25 Tasting Notes
I’ve just tried a few Chawang Shop teas and this wasn’t a favorite, but it has an interesting character and potential so I’ll mention how that went. I think now (in 2019) it’s right in between losing the last of it’s younger-range character and picking up aged attributes, even though it’s a 2008 version, 11 years old now. The flavor is as subtle as I’ve ever experienced in sheng, which has actually came up before in trying aged Yiwu versions. The thickness of feel is positive, and although the flavor isn’t pronounced the wood and mild floral tones are positive. I think it will get there, it will just take a few more years. For value this is off the scale; it was priced at $40 for a 250 gram cake, and I think it will be subtle but quite decent aged tea within 2 to 3 years. Note that the tea is yellow-golden in these pictures; I think that along with the flavor aspects will change over that time, darkening in color and moving onto warmer tones, maybe even very mild dried fruit range.
The review post goes a lot further with all that and cites a couple of related reviews to support more speculation about aging pace and general character of related versions:
It was interesting comparing this impression with the two reviews here from 3 years ago, since this tea is 13 years old now. It’s still not really completely fermented. As for aspects it tastes a lot like cigar tobacco, including smoke, with decent sweetness and flavor complexity and really good intensity. Bitterness is still pronounced, although astringency is moderate. Mineral taste is notable too, along with floral range or maybe dried fruit; that part is harder to tease out for bitterness, smoke, tobacco, and mineral standing out as much as they do. I think it just needs another 3 years or so in a humid environment to really push over into being a very good tea, and in 5 or 6 might be exceptional, but it’s pleasant as it is now. It’s definitely not in some subtle, quiet “teen years” phase; this tea is intense.
I forgot to mention compression; that’s the part of this tea’s story that account for why a 13 year old tea isn’t aging normally. Of course that makes it harder to split off parts to brew as well. It’s still worth the trouble, and will be even more so later on.
Very nice tea (Myanmar produced sheng, technically not pu’er for being from there).
Pronounced honey sweetness and bitterness stand out most, then a distinctive mineral aspect beyond that. The mineral almost links with a kale-like vegetable character, similar to how that comes across in Vietnamese Tha Nguyen green tea, which transitions to a more standard cured wood tone over several infusions. Aftertaste is pronounced. One limitation, the character doesn’t transition much over rounds, although the tea is very intense and produces many positive infusions. This is probably an amazing value tea, if you can find it, since I got it directly from the producer at an expo, with more of that back-story in this even more detailed review.
This is a little unusual since I’m reviewing this tea in 2019, as an aged product, versus the other reviews here appearing in 2017. I really liked it. Quality was quite evident from the very thick feel, good balance, and overall clean character. It could’ve been a little sweeter, and vegetal range was a little heavy compared to other scope (green wood or just cured wood, or both), but moderate floral range, a pleasant level and type of mineral, and some dried fruit filled that in. This tea is amazing for value, increased from $20 to $24 in two years, for a 200 gram cake. I’m not sure if or when it will “go quiet” due to the teenage years theme but I suspect that moderate humidity storage isn’t rushing that process, so it has probably lost some youthful intensity and bitterness, and the smoke others mentioned, but it’s still quite vibrant and intense. This is the really long version of all that:
Interesting this tea was listed but not reviewed; at any rate I just tried it. I liked it. It starts in with a bit of smoke, which ramps up on the second infusion and then tapers back off later. That transitions to a sort of char effect as a primary aspect, sort of similar to a heavily roasted oolong (common to really cooked TGY and Wuyi Yancha, just the char part), in late rounds not unlike French Roast coffee, all over a warm, heavy mineral base range. So why did I like that so much, being mainly smoke and char effect? Somehow it was clean and balanced in spite of that, with good complexity and sweetness that compensated, with a promising nice feel and aftertaste effect. I don’t think it’s aged as ready to drink just yet, or at least far from its peak in the version I tried, which probably aged a bit slower for being from Kunming, sold through the Chawang Shop. But I’d still enjoy it just as it is now, and expect it to change quite a bit over the next 3 to 5 years, to finish off transitioning in a nice way. A much longer review version, compared with a Tulin T868 tuocha version:
I liked it. The overall quality and balance are good, characteristics are generally positive, and value is really good for selling at such a low price for tea that’s medium in quality level. I just comparison reviewed it along with the 2017 version (which isn’t an even comparison, aging one a year longer) and it was interesting how similar they are. This is a bit narrower in range, with a bit more vegetal scope, which I interpret as complex wood and pine, but another year of aging may soften it and broaden the expressed flavor range. It has a bit of dryness to the feel the 2017 didn’t, but again it would help to compare tasting these at exactly the same age, and I tried a 2017 sample a half year later in an aging cycle. It’s on open question to me if the tea will really improve a lot with well over a decade of age; it could be a bit more intense, with a little more bitterness and astringency earlier on. All that just means it’s better young than it might be, and could be very nice at 2 to 3 years old instead. The full review:
Perfect timing. I saw where mrmopar had put this in his cupboard and asked if he had tried it. I recently picked up a cake of this, too. Thanks for being brave and sampling it. Watching Scott and his wife drink it, I got the “impression” (hee hee) that they didn’t care for it as much as the 2017. Here’s hoping it ages into something amazing. I’ll give it a try in a few years.
I would try it now, in order to see how the aging transition works out. It’s the only way to know how those patterns go, to try a large number of different cakes before you think they’ll actually be ready to see how they start, and then maybe once or twice a year until you plan to get to it. Also there’s a standard take in aging sheng that many are fine within the first year, some need a couple of years to soften and transition a little, and some need at least a decade to change a lot. Different people parse that type of divide out differently but not many seem to think many teas peak between 4 and 5 years old, or make much sense to drink between then and a full decade. I’m guessing it really just depends on the teas and on preference, but all the same I’d try teas at least once a year to check on what changes.
I really liked it. I didn’t notice the fruit referenced in these other reviews on here but the wood, hay, limited spice range, pronounced earthiness (like beets and potato skin), and good sweetness were all very pleasant, cleaner than that sounds. Some teas fade to become subtle at this age but this definitely didn’t, and it didn’t include any off storage-related flavors. It’s complex enough that I suspect my interpretation of it will change over a number of tastings, and intense enough that I’d expect over the coming years it will soften and deepen but won’t fade fast. As a limitation it wasn’t necessarily subtle or refined in character, but that still worked well for me. I reviewed it further here:
A nice tea, subtle as shou character goes, but with a creamy mouthfeel that lends it a positive over-all balance. Flavors include coffee, cocoa, black licorice, and autumn forest floor. That list implies it is intense in flavors, but instead it came across as a bit subtle as shou goes, just complex for the flavor range covered. Value doesn’t normally seem relevant for notes here but this tea seemed under-priced, especially for including a novel feel aspect and striking a positive overall balance (under $20 per full sized cake). It’s reviewed here along with another Moychay shou (but all that already covers the basic take):
A nice version of shou, typical for better and relatively intense versions. “Gongting” refers to use of finer leaf material. Flavor aspects transitioned from peat (which I interpreted as remnant of processing related flavor; it may or may not have been), into more earthy mineral, then cocoa and spice, hinting at dried fruit, finally including those and trailing into more autumn forest floor. The overall flavors were clean, intensity was good, mouth-feel full, and aftertaste pronounced. Pretty good as shou goes, reviewed further here in comparison with another shou version: