235 Tasting Notes

I was lucky enough to be sent a sample of this by Paul at White2tea. It reminds me of ‘American Flagg’, especially the later ‘Amerikan Flagg’ reboot. Hmm, how do I do reversed Rs on here. I need some cyrillic, stat. I’m sure it’s just the name, and I have no idea if Paul is a Howard Chaykin fan but I cannot get that eighties comic goodness out of my head while drinking this. In fact, this issue best sums it all up:
http://www.comicvine.com/howard-chaykins-american-flagg-9-loose-women-and-b/4000-383555/
Shame I can’t post images here. That would be proper cool and make the point better.

The tea itself smells floral when dry and fruity when wet, and it has a proper kick to it. Cwyn has given an awesome review of it, so I really don’t feel I can add much more to that. I can feel the energy of this tea giving me a kick in the seat of the pants. My mouth has gone dry and prickly, the bitterness lingers in my throat and the rounded, full-on flavour lasts for ages. I’m working on 10 second steeps at 95C (the slider says boiling but that is because Steepster is not communicating properly with Chrome once more) at the moment because I put a lot of leaf in the pot and I am feeling slightly incoherent from the onset of tea drunk. I guess that makes this a party in a teapot. Mmmm …

Flavors: Floral, Fruity

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
Cwyn

Omg that link is funny! Twodog pointed out a YouTube vid of a singer named Amerykah. Yet the comic really does illustrate the gaudy slam you get from this tea.

Roughage

I used to love that comic way back when I was just a callow youth (or maybe a little bit older) but this tea is so dayglo 80s in so many ways that it reminded me of it. Took me a while to recall the title so I could get the right cover image though.

Cwyn

Exactly, and hence the early 80s high school references in my own notes, sooo funny.

Roughage

I think it is brilliant, as are your notes. The eighties were a terrible era according to so many people, but I totally had the best time of my life then (don’t tell my wife I said that!). :)

mrmopar

80’s were the bomb!

Cwyn

The kids all envy us nowadays.

mrmopar

How coincidental that 3 80’s children on the same site and same subject. Now the next question, anyone listened to Men at Work, The Who, The Kinks or REO Speedwagon lately?

Roughage

Not so much those bands, but I have had the Ramones and Dead Kennedys on endless repeat for a bit now. Does that count?

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It’s rather hot here today, so sheng is called for and this was the sample that came first out of the tin. This is the last of the samples I bought from Yunnan Sourcing, so I can move on to my remaining Zhi Zheng and White2tea samples next.

This tea has not been heavily compressed and is easily pulled apart by hand. The leaves are large and have a lovely silvery furriness to them.

The dry leaf has a light hay and tropical garden aroma. It is heavy without being excessively floral. By way of contrast, the wet leaf smells more of grapes or something vegetal. The liquor surprises with its caramel and chocolate aroma.

The tea carries the chocolate notes through to the tasting and adds nuttiness and some grassy notes. There is a hint of bitterness that develops at the end of the tasting and into the aftertaste which adds a small amount of astringency that develops slowly while the tea pops on the tongue like space dust. The mouthfeel is rounded like a boiled sweet. There seems to be a lot going on with this tea and it becomes smoother with less bitterness developing as the steeps go on. I’m on my 8th steep now and am very happy with this one. I am glad that I have tried it, but I do have to query the price. I am not certain that it provides value for money, but perhaps the tea will age in interesting ways that justify that price tag.

Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Hay, Nutty

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
MzPriss

Sounds yummy!

Roughage

I’ve really enjoyed this tea today. It tastes like a sheng should but with a bit more than that on top.

MzPriss

I need to spend more time with my shengs. And the ones I have coming :)

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After a disappointing session earlier today I picked this one out of the sample tin. I bought it some time back and have been very remiss in sampling it. Fortunately my current sheng binge is really getting me through the samples.

The dry leaf on this is gorgeous. It smells of warm horse and hay. That’s a homely and comforting smell that suggests a great brew ahead. The wet leaf transitions to a smoke and hay aroma, and the soup is orange. The first few steeps were smoky and sweet with raw carrot notes and a citrus sharpness that became a lovely bitterness. There was some astringency and the tea sparkled on the tongue. As I continued to steep and drink, it became smoother with less smoke, no bitterness and more sweetness. The astringency remained with a change towards a grape note by the end of the session. I steeped this over a dozen times and will return to it tomorrow, so I guess you could say its endurance is pretty good. This is more like what I want from a sheng and I am glad I had this one after this morning’s disappointment. It’s a great note to end the day on.

