212 Tasting Notes
This will be… I think the third of WYMM Tea’s Menghai Shou Puer I have tried. So far, my favorite is the Third Grade. I tried two other grades in an earlier batch of samples. This First Grade Shou contains the smallest leaves and buds of the different grades of Shou Puer.
After a rinse, the leaves of this Puer smell sweet and musty. I get the scent of sweet dough and a hint of the dusty, musty smell you encounter in a basement or a cave. There is also a bit of petrichor, the smell that arises when it begins to rain, and the scent of mineral. Combine all that with a hint of pipe tobacco, and it creates a rather sweet, rustic, complex smell. The brewed tea itself smells even more like a sweet pastry dough.
The taste is really smooth and earthy, and surprisingly less sweet than I expected from the scent. It’s really difficult to describe this flavor, but I might almost say it tastes like a good Sumatran coffee would if it had none of the bitterness. It’s earthy with cacao notes. After the sip there is a lingering sweetness, and a really wet feeling in the mouth, also a bit of a lingering taste like the aftertaste of dark chocolate. The most outstanding factor while drinking this is just how smooth it is. It is really pleasant feeling in the mouth and throat. Very clean.
The next infusion is sweeter than the first and yet again very smooth. The taste is a bit woody, earthy, and again I’m reminded of petrichor. Really subtle and easy to drink. Later infusions had similar character to them. Throughout many steepings this tea remained very smooth and clean, with a mellow taste. It’s a dark, relaxing cozy tea. It has no bitterness or astringency at all, and in some infusions a mild sweetness is present. If you enjoy dark earthy flavors but more on the subtle side than the bold side, this tea would make a great choice.
Flavors: Cacao, Coffee, Earth, Musty, petrichor, Wood
I didn’t rinse, because this tea tastes great without it. The initial infusion is really light and has a subtle fruit note, maybe like apricot or peach. There’s a long lingering sweetness in the mouth and the taste is very clean and light. The scent of the tea leaves and brewed tea are lightly floral and a little vegetal.
The second infusion of this one is a blend of spiced, vegetal, and apricot. It tingles on the tongue with an almost fizzy sensation and finishes with a bit of a tartness that lingers in the mouth. It’s a nice sensation, not a bad tartness. The flavor is also a bit reminiscent of orange as the tea cools.
The third infusion is really sweet and fruity with a wood note in the finish and a very light bitterness at the end. Really juicy and full flavored.The fourth infusion is a bit more bitter and reminds me of orange blossoms. The fifth infusion brings more tart fruit flavor. It reminds me of tart bitter fruits like cranberries or grapefruit, but only mildly bitter compared to the fruit. After another infusion, there was no bitterness or tanginess at all and it had a distinct butterscotch note in the mix.
Overall this tea is really smooth and has a nice fruity flavor to it, balanced by the usual green notes of sheng Puer. Like WYMM Tea’s other sheng Puer teas, this one has a really clean taste. I haven’t had one yet that didn’t taste really high quality. Really happy they shared this with me!
Flavors: Apricot, Orange, Orange Blossom, Sweet
After a 15 second rinse, the tea leaves smell sweet and floral, a bit like chamomile, and with a bit of a fruit note. I’m already sensing some similarities in aroma with WYMM Tea’s Mangnuo Cane Tea, which is truly a prized tea to me.
I am drinking the initial rinse infusion of this tea, because after testing it, it tastes great. It is light and honey-like with a floral nectar kind of character to it. The liquor is a beautiful golden yellow and smells like honey too. There’s no bitterness present and the flavor is light and refreshing, leaving a slight cooling sensation on the tongue.
The second infusion has a bit stronger floral taste and isn’t quite as sweet. Again, I’m reminded of chamomile somewhat, though of course it’s also got the complexity and variety of “green” flavors that is unique to sheng Puer. Still, it tastes quite like I’m drinking a flower tisane.
