52 Tasting Notes

77

I had some physical issues with drinking this tea but didn’t go into too much detail on my blog because it’s a little gross. But I feel better talking about it on Steepster because people examine the physical effects of tea and sickness more directly and without any fanfare. Another issue is this tea has been so much discussed in the past on blogs and forums, and I am feeling like past discussions deserve a new look because I’m not convinced the tea is the same today as it was 5-10 years ago.

I brewed this up super strong, 8 grams per 125 ml yielding a thick brew, a bit orange from my Yixing pot. My inner tea drunk swang like a monkey over 8 steeps. The tea was not steeped out yet when I quit, and I kept the leaf for several days before throwing it out. If I could’ve steeped it out, I would have. This tea packed quite a punch of bitter with that undertone of floral I like so well in the black tea versions of this same leaf (light roast and regular roast. The brick has everything we would want in an age-er.

Yet the writing about this brick from 2005-8 indicate a sweet, gentle brew and people who own those years today say the brick turned flat and tasteless. That it is a drink-now kind of tea. Is this really the same tea? The one I tasted is a kick in the gut, not a kind and gentle brew by any stretch. I was flash brewing gong fu too. We’ve read about how recent droughts have concentrated tea leaves. Do you guys think this tea has changed at all, is the leaf stronger now? Or am I just a lightweight? Or will other people who drink Bulang raw or young Xiaguan use these as a comparison point for wild purple?

I paid for my tea drunk with a complete bowel clean out the next day. Before I blame the tea entirely, two other factors must be noted, one is bowel cramping from menopausal menstruation, another is I took naproxen (an NSAID) for back pain. Have any of you had issues with NSAID use and raw sheng puerh? Otherwise, I normally drink more highly aged tea and better quality tea leaf than this which won’t affect my gut, so maybe it is the tea.

I paid $30 for a tong of bricks and this 2013 edition is now sold out. Without the physical issues, I have to say I love this leaf. Seems like people either love it or it is a meh. But I might tuck these away for my son someday and stick to the black tea version if the raw really causes me distress. Too bad for me, it is one tasty cup.

Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Green Wood, Rose, Vegetal

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 125 ML
boychik

i didnt try 2013, but 2008,2010 are not harsh at all. and no “pipe cleanse” unfortunately.

Cwyn

Wow, okay. I should probably send this one out in swaps then so people can compare. Let me know if you want any.

boychik

thank you so much for the offer but already have one brick :) didnt try it yet.

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Oh crud, I did what several other reviewers did here and oversteeped this one. It’s deceivingly strong compared to the color. I am used to getting a dark brew with high fired oolong teas, this one has a strong flavor when the soup color is just a light sienna. I got 4 strong steeps from this but long brewed just about all. Probably could have squeezed out 8 steeps from the sample had I not overdone the brew times. Pretty tasty stuff, the leaves are yellow green once the roast steeps out.

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81

I’ve had this cake since last spring, and sort of forgot about it. Though it has been trying real hard to get my attention because it is extremely fragrant and I realize it has been one of the stronger smelling cakes in my tea fridge.

Brewed up 9 grams in 125 ml water, got a very thick orange syrup with the usual Yiwu floral, grape and vegetal notes. This tea is definitely one of the thickest shengs I’ve had to date. I’m not sure if the cake just turned over the summer, but reading DigniTea’s note on this from 5 months ago, am noting a honey yellow brew in DigniTea’s session. Mine is definitely orange with a red ring around the outside. At 12 years though, a cake is due to finish up the faster part of its fermentation and then slow down for a number of years afterward. Maybe the cake is just at that stage.

It’s a good tea, and I’m glad to have it. More middle of the road for Yiwu, better than the low end, but not long steeping like white2tea’s 1998 Yiwu or 2014 Last Thoughts that steep out past 30. I’m long brewing at 10 steeps with this Yong Pin Hao. Or maybe I’m just getting to that stage of puerh addiction where I just need more and more tea to get that tea buzz going. Four cups of this and I’m not there yet.

