73 Tasting Notes
This is a true old arbor gushu puerh tea with a predominantly Yiwu floral flavor and a Menghai base flavor. Leaves and stems are large and thick and this tea steeps fifteen times or more. I used 5 grams of leaf in about 75-100 ml water, and this was too much for me due to a powerful head effect similar to what I experience with hydrocodone. Two cups and I was sweating, foggy headed, and heart palpitations, and had to sleep it off a couple times. Younger people might not need the nap, but one other person has confirmed the painkiller effect to me on his sample.
This tier of tea has layers of things to taste.I got mostly the floral Yiwu, some bitterness and astringency, along with hot pepper, grapes, aspirin, Chinese medicine, Apple vinegar and I don’t mean in a sour way, more that flavor of apples fermenting in wood casks. I’m certain as I continue to drink this tea I will find even more things to taste. The tea seems more bassy than last year’s, a bit more base than bud which to me adds more of those darker notes and rounds out the profile nicely. The painkiller effect is new, I’m certain that it wasn’t in last year’s edition.
I checked with TwoDog and he said the tea is the same arbor as last year, just different leaf of course. This cake would be interesting to see a Chinese medicine doctor try and learn about how it might be used as medicine. I hope to get a full cake myself. This is the best quality, highest tier of puerh tea we can acquire in the west. The best tea, period. I will never find better in my life than this.
A cautionary note for drinkers with heart issues, I believe I would be fine with a dosage of 3G/100ml but no more. You can read more on my blog http://deathbytea.blogspot.com and also take note of the reader comment who experienced a similar effect.
Flavors: Apple Skins, Floral, Grapes, Lemon, Peppercorn, Vegetal, Vinegar
I steeped a 99g weight gourd of this tea because I am unable to chip off any of this highly compressed tuo. I wasn’t just doing it to be funny, this is how I had to access the tea. And sometimes I eat an entire box of chocolates too. Cuz I want to. Cuz it is yummy. This tea is light and delicate enough. I steeped this using a 900+ ml Bonjour borosilicate teapot.
I went 8 rounds on this tea and the flavor justifies the “cake” name with thick yellow sweetness. As it happens, yellow butter Poundcake has been my favorite birthday cake most of my life, and only the nuns took the trouble to learn this about me and baked them for me, bless them. The tea here is sweet, motor oil thick, with notes of cloves and nutmeg on the early steeps.
After round 8, at 208 F temps, I’d literally stewed the tea. The leaves began to disintegrate into mush, rather like over cooked canned asparagus. The tea is probably best respected in the lightly compressed cake form which is what is available to buy, rather than the highly compressed tuo available only to tea club members. If I had the tea again, I would brew this at a far lower temp, maybe even as low as 170F to try and keep the integrity of the leaves. I think this is why the flavor dropped off for me well before the color or body of the liquid. The leaves seem like lettuce picked after a rain.
Having said that, I find white2tea’s house productions to be a memorable experience. I get why the fresh experience of this leaf makes it special. It is really easy to drink a big pitcher of this tea because it is so gentle, not bitter, not sour, just sweet and thick. In fact, I’d have a harder time drinking a pitcher of lemonade or beer compared to this. Spring honey all the way with this one. Drink fresh, it is not one to hoard to age.
Flavors: Cloves, Honey, Nutmeg
Received a sample of this tea with a purchase and just noticed it in my pile. Brewed two teaspoons in about 100 ml gong fu in a kyusu pot for 30 second steeps.
I didn’t notice any special flavors to this tea, to me it just tasted
Iike a regular black tea. Ceylon tea is in many tea bags I’ve had over the years. But the caffeine kick in this is pretty powerful. I had taken an ibuprofen for a pinched nerve in my back and have been doing this for days now. This tea had a sort of Excedrin effect and really boosted the ibuprofen tab.
Honestly this is the best pain relief I’ve had in days. Gonna hoard my little Baggie of this tea. Will recommend this for the caffeine because it is definitely one of the stronger teas I’ve had lately.
