257 Tasting Notes
Away for a few days without any enjoyable tea so I am delighted to be back home and digging into an interesting box of samples from a good tea friend. The samples included this HLH shou which has been on my shopping list for some time. Trying it today so that I can make the final decision to order a cake while the 12% sale is active at YS.
This is an easy drinking, rather enjoyable ripe puerh. A smooth blend of three different harvests (2003, 2008, 2009) which helps to balance the flavor profile and give it a little more depth. One is hit with the sweetness and then a slight oiliness appears later which is quite complimentary rather than offensive. This is a lighter fermentation cake which helps it to be clean with no off flavors of any type. Therefore, this tea is made of quality material and comes across as rather tasty, solid, and enjoyable. I plan to purchase and set aside for 2-3 years for I think it has the potential to mature with a bit of age.
I am continuing my exploration of Gedeng shengs across a fourteen year period of harvests. Earlier this week I began with my oldest cake (1999) and today’s tea is made from the youngest material (2013). Clearly the younger leaf does not have the power of the older leaf material. I am a firm believer that, for the most part, today’s harvests do not produce the same level of power in their teas. There are, of course, exceptions but as a general rule it is my operating assumption and explains why I now focus on finding tea with nice age. This is certainly not an original idea of mine for I believe many (if not most) collectors share this notion.
That said, I did enjoy this tea session for the dual purpose of education and enjoyment. This is a Changdahao tea. Changdahao is a brand from the well established Yiwu Manluo factory. The leaves are on the small side and mostly whole. With almost two years of age behind them, they are beginning to turn and darken and offer a nice clean aroma – no intimidating scent here. The tea soup is gold, clear and bright with a light fruity scent. No truly distinctive fruits come forward but I would describe the impact as fruit-like. The flavor is not powerful or intense but rather soft and welcoming. There is a bit of astringency to counterbalance. The sip is easy to swallow and quickly offers a warmth and sweetness in the mouth and throat.
This is not a particularly complex sheng (perhaps explained by the more limited scope of modern plantation teas that have been processed) but the flavor and aroma are enticing. Pleasant taste and decent Qi. The real question for me is whether it will age into something magnificent. Probably not but I have enough confidence to go ahead and purchase the whole cake (I am now drinking a sample from Puerh Shop). Also it is particularly difficult to find cakes or bricks from GeDeng Shan (革登山) and I want a few in my collection. Two additional GeDengs to try in future sessions.
Have you tried a Gedeng puerh? This is my first experience with a sheng using raw material from Gedeng Mountain and I must say that I quite enjoyed it. I enjoy learning about and trying teas from areas about which I know very little. Gedeng and XiGui are two areas I am working on at the moment. Gedeng Mountain is one of the original six famous tea mountains. It is located in Mengla County in Xishuangbanna in close proximity to Youle, Jinuo, Yibang and Mangzhi. Due to over harvesting, there is now limited production and decent Gedeng material is rather limited.
There is nice age on this brick and the leaves appear to be aging nicely. There is a wonderful ‘dry’ aroma and the leaves look quite healthy. Pungent aroma from the wet leaf with fruity overtones. The tea liquor is a shimmering orange-gold. The sip offers a rather complex mix of flavors which quickly transforms into a sweet palate. The tea is thick and heavy. You can feel a little bitterness going in, covering the mouth, and after swallowing, the huigan comes quickly. The cha qi is not obvious at first, but after three or four infusion it hit me hard.
Overall impressions: Sweet and smooth with decent Qi which left me very relaxed and moving toward a tired state. After the session I decided that this material is somewhat similar to a good Manzhuan tea. Very drinkable and enjoyable!
Time to revisit this Dayi shou favorite. Menghai Dayi has developed a solid reputation for good ripe teas and this one is a good example. A tightly compressed cake with a welcoming earthy aroma. Started with a 10s steep and stopped at 30s for the sixth steeping. Steeps a deep ruby-red liquor which is bright and clear. The sip is rich, woody and very smooth. A sweet creamy caramel note emerges in later steepings. This is a good tea to use as a cold weather warm up or to share with non-puerh tea drinking guests.
The cake is beautiful and full of pleasantly dark brown whole leaves which offer a nice sweet aged scent. The overall appearance of the cake is neat and uniform. Easy to pick off whole leaves for steeping. I had heard that Yi Bang tea was of the small leaf variety and that is found to be true in this particular cake.