By the third infusion I realized how clean this tea tastes and how clean it feels in the mouth. It isn’t really strong in flavor. It has just a bit of lingering bitterness at this point, but it’s a clean and enjoyable bitterness. The flavor overall is mild and sweet at first, then gives way to the bitter finish, which is to be expected from a young Puer. The next infusion is a bit sweeter, and despite the accompanying bitterness, there’s a lingering sweetness. Further infusions maintain a balance between a subtle floral honey-like sweetness and a lingering clean bitterness. A lingering sweetness follows much longer after the bitterness subsides. This Puer seems like one that would be really sweet and light after aging. I like how smooth it is, especially in the first few infusions. This one definitely has my attention. I think it has great aging potential!
Flavors: Floral, Green, Honey
I’m always happy when I get samples from WYMM Tea. Their teas have a really unique and pure quality to them. I feel an impression of closeness to the source.
The leaves in a warm gaiwan smell like dried fruit with a little hint of fennel. After a 20 second rinse infusion, they smell much more like dark dried fruits, fig or plum, and a hint of perfume. I’m reminded of high quality artisan incense from Japan crafted with rare resins (like those you might find from the 300 year old Shoyeido company).
With raw Puer, I often taste the rinse infusion to see how it is and if it’s good, I’ll drink it. With higher quality ones, I find that the rinse tastes just great. This one is no exception. The rinse infusion tastes like dried fruit, similar to golden raisins. It has a really juicy, wet mouthfeel, no drying astringency or bitterness at all.
By the second infusion, the flavor is more robust and the texture more juicy and mouth-filling. The taste is still of dried fruit. This is a really gentle and easy tea to drink, despite its depth of flavor.
The third infusion seems to exhibit a hint of bitterness, though it’s subtle. The flavor is less intense overall, so I will let it infuse a bit longer on the next.
On the fourth infusion I’ve let it steep a bit longer, and while the flavor is more full, overall it is less sweet and fruity than the first two infusions. It has a hint of bitterness that lingers, but it’s still really subtle.
The fifth infusion is a bit more fruity sweet but still with some lingering bitterness, a bit stronger now. I could see these flavors registering as “apricot” and “smoky” to many Puer drinkers. I see these descriptors used a lot for raw Puer. Sixth infusion is similar. The seventh is even a little more bitter and the taste has a bit of a tropical fruit note to it. From here forward the flavor tends to wane and if you try to push more out of it, it gets somewhat bitter.
Overall, this tea tasted best early on. I enjoyed the first few steepings so much. After that its flavors diminished a bit, but it was still enjoyable.
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Perfume
So this is my first experience with drinking loose yerba mate in the traditional style with a mate gourd. I ordered one and a bombilla finally and seasoned the gourd with this tea. I figured I’d like this kind more than regular mate because it is unsmoked and has a more green flavor than most mate.
The flavor is really intense with a gourd full of leaves and a narrow canal down the edge filled with water. The flavor is really foresty and green. There are hints of evergreens trees. When this yerba really reaches its pinnacle and is brewed its strongest, it has an incredibly savory umami flavor like a vegetable broth, and it’s also a little salty. It has some natural bitterness too that is not very present if you brew this more like a regular tea with a small amount in a cup rather than in the traditional “gourd full o yerba” method.
The intense savoryness of this tea really reminds me of gyokuro prepared in the traditional method. I imagine gyokuro lovers would enjoy this. I have to admit, I’m not used to that intense savory flavor and I cringe a little when I drink it (same with gyokuro), but I’m also kind of intrigued by it and drawn to it, and continue to drink it… so I have a strange relationship with it… not something I’d really go for often, but something that works in the right mood.
I really want to try roasting some of this in a pan and drink it that way… kind of like home-made houjicha but with yerba mate. That would be fun.