I ordered two ounces of this tea for a crazy low price of $3.55, along with an order of Lin’s Teaware. The Teasmith’s Lin’s collection is mostly half price right now, I find the cups amazing with their heat distribution qualities. So I ordered cups, then turned around and ordered one more cup and this tea as well as some Rou Gui I have yet to try.
This tea blasts my nose with pine smoke when I open the bag. Western style steeping produced better results for me, my gong fu just ended up too light. I tried two different infusers after that, the Eva Solo and then just one from a Nissan insulated thermos which would likely classify now as vintage since I’ve had it 20 years. Finally I just dumped some of the leaves loose into the teapot and this produced the best brew. My son came downstairs to get a brownie from the pan I baked earlier.
“Mom come out here.”
“What,” annoyed because I’m drinking tea and typing which means leave Mother alone.
“I smell a brat cooking.”
“It’s my tea.”
“It’s not your tea, just come out here.”
But it was the tea. While I was thinking of the piñon incense I used to buy in New Mexico, my son who has never been to the southwest identified the scent of Wisconsin cheesehead childhood. It is his reference. I had him smell the bag of tea, and he was uncertain. He continued to hang a little on the stairs with a little wistful and crestfallen look, he kinda wanted that German brat he smelled to be real. He felt so sure he smelled grilling. Well of course we use wood briquettes to grill, or I cut green maple branches for smoking fish.
Because of my experimenting with parameters and adding water along the way, I can’t say exactly what I used but about 2 tbsp of tea for 28 ounces of water in a 31 oz Bonjour glass teapot. This was more tea than I really needed so I dumped less than half into the pot after the gong fu didn’t work out. Brewed at 208 F, my kettle is set for that temp.
Smoke is long and loud and the tongue tingles. Sweetness from the tea follows only with the long steep. The pine smoke is strong now and needs time to integrate more with the tea. I plan to tin up this tea and let it rest. The vendor site has a couple reviews on using this tea as a rub for meats and fish prior to cooking the meat. One person dried out the used tea and saved it for cooking too.
Flavors: Oak wood, Pine, Smoke, Smoked
I wish I had read the Steepster reviews before buying this. The reviewers mention the sugar syrup or sugar whatever added to the tea. This isn’t mentioned on the website description at all. It just says sencha plus cherry blossoms and petals. What the tea really has is cherry marshmallows, like the kind of dried marshmallows in cereal like Lucky Charms. They dissolve completely in the brew. The website should have mentioned added sugar, instead it gives the impression of an herbal sencha blend, which this is NOT.
Leave it to my idiocy for not checking what my fellow Steepster people wrote. Actually it didn’t occur to me, I thought this was a new tea and wouldn’t be reviewed yet.
The tea smells like the cherry marshmallows but the cup fortunately doesn’t really translate the sickly sweet smell. The dry tea smells like a ton of flavoring and sweetener was added but maybe it comes down to controlling how many of the marshmallows you put in the pot, because the actual sencha appears to be just pure leaf.
I’ve had American Tea Room’s Sencha Ashikubo before, and for the price it is not too bad. This one tastes more vegetal in the cup than cherry or sweet. The sweetness might help with bitterness if oversteeped, but again it might change depending upon how many marshmallows you have in your brew. I could taste the spinach-y sencha and if I hadn’t smelled the bag or seen the marshmallows I wouldn’t have known from the taste that anything else was added. So that means I can stand to drink it and will likely finish the bag. I won’t buy it again, but I can at least recommend it as a pretty spring sencha that is mild and pleasant with no overpowering notes.
Flavors: Spinach, Sugar, Vegetal
I got a generous sample of this tea from klasektea.com with the purchase of teaware. I’m not seeing the tea on the website as of this writing, but it is early May and 2015 teas are just arriving in shops.
Normally I’m not a fan of Darjeeling First Flush which is really just plain wrong of me, since it is a miracle of tea processing. The floral scent of this picking is unparalleled. Having said this, for some reason this tea hit a sweet spot for me last night and I stayed up until 5 a.m. drinking it. Maybe the spring blossoms and lilacs outside got me in the mood for this fresh floral.
