62 Tasting Notes

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.

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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.

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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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74

Got a sampler pack of this in a swap. The leaf looks exactly as the photo, dark roast but then some lightly roasted pieces mixed in.

Brews up a light yellow, more like a white tea. Honey flavor is dead on, intense and long sweet finish on the tongue and lips. Don’t brew this western style, it can turn bitter when oversteeped and lose all the delicacy. Instant warm feet, literally like pins of warmth throughout my feet, faster delivery than my feet could adjust to!

Not the sort of thing I would buy as I tend to prefer darker and more robust oolong if I’m going to the trouble to brew oolong. But it is a perfect accompaniment to cakes, fruits and cheeses, a superb tea for guests who don’t want to drink puerh that smells like gym socks.

Flavors: Honey

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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85

I bought a tin of 2014 harvest last year and am just getting around to drinking it now.

The leaf is dark, very chopped and thin compared to Chinese leaf tea, like tea leaf flakes. I’m drinking it gong fu in a gaiwan, but with every pour my inner logic keeps saying “get out the kyusu,” because I keep losing too many bits into the cup. However, I’m lazy and a kyusu just says spring and right now the winter is holding fast. This tea definitely needs a strainer. That is the bad part.

The good is the taste is very unique. The tea brews up golden brown rather than red, and has something of a maple syrup, burnt oak and ginger taste profile. Recently I’ve also been drinking a black tea beeng cake from Yunnan Sourcing which tastes more like Tetley or ordinary black tea, but this Charleston tea has nothing of that usual black tea taste I’m familiar with. It doesn’t have the thickness, but lasts a good six flash steeps or more.

It is, however, kind of like a bag of snacks I keep eating long past what I really need or want. After I get my six or seven steeps, I dump the leaves and start again fresh. I can go three sessions a night on this stuff compared to one or two of the Chinese counterpart. A good tea for lightweights or newbies, an interesting taste profile for the regular tea drunk who usually drinks a whiskey sheng and is now making do with Pabst. Crumple the can, throw it in the bucket and grab another and whoops, I guess that twelve pack is history.

The tin is cool and I plan to keep it. This tea is sold out from last year and you have a couple months window maybe to get one. Bought mine right from the company website. I have the green also left to taste.

Edit: this tea is really growing on me over the past couple of weeks. Drinking it frequently. The caffeine level and qi in the middle of my back is awesome, I’m loving the mental clarity. Raised the rating by 5 points.

Flavors: Ginger, Maple Syrup, Oak wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 3 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML

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87

I actually have the 2014 spring, there seems to be multiple entries for this tea on Steepster and I don’t want to add another one just to change the year. I’m guessing this tea is probably fairly consistent per harvest, and you can get spring, summer or autumn pickings of Laoshan green.

Probably should have started drinking this earlier but I lost my enthusiasm somewhat when shipment of this tea was delayed by two months, and getting this spring harvest required a pre-order. I can’t fault Verdant for delays in their tea shipment from China, but I do fault not updating customers until we complained individually. Enough of us complained individually that Verdant started doing weekly updates. By the time I got the tea I was just glad it was all over and I didn’t need to keep track of it any longer.

I opened this today after receiving a gift of a Zojirushi water boiler from a tea friend who had it and was using another system to boil water. What a great gift! I feel like I have a Kwik Trip next to the bed now. I’m still experimenting with the settings, and it will take time for the system to lose the off taste that most electric kettle systems have when fairly new. I’m thinking of adding one of my pieces of charcoal bamboo which would be sooo awesome if it works out to improve my water even more!

Anyway, the Laoshan green has a beautiful slightly rolled leaf. I used a heaping tbsp of tea in my 140 ml gaiwan. I’m not getting any of the oat cereal flavor the description mentions. To me it smells and tastes rather like sencha or gyokuro, like a raw spinach. I’m brewing a little hot at 208 F but I’ve learned to do that with spinachy teas or else they are just gaggingly sweet. I like it a bit bitter, more of a tea taste as opposed to wet salad.

My rating here reflects the quality of the leaf. I think these types of greens are a matter of acquired taste and not for people new to tea. What is to be appreciated are the early spring nutrients, fresh green flavor etc. The leaf quality is exquisite, since it is first flush it resembles other first flush pickings with delicate, small and fragrant leaves. My personal taste leans toward strongly fermented tea or highly oxidized blacks lately. This is after nearly 15 years of drinking a pot of green tea every day for health reasons. Wish I had this tea back then, but I’m glad now that I can get this tea and fermented teas even more to my taste.

Flavors: Spinach

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML

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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/

Location

Midwest US

Website

http://deathbytea.blogspot.com/

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