16 Tasting Notes
I’m having the Silver Peacock Bulang Mt Habitat 2012, which I got back in March. At first I didn’t know what to make of it, especially since it’s clear that they included lots of tea bits in the cake, so much so, I wondered if mites hadn’t gotten to it to make it that way. Then on reading, I found that it’s not an uncommon practice to make the outside of the cake all sparkly and then stuff the bits inside.
Well, I tried to live down my disappointment about the bits and placed a chunk in the zisha caddy, assuming that it would mellow some of the astringency/bitterness.
About a week later I found myself wanting to try it again. I decided that there wasn’t that much astringency, really but that there was bitter and understanding the flavour profile of Ban-zhang’s that this tea was aptly bitter.
It’s now had about two months in the caddy and a few days of uncharacteristic hot. I’ve had only one infusion so far of the stuff on the edge where there’s entirely all whole leaf, 10 sec at 185. The liquor is silvery pale. The taste is rich, smoky, mature, just an ever so slight hint of bitterness.
For my tastes, brewing most raw or green tea above 185 produces a poor brew. This is no exception. I generally like to let the tea cook for five minutes or when it’s really hot till it’s totally cooled off, as it can be more refreshing this way.
This cake has a dry finish, so the thirst-slaking attributes of a fruitier tea aren’t there, not in the first round. As I remember, as the bitter taste builds it possesses qualities reminiscent of ku-ding (bitter nail) tea, slippery an bitter, but not as bitter.
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This is a very, very good tea. This one we tasted before purchasing and my wife was insistent on buying a cake. Sorry I didn’t get the chance to put the picture up, as it has a decent wrapper. Maybe later, I’ll figure that out.
I’ve drunk this several times. Only one time did I errantly steep incorrectly, i.e., too long, which produced a bitter an unremarkable brew.
Now to the brew done right. The times were 15s/15s/15s/15s/30s/1m.
Round #1: The potent cha-qi is evident immediately. Long-jing notes, floral and round in the mouth, hints of black pepper and citrus. Touch of tannin which is a nice compliment.
Round#2: More of the Long-jing taste, less floral immediate taste but more floral huigan.
Round #3: Sweeter and sweeter.
Round #4: Sweeter still.
Round #5: The liquor grows lighter caste, though never is it intense. Don’t let that deceive you. Pleasant citrus aroma, with a taste of lime. Mild tannins. Still floral. The huigan is outstanding. Just waiting a minute or two and you notice your mouth feels full of flowers, polite sweet flowers, not bawdily unctuous like jasmine or tinged with a bitterness like rose. Flowers I can’t place.
Round #6: Blend of sweetness and mellow tannins, floral finish that just stays and stays.
Flavors: Flowers, Lemon Zest, Peppercorn
If you’re a cha-qi junkie then this tea is nothing to sneeze at, but are we, fellow tea-lover, more than just about a power buzz?
I think that’s why I must have rated it so highly, the buzz. I just brewed up a pot of some bitsy stuff that I had sitting out, to see if I could mellow it out in later steeps. Well see.
The colour is what I’d liken to tarnished silver, the colour of champagne.
Did I mention the qi? It gets all in your muscles. Warmth from deep inside works its way up around the chest. It creeps up on you. I’m 2/3rds through my first brewing of 6 oz.
There are some teas that should definitely not be drunk on an empty stomach. This is one. I started in after breakfast of an omelet made with leeks, shitake, and ginger and some toast.
It’s jasmine, of course it’s floral.
You really have to be in a particular mood for jasmine, certainly I do. This tea is a good pick me up, but really small doses.
I steeped this first round for 10s. Still lots of tannins. I’m certainly not going to put this in a zi-sha and ruin the zi-sha container. It may whip those tannins into shape but it’s not worth losing the container.
Bitter too. All those tastes become much more apparent as it cools. Attacks the tongue. Floral and tannic finish. I might consider blending this with something. It’s too much imho even for the small amount I used. The bitsy stuff isn’t very pretty either. I’ll see if that’s something I did as I work more into the cake.
Anyway, it’s getting downgraded. A cooler temp is also definitely in order. I’ll continue to play around to see how good I can get at this one.
Flavors: Flowers, Tannin
Not all of the teas I purchased in Kunming last year 2013 were tasted. I didn’t even open this one to take a look. This puppy is very tightly packed and was wet stored, manifesting those bits of “white frost” that made me a bit apprehensive.
Anyway, among the teas I purchased, which were mostly minis because I’m mainly endeavoring to get patients to drink tea for matters related to cholesterol, this one was the find, as I paid considerably less than what it was being retailed for online.
I busted into a bit of it almost immediately, as I wanted to know what justified the price. Well, I’d say its mellowness. It is visually beautiful, with many flecks of gold and brown throughout.