Flavors: Astringent, Carrot, Smoke, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
TheTeaFairy

I love when I get sheng tickles on the tongue :-)

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I bought a sample of this from Yunnansourcing some time back and have been trying to work through my backlog of samples this past week or so. I was quite excited to try an 11 year old sheng. The dry leaf promised much with its hot hay aroma. It smelt good and promised a robust and pleasing experience. Sadly the liquor failed to deliver. It has a nice bitterness at the back of the mouth and in the throat and is quite smooth, but in the end it left me feeling that something was missing. There is a slight smokiness, perhaps a hint of grape, a soupçon of sweetness but really not much more. Perhaps someone with a subtler tongue could plumb the depths of this tea but I found it rather shallow and my feet remained firmly on the bottom of the pool while my head and body remained above water. It is bland and underwhelming, and failed to enthrall me. If I wished to damn it with faint praise, I would describe it as nice. That is all it is.

Flavors: Bitter, Smoke

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
TheTeaFairy

A non-shengadelic sheng….sad.

MzPriss

:( I think this is one of the samples I ordered

Roughage

MzPriss: I don’t see it on either of the Yunnansourcing websites now. If you did order it, I would be interested to hear what you think about it. You may find it much more to your liking than I did, and you may get a lot more from it. I hope you do.

Tea Fairy: Utterly not shengadelic for me. It’s the Scott Evil of the sheng world, always trying to spoil Dr Evil’s fun.

MzPriss

Oh good – maybe I got some other purple thing. I will have to check, cause I just ordered Sunday so maybe it isn’t the same one

boychik

What would be your ultimate sheng?

Roughage

That’s a difficult question, boychik. The standard by which I judge all sheng is the 2005 Xiaguan Tibetan Flame. It is cheap, basic and powerful. That said, I have little to no experience of aged shengs and might find a favourite among those if given the chance. Also, as I sample more shengs of different types, I expect my tastes to change in line with my experience. Still, the combination of price and ‘hit’ for the Tibetan Flame is hard to beat.

boychik

I do like Tibetian Flame. Just very tight compression it’s hard for me to chip a piece. I need a hummer :)

Roughage

Yes, you could build a house with Tibetan Flame. I would up sticking my puerh pick through my hand one time while trying to get some off the brick, because I pushed so hard! No lasting damage though. I wonder if I should just use a hacksaw to cut it into lumps. ;)

MzPriss

Dude – a hole in the hand is extreme sheng

Roughage

I have bled for my art!

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After the mildness of the 2012 Shuang Yu yesterday I opened another sample packet I had bought today and got quite the hit. The dry leaf promised something wild and robust with its solid hay and floral aroma. The brewed tea was a strong amber colour and provided the same hit in a different way. It is sweet and smoky with a mild tobacco edge and vegetal notes. The liquor is creamy and coats the mouth and throat so the smokiness and sweetness endure in the aftertaste. Despite its strength, there is little bitterness or astringency, only enough to enhance the other flavours. This tea is much more in my comfort zone than yesterday’s. I can wrestle with it and expect it to fight back instead of having to nurture it to bring out its best properties.

Flavors: Smoke, Sweet, Tobacco, Vegetal

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
JC

I’ve had a few like this. You feel at home with them. The ones I have to fiddle too much with I end up inadvertently avoiding(too much work when I just want to relax and enjoy).

Roughage

I know what you mean. With the more difficult teas, I tend to wait until I am in the right mood. That usually means finding a rare moment when I can actually sit down and focus solely on the tea. This does mean that they tend to get ignored a lot.

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Wow, I keep finding teas to write about that have no notes yet. This is a sample I bought from Zhi Zheng. I went to check the site and noticed that they have closed their web store which is a shame because their teas looked good. Anyway, after my brief flirtation with an Oriental Beauty this morning I decided to get wild with a sheng. This was the first to hand from the sample tin, so I decided to go ahead and see what it was like.

The dry leaf was in a big chunk in the packet. It was relatively loose and easy to pick apart. The aroma of the dry leaf was mild hay. The wet aroma only intensified that note. I steeped the first pot for 20 seconds and it came out incredibly mild. I think it needed longer to wake up, because the second steeping was better. It was still mild with a hint of astringency and a slight smokiness at he back of the throat. From there the tea developed well with each steeping. Floral notes and a hint of camphor crept in as the astringency changed to a grape taste that continued through to the end. By the end of the steeping, the grapes dominated. Throughout, the liquor coated the mouth nicely and was silky smooth. This is mild and refreshing, and really good for a hot summer day.

Flavors: Camphor, Floral, Grapes, Hay

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

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A pleasant Sunday spent drinking honey-sweet Oriental Beauty. Nice.

