320 Tasting Notes
I took a small sample of this tea from the Puerh TTB. I found it to be pretty enjoyable! The dry leaves had a light earthy camphor aroma. After a rinse, I smelled the camphor much more strongly, along with a sharp and slightly fruity aroma.
The taste was nice – heavy camphor, especially in the early part of the session. It really just tasted like a very nice and clean aged sheng. I picked up a bit of woody notes and sweetness, but not of the fruity variety I picked up in the aroma. I didn’t pick up much of any qi from this session.
It really isn’t fair to draw conclusions on a tea based off a small 4g session, but unfortunately that’s what I’m forced to do for this one. I found it a pleasant and enjoyable aged sheng, but not much of anything special. The camphor aroma/flavor was greater than I have experienced in most teas at least. I wish samples were available for these YQH Productions.
Flavors: Camphor, Earth, Sweet, Wood
I received 3.5g of this tea in one of the random boxes I’ve received from Liquid Proust a while back. I decided to drink it today as it seemed like a tea which should be consumed while at least moderately fresh.
The aroma from the leaves was slightly citrus, with a sweet floral/hay backbone. It expressed some typical white tea flavors, including that sweet hay/straw note common to the type of tea. The texture was velvety and soft, with some cream and milk notes to the flavor adding to the mouthfeel. It also often had a slight peppery finish, which was enough to make this tea decently interesting. It’s not something I’m likely to buy more of, but one which I am glad to have tried!
Flavors: Floral, Hay, Milk, Pepper, Sweet
This review is for the 2005 Menghai Brick which was part of Toby’s Curated Puerh Box #003. I’ve found this to be an interesting and rewarding tea so far. The first time I tried it, I was pretty lukewarm about it, but each time I’ve tried it since, I have found a greater appreciation for it. After rinsing, the leaves have a slightly camphorous aroma, with some fruit and maybe just a bit of leather as well.
The first couple steeps can be a bit sour, especially if overbrewed – kind of that leather note coming out of the tea. Thankfully that doesn’t last long, and if managed properly, isn’t really present at all. The highlight of this tea in terms of flavor would have to be the fruitiness. I have a lot of trouble identifying what sort of fruitiness it is, but it’s present throughout the majority of any given session with this tea. I at first said it reminded me of Dates, but I’m not sure it’s quite that dark/low. Another person who got this tea told me they tasted strawberry in it, an assertion which seems out of place for an aged sheng (in my experience anyways), but which I have a hard time disagreeing with.
The texture is pleasantly thick, but I wouldn’t call it oily or creamy. There is good longevity to the session, in part I’m sure because the tea was pressed rather compactly into a brick. This is also slightly frustrating, because I find it near impossible to get my chunks to break all the way apart without some added assistance from a puerh pick in the teapot. I haven’t really picked up much qi from this tea in any of my sessions – a bit of a gentle buzzy feeling maybe, but could just be a day I was drinking multiple teas back to back.
This tea seems to have seen pretty clean storage, as I don’t taste any hint of humidity or funk. I definitely enjoyed this one more in my Jianshui clay pot than in a gaiwan. Not sure if it was just the forced longer steep times (due to slow pour) or if the clay tempered a bit of the sourness I experienced in the first few steeps, or what. I’m still figuring out what kind of an effect this pot has on teas. It often seems to give them a thicker mouthfeel, but again that could be a result of the slow pour-time. After tasting this one, I’m pretty excited to get into the rest of the teas which Toby included.
I just gave this tea another try – the first time I really had a focused session with it. I’ve had the sample for a good while and have tried it once or twice before. I often hear people recommend shou puerh for coffee drinkers who are transitioning to tea. I often question this a little bit, because they can be vastly different. That being said, I found this tea very coffee-esque. I brewed it with a rather heavy hand, as I prefer to do for shou, with 7.5g in 100mL. I got nice bittersweet earthy notes which reminded me quite strongly of black coffee. It was a pleasantly thick, inky black brew for about 10 steeps, so a pretty good value compared to some shou which steep out more quickly. The first steep had a bit of extra funk to it, but it was neither fishy nor necessarily unpleasant. If I were to decide to buy a cake of shou, I would strongly consider this one. Very solid, and more interesting than most shou to me with the pleasant bitterness it shows.
Flavors: Bitter, Coffee, Earth, Sweet
I seem to be using Random Steepings a lot lately – maybe I’m just lazy. This was a tea in a golden packet which came by me in a reddit swap as a nice little add-in. It said “Yong Chun Fo Shou” on the packet. A teafriend on Instagram pointed out that Fo Shou generally refers to “Buddha’s Hand” oolongs. This didn’t look anything like other examples of that tea, so who knows really. It was a rolled green oolong, with unusually large nuggets of rolled tea. The dry leaf had a very buttery floral aroma. After a rinse, it was just floral sweetness, with maybe a hint of an herbal note to it.
This one was pretty simple, but also tasty. Some good floral notes with a very bright finish and aftertaste. The floral was a little different than I’m used to in these greener oolongs – more bright and crisp than the creamier florals which often come across. Quite nice.
