299 Tasting Notes
Upon opening the paper wrapper, I am hit with a musky smell – rather like walking into an old dark unused library storage room. The cake looks dark and clean with many large twisted leaves mixed with pieces and stems. Easy to pick off leaves for steeping. Stinky tea liquor so I did three quick rinses rather than the usual two. The orange color of the tea soup reflects the age of this cake.
Good complexity. Solid character and flavor profile – sweetness and bitterness work nicely together to achieve a firm base upon which the subtleties of the additional flavors; – hay, camphor, old book leather and stonefruit – reveal themselves throughout the tea session. Most noticeable is the strong Qi in this one – an “energy” that makes me feel very alive and rather happy. Lingering aftertaste. Decent endurance and steep longevity (10-12 infusions) so I’ll likely go back to this little teapot full of happiness sometime over the next two days. Not the most flavorful sheng I have enjoyed but an interesting find indeed.
This is an “old school” Changtai cake. It was made at a time when careful production was offered by well known factories and higher quality material was used. Hobbes blog has helped me to appreciate the value of the Changtai cakes with 9-12 years of maturation. Changtai’s Yichanghao brand produces cakes of different grades – Ji Pin, Jing Pin, Zhen Pin, Zheng Pin. Zheng Pin is reported to be the highest grade in this group.
The cake offers the color and aroma of good aging and contains a mix of long whole leaves, stalks and the occasional tip. Full mouth-feel and flavor which quickly changes to sugar cane sweetness. It has a thick body and a comfortable tea energy feel. Overall, this is a solid blend of decent leaves; nicely aged and decent infusibility (8-10 times); solidly sweet, with a reasonably thick body. This is not a high energy cake nor is it terribly complex but it definitely offers a lovely cup which is solid, quite enjoyable and keeps the mouth watering throughout the session. I have become a fan of these aged Changtai offerings and I feel lucky to have found this one at The Chinese Tea Shop in Vancouver.
Dark leaves in the cake which offer some of the typical peat smell. Many whole leaves combined with bits and pieces of leaves and stems. The clear and bright tea soup is gold with a bit of orange tint and a light floral aroma. The taste is brisk with a little astringency. Astringency then sweetness emerge quickly in the sip – sweet fruity flavor which brings to mind thoughts of stone fruit (peach or plum?). These linger in the mouth and throat but notes of spice are added to give a nice punch to the aftertaste.
Overall this tea is fun to drink and it presents decent body from the first steep onward. Full mouth-feel. Sweet with the flavor of stone fruits and a lingering hint of spice. Palpable astringency with a sweet draw in the mouth. Decent durability – 8 rather interesting steeps with an appealing mix of flavors and sensations.
The gift of a sample from one who knew I had missed out on this one — Thank You!
DaXueShan (DXS) tea is a favorite of some and I include myself in this group. This one is particularly good. Most of the DXS teas we hear of are from the Mengku side of the mountain. This particular cake is from the Yong De side.
Made of decent material (reported to be gushu), now with six years of proper aging. Many intact whole leaves used to make the cake. Deep golden, clear soup. Sweet yet complex taste (mix of stonefruit, wood and leather) giving it a pleasant thick body. Active mouthfeel providing a nice feeling in both the mouth and throat. Many might detect a small amount of bitterness but I think it quickly becomes sweetness and then a nice cooling effect emerges. Solid depth and good Qi found in this sheng.
I have picked up several aged cakes from FinePuer and I have been very happy with each one. However, I must say that this is definitely one of my favorites due to the pure enjoyment of drinking a cup and the surprising thing is that it is the youngest of all my FinePuer purchases. I like this one a lot and I highly recommend it to those looking for fine puer. If you have not done so already, check out James’ comments on TeaDB.
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.