65 Tasting Notes

9

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.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
TeaBrat

hmm. wow. I haven’t had a bad tea from Norbu myself but have never tried this one.

DigniTea

This is a good example of that “tastes vary” comment I made the other day. As you know, could be many different variables involved here but many people have enjoyed this particular tea (although I know nothing about the condition of your particular sample). Also, agree with TeaBrat and say that Norbu is a fine tea seller.

Cwyn

Not a tastes vary situation. This is about quality of base material and this one is intentionally deceptive in its creation. There are fresh young buds on top of old, poor quality tea. If the whole sample is evenly bad I could question the sample. Norbu seems to mainly source from India, the deception here is in China. This tea is either not what Norbu sampled for purchase, a bait and switch, or just unscrupulous wholesale source.

Dr Jim

Wow. I’ve got to jump in on the side of “tastes vary,” since I’m the one who put it in the box. This is one of my favorite teas, though it doesn’t really taste like a pu-erh: more like a white tea with character.

DigniTea

Cwyn – I must respectfully disagree for my experiences with this tea (I own a cake and I have enjoyed it at least six times) are totally different from that which you describe. After reading your comment, I pulled out my cake to look at it again. My cake is full of buds throughout. While I do not have your particular sample, I can say that I have shared this tea with a few people and reading over the other Steepster notes posted, your experience is definitely an outlier. Since you pulled it from a teabox, is it possible that somewhere along the way moving from person to person it might have been switched or mislabeled? As I am sure you already know, this is a rather light delicate tea and I have found that it performs better at a temperature below 205 degrees.

Dr Jim

The temperature is a good point. I found it OK at 200 degrees, but fell in love at 185. I also looked at my beeng, and it is salt-and-pepper. I then looked at a Mandala silver bud and saw the same thing. They both seem to be about 50% bud. I think it’s just the style.

Dr Jim

BTW: I checked my notes on the S&S TTB and I don’t think this was a tea that I added (though I own a beeng and considered adding some). Stacy from Butiki provided some tea to help start the box, including a sample of “Norbu cake”. It is possible that this tea isn’t white buds at all, but a different Norbu cake?

Cwyn

Really I have no idea, DigniTea, this was a sample with loose tea and a small chunk, and not a cake with the wrapper. I did not get 50% bud at all though. Maybe 3 white buds and a gaiwan full of leathery brown leaves.

The idea of the TTB was to choose some teas from the box and write reviews. This was my observation of the leaf and I don’t think the temp will change the leathery brown leaves. I can respect people may not agree on teas, but I’m not going to change my opinion.

Cwyn

Dr. Jim, increasing the temp and pushing the tea is a way to test if the tea breaks down under the pressure. Good base material will not. This is a normal way of testing puerh tea, the sample is mostly puerh tea.

Dr Jim

Sorry to re-open this, but I found a few grams of the Norbu that was added to the tea box (I removed a few samples before sending the box out). This is definitely NOT the 2011 Spring Norbu White Buds, as it has virtually no buds, while my beeng is full of them (though the bud to leaf ratio appears to be about 1:1). I can’t address Cwyn’s comment on the quality; she’s much more experienced in drinking pu-erh than I am, but at least we can say that Norbu is not mis-representing the tea.

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80

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.

Flavors: Floral

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Jiāng Luo

Get some samples of YS purple yiwu tea it is probably half the price maybe less especially if you get autumn which would be even lighter on the stomach. I can send you a sample of the cake I have if you would like

Jiāng Luo

btw eye spy the W2T puer pick if your blog post ;)

Cwyn

Actually my pick is from Yunnan Sourcing, the $2 pick is the same everywhere. I do have a purple Yiwu from YS as well^^ haven’t tried it though.

Tealizzy

Thanks for the informative review! I’m still learning, and your comments in Instagram and here are helpful!