With my Farmerleaf sample order, I received a couple of samples which were not for sale on their site. They were labeled 2014 Jingmai Shengtai, and there was both a Spring and Autumn version. This seemed like a fun opportunity for a comparative tasting, so I went back and forth between the two for a couple of days. I really don’t know much about these teas – for all I know, they might not be very related at all, and they did in fact taste quite different.
The spring tea’s leaf had an aroma which included grass, spice, straw, tobacco, and fruit. It was a very interesting tea. Early in the session, I noticed notes of pine and sweetness, along with just a bit of mintiness. The texture was thick and creamy, and the flavor filled my mouth upon swallowing. The middle of the session was more of a sugarcane sweetness, with a bit of fruity to back it up. The late session threw me for a loop, as the sweetness remained alongside a resurgent minty flavor – it was kind of like drinking Creme de Menthe. The tea went for a good 15 steeps before it was done also.
The Autumn tea was also enjoyable, but had a much less diverse and deep character to it. This tea had similar notes in the aroma, but it was a little more airy if that makes sense. The early session was characterized by a crisp and vegetal sweetness – I would almost call it beany. It was not particularly heavy though there was a bit of thickness in my mouth. Later in the session, the flavor was more sweet floral hay, like an alfalfa field in bloom. The flavor did not linger for more than a few seconds, a marked difference from this tea’s spring counterpart. The Autumn did have similar longevity.
I have often heard Autumn puer described as more aromatic and less thick or deep than Spring puer, and I certainly found that to be the case when comparing these two. There were many differences in flavor as well, which was another fun comparison to make. I think I enjoyed the Spring one more, but the Autumn tea was easier to drink, both because it was more approachable and simple (not a bad thing), and not quite as heavy in the mouth or stomach.
Thanks, Farmerleaf, for including these samples in my order!
This poor sample has been languishing in my stash for many months, being part of the first sheng sample order I ever made. I don’t know why I didn’t get to it sooner, it just didn’t happen. Unfortunately, its reward for such a long wait was sorry indeed. The dry leaf smelled moderately promising, not having any smoke or real weirdness. Unfortunately, after a rinse, the leaf had a barnyard aroma which reminded me far too much of manure. I was only able to drink two or three steeps partially before I gave up. It was just making me a little bit queasy. The flavors weren’t too bad – some bitterness, a bit of an earthy sweetness, and a slight metallic feel.
It might have gotten better for me if I had kept going and tried a little bit longer, but I really had no desire to do so. Barnyard notes aren’t always bad to me, but this one was just way too far to the ehm…rear end…of that scale.
This tea was part of a Tieguanyin sample pack I bought from Hello Teatime for 11/11. I think it’s the first green tgy I’ve actually enjoyed. I wasn’t too excited after smelling the leaf, which had the typical green tgy floral aroma, but it turned out to have more to offer than just that generic flavor. Maybe it helped that I used boiled water. Boil all the oolongs!
Lots of floral going on, but enough fruity flavors joining up in the finish to keep it interesting. I didn’t get the weird sourness which sometimes puts me off of tieguanyin either. The texture was pleasantly smooth. Simple and enjoyable.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Green, Sweet
This is my first Shui Xian Pillow and the first Shui Xian I’ve had which wasn’t pretty heavily roasted. I gave it two rinses at the start to get it opening up, thinking it would be like the puerh balls that take a lot of effort to open up in the gaiwan. Next time I drink one of these, I think I could just drink the second rinse, as it broke apart almost completely by the first “official” steep. The dry pillow had a floral aroma to it. After a rinse, it smelled even more floral with some honey. At this point, it smelled like a lot of green tgy which I’ve had, which I am not a fan of.
Thankfully, once I got into drinking the tea, I found it to be something quite enjoyable. There wasn’t a whole lot of flavor variety or difference between steeps. For most of the session, it was a floral, nectar sweet brew, with decently creamy thickness in the mouth. It had pretty impressive longevity – I got nearly 20 steeps out of it! Part of that was probably because I used the whole 7.3g pillow in a 100mL gaiwan, but still nice. At times, the finish changed from just floral sweetness and became something a little bit different. In steeps 4 and 5, there was an extra sweetness to the finish – it was fruity, but really it reminded me of jelly beans. Around steeps 9 and 10, the finish had a bit of a caramel sweetness to it as well.
This tea was tasty! I was a bit dubious, as I have been gravitating towards roasted oolong more lately, but this was nice.
Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Sweet
This was a randomly chosen sample off of Taobao – I was pretty hopeful for it, as the leaves looked pretty nice, with not too heavy compression. I did two sessions with it, one of which was alright, and the other was not very good at all. The dry leaf had a bit of a leathery, slightly spicy aroma. After a rinse, they smelled a bit sour and leathery.
My first session was the better one, so I’ll use that one for my tasting notes/review. The tea had a lot of slightly sour leather notes in the early steeps, which never went fully away. But there was a good amount of sweetness and some nice thickness in the mouth. I also got the occasional note of dark fruitiness. That said, I was only able to take the session about seven steeps before I just didn’t really want to continue.
My other session was in a Jianshui pot, and some of the material was broken up into pretty small pieces. The first two steeps were nearly undrinkable with just unpleasant bitter sourness throughout. The sour flavor did recede a bit after the first 2-3 steeps, but it was still present and unwanted. This one is definitely not a hit with me.
Flavors: Leather, Sour, Sweet, Thick