345 Tasting Notes
Sample pulled from the Pu’erh Plus TTB.
Brewed in a test tube steeper. I’d call it Western method because I had little leaf (going by what is suggested on the website) and did long infusion. 3 minutes, 10.
It’s a given that the leaf smells of rum (dark rum specifically), but it’s worth note that even after the leaf is spend, I can still smell rum. And from the shou, I pick out sticky rice. The liquor is cloudy (unexpected but not unexpected, considering) and full-bodied. Note: I strictly drink wine and beer, no hard liquor. Not to my taste. That includes both kinds of rum. Maybe in baked goods. I pulled this tea from the box out of curiosity. I can definitely taste the rum and in know way it is overpowering or overwhelming. It works very nicely with the shou, which itself is excellent and adds an earthy, sweet note and a creamy texture. I enjoyed both cups greatly.
From the Regional Group Buy.
Brewed in an infuser mug: 3 minutes, then 6.
The dry leaf aroma is a surprise: smells like apple cinnamon! The wet leaf aroma is more typical of a black tea: malty and with a little chocolate. The liquor has a thick and silky texture, and tastes like an 85% chocolate bar. Very delicious!
Prepared in a ceramic gaiwan. I followed the steeping times from the website: 15 seconds, 25, 35, 50, 80, 130, 210 (I tacked on a 10-minute last steeping to completely tire off the leaf).
I’m jumping on the bandwagon on having been taken by surprised by this hongcha. All of my expectations were flung out the window when I first evaluated the aroma, and then the taste of the liquor.
To begin, the aroma doesn’t undergo metamorphosis when the leaf is hit with heat and water. Overall it smells incredibly savory, like tomato sauce with dried oregano, rosemary, and basil. I’ve had wet leaf of black Bi Luo Chun smell like tomato and herbs, but this one has a much more complex aroma, and it was easy for me to pick out multiple specific notes.
The liquor – which is the color of deep gold – is clear, clean, and medium-bodied. For roughly the beginning two-thirds of the session, this hongcha resembles Oriental Beauty. Again, WHAT. I thought I would taste malt, sweet potatoes, and spice. But it has that fruity flavor that I associate only with Oriental Beauty. Very sweet and flavorful, practically like juice. Which fruit(s) I exactly can’t pick out since I haven’t had that many OBs. Later, the last few infusions taste more honey-like.
The session lasted only a morning but it was enjoyable. Nonpareil Yunnan Dian Hong Ancient Wild Tree Black Tea matched the mood created by today’s weather: gray sky, continuous rain, bright autumnal foliage, warm air.
As a birdwatcher, I love waterfowl watching the most. Ducks rock. Dabbling, diving – they’re all made of perfection. Pictured on the wrapper is a drake Ruddy Duck (he’s missing the white on his chin, but that’s alright since it’s for the sake of keeping the print coloring simple). I’ve seen Ruddy Ducks a few times so far, but only a drake in breeding plumage once. That blue beak is something to see firsthand. Winter is approaching. The ducks are on the move.
I obtained a sample from the Pu’erh Plus TTB. Brewed in a ceramic gaiwan. Gave the leaf a 5-second rinse and a 2-minute rest. Steeping times: 5 seconds xfive, 10, 12,15, 20, 30, 45; 1 minute, 1’30", 3, 6, 12, 20.
The dry leaf smells sweet and pepper, and, after sitting in the pre-heated gaiwan, of apricot and mint. The wet leaf is very aromatic, filling the corner of the room with a fragrance of white sugar and apricot.
The soup is clear, and has a full-body yet a gentle, bright mouth-feel. The color begins as pale yellow and ends as pale gold. Thick-ish texture sometimes. I used 200 degree temperature water for the first five infusions and then switched to 190. 200 produces a tartness that overwhelms the grassy and apricot notes. The huigan is weak.
190 is much better for the leaf. The heart of the session – infusions 6-11 – are lightly sweet and bitter. Qualities balanced, one not overwhelming the other. Slowly developing is a slight cooling aftertaste, which I mostly feel in the mouth. The sweet apricot aftertaste – the throat – is at its strongest at this point. For infusions 12 and 13, the menthol note has fully developed and even rivals the huigan, cooling the throat. The soup itself tastes sweet, bitter, and menthol-like all at once. 14 tastes mostly of menthol. The longer steeps for 15-17 produce a bitterness that outdoes the menthol. No more sweetness. Once again, the huigan is weak. But more than twenty minutes later, as I write this review, I still feeling the cooling in my throat.
Prepared 3.7g in a ceramic gaiwan. I gave the leaf a flash rinse to get it going. Steeping times: 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 30, 45; 2 minutes, 4, 9, 20.
A hongcha with great aromas? Check! When I smell the leaf in the packet – wow! – was it super chocolate-like. Letting the leaf sit in the pre-heated gaiwan brought out gingerbread and tomato sauce notes as well as chocolate. The wet leaf smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little bit of fudge.
The liquor is orange-colored, clear, clean-tasting, and medium-bodied. The first cup is light with malt with some sweet potato. From the second cup and onward (till the last), the malt has disappeared, and the sweet potato note is stronger. I also taste cinnamon and chocolate. They don’t pop out as much, but they are present. There is a consistent caramel aftertaste. The texture is smooth. As the description on the website says, this hongcha tastes – and feels, I’d say – “sweet and mellow.”
I especially this recommend this to hongcha lovers. Get a look at that leaf!