Jiāng Luo

oh whoops yeah it seemed like it was generic still like the thought espically since he branded the ones he sent out with a pair of yiwu this month, both being way out of my price range so I almost dont want to try them for fear I will like them

Jiāng Luo

try the ys purple yiwu mine is super fruity berriesque not super complexity almost like the kool aid but a nice transition tea

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Happily my new teapot set arrived from Camellia Sinensis, and my heart sank to find this 09 tea as the sample in the box. Of all the tea types, Darjeeling is one of my least favorite. So I approached it with some fear and trepidation. My familiar tea experiences are primarily with puerh tea. So naturally I’m far more comfortable with dirty, musty, moldy tea containing dried bugs, pods and pubic hairs. Really I am just not sure what to do with clean tea. Do I rinse it? Or is that sacrilegious?

Neon green in the cup. Tastes like sour corn. Guess I won’t be rating this.

Lindsay

“Not enough dirt, mold, bugs or pubic hairs.” That’s quite the tea review. ;)

Cwyn

Side effect of drinking puerh all the time, and then picking up a fresher premium leaf and not knowing what to do.

Lindsay

My advice would be to steep it like a green tea. Darjeelings are weird. :)

Stephanie

haaaaaa!

bef

What about that new teapot? Which one is it?

Cwyn

It’s Lin’s Ceramics. Still getting used to it. The spout really arcs the tea like a baby boy on a changing table.

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90

My first note got eaten by Steepster…:(

This shou is friggin’ awesome, and I believe I got the parameters down perfect. I aired out this shou for six months. My tea pals can tell you how long it took me to learn that aged offerings need airing!! I’ve learned that the aged teas from white2tea require this kind of patience but to trust TwoDog on his choices, if it ain’t good then I didn’t air it long enough or I didn’t brew it right. The longer an aged tea has been stored in China, the longer it really needs to rest and air out after arriving to really be the best.

I brewed up this 20 g melon in 180 ml Zhuni clay teapot to let it expand but then I used about half the water! So about 100 ml water after doing four rinses. The lump of shou sticks up above the water line. I’m on day 3 STILL flash brewing past 15 steeps. Smells earthy in the pot but the taste is the reward, mushrooms, dates, cherries, cacao, thick port wine flavored brown brew of goodness and double happy dance. Brew it thick and thicker with less water, this tuo is 20 g for a reason and the makers knew what they were doing when they made these! Oh yeahhhhh….

Flavors: Cacao, Cherry, Dates, Mushrooms, Red Wine

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 20 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Jiāng Luo

HOLY **** you steeped the whole tou cha at once?

Cwyn

Oh heck yeah. Three days and I’m still steeping this right now as I write! I’m now at the add water and swirl pot before pouring phase, which means just a hair past flash brewing. The key with this one is brewing the whole thing, it takes two days to begin to unfurl so you are getting a kind of timed steeping due to the compression. Zhuni is a nice dark red clay, very good for heavy teas like this.

Haveteawilltravel

This sounds like quite the experience :) Why is it short of a perfect 100?

Cwyn

Lately Lao Cha Tou is just edging out regular shou for me.

Haveteawilltravel

ahhh okay so its only a solid tea rather than something worth fanning about?

paxl13

I’d have added something but I have to try this CWYN BRUTAL SHOU TECHNIQUE :)

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I’m confused now where I got this sample, I’ve received many samples lately. The tea was in a Baggie and then a small labeled box. Something must have happened to it. This tea had no scent, no color in the cup and no flavor. It Refused to Infuse.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 tsp 3 OZ / 100 ML
KiwiDelight

Funny how a tea can “Refuse to Infuse”.

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81

I tried to refuse samples from Wymm mainly because I’m just too old to expect to age out tea this green. But they decided that makes me a challenging customer to win over. I suggested the Laohuangpian in the hope of getting some of the older and sweeter leaves, at least it might be a tea I’d consider purchasing. Plus it is one of their least expensive Sheng offerings.

