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Recent Tasting Notes
Sometimes, when aliens are trying to build a hyperspace expressway, or your inevitable incarceration is looming, or the army besieging your castle has been there so long you’ve eaten all the food stores, dogs, cats, rats, and perhaps subjects named “Pat” that were available, the only remaining retort to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that have beset you is to gluttonously indulge in such hyperbolic excess that your successors will declare, “He was a right bastard, but he sure went out with a bang!”
But let us further suppose that, due to long and steady decline of your fortune, you need to find a way to do this in a far more fiscally responsible manner than you would prefer. This is where this tea comes in. I put so many leaves in my pot that deities looked down from on high and wondered who’d beset the land with a plague of tea. But it was glorious, I tell you, glorious.
Early steeps took a while to get going, but soon there were notes of canthol* and memphor*, and long lasting aftertastes. Soon, however, having completely overloaded all available receptors, I could only note the excellent scent of mauve coming from the mass of wet leaves and note that I tasted a hint of a month from next Thursday.
And all this at a low price! If you eschew sipping, scoff at quaffing, and consider chugging to be an unnecessarily effete manner of intake, I humbly suggest this tea might be for you.
Bring on your trials and tribulations, I’m caffeineted enough for anything.
- - I realized I have no idea what differentiates camphor from menthol, really, so this might have been either, or neither, or both.
First review, yay! I was going to go with a familiar ripe b/c something warm and comforting seemed in order after two days in a row at the dentist. But then I changed my mind and went with this tea because I’ve been curious about Huang Pian for awhile and it smelled really good. Wet leaf aroma is sweet fruity grassy spinach & hay. The liquor is a pale yellow; the flavor is wonderfully light and sweet, with a pleasantly light kuwei (I learned that term from Grill, thanks Grill!). It’s floral but not obnoxiously so. After several steeps I’m not feeling much in the way of qi. My sense is that this is a lovely tea for a summer day… too bad it’s November, lol. This is also a lovely tea for the commitment phobic, because after 7 or 8 steeps it’s pretty flower water/done. There is some magic in those first few steeps though. And I think when I have this tea again, I’ll up my leaf to water ratio a bit from 4.5g/100ml and see what happens.
Dry – Mushroom, faint tobacco (very faint hint of smoke), savory, soupy/broth like, bittersweet (still drying wood).
Wet – Tobacco with some smoke that dissipates in later infussions, that beefy mushroom scent, bitter and bittersweet drying wood, some bittersweet floral and a bitterswitch and rich dried fruit like tamarinds.
Liquor – Amber to a light caramel.
1st+2nd (10secs+6secs) – Brothy/soupy front with savory notes of mushrooms followed by a bittersweet and woody tobacco note. The liquor then becomes thick on the tongue and the sensation remains when it washes down maintaining that mushroom soup note. Once it goes down it becomes richer and sweeter with that tamarind hint and a refreshing camphor. The huigan is bittersweet and sweet that lingers.
3rd + 4th (6secs + 7secs) – Bitter to bittersweet woody tobacco notes combined with a floral bittersweet note (you can tell this used to be very pungent but time has mellowed it out), there some smoke to it, but it is mostly tobacco notes followed by the beefiness of the mushroom notes; brothy/soupy and filling. The middle is thick and warms my belly and when it starts washing down, it becomes sweeter again with refreshing camphor. Once it has left the mouth, some floral notes appear with a bittersweet huigan that lingers and becomes sweeter with time.
5th + 6th (8secs + 12secs) – Smoother up front, bitter and bittersweet notes, wood and tobacco followed by a more prominent floral bittersweet character that is somewhat medicinal too, almost chemical (believe it or not, a good way). The thickness is there, but not as noticeable, there’s a slight astringency and numbing sensation present. The brothy notes are faint, not so much beefy mushrooms, rather medicinal this time, but still pleasant. The huigan is nice and lingers. The broth is filling and warms my belly and yet refreshing in my mouth.
7th + 8th (20secs + 20secs) – Smoother and cleaner (a bit flat) up front and followed by a stronger floral bitterness than before, not thick, just lightly bodied that still satisfies. I’m still drinking this steep combination but I can see it is heading to the more floral+medicinal+woody and astringent side of things.
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Floral, Mushrooms, Thick, Tobacco, Umami
This is a tasty ripe for a low price.It had a fair amount of fermentation flavor. It had only partially cleared. As well as notes of earth, there were notes of chocolate and some of spice. Later on some fruity notes were detected. This was a loosely compressed cake. I’m not sure if that means it will age faster. It was so loosely compressed I could have done without my puerh knife. So far this may be among the best ripes I have had from Chawangshop. Admittedly I have so far only tried a few. I think this one is a winner.
I steeped this twelve times in an 85ml Yixing teapot with 7.9g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, and 2 min. At twelve steeps it was not quite played out. I’m sure I would have gotten a few more steeps out of the leaves.
Flavors: Chocolate, Earth, Fruity, Spicy, Sweet
Dry – Dark bittter and bittersweet notes, tart fruit and molasses.
