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Recent Tasting Notes
This is the huang pian cake in the 2012 Chawangshop Yiwu line of cakes. I purchased it in 2014 for $12, it is now $14 in 2015. Read the vendor description carefully so you know what you are getting because the cake name is a little misleading. The tea is supposedly 1/2 Yiwu leaves, and all the leaf is supposed to have been picked prior to April 8. Leaf quality is thin and papery.
I packed a lot of leaves into my gaiwan, expecting this to be on the lighter side, which it is. The first two steeps confirm the smattering of Yiwu leaves but I notice on steep 1 that boiling water kills the tea and flattens the flavor. 190-200 is more ballpark for this. On steep 3 and subsequent steeps the other “half” of the leaves emerge with a rather ordinary plantation apricot flavor. The little Yiwu sister is chased away by her bigger and badder brother.
Not much body here, in steep 5 I’m swishing the leaves to add a little steep time. And nothing offensive in the tea, very light overall but I’m disappointed at the rather ordinary taste. I wish this had kept the Yiwu leaf throughout or even some Laotian leaf for that other half. But then the low price speaks for itself. Given the amount of leaf I used, I can probably use up this 200 g cake quickly.
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Hot hay
I think this was the tea Stephanie so generously sent me a sample of! It was really interesting at first. During the rinses, frothy bubbles, like from champagne, were in the liquor. It bothered me a bit because I’ve never seen that before, so I rinsed it a few more times and that went away, leaving a nice clear golden liquor. Phew! The taste was absolutely delicious…fruity sweet and smooth like butter. It actually had a buttery mouthfeel, which became more pronounced in later infusions. I again, lost count of the infusions. That happens to me a lot when I am enjoying a sheng!
I’m not certain this is the right tea. It is the tea that I ordered, but I received a sample envelope with “2011” written on it instead of “2008”. I think the error may be in the envelope, since 1) CWS doesn’t sell a 2011 version, and 2) the tea seems to have more than 4 years age.
The aroma is straw with some smoke. Fairly rich taste makes me think that 2008 may be the correct year for this. Good, somewhat earthy finish. It makes an attempt at good texture, but is too astringent at the finish to carry it off. 3rd and 4th steeps were too astringent to enjoy, so I shortened my steeps. The astringency went away and I was left with a pleasant straw flavor with a bit of wood underneath: not exciting, but enjoyable.
Dry – Tart fruits, honeyed and faintly greenwood notes (bitterness).
Wet – Sweet (honeyed), fruity, stonefruit?, orange peel, plummy, mineral and bitter floral-fruit notes. This later evolves into a more invasive Zhu (Bamboo scented) perfumy note, maybe even sandal wood.
Liquor – Dull Gold(no clear liquor) and have a spice? scent to it.
Initial steeps 1-2 (maybe 3rd) Plenty floral honey notes with a muted sweetness that follows it. The mouth feel is thick, but in a ‘waxy’ spectrum of thickness, almost like getting chap-stick in your tongue. The middle develops a savory notes as it goes down that linger a bit into the finish, but develops a floral bitterness after it washes away. The second and third steep have more fruity notes up front with a similar finish.
Middle steeps 4-5 Initial notes are floral bittersweet and floral honey with the same muted honey sweet, but once it starts to develop the fruity notes it also develops this green wood note combined with a bamboo frangrance/sandal wood perfumy note; it is still sort of pleasant, but definitelly more invasive than the previous notes. The finish stays fairly similar with some of tha perfumy/wood note. The thickness is still in there, the savory note however is playful and only apparent sometimes since it is mostly taken over by the wood and floral notes.
Final steeps 5-6+ Although I was starting to disagree with it during the 4-5th steeps, I could still enjoy most of it, but now the Floral bitterness is most of the notes with some honey that it is immediately followed by the perfumy note that still reminds me of a young Zhu/bamboo stored Sheng that has that Sandal wood perfume/incense character to it.
This notes hold the possibility of developing into really pleasant notes 10-15 years, but I don’t think I have the dedication to wait for this one, I’d rather focus on others. I’ll keep this brick around to see if it improves, but I’ll gladly ‘lose it’ if I need more space.
