240 Tasting Notes

This was a free sample from Teavivre. Thank you.

I opened the sample packet and tipped out a pile of autumn leaves. Honestly, I have never seen tea that looked so natural and unprocessed, well, apart from the obvious compression on bits of it. The leaves were brown, dry and very light in my hands. The only difference from the stuff in my garden is that these smell of honey and possibly apricots. Something fruity like that. I looked at the brewing guidelines and paused. White tea at 100C? That can’t be right. And brew it for 6-10 minutes? Surely some mistake. I checked the website. No, it was right. I had better try it at that temperature and steeping time in the first instance. I opted for a mid-range 8 minutes and watched with concern as the liquor got darker and darker. When the timer went off, the tea was a dark amber colour, more like a black tea than a white one. The honey aroma was still there though along with the fruitiness. I really need to sort out a reference collection for fruit and veg so that I can compare the teas with the collection. I’ll add it to the to-do list, right alongside getting a round to-it. I’m rambling now. Back to the tea.

I sipped with trepidation. My concerns were quickly allayed and I thought to myself “Crikey, that’s really jolly good.” It is sweet and honeyed with a touch of cinnamon and a side order of grapes. Unlike some white teas I have had, it is not cloying or too thick. Instead it is clean and smooth with a creamy consistency. The aftertaste is sweet and tingling and I can feel a slight cha qi present that is slightly relaxing. All these good things continue through the next couple of steeps too. I’ll struggle to work today between the relaxing nature of this tea and the loudly purring kitten next to me just begging to be petted.

Top job, Teavivre. Yet another good tea that I have enjoyed.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Grapes, Honey

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 5 g 8 OZ / 250 ML

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The leaves on this tea are huge. I had to ram them hard into my pot, a but like getting the spaghetti into the pan of boiling water. The liquor brews up a dark peach colour with a lightly fruity, mellow flavour. There’s something floral in the aftertaste and slight astringency develops shortly after swallowing. It’s a nice tea and quite relaxing. I’m on steep eight now and only up to 30 second steeps, so it seems to have decent endurance too.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

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Yay, I’m back on Steepster. For some reason Chrome seems to hate it these days and it is causing me problems. Hey ho! So, for today’s tea I am drinking this 2012 Qiu Yun. It’s good. The leaf smells of sweet, fresh hay and the leaves are big. I had to jam them into my pot! The taste is fruity, rounded and sweet. The aftertaste is tingly with apricot or peach notes. It leaves me salivating and citrussy for ages afterwards. Yes, this tea literally makes me drool! ;) I certainly recommend it.

Flavors: Apricot, Hay, Sweet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
TheTeaFairy

Nice to see ya Dr. Roughage :-)

Steepster has been down for DAYS!!! So it might not be your browser!!

The tea sounds great!!

boychik

Sold out:(. Few days before I tried . Stupid me, I had the sample for some time but didn’t try. Lesson learned

Roughage

I am still having some issues using Chrome, but I refuse to return to IE and I found Firefox too clunky. Still, it is good to know that it is not solely my browser that is at fault, TF.

Boychik, I seem to recall reading on a blog (possibly Hobbes?) that a sample was a single beeng. Perhaps that is the lesson needing to be learnt. :) I usually get a single beeng of each puerh, and only get smaller samples if the tea is monstrously expensive.

boychik

this sample i got from one extremely generous Steepsterite. i need to sample thing as soon as i get them. I do the same as you are, but recently i wasnt happy with my picking ;) so when a person offered me super generous samples i could not refuse. another problem i dont have a space to store any more (Im sure im not alone, haha)All the tops of my bookshelves are occupied with boxes.

Roughage

Thanks looseTman. Interesting links. I’d love to know why IE will load Steepster just fine but Chrome won’t. Meh, maybe I just need to use IE solely for Steepster. That way Google will know less about my tea drinking habits, but Bill Gates might get a tip-off on a good beeng to buy. :)

looseTman

You’re welcome!
IE 11 and DuckDuckGo! – “The search engine that doesn’t track you.”

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I’m drinking the 2007 You Le Shan today and finding it rather disappointing. I bought this as part of a package of samples from Zhi Zheng when they still had a webshop and I have quite enjoyed the previous samples. This one, unfortunately, does not impress. The light hay aroma of the dry leaf is pleasant and encouraging although perhaps a touch faded. Is this the warning I should have heeded? The liquor is dark straw coloured and the first sips have the promised pleasing bitterness to them but when that fades, there is a light sweetness and little more left to the tea. I have used most of the sample pack now and experimented with duration and temperature, but to no avail. This is not a bad tea by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t find myself wanting to spit it out and cremate its remains to avenge my offended taste buds. Instead I just find myself drinking it and going “yes, it’s smooth and mellow but also watery and insipid.” It has no body and I cannot feel the promised cha qi. Basically, I find it bland and unexciting. Perhaps it is something in me and my brewing set up, or perhaps this sample was past its best. Who knows? Ah well, I can at least grandpa the rest and move on to pastures new . I shall step out on the pu path with this new awareness secured in my mind and face the next tea tomorrow.

Flavors: Hay

Preparation
0 min, 30 sec 9 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
JC

Aww, that sucks. Sorry that this wasn’t a good one. I was saw when I went to their page to buy two sample packs and found the web store is closed :( Mark is a nice guy though and was always attentive. Hopefully I’ll be able to buy again in the future.

Roughage

Yeah, I had great service and great communication from him when I bought the samples. I would buy beengs of a couple of the samples I had from him if they were available at the right time (i.e. when there is spare money in my wallet), but this tea would not be a candidate for that.

It’s all a learning experience anyway. You don’t learn about tea by only drinking the good stuff. You need something to measure the good stuff against, so all is not lost.

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This is a sample that Paul sent me. I was drinking it for two days, so it has legs and can go the distance. The dry leaf smells of a light, sweet tobacco. It was loose and easily pulled apart into whole leaves even by hand.

The soup is a strong amber colour and smells slightly smoky. The tea has a solid smoky hit to start with before mellowing to a mix of smoke and astringency that is really pleasant, rounded out by a hint of sweetness that brings the whole experience together. I could see buying a beeng or two of this.

Flavors: Astringent, Smoke, Tobacco

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
JC

I received a sample of this one, I haven’t tried it yet, but based on your description I should get to it!

Roughage

I think you will like it based on what I know of your preferences. :)

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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?

mrmopar

Oh yes I remember the Ramones and the Dead Kennedys. Those were great years to live in.

Roughage

Yes, a great decade.

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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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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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