Seems like the 2003 Yong Pin Hao 100 gram tuos comprised of Yiwu tea bits for $6.50 might be a better way to go for regular drinking. The Yiwus I have now are special occasion teas. I don’t have the time for that kind of thinking. Drink it up!

I did post a photo of the first steep on my blog if people want to see the color of the brew that I got from this one.

http://deathbytea.blogspot.com

Flavors: Apricot, Grapes, Vegetal

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 4 OZ / 125 ML
boychik

pleasure reading your blog as usual;)

mrmopar

+1 with boychick’s comment.

Cwyn

Thanks guys! The post wouldn’t have been as much fun to do without a couple of Steepster peeps having reviewed this tea earlier this year, so I wanted to make sure I have a note here too.

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56
drank Yunnan Golden Pu-erh Tea by Teavana
52 tasting notes

I did. I went into a Teavana for the first time today. Up til now I’ve been a Teavana virgin but not anymore! Chose this tea even though it looked dirty in the can because nothing else interested me much. The brew took so long, even though I know to expect that, but it is tough to see a long brew of a leaf meant for flash steeps.

The tea had a red brew and a bit of a Lipton taste, but also something sweet that isn’t in the tea. Maybe the tea ware used to brew it had some residue of a previous brew. I tasted rubber band aids.

Oh well, it was a diverting experience to finally go to one of these shops. They have some rather scientific looking tea brewing devices, but I am still just a simple girl.

Posted a photo on my blog, as gamers always say “pic, or it didn’t happen.”

http://deathbytea.blogspot.com

AllanK

Teavana does not do puerh well. Its as if they try to go out of their way to find the worst puerh. They do flavored whites very well.

awilsondc

I tried teavana once and ordered this exact same tea. I agree it tastes like lipton or some standard black tea. I looked it up and turns out it is a pu erh blend mixed with black tea. The whole 90 second steep thing bothered me too, but it was to be expected. They really shouldn’t call this pu erh IMO.

Cwyn

The girl was steeping several teas, the steep was more like 3 minutes.

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56
drank Yunnan Golden Pu-erh Tea by Teavana
52 tasting notes

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Received one of these small ripe pu squares as a sample with a recent order. These squares should be up soon at white2tea.com, and I’ve already ordered a double on this. I don’t think the tea contains any chocolate, they just look like little candies because of the shapes, squares and little hearts ranging from 4 grams to 8 grams apiece. An order consists of a bunch of varied sizes.

I jumped on an order of these after giving the one sample a try, because I think this is a bit of benchmark history for puerh, a time when ripe puerh still contained some wild arbor or wild tea leaf. Camphor and a cooling finish indicates the trees grew near wild camphor bushes. The little bricks are dry-stored which will be good news for people who hate traditional storage. I can smell a bit of old paper smell, probably from paper wrappings or box storage, but I expect this to air out of the tea eventually.

Soup is brown and crystal clear. White2tea selections have been notable for me with clarity, I just haven’t yet had a murky tea from them. No chocolate flavor, but a nice smooth shu in a size I can take with me on travels and when I don’t feel like picking apart a cake. I plan to share a few of these with friends.

Got some photos of my little bricks and the brew on my blog at http://deathbytea.blogspot.com.

Flavors: Caramel, Paper, Tea, Wet Rocks, Wet Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Cheri

Ooh! This sounds good!

boychik

you are hilarious. i enjoyed your blog as usual. And white2tea subscription is something I’m looking into. i just wished it would a little more specific about amount of tea

Cheri

He said that it’s going to vary by month, sounds like at least 30g, but it could be as much as 300g.

boychik

Thank you Cheri for letting me know. i think im sold,haha

Cwyn

I’ve been getting occasional lucky samples of stuff with my orders, tea that is not offered on the website. If it is anything like these off-the-shelf samples, I think we are in for a treat. I feel like I’ll be getting personal tea shopping services every month.