It had a taste that was light years more refined than the other other cakes. No flavours that challenged the drinker, no bitter, not floral, just sweet, mature ready for drinking immediately. This was not a tea that needed to be placed in a ceramic or zi-sha container. It was already drinkable.
Well, several months into the game, I decided to provide a systematic rundown. All told, I ran 8 or 9 infusions: 15s/15s/15s/20s/20s/20s/30s/1m/1m.
Round #1: Toasted marshmallow, smooth, gentle, liquor brassy yellow. Gentle is my first impression.
Round #2: Goldenrod liquor little floaties when held to the light, sweet aroma, tastes of marshmallow and vanilla, sweeter taste than Round #1, hint o’ bitter at the blade of tongue.
Round #3: Sweet marshmallow, bitter at back of throat, color is still intense.
Round #4: Hint of wet mold, bitterness arising, sweet taste, rich golden liquor.
Round #5: Lighter gold, more tannic, bitter, vanilla tannic finish.
Round #6: Lighter gold liquor, bitsy leaves with stems, bitter, sweet tannic. Small leaves.
Round #7 & 8: Lighter liquor cloudy, no sweetness, some tannins.
Over all, the tea is good possessing smells and flavors that I’d likely not associate with a raw puer. There’s no sense of smoke in this. As the infusions run on at the end, there’s more of the standard green-tea taste. I’m talking about the 7th-infusion or so. The wife and a patient had positive feedback as well.
Ok, so I placed it in the zi-sha tea storage unit (guan) for two weeks and decided to try it out again since the weather has warmed up again. I don’t drink greens/raw unless the weather permits… all that cold not good for the stomach qi. Here goes…
Underwhelming. That’s my basic impression. I got 9 infusions before I just got bored. 15s/15s/15s/30s/30s/1m/1m/3m/3m, all at 195.
There was a world of difference in the taste since going into the zi-sha tea caddy (yeah that’s the word). All of the harshness of the tannins had essentially vanished. There were some, but they decreased by about 90%, becoming only evident after about fifth round.
Round #1: slight smoke, marshmallows, silvery liquor, vanilla, wee bit sweet, whispers of a certain metallic taste that I’m not too fond of.
Round #2: liquor more yellow, a hint of green, sweet vanilla taste, more metallic notes.
Round #3: liquor same color, itchy eyes.
Round #4: smokiness is really evident now, with slight soapy taste, liquor now quite yellow, more bitter, mellow, smoky, bitter, especially at the blade of the tongue.
Round #5: liquor is now more pale, smoky taste, a little soapy.
Round #6: bitter (finally), vanilla taste returns, smoky aftertaste.
Round #7: bitter but a roundness to the bitterness, no smokiness. liquor is still yellow.
Round # 8 &9: essentially the same. i didn’t note any new flavors.
It was nice to see how much storing the tea can affect its taste. In this case storing in the caddy for only two weeks changed this tea remarkably. It made it more pleasant in terms of tannins and “that metallic taste,” but it also seems that if it were to stay in the zi-sha much longer it will be even more characterless than it already strikes me.
I’d recommend this tea but probably not at this price. I really have only sampled pu-ers imported directly from China and this was the first I just purchased here at a tea event.
This very rich Langhe mini is called “Chen Xiang,” meaning tangerine flavored. I can’t tell. What I can notice, however, is that it is a solid quality pu-er, very rich tasting that takes about 40oz of water to be become cashed. The cha-qi is in the 7 range, on a scale to 10.
This mini has a certain fullness that isn’t usually the case with minis. It’s an excellent product for those seeking to expand their pu-er repertoire, despite the absence of any tangerine flavor. Feels really good going down, especially on chilly days.
Minis often are less about the fine tasting experience as they are about getting oneself the power of pu-er. Such is the case with this mini, but among my collection this one stands out for its funk factor.
Now don’t get it twisted, I’m not talking about rank fishiness. I’ve landed at least one of those too. No, this has something to do with a certain intentionality, a boldness by the maker to have the fermentation find clear expression.
This pu-er brews rich and thick. Cha-qi is about a 6.5. Has an exceptional ability to calm the liver.
This is a very good pu’er. The Yunnan Sourcing site states something about an “off” taste, but that must have been at the time it came into his possession.
Anyway, we consider this our house brew, at least I do. It has a very strong, black tea like quality, hints of astringency, sweetness, and “wildness.” The cha-qi is very high and though this can be brewed for a long time, it is probably most enjoyable Chinese style, something like 30s/1m/1m/1m/2m.
I’ve had this tea for over a year and a half. It hasn’t changed as much as some of the others. It has a consistent quality from cup to cup.