Brewed up the single session sample, got about 8 decent steeps. Might have got the tea to go longer but I was already nearly a good two minutes steep time. It is huangpian so I don’t expect these leaves to have a ton of power. I was impressed at the initial bitterness which always bodes well for aging, and the grape flavor instead of apricot. To me the grape champagne is a better tasting leaf in drinkable young sheng, if not always the best ager.

I’d be happier with this cake at a $30-35 price point but it was pleasant enough. The packaging though gave me a huge blog topic to write about and for that I’m very grateful for the sample. My longer post is at http://deathbytea.blogspot.com

Flavors: White Grapes

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
TeaBrat

scented wrappers?? on a puerh?

Cwyn

Perfumey, yeah.

Cheri

I didn’t think they were scented when I got mine…..weird.

WymmTea

Thanks for the review Cwyn! That’s a very interesting point you mentioned.

The wrapper we used was traditionally handcrafted paper produced by Dai minority group in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan. Inner barks of paper mulberry are soaked, boiled, pounded into paste, and then sun-dried to sheets. This paper has been used for pu-erh wrapping and calligraphy for centuries. In 1734, Yin Jishan (the governor of Yunnan-Guizhou Provinces) proposed tea regulations to Yongzheng Emperor. The central government of Qing approved the proposal and established Yunnan Chafa (Yunnan Tea Law) in the following year, which specifically regulated the form, weight, packaging of pu-erh tea for ease of transaction and taxation in local sales and export trades. Pu-erh once traded and transported on the ancient tea-horse route were wrapped with the same handcrafted paper. Perfumes and anything scented are prohibited from our tea storages as we know that dry tea leaves has strong absorbability for fragrances. :)

Cwyn

Nevertheless the sachets have a perfumey smell. It is light but definitely there. Maybe it is from the other parts of the packaging, but it is a light fragrance that is not tea-related.

ashmanra

Wow, I have sniffed mine seeking an odor and can’t get one. Any chance your tea traveled in the post with some of those obnoxious, sinus irritating perfume cards?

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76

7 grams of this gave it up early with a heavy Bulang brew. Leaf quality is excellent for a factory cake, many buds. Supposedly this tea cake contains 10% Laobanzhang. In my observation, I would say the 90% Spring Bulang is carrying the cake flavor-wise, and the LBZ is chop, appears to be either autumn or summer or just leftover chop used as filler. I get the full flavor of the bitter Bulang with apricot tones. The leaf has a sourish smell, and the soup is cloudy which tells me the beeng is busy fermenting.

The leaf quality and flavor bring to mind white2tea’s Amerykah cakes, and other higher quality Bulang I’ve tried. Gave out around 8 steeps for me, after that I could push it and get the bitter but not much depth left.

A point of ponder for me is the current price tag. It is $129 for 400 g at Tea Urchin which puts it on par with white2tea price-wise, aside from any reassurance people might get from the testing white2tea does on their cakes. One can expect the price of this cake to go up yearly. However, I don’t think the LBZ in the cake, which is what will drive the price tag, is enough here to justify the price. For me the question is whether I want to pay $129 for Bulang. Even though this would age well, I’m more inclined to purchase a decent 7542 factory recipe with 10 years age on it at this price point, and look for an all-Bulang cake at a far lower price. I’d feel more comfortable with this cake at around $80-90 which won’t happen because of the LBZ. The truth though is this is really a Bulang cake in the end in terms of how it goes with flavor now and later on.

Overall this cake needs 15 years which is too long and a deciding factor for me. However, I’d look around if I’m in the market for a young Bulang to age, I think I can do better on the price.

Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Grapes

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
AllanK

I’ve often thought it a myth that all LBZ material is of the highest quality. Seems to me that some of it’s got to be less than great.

Dr Jim

I just don’t understand the theory that adding 10% of high-quality leaves will somehow raise the quality of the rest of the tea.

mrmopar

Glad I got this before the increase. After talking with Scott about this producer and his ways this will probably be the last one of these I get. I agree the LBZ thing is getting crazy. No fault by the sellers of this tea just the hype and ways it is done.