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drank 1992 Big Tao Hong Mark by White2Tea
52 tasting notes

Received this sheng puer tea as a sample with a recent purchase, but I don’t see it on the white2tea site at the moment. Perhaps it will be offered soon. Quite lucky to get a 10g sample of something older like this.

Loose compression of tea leaves, huang pian and sticks. Brewed up the full 10 grams in Yixing gongfu pot. Traditional wet storage, but not heavy, rinsed off with two rinses. Tea soup brewed up that lovely dark brown color we all want to see in our aged sheng. Got quite a bitter brew still, this tea has a lot of aging potential left, nowhere near flat nor tired. Very cooling on the finish, and I know that I’m tasting some of that old tree stuff that is hard to find nowadays. Two cups and surprisingly I got a heavy dose of caffeine, all too often aged sheng has nothing left of the caffeine and I start to yawn afterward but this baby had me up doing laundry and looking for lunch. Just those two cups and I can save the leaves for later. Dunno how many brews to go, but will find out!

More trouble I got up to and photos at http://deathbytea.blogspot.com

Flavors: Camphor, Caramel, Wet Earth, Wet Rocks

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 4 OZ / 110 ML
mrmopar

Huang pian brews nice a lot of times.

Cwyn

Yeah I definitely haven’t steeped this out yet, the whole sample is a lot of tea to fully rehydrate. Good flavor on this and the storage is just right.

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81

Brewed up 9 grams in about 110 ml water, two rinses and long 30 second first steep. This tea cake is only a few months old, essentially fresh green tea leaves and not really fermented at all yet. My tong of this tea is quite fragrant sitting in crock storage.

Laos tea cakes are often compared with Yiwu because the Phongsaly area of villages is just over the border from Yunnan. The tea doesn’t disappoint in this comparison, very floral and mellow, with lemony undertone. I pushed the tea because I am used to a much stronger puerh brew.

My shoving of the tea got me 5 good steeps before showing signs of fade in the soup color. No real smoke here to speak of. The leaf quality is excellent, with buds and whole leaves. I am not sure why this tea cake costs less than half the price of the neighboring village cakes which Chawangshop also sells, maybe this cake is just more mild. But the $22 price tag drops to $19 per cake with a purchase of a tong of 5, I paid $96 for the tong. I think this is a great steal either way if you want a mellow Yiwu flavor.

At the same time, Chawangshop’s own 2012 Yiwu costs only $12 for the same size cake. I have that cake too, but don’t feel it is fair to compare Yunnan with Laos cakes even though the border is a political division and not really how tea trees decide where to grow. We do know about the Laos cakes as the government there strictly bans any pesticide or artificial fertilizer use in the region on tea trees.

Great choice of tea cake for people who enjoy fresh “puerh” cakes. Gulp without guilt. Works for me.

Much different narrative than this plus a couple photos at http://deathbytea.blogspot.com

Flavors: Floral, Green, Lemon

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 45 sec 9 g 4 OZ / 110 ML
boychik

i have so much fun reading your blog ;)

Cheri

I do like that your blog post is so different from the post here. Good read! And the tea sounds good, too!

Cwyn

Thanks! The tea is actually really good, for a new tea. It is a shame collectors don’t view Laos cakes favorably when really it is the same tea as just over the border. However, I have read that Yunnan factories buy this leaf for filler in Yunnan cakes, who would know the difference?

DigniTea

Your note is very timely. I’ve been curious about Honza’s offerings from Laos so I think you’ve given me a reason to try them. By the way, I love the 1st paragraph on your blog post for this one – let’s just say that I took it personally. ;-)

mrmopar

She is a trip!

Cwyn

O€O. It is hard work picking teas, cuz I don’t have a Chairman Meow who wants to help me. Thanks guys!

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80

Picked up a sample of this about a month ago, letting it air out since then. The tea is described as Hong Kong dry storage, which actually means the tea still has some musty flavor. About the right amount, in my opinion. Brewed up 6 grams of the looser leaf included in the sample.