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Flavors: Floral, Green Wood, Honey, Perfume
Drinking this now and I dare to say that I am really enjoying it! Jinggu is an area for tea leaves with which I am not terribly experienced or familiar. The main thing I know is that the Jinggu area has many mountains and villages producing high quality teas (many from older tea trees). The aroma of the dry leaves is clearly aged – mostly whole (rather large) leaves with a few stems mixed in. The tea soup is dark orange, with a hint of savory brown in its color. The texture is thick – smooth on the lips and filling the mouth with vibrancy on the tongue. Overall, there is an enjoyable mild bitterness but it is also quite sweet to the point of being nicely balanced; active in the mouth and throat; nice warming effect; lingering pleasant aftertaste.
Update: Three days later and still working with these same leaves. On the 12th infusion and steeping for 25 seconds. The leaves still have more to give.
This is a nice somewhat aged pu erh. The first few steps were kind of mushroomy, but later steeps were a bit fruity. It had a nice Amber color. The tea held up to many infusions, so I’d say the leaf quality was high. Not much astringency, for better or worse. It’s kind of expensive, $142 for 400g, I only bought a sample.
I once thought that Sheng was feminine in comparison to its counterpart Shu; I stand corrected. This is a powerful brew! I opened the wrapper to reveal a dull green and jade Tou Cha. With pick in hand, I began separating a generous amount. A small and faint aroma of grass and shale emitted from the bird’s nest. I brewed in my yixing with boiling water. The wet leaves emit the scent of smoke, bitter greens and a sweet undertone. I washed the leaves. By the second steeping I was drunk. This brew has an intense overwhelming menthol flavor. It dominated with sharp and bitter with slight astringency. I could only hint at the sweet undertone after drinking and allowing my mouth to relax. I thought maybe that the sharp would die down and the flavor would plateau, but I was wrong. The intensity of this never died down. I assumed it to be slightly deepened, considering its twelve years old. I also came to expect a slightly lower quality considering price. I’m not sure if this Sheng is good or not, I couldn’t muster the strength to steep after round seven. If you enjoy an incredibly powerful sheng then this is for you. Also, as a last note, I do enjoy the box it comes in. I think it would come in handy for storage.
Flavors: Bitter, Menthol, Smoke, Sweet, warm grass
Highly aromatic brick. I have found Manzhuan to be a reliable place for me to find products of great enjoyment to my taste. Man Zhuan is a higher mountain area in the Yi Wu mountains. It is another one of the six famous tea mountains of ancient times located in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province. Trees of 100 years and older grow organically on Man Zhuan mountain surrounded by natural forest. This brick is a little dark beauty.
The aroma of the dry leaves is pleasingly sweet and offers the characteristic floral scent of Yiwu teas. Began in my usual manner – two quick rinses and then let the wet leaves sit for at least 30m before I prepare the first steeping for tasting. The clear deep gold colored tea soup presents full and thick flavor with a salivation inducing effect. Sweet and buttery hay or grass overtones with a slight stone fruit accent are detected in the early sips. Active on the tongue and throughout the mouth. Produces a nice chaqi. I’m four steepings in and I’ll continue working with the leaves tomorrow.
In summary, this is a smooth tea, not overly aggressive or strong. Deep honey colored tea liquor which yields a thick soup with a smooth, rounded mouthfeel. Nice huigan which leaves a persistent sweetness in the throat. Thick, buttery mouthfeel, with the perfect blend of honey sweetness and bitterness. A comforting and enjoyable puerh brick and a solid tea for the price ($4.10 for a 50g 6+ year old brick).
Ai Lao Mountain is in the Zhenyuan area of Simao. The brick is composed of small spring leaves (mix of whole and pieces) which have become dark brown over almost thirteen years of aging. Produces a pure liquor with a deep golden yellow hue indicating the richness and intensity of the flavor. Rich scents come forth. First sips – straw-like and a little tart; pleasant mouth sensation but not terribly full. The following steepings produce a richer, sweeter tea liquor. The flavors of grain and mushrooms emerge during steepings four through seven. Overall, clean and rounded, smooth, thick mouthfeel without astringency, aftertaste is sweet. A decent, fairly priced small brick ($15 for 90g brick) with nice age made from decent raw material.
