260 Tasting Notes
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.
Youleshan is one of the original six famous tea mountains and it has easily become one of my favorite areas. This cake is made of spring tea leaves harvested from ancient trees on Youle mountain – the whole leaves have aged into a rich, dark brown, with some copper-tinted tips and put forth a gentle sweetness the level of which you don’t often find in a puerh. Typical Youle puerh attributes found in this brick: deep honey golden color and very clean aromatic tea liquor; sweet, mellow and full in the mouth; smooth with a very nice aftertaste and a solid cooling sensation in the throat. A heavy fruitiness is clearly found in the scent that is most satisfying. The sweetness grips hold of the tongue and holds throughout the session. That fruitiness is the type that fills the front of the mouth immediately and makes it instantly appealing while an undercurrent of other tea flavors gather underneath to make themselves known in the throat. Overall, this is a pleasant combination of savory and fruity. An interesting blend of characteristics that settles into a constantly enjoyable tea.
The Bangwei Mountain tea forest contains many old tea trees, some 1,700 years in age. It is part of the Lahu Mountain Range in the southwestern corner of Simao. This 2005 Bangwei is definitely not the 2012 Bangwei from Essence of Tea which I thoroughly enjoyed with its honey-sweetness. That said, it does have possibilities for an interesting tea session. Opening the wrapper, I am reminded of a Xiaguan cake for I was first struck with a light smoky scent. The cake has moderate compression so it was easy to pick off tea leaves. Characteristic of factory productions, there is a mixture of whole leaves with stems and pieces. Two quick 5 second rinses and I left the wet leaves to sit in the yixing for about an hour. With the first steep, the tea soup is a deep golden color (on the verge of turning orange) but there is a hint of cloudiness. I do not detect any smoke in the wet leaf and the first sips are thick in the mouth – not sweet but not too bitter either, more a bittersweet. It has a definite mouth-watering characteristic. As I move through multiple steepings, the taste becomes what I would describe as bitter-sour and then sweet. At the end of the tea session, I sense a relaxing effect and a cooling sensation in the mouth and throat. It took me awhile to “warm up” to this tea but I must report that I really enjoy it.
Lang He Tea Factory is known for producing fine ripe puerh. Light fermentation which results in it being free of that fishy flavor common in more heavily fermented shu. This is one of the finest Lang He products I have tasted. Clean, smooth and sweet with very high purity of flavor. The 2010 Tea Expo award winner is built upon a foundation of high quality material and it offers high quality flavorful sips through the session. Creamy chocolate notes frequently reveal themselves. This is an easy drinking tea and the moderate price makes it a good candidate for daily drinking. A bit difficult to find for I’ve not seen it listed anywhere except Tea Urchin.
This is a very nice shou! Quite an interesting find – Yiwu Mtn. material used in this brick. Large wild-tree leaves plus stems mixed to enhance the sweet wood flavor. Traditional stone pressing.
I don’t believe I’ve ever had a ripe using Yiwu material. The very dark wet leaves give off a sweet baked foods scent which becomes richer with spice overtones as you move through several steepings. Beautiful dark tea soup is syrupy and very soon the flavor matches with a deep dark sweetness. Nice complexity for a ripe puerh. Smooth and soothing in the throat with a long lasting aftertaste. There is nothing offensive or off-putting about this fermented tea. This is a great wintertime shou to warm up those cold days. Very aromatic; dark and smooth; deep woodiness; upfront sweet richness which continues throughout the session. I definitely like this tea and look forward to enjoying it many more times!
Update: Very flavorful for seven steepings but then it becomes rather thin.
Verdant brought back a limited supply of this one during the last Cyber Monday sale and I had to pick it up. Very glad I did for I know that it is real Ban Zhang which is quite difficult to obtain these days. This is a powerful tea with a definite bite to it.
Begins with a lovely clear and bright golden tea soup with a thick and sweet leather-like aroma. Progressing through several steepings, the color begins to turn more orange. Body is low and strong. At the front of each sip there is definite smoke and bitterness but it becomes sweeter at the back of the throat. Note, this is a heavy, dense sweetness with smoke and pepper in the early steepings. The texture here is thick, smooth, and very satisfying. After each cup, I am left with mouth watering and a fuzzy warm feeling in my body – interesting that I feel both mellow and alert at the same time. After each of the many steepings it remains pungent and potent with a bit of sweetness coming through. Each cup is full-flavored with long-lasting aftertaste. Overall, quite a tea with a balanced mix of bitter and sweet that infuses first the nose, then lips, tongue, mouth and throat. This is strong and potent stuff and I am delighted to have more in my tea cabinet to enjoy from time to time.
I should add that there is an interesting backstory to this tea. As reported by David Duckler at Verdant:
“This pu’er is a unique example of a brick pressed by a small farmer’s cooperative. Their family has a plot of land on Banzhang mountain, which is considered to be the absolute top in terms of pu’er. They eventually got sick of selling the pu’er leaves they picked with care to the big factories for pressing because they felt that the pu’er was treated like too much of a commodity by the bigger companies. They took a huge risk and started their own pressing of bricks.”
I believe this is my first experience with a Baotang tea. The quality of the material used in this cake is excellent. Baotang is a village in Mengsong township, Menghai. Apparently, in Baotang the trees are large & ancient, growing in biodiverse, organic gardens. Beautiful leaves produce a bright and clear gold tea soup with a crisp vegetal aroma and taste. Pleasant but not impressive at this point. Very soon the leaves open up and begin to produce a much more interesting cup of tea – increasingly thick in the mouth with a nice bitterness that turns into a pleasant lingering sweetness. Moving through five quick steepings, the cups become increasingly mellow and smooth. I was left with a lingering mouthfeel and a good mellow feeling. I like this tea!
Update: Seems to be enjoyable for 6 steepings and after that it fades.
I picked this up about 18 months ago because I am a fan of Master Han’s productions; however, I never tried it. Having seen a recent tea note on this ripe tea, I was reminded of it so this morning I went looking through my shu tea cabinet and I’ve steeped it about 6 times today. It does not disappoint. This really is a high quality harvest and production – there definitely is something special about small producer, hand processed tea whether it is shu or sheng! Very easy to drink. Sweet and creamy with fruit and nut overtones on top of the woody traits found in most shu. All in all, a very smooth and enjoyable ripe tea. One worthy of being in a good puerh collection.