Tea is indeed musty on the first three steps or so, very minerally, a touch salty. Lively spot on the tongue. Brews up nice and dark brown, like coffee. Yum! Green tea flavor starts to creep in, not much bitterness in this. Starts to fade after 8 steeps or so and I increase the steep times up from the flash brewing.

This tea doesn’t have the wild leaf or anything particularly special to note except for the excellent storage. Tuos take forever to age due to the tight compression, and without humidity this one wouldn’t be as good as it is. Still at $74 for a 100 gram tuo, I don’t think I want to spring the cash for more, I can find similar leaf and storage for a lot less.

Photos on my blog http://deathbytea.blogspot.com

Flavors: Plums, Wet Rocks, Wet wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 75 ML
Cwyn

I have the photo to add, but either the new iOS 8 for IPad or the photo software on Steepster isn’t loading the photo, it just spins. Will try again another time.

Sarsonator

I gave up and had to just do it from my laptop. Kind of annoying tho!

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77
drank 2004 Jianshen Tuo by White 2 Tea
52 tasting notes

I bought a four-pack of these tuos, difficult to buy just one of these because they cost only $9.80 each. The age already on this tea enticed me, I prefer to buy something with some age on it. The other reviewer of this tea gave it a poor rating, but didn’t know to gong-fu this tea.

The positives are this is one Energizer Bunny of a tea, just goes on and on and on. Two days in and I’m wondering when it will end. The shiboridashi is stuffed to the gills and I’ve got more buds and leaves than sticks. Long huigan, thick and full, very bitter when pushed with boiling water and less so with cooler water. Mellows to sweet on the tongue.

Description includes tobacco notes, but this is more of a fresh pipe tobacco. There is no actual char from processing in this tea, so for me this doesn’t qualify as smoky. Not compared to a Menghai or Xiaguan raw tuo. The soup starts out caramel colored and yellows after the fourth steep or so.

One downside is the tea was dry stored and is still so green. It is definitely in second stage and hasn’t turned any corners yet into something I would consider aged. My tea fridge storage doesn’t penetrate the thick paper so well. I transferred the tuos to stoneware. Would love to ship them off to puerh boarding school for a year of humid storage. I like a bit of traditional storage on my tea, but not so much it obscures other flavors. This tea is very strong and could take a year of humidity without losing the other flavors. As it is now, the tuo tastes like a lot of other teas I’ve had, the dusky apricot with caramel notes.

Dunno if I’ll be around when this tea matures into a dark, red/brown love nest, still got so far to go. The material is what we want for aging, but I’m probably too far ahead of this tea myself.

Photos and blog post which is mostly unrelated to the tea itself, at http://deathbytea.blogspot.com

Flavors: Apricot, Caramel, Tobacco

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Yang-chu

pu’er boarding school… that’s a good one.

apt

Sounds like I gotta pick one up.

Ag

I picked up one of these in my first White2Tea order and it accidentally became my default study tea. Tasty, strong, helps keep me awake/focused without actually getting tea buzzed/drunk, and lasts forever. I think it took me close to three days to steep it out. Gotta get more at some point.

Cwyn

Omg yeah 3rd day in and I can’t steep out that Jianshen, well past 20 steeps.

Ag

“The Jianshen is like a young boy toy who won’t go home and doesn’t seem to sleep.”

I fell out of my chair from laughing so hard at that description in your latest blog post. So hilariously accurate.

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Bio

Convent trained, PhD, strong background in herbal infusions during those years. Started drinking green teas almost 20 years ago to address a kidney issue, now in remission, and never looked back. Seeking friends and curators with interests in premium and small batch teas. I drink all greens, and maintain a small collection of sheng and shu cakes. I am interested in first flush, wild leaf, ancient leaf, teas for and by monks and nuns, and difficult teas. My appreciation is high for subtle palates, though my own is rather average. Always interested in unique teas, brewing and storage issues.

Avatar photo credited to oolong-tea.org, I bought this vintage duan-ni tea caddy from them and own it.

Blog: http://deathbytea.blogspot.com/

Location

Midwest US

Website

http://deathbytea.blogspot.com/

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