Cwyn

The leaf actually tastes great, really I’m just balking over the price for it now because it is all related to the LBZ when the whole taste profile is Bulang.

mrmopar

I agree, you ain’t kiddin about the price going up!
I think the LBZ movement is pretty dead in my collection. I have seen the prices on this stuff now. Really overpriced I think.

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This one still needs a couple more years to clear up and lose the funk. Has a nice port smell I’m not tasting in the cup, mostly getting earthy and woody flavors. I’m surprised at how similar this is to 7572, flavor-wise, but more twiggy. A little disappointing a “tribute” cake is this twiggy. But it is early days with this cake, a couple more years and it could be stunning.

I am really grateful for the generous sample, since this cake is now costing $70 from Berylleb. I think this price is 2x too much to pay at this point, but perhaps the cake is getting scarce and that is the reason for the high tag. Paying for the label? But right now I can buy white2tea’s 2014 Lao Cha Tou, same gram weight as a full cake of this tea, for half the price, and a much better cup. Still, that thought won’t stop me from drinking this up.

Flavors: Decayed wood, Earth

Stephanie

I love this shou! I’m a big fan of Lao Cha Tuo too :)

Yang-chu

Makers swear by the twigs, which they say adds to the flavour when aging. The bit about twigs comes up regularly with fu-cha as well. Evidently, there is something in the twigs that assists in the fermentation process. What is your experience?

@ Steph (tou cf tuo)

Stephanie

lol tououous

Cwyn

Twigs and roots must be boiled to extract any flavor beyond what has accumulated on the surface of the twig from other leaves. I say it is BS that they add flavor, they are filler, but most likely it is a cheaper process to include the twigs. If they have to be removed, the only way is by hand, labor intensive and time consuming. Nobody is going to do it. With high grades of tea, these are usually small batch and very expensive and so hand processing for quality is more likely. But factory made tea cakes of chop sold cheap will have the twigs.

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Received sample from a friend. The dry storage on this is excellent, the tea has lost none of its original scent and flavor. Highly floral, still rather green. Brewed up about 7 grams.

Very sweet honey aftertaste, bitter edge but not terribly astringent.

I’m drinking this 10 years into the life of the leaf and it is in the process of changing from a young tea to a teenage tea. The tea is a dark yellow. In fact the tea is slightly cloudy and I smell and taste a malty ferment. The smoky char is also changing. This tea is in flux, which a good sign. I’d be pulling out this cake come summer and let it get full-on humidity.

Flavors: Apricot, Honey, Malt

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
jschergen

Interesting. I had a couple sessions from this (straight from YS) and hated it. It made me feel ill. Curious if I was just wrong or if the storage on it is magic. You’re notes at least intrigue me enough to want to try it again..

Cwyn

I only drank one cup. It is just not yet in a drinkable state, but is coming along.

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89

Bravo on these nugs, got 300 g and dunno if I have enough. I reviewed these somewhat on my blog, but now today after steeping a small amount of this tea for 3 days, 20+ steeps, I’m gonna boil the leaves. Five minutes of a boil in an enamel pan. I got a thick coffee colored brew that tasted very minerally.

Gushing on these nuggets because they taste great, and are an incredible value at $5.50 for 50 grams, 3 days of steepings plus a boil or two after that!

I’ve been (tea) Pimped!

I took photos of the boiling, I don’t know how to post links, I’m new to tweeters and Grammies but I’m cwynsdeathbytea on Instagram.

Flavors: Chocolate, Mineral, Plums

bellmont

Did you get any sourness off these nugs?

Cwyn

No, I didn’t. When I encounter sour in puerh it is very often a situation where the puerh got dried out in the middle of a stage of fermentation. In that case I would add some humidity to the cake and store it a few months. That usually takes care of the sour.

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Bio

I’m a tea drunk with baggage and issues. 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.

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

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Midwest US

Website

http://deathbytea.blogspot.com/

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