Wet – Cocoa bittersweet notes, persimom, other dried tropical fruits, dates, raisins. (A slight floral hint/complexity devolops as you steep).
Liquor – Burgundy to a reddish-coffee.
Initial Steeps Are seet with a thick body and bittersweet chocolate note that turns cremier as it moves to the back of the tongue finishing in a fruity date note with molasses. These notes become more robust with each steep, from chocolate it is more of a cocoa note and even getting to the aromatic coffee side. Even though the front and middle seem thick and creamy the finish has a ‘juiciness’ to it.
Mid Steeps (3-5) The thick body takes the lead with apparent sweetness followed by bitter-to-bittersweet molasses and the cocoa notes seem to resemble cocoa dusting. It is hard to summarize the notes of several steeps because the bittersweet and sweet notes seem to switch around for the lead, the finish continues to be a juicier dates and molasses version of itself.
Final Steeps (6-9.. 10ish) Later steeps seem to maintain the playful notes with even more fruits becoming apparent, persimon, dates, raisins come to mind. The Liquor is still holding some thickness, but you can tell it is starting to give in. By the 8th steep it is mostly a juicy ripe with some hints of cocoa. The lack of thickness is filled by the camphor that before only was a ghost, possibly drowned by the initial thickness.
A very good ripe, specially for the price. The material is a little on the ‘ok’ side, with is not bad but it can be a bit different session to session. Some can have more of that cocoa, while some will be mostly fruity.
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Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Dates, Dried Fruit, Molasses, Raisins, Thick
Dry – Standard bittersweet ripe notes, some starch, faint earthy and sweet.
Wet – Sweet, fruity complexity (dark dried fruits), faint cocoa/chocolate hints, citrus?, thickness.
Liquor – Burgundy to a reddish-brown. mellow fragrance.
Initial steeps were all sweet and smooth with a noticeable thickness and developing some dark dried fruit notes of dates and sometimes berries? with a caramel or better yet molasses finish to it. As you continued to steep the following steeps had more bittersweet-ness to them, but maintained the character from the first steep.
Around 4-6 some changes developed and I had to adjust the steep times being a bit more conscious on the color and smell of the steep, longevity issues. The steeps here are still very smooth, but wear less thickness and the fruity notes are more active. The notes remind me of dates, molasses and perhaps a Chinese dried persimmon.
Late steeps were from the 6th to a 8th and a very forced 9th steep. The notes are still here, though they are faded and is already lacking some thickness. Still very good steeps with some camphor being detected (was there before but the thickness mellowed it a bit).
A very good and simple ripe, the longevity is a bit… inconsistent, specially considering that the description says 25 infusions…. It also depends a lot on which portion of the cake you are steeping from. The middle get just a rougher with more sticks here and there, which honestly isn’t bad I felt like the middle lacks the thickness, but it has some more bitter notes that at some points may trick you into think ‘cocoa notes’.
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Dried Fruit, Molasses, Sweet, Thick
Dry – Woody bitterness with some decayed wood and hints of smoke, hidden sweetness in the back, raisins.
Wet – Woody tobacco bitterness with tart/unripe fruit bitter-sweetness, some smoke and some richer notes: raisins? and a fruity floral back.
Liquor – Amber with a good balance of sweet and bitter notes, in a very traditional way.
At first taste is straight forward Sweet up front and then immediately transitions to the bitter-decayed-wood(aged sheng) side of things. What I love about it is that withing its range of ‘harshness’ it becomes somewhat thick and smooth in a sort of oily way when it travels through your tongue and slowly develops astringency after it washes down.
In later steeps the liquor guests smoother and the thickness lingers a bit longer in the tongue and the astringency only appear a few seconds after the liquor has washed away with some herbaceous notes. The huigan continues to be sweet and obviously floral with some herbaceous/hay notes.
This is the type of tea that if you like strong traditional notes it will satisfy your craves of traditional taste, but end up in a pleasant lingering sweetness that lodges in the throat with hints of floral notes due to the very dry storage(not badly done).
This tea is very good, it has some age to it, but it also hold some edge due to the dry storage. The floral and honey notes linger in the mouth with vibrant energy even though the initial taste has some age. This is a great tea if you are looking for something that will age a lot more and retain some of the floral/honey traits and may easily become a favorite if you want those traits.
On the other hand, 1999 is an age where you expect a lot of richer and ‘darker’ notes in your tea. I was expecting to get the sweet woody-tart notes that remind me of raisins and dates and even some of those molasses/lightly-burnt sugar notes, but they are not here. So if you are looking for those traits you will most likely dislike this one. Recommend a try though.
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Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Hay, Honey, Wood
It is ‘Meh’ for me. That’s half the reason I brought it to work. It has a deep amber liquor and it has mellow sweetness and mellow floral, to me it seems flat, nothing worth paying too much attention to.
It is at $14 for 200gm, but as I said it is rather flat and tastes a bit more aged than it should, nothing off just possibly wetter storage(aged taste, not musty) on the overall scent and taste; tastes older than 2009 or maybe it is because is made from plantation and it may still be weak in Wu Liang notes.
Flavors: Floral, Sweet
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.