94

Reached the last of my small supply of this, so brewing a bit weaker than I normally would and it started losing flavor about a quarter the number of infusions I would get using 8-9g.

5.75g with 225ml in a seasoned squat shi piao style duan ni yixing teapot. Single rinse. Start off using 83 degree C water and a 15, 30, then 45 second steep but moved on to a minute for the 4th-8th infusions and 2 minutes with 87 degree C water for the 9th.

Leaves are in many different sizes and shapes, ranging from broken down bits the size of small Keemun leaves to leaf sets larger than most whole-leaf oolongs. Smells like opening a bag of dry potting soil or an old but well cleaned barn. Wet leaves release the same clay-loam aroma, but also wet river rock crispness, stripped willow bark sweet vegetal aroma, and a bit of oven-dried orange peel woody citrus. Beech wood and unground nutmeg and pepper spice aromas. The leaves look an awful lot like spent leaves of Oriental Beauty Oolong (Dong Feng Mei Ren/Bai Hao Oolong) leaves, but a little darker green. Liquor is clear orange-amber with a reddish tint (infusions beyond the 4th brew are just clear amber, but stay richly hued). Liquor aroma does not convey the soil characteristics and incorporates more of a bisque-fired clay note and crushed walnut meaty nuttiness.

Rich body. Not super thick, but feels kind of “sticky” – the lower end of chewy full body. Light acidity and faint astringency along margins. Similar tactile impression to whole/4% milk. Mouthwatering with balanced umami, sweet, light sour, and faint bitterness. Usually I shy away from mentioning sour or bitter when talking about a tea I love, but these qualities are present to varying degrees in most teas whether we decide to call attention to them or not and here they really help tie the flavor and tactile impression together in a rich flavor. Most puerh I drink may have some complexity in the aroma and provides a good base flavor, but this guy actually moves through a good range of progressive tastes as well. Base is a vegetal-wood flavor – again, reminding me of stripped willow bark or the smell of sapling trees. Moist leaf litter, but no mustiness. Paprika, almond, terra cotta, mild unground peppercorns, apricot, bittersweet chocolate peanut shell, old redwood planks, cattail, a touch of prune and chipotle all move through in the flavor and nose. It is much more like a rush of people getting on a train than a dance in terms of flavor progression – the flavors present, then merge and change instead of flitting in and out as they tend to in more delicate teas. The body really does seem a conduit for the flavors. When slurped, more of the apricot and wet wood-cocoa character is present (and a sort of legume/cooked beans flavor not noticable in the draught) but the many other flavors are relegated to aftertaste. Aftertaste is crisp, slightly corn-and-rice sweet, and mouthwatering.

Lasts much shorter than the 20+ infusions I got off this using 12g in the same amount of water, but first 6 infusions are really good and disappear altogether too quickly.

Really yummy tea at a steal for the price. That said, I would not want to drink this every day. While it could hold its own against food, I feel I need to drink this on its own to give it the attention it deserves. Livelier than you may expect a tea with this level of body.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Bio

Tea Geek.

My focus is on Chinese Wulongs and Pu’er but I’m all over the place. I tend to follow a seasonal progression of teas, following the freshness curve of greens through summer and rounding the cooler months out with toastier teas and Masala Chai.
With the exception of Masala Chai milk tea I’m a purist at heart. While I was originally snagged by Earl Grey with bergamot and make blends for gifts, I very rarely go for scented teas or herbals and can’t remember the last time I bought a tea that was blended. Pure tea is just more interesting to me than the product of mixing flavors. I do understand and appreciate their existence, though.

I upload some blends I make or special prep teas I nab under the company name “Green Raven Tea and Coffee” and the vast majority of these posts will be blends crafted to create flavors/characteristics not inherent in any one particular tea.
I’ve worked as a tea buyer for a smallish cafe and try to keep apprized of shifts in offerings even when not selecting for a business so I wind up sampling a ton of wholesale samples from a couple companies in particular but try to branch out to as many companies as I can find. Until Steepster integrates some form of comparative tasting feature, none of my cupping notes will make it onto my reviews unless wrapped up into something I feel compelled to drink multiple times on its own.



Since all the cool kids are doing it, here’s my big fat ratings scheme:

0-12…..Ugh, don’t wish on anyone
13-25….Bad, won’t touch again
26-37….Huh, not worth the effort
38-50….Meh, unremarkable
51-62….Okay, good tea
63-75….Tasty, really good tea
76-87….Yum, wonderful
88-100…Wow, really spectacular

There shouldn’t be many postings at all from me ranked 26-50 since unremarkable teas are unlikely to make me remark on ’em but to “earn” a score 37 or below I have to be disappointed to the point where others may ask for a refund or turn down offers even when free or offered as a gift (beyond stale).

I’ve got a ton of respect for anything rated 63 or higher.

For a tea to get 71 or more, it has to be pretty special and kinda blow my socks off.

The 90s are reserved for wonders that make me reevaluate my views of the world of tea as a whole.

Location

Santa Rosa, California, United States

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