Flavors: Green, Pine, Rainforest, Umami
Okay, it’s time for me to stop being in dragon mode (hoarding it all to myself) and review this. I didn’t want to hype it too much b/c I hadn’t had the funds to order my fill yet, but I just placed an order for the rest that I foresee myself purchasing, so here goes.
Oh boy! This tea has interesting written all over it. I was first drawn to the packaging, as I love the stag artwork on the wrapping. After reading the description from PuerhShop and the other review here on Steepster I knew I should give it a try, so I ordered a sample.
The first sniffs of the dry leaves in a warm gaiwan are wonderful. It has a really soft fragrance with the scent of flowers and fruits. I’m getting hints of magnolia, and maybe some cherry, plum, or nectarine. Definitely a stone fruit scent.
The scent of the wet leaves is more complex and hard to describe. It’s predominantly nutty and vegetal, but with a nice fruity tanginess in the background. It reminds me of really high quality green teas from china. Maybe a Bi Luo Chun. There is also a subtle floral aroma if you inhale deeply. This is lovely.
I gave the rinse a little taste. Even just sipping that there is a lingering floral taste in my mouth. Wow. I’m not going to describe the other flavors of it. I’ll do the first infusion first.
Something about the scent of the brewed tea makes me incredibly nostalgic. It smells very perfumed and flowery. the taste is more vegetal, buttery, and nutty, with green bean notes, but the lingering floral taste and aroma is what sets this Puer apart from others of its kind for me. I can definitely agree with the other reviewer here who said it reminds them of oolong tea. I can tell it is sheng puer from a mile away, but it definitely has a lot in common with oolong in its floral and green notes.
In the second infusion, the tea has become a bit more buttery and nutty. It still has a bright vegetal and floral note, but it is not as powerful as before. It is very prominent on the nose still, however.
The third infusion is a little more sweet and floral. Less of the vegetal, nutty. Still pretty buttery and smooth. I should mention that this tea has zero bitterness and is a really great raw puer. Very warming qi.
If you go with this tea for about 7 to 8 infusions or more, it starts to mellow out substantially, and any hints of young puer bitterness it might have fade away. The predominant flavor is of honey and flowers. The taste and fragrance are something sort of like orange blossom water. It just goes on and on this way for many infusions. It’s so gentle and lovely, I can only imagine how great this tea will be in a couple decades.
I’m buying a handful of cakes of this to age… the first tea I’ve done that with! I have seasoned one of Master Weilong’s one of a kind unglazed interior gongfu teapots with this tea. It smells so nice inside now. This is a tea I’ll be taking with me for the long haul.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Green, Stonefruits, Vegetal
These buds sure are pretty, golden, curly, fuzzy and soft. They’re in good shape. In a warm gaiwan, they smell heavily of cocoa, and after the first infusion the buds smell like cocoa still but also like honey and flowers.
The first infusion is surprisingly pale for a Chinese red tea. It’s actually a bold, golden yellow color. Granted, that’s only after 15 seconds, but with the same weight in leaves, red teas are usually at least orange or amber after the first infusion Gongfu style. The tea liquor smells great, like subtle hints of chocolate and honey and pastry crust. I’m reminded of greek pastries like baklava or galaktoboureko, maybe with some chocolate thrown in em for good measure. The taste is exceptionally smooth and delightful. It’s sweet and gentle with flavors of honey and cocoa. Sort of has a “cookies and cream” nuance.
In the second infusion, floral flavors emerge to accompany the others. It’s really buttery. The third infusion offers more of the same flavors, but more rich. It continues in this way in later infusions. This tea is pretty mellow and easy to drink. It has a sweet onset and is overall light, then finishes with a lingering taste of cocoa. I think chocolate lovers will love this tea, and those who like their red/black tea on the light and crisp side.
Flavors: Butter, Cocoa, Floral, Honey
These white tea leaves dry in a warm gaiwan smell like a churro. If you don’t know what that is, Google it, and find some in your area, and treat yourself to one ASAP. I am enamored already, and I can’t stop smelling it just to enjoy that scent. The scent of the wet leaves after the first infusion is like fresh cucumbers and champagne with a hint of perfume.
