144 Tasting Notes


Opens with a soft perfumed must of old hardwood seasoned with incense. I love tea that evokes a monkish atmosphere. Calm, austere, and beautifully contemplative.

The taste is amiable and sweet with hidden florals and finishes with an interesting mineral hardness which spikes gracefully providing structure to an otherwise plush experience. The hui gan is shallow and simple but the mouth is left coated with a light and airy sweetness. Later steeps slide down effortlessly seemingly lubricated by the lingering silky mouthfeel.


been fielding candidates for an affordable aged cake purchase and i think ive found my mate. im open to suggestions if anyone has any :-)

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Some of you should be familiar with this seller’s standard by now. He’s picky and his teas are purdy good.

Dry aroma of sweet dark chocolate and nutmeg. Pour some boiling water on it and, lo, a strikingly pungent aroma of delicious pho broth and re-hydrated mushrooms. Smells like it wants to be salty.

The taste is an excellent woody malt with backdrops of wilted rose petal and cumin. The deep florals take prominence and the tannins sit soundly on the tongue with weight and structure. Later steeps blend the differing aspects of malt, broth and flora together quite artfully.

I haven’t had anything less than great from this guy’s shop so don’t be frightened by the seemingly astronomical prices of some of his teas. Even if you just get the sample sizes they are worth trying. There is an element of tea snobbery involved (that I’m sure he would admit to if confronted) but that’s only because of the time and effort put in to the careful selection of his stash. Look past the pomp and packaging and you will find superb tea. That is all.

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A dry and dusty brick with lots of yellow specks of this crazy alien fungus strewn about. Before pouring hot water on it there is a nice musty aroma of raw bitter chocolate.

The initial taste is faintly sweet and light on the palate but still thick and brothy. It’s more akin to aged puer than any red tea I’ve had and carries an interesting tartness found in some roasted aged oolong.

Overall this one is fairly complex and easy to drink. The flavor profile is smooth and understated with elements commonly found in different aged tea. I like it. The fungus doesn’t scare me.


“crazy alien fungus strewn about” , perfect.

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The wet aroma is of very sweet/tart dried apricot and citric acid. A honeysuckle sweetness lays under the brighter aromas and the vapor carries an interesting camphor-like quality.

A palatable sharpness is evident in the bright flavor of the liquor making this puer seem very sprightly and alive. Light camphor and dandelion finalize the immediate taste and the hui gan is of beautiful apricot nectar which clings to the mouth for quite some time after the sip is down.

This one is atypically sweet for such a young specimen and does not carry an overwhelming bitterness or smoky character. Very easy to like.

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After the epic letdown that was RIshi’s Osmanthus Silver Needle it is nice to be pleasantly surprised by the the quality of a tea, especially one which is, to me, uncharted territory.

The wet aroma is delicious and pungently earthy. It smells alive and welcoming with notes of wilted florals and virile soil. Everything about this tea is soft and striking. The mouthfeel is thick and coats the tongue with a low buttery “sweetness” that is not typically sweet yet not exactly savory either. Can it be the ever so elusive and ambiguous “umami” quality? Truly a rare species to behold especially in such a seemingly unlikely habitat. The woody malt sits heavily on the palate and a wet wood hui gan fills the throat leaving a lingering dark, nutty flavor in the mouth.

It is lighter, more complex and with a taste more like “tea” than most shu puer though with some overbrewing there can be a similar wo dui or piled fermentation greasy taste. It’s also softer and more pastoral in taste than typical Yunnan red teas. I know I’ve never had a tea from Sichuan before so this one stands out as unique to me.

And check this out: a 200 gram hand-woven bamboo package of this is, wait for it . . . $28.

Read more here: http://gingkobay.blogspot.com/2011/03/tibetan-hei-cha-ya-xi-grade.html

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Never before have my expectations been dashed so severely by a tea. Yeah, that’s an exaggeration but I was really looking forward to trying this for a very long time and now that I have I am pretty disappointed. I even gave it a few chances over the course of a week or two but na, it’s no good.

What I get is an overwhelming flavor of white miso blended with flowery soap and a chemically sweet mouthfeel. Seriously blech. If I had to extract one good quality from the tea I guess it would be the taste of the flower which is pretty nice when I can isolate it from the other flavors.

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Interesting find . . . thanks, Gingko, for sending me some to try!

The mini-cakes are loosely pressed and can be broken apart very easily. The dry and wet aroma is of a very good high-mountain type and actually surprised me with its sweet and creamy pungency.

The broth is thin and easy on the palate displaying typical sweet and green floral notes very well but does not command very much attention. There is sufficient depth and no unpleasant sharpness even when brewed with boiling water. The lasting hui gan brings the elements found in the wet aroma around full circle along with a very nice grassy flavor. At around the third steep the flavor really reveals a warm, almost spicy sweetness and a pleasant marine quality.

I would specifically serve this tea with food for this very reason as it strikes me as an excellent restaurant style tea. I usually refrain from serving hot tea with food because the tea may tend to get lost in the flavors of the meal (and I am not a gourmet chef though I would imagine that some creative soul out there can pioneer the art of pairing pure tea to a customized cuisine). I would not hesitate to serve this with any light meal and not because the flavors of the tea are disposable in any way. In fact, the flavors are so well balanced and comforting and the mouthfeel is so smooth and unassuming that it would enhance any meal made to accommodate it.

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As it stands, this one is a tweener and will undoubtedly improve with more age. The flavors are still quite sharp and are only beginning to develop. I did use this tea as an opportunity to introduce a friend to puer because it displays properties of both young and aged sheng.

I would definitely recommended this cake to someone who will continue to properly age it. The price is right and the flavors are there.

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The lively aroma of dark moss and shitake broth translates seamlessly into the flavor of the initial infusions carrying a light mouthfeel and slight dryness on the tongue albeit with no bitterness. The brothy savory notes cling to the back of the tongue and a light musty sweetness covers the rest of the mouth.

This one is pleasant and not very commanding. The price is very good for someone looking for a good everyday pressed sheng puer.

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This one starts with a delicate and mild aroma of sweet tobacco and dank moss. There is an immediately elegant sweetness to the over all light flavor to the liquor but with added notes of cedar and the incense of floral resins. The age does provide an element of austerity to the cup which, for me, really brings the flavors home. Brewing with hotter water brings out a typical aged “tang” and highlights the cedar and heavier wood notes.

The finish is slightly dry on the tongue and carries a cooling mouthfeel with a particularly interesting hui gan of eucalyptus and lavender.

Later infusions develop into more subtle interplays of lavender and sweet, mild incense. This one stays pleasantly heavy on the tongue yet light on the palate.


Does it strike you as strange, or perhaps somewhat consequential, as you drink, that what you are drinking is over 50 years old?
Some guy who perhaps made that in his 20s is now 70 years old!


It is a testament to the beauty of the God-given gift of the tea plant that with proper care and attention something grown so long ago can not only taste good but so unique as well. I’m 27 and it’s definitely a trip to get a hold on anything that’s older than me let alone ingest it. Perspective is a funny thing and usually very humbling. It reminds me how delicate and transient our lives are in the grand scheme of things yet how resilient life is in itself. Amazing, really.


And then if you think of things in the grand scheme, 50 years doesn’t seem too long at all. To me, it is amazing to think that God had the tea plant in mind (and all of the various kinds of tea he knew people would come up with from that one plant!) when he created the world. It’s kind of like jazz or laughter, difficult yet really cool to imagine that those were his ideas.

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“Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of sinners and resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of my belief in Christ.”
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