep murky red. Clarity is a term I see tossed around not sure what the supposed implications are but this tea had a clarity in every brew from the start that I usually only see at the end of a session when a tea is dyeing out. The only flavors I tasted where generic menghai county no aged flavor or plum sweetness I smelt. Other unique features were the teeth cleaning/coating effect almost like I just ate a salad of raw bitter greens.
Not experience enough to know the implications of the clarity or teeth coating but at the moment I won’t be drinking this tea any time soon which is a shame because I was hoping it would be drinkable as well as an investment.
Versatile and Dynamic
Without repeating myself too much, I really enjoy this tea for its balanced dian hong profile(spice, sweet, malt) and awesome body with silky mouthfeel as you swallow.
This time around I used hotter water (boiling today versus 190 usually) and left the gaiwan lid on between steeps. The dry leaf had a pleasant smoky quality to it like a nice Qimun that proceeded the normal spicy malty assam leaf scents and tastes. Adding further to my surprise was that the sweetness actually came through as well and paired with the smoky spice reminded me of korean bbq which is super atypical for this tea’s flavor profile. I literally stopped and laughed to myself due to the oddity of the situation before continued on. Which put me into an internal dialogue that resulted in me forgetting I had water in the gaiwan so ended up with steepings that looked like 5s, 7s, 7s, then 3 mins … whoops but still was not bitter or astringent.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Malt, Smoke, Spicy
Truly a step above
I didn’t have high hopes due to paul being primary a puer vendor. I also thought most shui xian cultivars were lower grade old bush or not. Short answer I was wrong, my faith in paul is reestablished. While yancha is not favorite tea or even oolong I do enjoy the flavor profile from time to time and this was a nice sunday treat.
Enough jibber jabber, warmed gaiwan I threw the leaves in and took a whiff. I smelled a fruity sweet dried red fruit profile along with a minerally/roasted strong background.
Super Complex and a real shapeshifter that progresses in a astonishing way. First I tasted sweet fruitiness coupled with a perfumy slightly floral almost reminded me of a yiwu profile but amped up sweetness. The sweet dried red fruit passed after a steep or two and gave way to a roasted rock taste. After a another two steeps the roast dissipated a all the remained was the shui xian leaf taste which amazed me because most shui xian I have had in the passed have been roast that predictably bled into mineral leaf taste where as this had a very complex fruitiness floral aspect that was layered on top. The sweetness I have experienced before in an da hong pao but even that tea didn’t have this kind of unique aroma layered on top. Even stranger I did a suicide steep (boiling water, half filled gaiwan, 10+ minute steep ) after I was thought the leaves were dead, and instead of a mouth puckering bitter astringent whiskey face I was greeted with a pure honey sweetness I had not even picked up on during my previous steeps?
Not sure about the caffiene as my tolerance is back up but I can say I did get a pinch of energy that was overpowered by a sigh of calm numbing tea drunk. I am far from a yancha connoisseur so I will not be purchasing at the current price. I trust this price is fair for the quality of leaf outside of china but as far as my oolong consumption goes it would be like taking a designer clothes on a hiking trip. The layered nature of this tea would be wasted on myself as I rarely brew oolongs and on the rare occasion I do I tend to brew haphazardly throw it in a slow pouring yixing that would surely drown the complexity.
Flavors: Hibiscus, Honey, Mineral, Raisins, Roasted Barley, Rosehips
Finally got through the attic taste! Too tired to write anything worth while but how I “fixed” the tea was breaking it up to little sample size chunks and leaving it in a humid (75%) container for a week or so. It was not terribly complex nor did I get any of the intriguing sherry, red fruit flavors this time but Im happy to say it does not taste of dusty attic either. I am willing to amp up the steep time and leaf next session to see if I can coax anything pleasant out of it, all I tasted this time around was ever so slightly fruity old book but in a nice way.
My standard reference point for aged puer and I will except nothing less.
Received a sample in my mail and after yesterday’s young bulang chugging I figured I try the polar opposite today. I don’t have much experience with aged teas so take it for what it’s worth. The dry leaf originally smelled on old books (assuming that what storage smell is, or maybe humid storage?) and beet root. After a week or so of airing out the storage smell subsided and red beet smell came through.
After two rinses , the gaiwan smelled of par boiled beets not quite raw but not quite sweet/cooked and at the end a slight spice that tickled my nose. I cautiously sipped the first flash steeping bracing for dust or storage taste but to my surprise, no unpleasant tastes to be found. As hinted by the smell, it was a pleasant tea soup that almost tasted like a borsch soup which immediately reminded me of lively polish wedding receptions. Obvious not saying the taste is identical but as with puer reference points are the only way to attempt to explain sensations.
I tasted no storage what so ever just a pleasant beet root that later steeps showed an almost spiciness maybe cinnamon if I had to name one specific spice but in the way a taiwanese hong yue tastes “spicy”. The mid notes were a light sweetiness like a muddled wine(tempranillo profile) combined with a hint of red currant. As the description notes it is a soft, sweeter end of the puer spectrum but I wouldn’t agree with the floral description at least from my one session. In retrospect I could see “floral” being in the tail end of flavor but super prominent or even noticeable and not a upfront jasmine floral maybe the very light and playful dryness of rose. The feeling I received from this tea was clam and collected just like the flavor which made me almost drowsy hence the lazy sunday name unfortunately it is not sunday and I have a lot to get done today so not so welcome at this exact moment but no way off putting
I really enjoyed this tea it was my first aged tea I enjoyed and while not super complex(a common theme with aged tea) it was far from one note. If I had to name one bad thing it was maybe that it was too thin not enough body but I only had one session if I upped the steeping time maybe it would result in a different outcome.
Just noticed none of my tasting/scent notes are even listed as options…
Favorite shu ever
I purposely waited to review this until I ordered more selfishly that should hint at it’s quality. Paul has earned my respect (and much of my income as a result) for his no BS pricing, descriptions and curation. This description is spot on I almost feel silly adding anything because it is so accurate. It is a 2014 production so it’s pile smell is still apparent I suggest two super long rinses and/or breaking up the nuggets prior. Once you get past the funk it has the taste and consistency of hot cocoa literally. I was immediately taken back to childhood sipping on swiss miss hot cocoa. I wanted to throw some marshmallows in my gaiwan and pretend it was a snow day. Later steeps reveal a sweet molasses dark richness that was paired with a thick syrupy body.
This is my first tea head nugget shu so I am not sure if this sweetness/ flavor profile is common but it was a welcome change from watery woodsy generic shu I am used to. Added kicker is the energy this bulang gives off had me humming all night long.
Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Molasses