The taste of the first infusion is really delicate and sweet, yet strangely mouth-filling. There’s a bit of a sweet corn taste to it. After the second infusion, the leaves smell quite a bit like lychee fruit to me. The tea tastes like lychee too. It’s really sweet, crisp, and delicate with fruit and floral notes (lychee taste both fruity and floral if you haven’t had the chance to try it before). Another way to describe this tea is that it tastes quite a bit like the aroma of pure frankincense.
The infusion color of this tea is a really pale yellow, really subtle and pretty to look at. I’m really impressed by the intensity of the flavor, and the complexity of it, considering how delicate and easy to drink it is. This one’s definitely going to end up in my next order from What-Cha. I think that in terms of flavor, this tea even rivals my favorite tea, which is another white tea from What-Cha (Kenyan Silver Needle).
Four infusions in, I’m tasting more of a bosc pear or golden apple flavor. After that, the infusions become a bit less sweet and more tangy, though I’m certain I could push many more flavorful infusions out of it. White Peony style teas tend to start getting really fruity again with these short Gongfu infusions after the first 8 or so.
Flavors: Champagne, Lychee, Pastries, Perfume
I’m lacking the energy for a detailed post tonight.
Short version: This tea is smooth, clean, and the flavor is fine. It isn’t bitter or harsh at all. It’s good, certainly priced nicely. It would be a great Wuyi oolong for beginners who are new to Wuyi teas and would like a cheap one to test brewing methods with. It also doesn’t really taste or smell like cinnamon to me. The scent reminds me more of char and cigar tobacco, while the flavor is not far from a cigar either, and neither taste nor smell come off terribly complex to me.
Like a cigar, but healthy. How bout that?
Of Wuyi oolongs I have had, this one gives one of the least pronounced impressions. It’s a typical representation of Wuyi oolongs, great perhaps to someone new to the world of fine loose teas, especially because it is affordable, but to compare this to the finer Wuyi teas I’ve had would be unfair from both ends.
But then, when you sit and analyze a tea, and compare it to others, instead of just enjoying what you have in front of you, well, some would argue that’s missing the purpose of tea, and I’d tend to agree with them.
Though reviewing has its merits, especially for the forgetful, who are otherwise blessed to get the best of their blunders.
Flavors: Char, Tobacco
The dry leaves in a warm gaiwan smell nutty with a hint of cocoa. After the first infusion, the wet leaves smell like flowers and apples, just a touch of cocoa at the end.
The first infusion is really sweet and honey-like. The flavor isn’t really complex. There’s a hint of white grape and maybe orange. It’s subtle and smooth. The second infusion is much more floral tasting than the first, with a hint of the lingering white grape flavor as before. What’s really interesting about this tea is that it doesn’t taste like tea to me… It tastes like water sweetened with honey and infused with fruit. It’s kind of unique in that way. It is very clean and light, quite easy to drink.
I did a few infusions with this, brewing a bit longer each time. Even if I brewed it really long the flavor never became overpowering.. It was always floral, slightly fruity, not bitter at all.
I must admit, this tea has me nonplussed. I’m not sure what to make of it. I have tried a handful of Darjeeling teas now and have never really been wowed, nor have I disliked them. I’m not sure if Darjeeling is for me. There always seems to be a little something missing, as far as complexity goes, and maybe I’m just not that big on grape flavor. I also brew it Gongfu style like a weirdo, though I’ve tried it in the Western fashion, which is the usual method for enjoying Darjeeling, and I didn’t like it as much that way. This tea is good stuff though. It’s light and easy to drink.
What-Cha’s description says it reminds of red wine. I would have to say it reminds me more of a white wine (maybe because I brew it more lightly), something sweet like a Gewurztraminer.
Flavors: Flowers, Honey, Orange, White Grapes