290 Tasting Notes

Teas using material from Hekai are not too easy to find so I was delighted to discover this one at Puerh Shop. Compressed lightly enough to pick apart easily. Nice dark whole leaves with only a small number of pieces. The dry leaves offer a light hint of stonefruit in the aroma. The fruit of these leaves comes through in the tea soup where there is a crisp, butter base with a touch of that good bitterness (kuwei) we grow to enjoy particularly when it balances the sweetness (as it does in this case). I enjoyed the tea’s long finish in the throat. Later infusions revealed a bit of spice working in harmony with the sweetness in the sips. Rich and potent. Overall, clean and sweet character with nice mouthfeel and appreciated as I continue to explore different tea growing regions.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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You’ve got to enjoy this wrapper! Also known as The Wild Elephant King cake, this is a blend of Naka and Bulang material. At the price I paid, it was a great bargain purchase given the high quality. The visual appeal of the cake is acceptable, not beautiful by any means, but pleasant looking. The level of compression makes it fairly easy to pick apart and produce a mixture of whole leaves and pieces. The dry leaf offers a pleasant smell which became sweeter as the leaves steeped. The liquor is dark brass in color. The sip conveys what I would term power with a definite sweetness – clean, strong and smooth with a very nice cooling effect. The activity in the mouth is strong and clean offering a swelling sensation with nice huigan. The leaf has good endurance and remained strong and flavorful through ten resteeps. At the end of the tea session I was left in a very thoughtful meditative state which persisted for about two hours.
Purchased from White2Tea in June for $34.50 (quite a bargain). Unfortunately the current price is $115 (a true indication of the escalating price of Naka tea products during the past 12-18 months).

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
boychik

that Naka :)
This tea sounds really good

Sil

oh my god. I would kill for this, based on the elephant alone…

DigniTea

Sil – I agree with you. That’s what caught my eye anyway and at the time I bought it, there were really no Steepster notes (only one very old one from someone I did not know) but the low price for an “aged” cake and I trust Paul so I added it to an order of YiWu teas. Now I am glad I did it.

Boychik – yes Naka teas are very interesting. I am trying to round out my puerh collection with teas representing different tea growing areas and this week and next I hope to taste from Naka, Mengsong, and Hekai. I think they are each special in their own way.

mrmopar

I think I need to explore Naka a bit.I have some Mengsong fro mDayi and some Hekai from White2tea I looked at that cake a while back also. I got to learn to buy faster..

Cwyn

Is this the cake that is a Naka/Bulang blend?

DigniTea

Cwyn – yes it is.

mrmopar

I may have to talk someone out of a sample of this. That blend sounds good as I know I like Bulang already.

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Just what I am hunting for these days – decent quality leaf; a bit of age; an enjoyable flavor profile – and it does not disappoint. Moderately compressed cake and easy to pick apart. The dry leaves appear fragmented, but decent, and full of dark brown colors. There are plenty of tips to be seen with a nice blend of large and small leaves. The aroma is really rather good – a bit sweet and leatherlike. The soup is definitely orange and is thick in texture. The flavor is up-front and quick in its presentation with plenty of honey sweetness. The wet leaves are chopped up quite a bit (characteristic of the 2005-06 Changtais I’ve tried) containing all grades with plenty of stalks – they cannot be called pretty leaves. I really enjoyed this tea – it is thick, sweet, and satisfying with a hint of true character. This cake currently sells for a reasonable $44 at Cha Wang Shop.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This classic Menghai Dayi blend is a lighter fermentation shou and considered a standard setter. It does a good job of delivering on the typical characteristics of the well known Dayi factory shous – blend of larger and smaller leaves and pieces, dark reddish brown tea soup, appealing smooth and mellow sip with rich flavor, woody sweet aftertaste, good durability for resteeps. Already six years of aging but it has the strength of character to continue to improve with age.

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

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This is a rich, smooth and mellow tea and this premium shou does not disappoint. Easy to drink; smooth and mellow; full of flavor. The cake presents very dark leaves – on the smaller side; fairly tight compression. Double rinse and then multiple steeps yielding a perfectly clear dark reddish brown tea liquor. The flavor sits densely in the middle of the mouth, radiating sweetness and hints of tangy leather and dark chocolate. The tea never seems to get bitter even when pushed, and is consistently giving me the same quality right from the start to the end. Very much enjoyed my session with this tea and I am left alert, my lips buzzing.

