49 Tasting Notes


2012 “Fu” as in some kinda fragrance not “lucky,” CNNP Kunming Tea Factory. It’s been a rough week fellow Steepstarians, been battling one helluvan organic illness, from which I slowly started to climb on Thurs. Still this lingering headache. I was well enough to host the Mid-Autumn party of about nine on Sat. It was a good time of conversation, Xi-gui sampling, and… mooncakes.

I’ll admit, I’m writing this a bit buzzed from the “Fu,” the fragrant type. I think I wrote a note on this when I first tried it, when it was just brash. A few mths of about 75% humidity and 25 temp, and it has mellowed a bit. It has that classic build in the mouth and heat mid chest to let you know it’s good stuff.
This time, I’m noticing much more smoke in the aroma of the leaves. It settles nicely in the broth, which got v. quick infusions. A light liquor in terms of color and viscosity. I’m still not thinking straight, my tongue still feels strange. No mediciney notes to this. Lots of cane juice or rock sugar to it. If you over steep, you’ll get the bitter and a brassier brew. It’s beyond the “ba-qi” stage now. It’s very good to drink. Everything seems just right. The headiness from the early two infusions trails off quickly. Over all, good for at least 12 infusions. That’s Fu, as in the fragrance not lucky. Be emphatic about it. You’ll have at least one Steeptarian who understands.

Flavors: Floral, Smoke, Sugarcane

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 150 OZ / 4436 ML

Hope you feel better soon.


I’m 98% back in the saddle. tx.

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2011 Xiaguan Red Star courtesy very generous Steepstarian. This one is throaty all the way. I started in on it yestiddy. It takes about five infusions or so to get beyond the grown-up taste of tobacco and bitter. Already has some organgish tinge to it.

The yun with this is v. good. Very complex tastes of crayolas, oak, dish soap, laundry powder, some bitterness. It really roaches the mouth, especially as I’ve gotten deeper into it today. First run of a minute today had me feeling flowers and that tidal rise of heat that comes with those that possess power qi. Next round, a minute and a half maybe (this might be more than the 10th infusion, I do a pretty horrible job of tracking) feels and tastes like I’ve tumble-dried my mouth with a ghaddam Downy drier sheet. I hate those things.

I remember as I drank it yesterday that beside having a power phlegm-cutting penchant that my sense of what I was drinking would go back and forth between grown-up tea and something kinda Jennifer Anniston. I don’t watch movies but I suppose she’s supposed to be the “fresh girl next door type,” not too intimidating.

The aroma is equally complex with all that Downy and dishwater, with a hint of musk. You ever had a really good oaky white wine where the taste hangs on and you’ve determined that you’d really found the right wine for the occasion? Me neither and the only occasions life affords me are these cyber rants fueled by tea inebriation. As you get into it, some of the trademark Xiaguan smoke comes through. I’m breathing deeper, and feeling a bit zonkers. My head is kinda pounding. I had enough of this for today. I’m too much of a light-weight. Red Star has kicked my arse.

Flavors: Floral, Oak wood, Smoke, Soap, Tobacco

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 125 ML

I do get soapy flavor from some tea too. I always thought imagining it


I’ve definitely gotten soap like notes from some teas, and even notes that resemble the scent of #2 pencil shavings (specially from aged Xiaguan ripes).

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2007 CNNP HK Returns 100g square brick packed so tightly that in Massachusetts it must be registers as a concealed weapon. A few mths back, I took a considerable pains to breaks some chunks into my zisha chayeguan, tea container, right? Anyway, humidity has consistently been above 68 with temp anywhere between 22-27. Ha. I really like it. It’s murky as the backroom of any state capital but the taste is alive with sound of black brocade and silver dragons. Thick mouth-feel, syrupy with the first four infusions. As it thins out floral qualities are more evident, but not in a namby-pamby way. Yesterday ran it 8 times then this morning I gave it long soak, which was brassy clear, and bitter, which I thinned out with another quick infusion, making it less just plain bitter. I’m pretty sure that this is NOT from ‘07, not earlier than ’10 but who really knows. The series ran from ’07-’13, if I’m not mistaken and all the boxes are marked ‘07. It’s much livelier than the cake I have which is ’07 and is considerably more mature.

