46 Tasting Notes
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!
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
Flavors: Cardboard, Walnut
Flavors: Grass, Salty, Smoke, Wood
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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
Vanilla and camphor play together in this tasty and gorgeous offering. Leaves the mouth full of the camphor “shuang”… and vanilla. Smells great. Has some bitterness in the later infusions and very slight smoke in the first couple. It’ll give you at least 10 infusions and once it gets going only takes about five seconds. It’s a drinkable cookie, with the bitter tweak that characterizes most raw pu’er.
Flavors: Camphor, Smoke, Sweet, Vanilla
2007 Hong Kong Returns Square Brick, Kunming Tea Factory, 100g. I can only give this a rating of being on the lower end of the the mid-tier. The taste is solid CNNP material: full and producing numerous infusions, but the brick itself is packed just too tightly. It evokes the taste of their “60” commemorative cake but that one isn’t packed to smithereens. The date on this is 2007 but upon research, it turns out this series was produced for five years and I imagine that the one I got is not a day over 2012, so it’s very young tasting. The 100g square brick is part of a commemorative series marking the 10th-anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule. There is also a 250g, 357g, 1000g, and 2000g offerings, raw and ripe, each with varying designs but usually featuring the HK skyline. Though the tea is good, I suppose it’s mainly for storing or gifting. The one I have, I’ve broken up and placed in a zisha guan to taste on a regular basis as it ages.
2004 Bamboo Fragrance, Jiu Long Tea Co. 100g. This crystal clear treasure is quite exceptional, sweet with a “mediciney” taste that isn’t exactly what I’d liken to camphor but perhaps the mark of camphor after it has aged a bit. It’s from Guannan County, Yunnan, which is far, at least relatively, west of the traditional pu’er regions of Lincang, Simao, and Xishuangbanna, and just north of Vietnam and west of Guangxi Province, as opposed to bordering Burma and Laos. This treasure is exception for reasons beyond its unique location but is worth noting that its taste does not strive to approximate the Menghai standard.
Flavors: Earth, Medicinal, Sweet