The tea liquor begins with a deep gold color and with additional steepings providing more and more oxidation, the orange and red highlights emerge. The first two steepings had a light bitterness but the tea seems to really open up after this and becomes quite sweet. Very smooth and well balanced with pleasant fruit notes and a gentle honey taste. I experienced a pleasant aftertaste in the mouth and throat and this lingered for quite awhile after finishing the tea session.
Overall the tea is very easy to drink and it reminded me a bit of Jingmai and Yiwu teas. Nicely balanced flavor profile – bitterness and sweetness, fruit and honey with a bit of a nutty accent as well.
This is a tea with nice power – the power of rich content. It begins with a bit of astringency and smoke but quickly they both fade away. Next, the herbal and grassy notes move forward and become more prominent with a lovely sweetness poking through. The sip becomes very smooth by the third or fourth steeping and the sweetness begins to break through. After drinking three cups, I am left with a distinct dryness in the mouth and throat. This cake is definitely made with good raw material but it still has room to mature with more age. I’m going to move this one to the back of the humidity monitored sheng cabinet and let it sit for another year or two before trying again.
The aroma of the cake is quite gentle. Actually, it has a hint of “old library” aroma but rather distant. Lots of nice whole leaves throughout the cake. A lovely clean and clear tea liquor with a distinct orange hue. Low and dark in its sweet aroma and taste – a little nutty and fruity mixed with mellow-earthiness. Good mouthfeel with a smooth texture. Nice full chaqi producing a very relaxed feeling. In about the 9th infusion the tea begins to fade. Interesting tea session which I quite enjoyed. I would not describe this as an “exciting” tea (in other words, it won’t knock your socks off) but I must say that I found it to be delicious and extremely comforting.
Highly aromatic brick. I have found Manzhuan to be a reliable place for me to find products of great enjoyment to my taste. Man Zhuan is a higher mountain area in the Yi Wu mountains. It is another one of the six famous tea mountains of ancient times located in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province. Trees of 100 years and older grow organically on Man Zhuan mountain surrounded by natural forest. This brick is a little dark beauty.
The aroma of the dry leaves is pleasingly sweet and offers the characteristic floral scent of Yiwu teas. Began in my usual manner – two quick rinses and then let the wet leaves sit for at least 30m before I prepare the first steeping for tasting. The clear deep gold colored tea soup presents full and thick flavor with a salivation inducing effect. Sweet and buttery hay or grass overtones with a slight stone fruit accent are detected in the early sips. Active on the tongue and throughout the mouth. Produces a nice chaqi. I’m four steepings in and I’ll continue working with the leaves tomorrow.
In summary, this is a smooth tea, not overly aggressive or strong. Deep honey colored tea liquor which yields a thick soup with a smooth, rounded mouthfeel. Nice huigan which leaves a persistent sweetness in the throat. Thick, buttery mouthfeel, with the perfect blend of honey sweetness and bitterness. A comforting and enjoyable puerh brick and a solid tea for the price ($4.10 for a 50g 6+ year old brick).
A clean tasting ripe pu-erh devoid of the fermentation “wo dui” taste and aroma. A very interesting shou brick with nice age on it. Sweetness detected throughout the steepings. Quite smooth in the mouthfeel and throat
The large tea leaves yield a dark and clear burgundy-brown tea soup. The first steeping is sweet and spicy and my first taste is mellow and bold without any sign of rough edges. There is a full and smooth body, with nice depth and a lovely flavor palette going on with an appealing mix of wood and leather. The tea liquor has an enduring sweetness to it and a decent aftertaste
Overall: Very clean fermentation and excellent aged taste; flavors of wood, honey and spices. After a total of six or seven infusions, the flavor starts to weaken. I am a fan of this tea.
Ai Lao Mountain is in the Zhenyuan area of Simao. The brick is composed of small spring leaves (mix of whole and pieces) which have become dark brown over almost thirteen years of aging. Produces a pure liquor with a deep golden yellow hue indicating the richness and intensity of the flavor. Rich scents come forth. First sips – straw-like and a little tart; pleasant mouth sensation but not terribly full. The following steepings produce a richer, sweeter tea liquor. The flavors of grain and mushrooms emerge during steepings four through seven. Overall, clean and rounded, smooth, thick mouthfeel without astringency, aftertaste is sweet. A decent, fairly priced small brick ($15 for 90g brick) with nice age made from decent raw material.