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

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Revisiting this one after a few months well stored with humidity monitored.
Entirely first flush of Spring 2002. Traditional hand-processing used with these leaves. Heavy stone presses to form the cake from naturally growing (wild arbor) trees that are 100 to 200 years of age. After compression the tea was dried naturally without baking to preserve its natural state.
Nice leaves – many whole leaf/bud sets but also a number of broken pieces including stems. The dry leaves have the typical Yiwu fruity smell. The brewed tea is thick and sweet with a bronze liquor (quickly became a bit darker and more orange-like as the steepings increased which I have also found in other teas with a little age on them). The aroma is aromatic and honey sweet. Good mouth action – penetrating in the mouth and throat, bringing a bit of salivation. The sip is thick and satisfying with good texture. A broad taste profile (apricot, plum, spice, wood) and a pleasant sweet finish. The wet leaves are solid and heavy. No bitterness at all – a very clean taste. While not my favorite YiWu, overall I find this tea rather enjoyable – smooth and sweet with good character.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Stephanie

Sounds amazing!

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We have the great fortune to learn of sellers of very fine puerh through Steepster (and other tea blogs/sites). As a result, we are each able to enjoy some excellent teas. This 2006 LBZ from Yunnan Sourcing is just such a tea. A very good tea with purity, power, hints of mushrooms and nice sweetness. The cake is of moderate compression – quite easy to pick apart. The leaves are large and hearty, with some very nice tips. They produce a clear tea soup which turns rather orange. The scent as the brew cools is darkly sweet, with plenty of power. The liquor has a heavy, thick body that conveys a solid sweetness and finishes cleanly (no real bitterness in the finish). It is big in the mouth – swelling nicely and causing the mouth to water. After 4-5 swallows, the huigan [returning sweetness] finds its way to my throat along with a light mushroom aroma in the back of the nose.
This cake is clearly made from leaves of high quality, I found it to be clean, well-balanced and very enjoyable as it offers good huigan and nice chaqi.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
boychik

Sounds amazing

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This shou looks clean, smells clean, brews a clean deep ruby-red soup with an earthy aroma that is warm and rich. The ripened tea produces the characteristic Menghai ripe cup with no lingering trace of fermentation. Gradually, the prominent earthy/woodsy notes transition into a gentle bittersweet that is simply delightful offering a smooth, thick, slippery mouthfeel and a satisfying lightly sweet aftertaste.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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The Douji DaDou produced in 2009 is a blend of very fine Menghai and Lincang leaf. The characteristics of the two areas blend wonderfully to produce a fantastic cup! The cake is composed of beautiful whole leaves throughout (i.e., not just on top) which are quite large. The tea liquor is a nice orange-yellow color – even after two rinses it was a tiny bit cloudy during the first 2-3 infusions. The scent is pleasant – fresh, fruity, sweet. The sip is quite smooth and mellow with a definite sweetness and there is a little boldness and strength (a thickness?) to balance the sip. Nice chaqi settles in after 10-12 swallows. Definitely a bit of appealing complexity in this one — a good quality offering and I am a fan for sure!

The Douji brand is considered a premium puerh – particularly their single-mountain cakes. Unfortunately these cakes have become extremely pricey in recent years. I have learned from a few individuals more knowledgeable about puerh than I that the best value in Douji products may now be their blends which also use high quality tea leaves. Of course these too have risen dramatically in price recently. However, if you keep searching you just might stumble upon a cake here or there in a tea seller’s inventory with a little age on it and an “older” price which makes it a bargain compared to the more recent Doujis. I’ve stumbled upon a few lately and I am very happy to have added them to my puerh collection.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This is a tea with a roasted, earthy aroma and a mellow, creamy balanced taste. The dry leaves are very dark in appearance (even darker after being steeped) indicating the careful cooking process and twelve years of aging. The crystal clear tea soup looks like a fine burgundy. The sip offers a rounded sweetness with a light hint of vanilla. The quality of the leaf seems to offer power and durability – seven infusions and I’ve only used 5s or 10s steepings. I plan to continue tomorrow for another six or seven times. This tea has both age and beauty and deserves to be savored and enjoyed.

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

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Bio

For me, tea is magical with its ability to transform by bringing one back to center and inspiring both peace and contentment.

Reformed coffee drinker. Switched to tea as part of my goal to work on living a healthier, more balanced life — haven’t looked back since. Surprised to learn what a passion I have developed for all things tea related.

I enjoy most tea types but I cannot handle jasmine or other florals and I’m not particularly fond of bergamot. Started with flavored teas but moved quickly into unflavored blacks and puerhs. Now most of my purchases are puerh cakes for aging. My cold brews for iced tea tend to be a fruity green, white or rooibos but every once in awhile I’ll chill an oolong or puerh.

I no longer assign numerical ratings to teas because our enjoyment of tea is very subjective. Reactions to a particular tea vary from person to person and within the same person across different tasting sessions. My tea notes are now simply comments reflecting my impression at that specific point in time. They are useful to me and if they happen to be helpful to someone else that is good.

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