This tea is the bomb! It is not so cloyingly floral and doesn’t go bitter when brewed hot. I know it’s wrong to brew this much over 85 C but I usually want a little bitterness so I go 95 C. Brewed about 1 tsp of leaves gong fu in Lin’s Ceramic 100 ml teapot and cup. I continue to be hugely impressed with Lin’s cups especially, the heat distribution improves the mouthfeel of just about any tea I’ve tried. It is like a round bubble of warm tea in my mouth when I take a good sip.
Another thing I noticed is this tea lasted for more quick steeps than others I’ve had in the past. I long brewed it on steep 7 and still got a strong cup.
Flavors: Floral, Honey
This is the huang pian cake in the 2012 Chawangshop Yiwu line of cakes. I purchased it in 2014 for $12, it is now $14 in 2015. Read the vendor description carefully so you know what you are getting because the cake name is a little misleading. The tea is supposedly 1/2 Yiwu leaves, and all the leaf is supposed to have been picked prior to April 8. Leaf quality is thin and papery.
I packed a lot of leaves into my gaiwan, expecting this to be on the lighter side, which it is. The first two steeps confirm the smattering of Yiwu leaves but I notice on steep 1 that boiling water kills the tea and flattens the flavor. 190-200 is more ballpark for this. On steep 3 and subsequent steeps the other “half” of the leaves emerge with a rather ordinary plantation apricot flavor. The little Yiwu sister is chased away by her bigger and badder brother.
Not much body here, in steep 5 I’m swishing the leaves to add a little steep time. And nothing offensive in the tea, very light overall but I’m disappointed at the rather ordinary taste. I wish this had kept the Yiwu leaf throughout or even some Laotian leaf for that other half. But then the low price speaks for itself. Given the amount of leaf I used, I can probably use up this 200 g cake quickly.
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Hot hay
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Really? I filled up my gaiwan for this…I can smell what I call “mall puerh” a mile away, that incense-y store flavor you can find in a million cakes on EBay and Taobao. This is just sad, leathery old poor quality “tea” to which a few young “white buds” have been added in as a sprinkling. Some of the tea is just black leaf along with brown, leathery leaves. You can talk to me all day long about brewing it “cooler,” but nothing will improve this leaf. I can’t believe a company online which is trying to be nice actually would put their name on this cake, but whatever. I’m a person who wants to like a tea, but I’d rather drink dandelion greens from my yard than this.
From the Sheng Traveling Tea Box.
I ordered a 100g cake of this to go with the 2013 Spring and 2014 Autumn I already own. I also am not quite believing this is really Spring pick from Jan or Feb.
The cake is rather brown and loosely compressed and looks exactly like my Autumn cake. This isn’t spring pick, it might contain some spring tea from previous years, and then pressed from loose into a cake in 2015. But it isn’t fresh spring tea. I have my 2013 Spring to compare also which I can tell was pressed fresh, it is tighter and clearly had a lot more moisture. So it is maybe spring maocha PRESSED in 2015. So I explored tea selling and relative truth in my blog post using this tea and another tea. Http://deathbytea.blogspot.com
Having said that, I like mild teas with floral Yiwu profiles, they are kinder on the stomach. The strength of this one doesn’t approach the intensity of something like Last Thoughts at white2tea, but is similar to Chawangshop’s Ban Payasi. The Ban Payasi is from the Laos side of the border, but has the same trees as the Yiwu side of the border, and the price point is lower than for a Yunnan tree. Anyway, milder Yiwu profile teas are one of the few young sheng teas I like to drink. The leaves on my new cake show browning so I know it is a blend with older tea.
I didn’t feel guilty breaking up this new Misty Peaks cake and adding it into a crock canister with the other Misty Peaks teas I have. The level of aging is about the same for them all. And hopefully they are indeed single-origin! I’ve been looking for a nice crock for my Misty Peaks tea for some time and finally found a nice one which looks lovely on the shelf.