Obtained a sample from the Pu’erh Plus TTB.
Used 3.4g. Gave the leaf two 5-second rinses and a rest for one minute. Steeping times: 10 seconds, 8, 12, 15, 30; 1 minute, 2, 5, 10, 20.
The dry leaf smells earthy and chocolatey sweet. Sitting in the pre-heated gaiwan really brought out the chocolate; it was very hot cocoa-like. The wet leaf, in contrast, smells of damp earth and fermentation (unexpected and displeasing, since the dry leaf aroma was so nice).
The soup color is dark orange. I taste bittersweet chocolate and fermentation in the first three cups, which are cloudy. It isn’t until the fourth that the soup finally clears. I thought the fermentation would eventually too, but it didn’t. It was present throughout the session. Instead, the bittersweet chocolate note disappears and is replaced by wood beginning with the fifth cup. These notes of fermentation and wood last until the leaf gives up. It isn’t unappealing – the kind that’s stinky, fishy, mushroom-like. It’s rather light and not off-putting. Overall, this is a lighter tasting/feeling shou.
In his review from three years ago, mrmopar wrote that this shou was probably meant to age more and that he’d check on it in five years. I think it has a couple more years to go. It seems like it needs more time.
Obtained a sample from the Pu’erh Plus TTB.
I used 5.4g in a 60ml ceramic gaiwan. Gave the leaf a quick rinse and a two minute rest. Steeping times: 5 seconds x5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, 15, 20, 30, 45; 1 minute, 2, 5, 12.
The leaf smells sweet and herbaceous, of tobacco and apricot. As the session goes on, the more the leaf is washed with water, a very sweet apricot aroma takes over.
Clear, yellow soup throughout the session. The first few cups are quite bitter with some sweetness, and they feel punchy and buzzy in my mouth. Not truly surprising since the ratio of grams to water is 5.4 to 60. I’d also used boiling water. I guess this is the first time I “hit it hard” with sheng. I did feel my heart rate increase as if I’d spent some time exercising.
I lowered the water temperature to 200 beginning with the sixth cup. There isn’t much evolution in taste or texture after this point. Overall, the soup is still bitter but sweeter – there is more of a balance. Around infusion 11, a grassy note appears, replacing the bitterness. The soup then tastes like sweet grass and apricot until the end. In regards to the punchy feel, that slowly disappears.
The texture is a somewhat thick. My mouth dries a little after I finish each cup, but saliva quickly replenishes itself. There is huigan throughout the entire session, and it lasts for minutes. I enjoyed the sweet, apricot notes, and I felt contented every time I resumed the session after taking breaks. Bear in mind, I was enraged at one point and this sheng calmed me. Props.
I obtained a sample from the Pu’erh Plus TTB. I think it’s this particular shou – the label didn’t say who the vendor was, but that it was provided by mrmopar.
Brewed in a ceramic gaiwan. Gave the leaf a 10-second rinse, then a rest for a couple minutes. Steeping times: 5, 8, 10, 15, 10, 20, 40; 1 min, 1, 2, 5, 12.
The dry leaf smells earthy and sweet, and the wet leaf aroma even sweeter, so much like dark chocolate. The soup color starts off as burnt orange and darkens to ruddy brown. A little cloudy in the beginning (viewing the soup from the pitcher), but eventually clears up by the end of the session. The first couple infusions are a little sweet with some thickness, mostly tasting of fermentation (I think). The middle infusions – 3 through 10 – taste just like the wet leaf aroma: very sweet with a bitter dark chocolate note. Creamy in texture. This was the heart of the session. One word I wrote down was “yum.” I also eventually tasted the Raisinettes note that I usually get in a chocolate-like shou. Infusions 11-13 are still creamy, but the chocolate disappears, replaced by cut wood.
Sample obtained through the Pu’erh Plus TTB and prepared in a gongfu session, with a ceramic gaiwan. I gave the leaf a 3-second rinse and no rest. Steeping times: 5 seconds, 8, 10, 12, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 45, 60, 90; 2 minutes, 4, 10.
I’m going to kick off this review my saying that, during the four months since I took the sample from the box, I think I inadvertently dried the humidity out of the leaf.
The dry leaf smells of tobacco, light apricot, and black pepper all at once. Having sat in the pre-heated gaiwan brought out more apricot and a little smoke. The wet leaf in the beginning of the session smells of the field grass, then changes to apricot in the middle.
The soup color is golden. Infusions 1 through 4 are incredibly sweet with apricot – with a little bitterness underneath – and have strong huigan. After the second, the soup has energetic mouthfeel. 3’s texture is thick and oily. I reheated the water to boiling since the temperature had fallen to 195-200. I would later confirm that infusing the leaf in 200< degree water produces sweetness. Boiling brings out bitterness as well. Infusions 5-8 taste of camphor and black pepper as well as a continuing apricot. The more I let the soup sit in my mouth, the more peppery it is. There is a cooling effect upon swallowing. At this point and this point only I feel qi, which is induces relaxation. (Maaaaybe because I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet. I started feeling nauseated just before my break – HEY I ACTUALLY NEED TO EAT, I remembered. Quickly fixed.)
After the first break, I go through 9-11. The soup tastes more bitter – same intensity as the apricot note. The bitterness strengthens in the aftertaste. The texture has become creamy.
Another, longer break. 12-14 mostly have bitter, grass notes with slight huigan. (I didn’t feel like boiling the leaf as the website suggests because I was hungry (just came back from exercising and all).)