TheTeaFairy

Have an excellent Sunday in the company of the Beauty :-)

Roughage

Thank you. I have moved on now. My Beauty was just a passing fancy for this morning and now I am getting wild with a sheng. :)

TheTeaFairy

Sheng tripping.

Roughage

Yes, sheng tripping again. I’m sure there must be a song about that. :)

TheTeaFairy

The Beatles. Day Tripper.

Roughage

That’s the obvious one, I guess. I think the sheng I was drinking needs a power ballad or something soft rock. :)

TheTeaFairy

I think we should ask our MzPriss, she’ll find us the perfect sheng anthem…we need one :-)

Roughage

I wholeheartedly endorse this sentiment. :)

MzPriss

Oh see – I added a song to the Wi,d Mountain Green – but it’s not pyschadelic – it’s ZYDECO. The Zydeco Boogaloo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfF8Elj_pFU

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Backlog from yesterday: I was gifted this tea by a good tea chum. Throughout I struggled to find much of anything in it, sadly. It is woody and rounded and slightly sweet. It’s not bad, but I found it a bit nondescript. I think the best description for it is ‘solid’. If you want a shou that is mellow and rounded but not too challenging, then this one would be a good choice. I could see using it as an everyday shou that requires little thought. I do wonder if I was really in the mood for a shou. That might be why I found less to it than I might otherwise, or perhaps I have been spoilt recently by other superb teas. Anyway, thank you to my tea chum. I enjoyed the tea even though I did not find it to be stellar. I have a couple more samples to try from my friend but I think I need to wait for the shou craving, because one of them is a mystery sample that he is testing me with. I really have no idea what to expect from it.

Flavors: Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 10 g 5 OZ / 160 ML
MzPriss

Good tea chums are awesome aren’t they?

Roughage

Good tea chums are the best.

TheTeaFairy

Oh yes they are (not looking at you mzpriss)

MzPriss

These are authoritative statements coming from a Fairy and a Berserker Expert!

TheTeaFairy

Hehehe! bear-serker ;-)

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Thar she blows! Aharr, me hearties, today I laid into the White Whale that Paul of White2tea sent me. I fear the whale has harpooned me and now I be mixing up me sailing books. Should it be Treasure Whale or White Whale Island? Perhaps it’s just the tea drunk talking.

The dry leaf has an aroma of wood and camphor. Wet, the leaf adds smoky and pine resin notes. The liquor is orange. I can feel the kick as I drink it. It is powerful with strong wood and camphor notes, an element of smoke and pine resin, and a chilli bite in the aftertaste then a fine cooling on the tongue. I’m enjoying this tea a lot and finding that the aftertaste lasts nicely, unlike the aftertaste that Moby Dick left in Captain Ahab’s mouth. Let us hope that it has the legs of all those sailors it has encountered, because I hope to enjoy it for the rest of the day.
http://imgur.com/gallery/9izYW55
This is indeed a dancing white whale and at a great price too. I have to say that I really like the wrapper that White2tea has come up with for it. Minimalist but pleasing just the same.

Thank you White2tea. This is now on my want list. That’s like a wish list but I am more likely to pester my wife until she gives in and buys me a brick or two.

Flavors: Camphor, Pine, Smoke, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
DigniTea

This is definitely a fine little gem!

Cwyn

Oh help, the lad had none of this on him the other day at the tea tasting, and now Roughage’s wife gonna buy it all. I better get cracking!

Roughage

Fair’s fair. You got to do the tea tasting with Paul. I got some samples. It balances out. :)

I doubt very much that my beloved will permit me to buy more tea right now, but it would not hurt you to get in ahead of her/me before we buy up the entire stock. ;)

Cwyn

The worst of it is that tea lad has a stash he might buy up soon leading to more good cakes and nothing in any of our wallets!

Roughage

Tea will get you through times of no money better than money gets you through times of no tea. :)

Cwyn

Now that is the wisest sage advice I have ever read.

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Profile

Bio

I am a historical consultant, Vikingologist and tea enthusiast! To be honest, I have always liked decent tea, but in 2011 I started working at learning what good tea really is. I continue to expand my horizons and discover new teas with the aid of my chums on Steepster, much to the chagrin of my wife, who despairs of my enthusiasm.

My favourite teas are Darjeelings, sheng puerhs and Anji Bai Cha. I return to these every time, after whatever flirtation with other teas I have been involved with.

I no longer rate the teas I drink because keeping ratings consistent proved to be rather hard work while not really giving me anything in return.

Location

East Yorkshire, England

Website

http://ruarighdale.wordpress....

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