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g

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Drunkards beware! This Burmese treasure is a bona fide sock-knocker. Selected from trees between 200-500 yo, it deceives by disarming through a very blah aroma and appearance. The cake is packed very loosely, enough to put Charmin to shame. Early spring material with a ratty leaf here and there, along with lots of bitsy material Boo!

Now that you’re thoroughly turned-off, let me tell you that I often, in fact usually, commit the faux pas of sampling the rinse water. Stunned as you are, imagine how I felt when I tasted something utterly belied by its non-existent fragrance. Smooth , smooth vanilla. Then from that very sampling, I started to notice a most redoubtable cha-qi. The kind that makes my eyes itch, head lighten, and makes me want to stretch my shoulders and back.

The first few infusions have tannins, but afterwards it’s all very smooth sailing, the smoothest I’ve ever tasted. Vanilla is the overriding theme, I think I smell a bit of banana in the gaiwan. The power qi effects fade as well. You might get 10 infusion from it by increasing your steep time.

Steep on, Steepstarian, steep on!

Flavors: Vanilla

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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This one is playful with a curious undertone of bitterness, ostensibly Naka material. Knowing nada about Naka, I say ostensibly because the very same wrapper is mostly used to sell a certain ripe. Red ripe, get it? Imprinted on the wrapper is the “sheng” character, so relax already.

Been working on it for two days now. I’ve noticed if it gets back-to-back steepings, the second or third will be decidedly bland, but if it gets an hour or so between steepings it comes back with a fruity, floral, bitter effect. Light mouthfeel. Leaves and broth produce an outstanding aroma. If you over infuse, the bitter overpowers the experience. Yields more than ten infusions and the body seems to be developing as it “cooks.” Yiwu types will enjoy this.

Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Fruity

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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drank 2015 CNNP Ran Wu Bie Yi by CNNP
49 tasting notes

Still smells like it needs to breath a bit. Will rate later.


Agreed the young ones need the still period before getting into.


Amen, I got too eager/anxious yesterday with a 2015… it wasn’t that bad, but id definitely wasn’t good. Self-control -1

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This one smells like roasted walnuts once you pour hot water over it. The broth is very light, the colour of Yunnan Gold, one of the lightest pu’ers ever and the taste follows suit. Sometimes I detect elements of dried fruit, a touch of cardboard, a bit of zing on the tongue. Doesn’t last very long. This one is a bit of an enigma. Has the nice walnutty taste when it’s cold, but warm just doesn’t deliver as much punch as I’d otherwise like. The tannins in it suggest that perhaps with a few more good years of storage that it will shine. One nice bit is that it comes with lots of official inserts to insure authenticity. Fun to look at but this one is a bummer so far.

Flavors: Cardboard, Walnut

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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Just tasted for the first time and have only given it a couple infusions. Slight notes of smoke, very fruity aroma. The second infusion struck me as being noticeably salty like soda grass and woody. Intriguing.

Flavors: Grass, Salty, Smoke, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 140 OZ / 4140 ML

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This one is aging up nicely with the classic clean taste of Langhe punctuated by some pronounced camphor notes. It’s more than half the price of the Imperial Round and tastes about twice as good. Looking forward to how it’ll taste next fall. One of my favourite of the Langhe offerings. The “shuang” fresca is really nice, especially since it wasn’t there when I first got it.

Flavors: Camphor, Chocolate

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 tsp 150 OZ / 4436 ML

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I’ve been drinking Chinese tea since the early 90s when I was a student at Peking University.
My attention has focused on pu’ers, since by profession I’m a doctor of Chinese medicine and sometimes find it a useful lifestyle addition.
From there, I started importing, mostly for patients and other health professionals but also as an interesting hobby that can deepen individuals’ understanding of Chinese medicine.


Los Angeles



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