Youleshan is one of the original six famous tea mountains and it has easily become one of my favorite areas. This cake is made of spring tea leaves harvested from ancient trees on Youle mountain – the whole leaves have aged into a rich, dark brown, with some copper-tinted tips and put forth a gentle sweetness the level of which you don’t often find in a puerh. Typical Youle puerh attributes found in this brick: deep honey golden color and very clean aromatic tea liquor; sweet, mellow and full in the mouth; smooth with a very nice aftertaste and a solid cooling sensation in the throat. A heavy fruitiness is clearly found in the scent that is most satisfying. The sweetness grips hold of the tongue and holds throughout the session. That fruitiness is the type that fills the front of the mouth immediately and makes it instantly appealing while an undercurrent of other tea flavors gather underneath to make themselves known in the throat. Overall, this is a pleasant combination of savory and fruity. An interesting blend of characteristics that settles into a constantly enjoyable tea.
This tea is my first naka but I am at least somewhat fimailar with sheng puerh.
The effects from this tea were unique. Sedative and calming.
I found the taste to be excellent. It was very smooth even with boiling water 2 liters into the session.
This sheng was sweet and rounded with an overall clean and refreshing mouthfeel.
Hands down one of my new favorites. Thanks boychik for the sample.
Flavors: Sweet, warm grass
i got just one small mini brick with my recent order. it looks so cute. i had to brew the whole thing around 10g. it was hard to separate and i didnt want to break those gorgeous full long leaves.
To my surprise it wasnt heavy roasted at all. But it was pleasant despite that im not huge fan of floral notes. its very fragrant and sweet, not bitter at all.
I may get more of these. They all vacuum packed and i think it will be nicer with takeouts than green tea. Green tea i find finicky even though i have a variable kettle. they do get bitter no matter how careful I am.
You can steep this brick forever and it doesnt go bitter.
This is my 400th note. how ironic
last night i had a session 2007 Naka Qiao Mu Bamboo Raw Chawang Shop
I got it based on Cwyn review. yes, i got stoned. not immediately. after 5 steeps. i was very happy smiling then fell asleep and couldnt get up. I still feel drugged. Flavor wise its very pleasant, bittersweet stonefruits and spice. 6g for 100g gongfu glass teapot
Brewed up 9 grams in about 110 ml water, two rinses and long 30 second first steep. This tea cake is only a few months old, essentially fresh green tea leaves and not really fermented at all yet. My tong of this tea is quite fragrant sitting in crock storage.
Laos tea cakes are often compared with Yiwu because the Phongsaly area of villages is just over the border from Yunnan. The tea doesn’t disappoint in this comparison, very floral and mellow, with lemony undertone. I pushed the tea because I am used to a much stronger puerh brew.
My shoving of the tea got me 5 good steeps before showing signs of fade in the soup color. No real smoke here to speak of. The leaf quality is excellent, with buds and whole leaves. I am not sure why this tea cake costs less than half the price of the neighboring village cakes which Chawangshop also sells, maybe this cake is just more mild. But the $22 price tag drops to $19 per cake with a purchase of a tong of 5, I paid $96 for the tong. I think this is a great steal either way if you want a mellow Yiwu flavor.
At the same time, Chawangshop’s own 2012 Yiwu costs only $12 for the same size cake. I have that cake too, but don’t feel it is fair to compare Yunnan with Laos cakes even though the border is a political division and not really how tea trees decide where to grow. We do know about the Laos cakes as the government there strictly bans any pesticide or artificial fertilizer use in the region on tea trees.
Great choice of tea cake for people who enjoy fresh “puerh” cakes. Gulp without guilt. Works for me.
Much different narrative than this plus a couple photos at http://deathbytea.blogspot.com
Flavors: Floral, Green, Lemon
A fruity sheng made entirely from You Le Mountain tea leaves now aged over 10 years – a very nice tea for a decent price! Tightly compressed cake with many whole leaves and buds throughout. The material used is from an autumn picking and yields a clear golden yellow tea liquor with a spicy scent. The first infusions offer a fruity flavored tea but it carries a tart sweetness (a sweetness with a bite). Later cups are more mellow and fruity – berries and peaches. The aftertaste is long and sweet.
Produced in the Jinuo Mountain tea factory of Xi Shuang Banna. Handmade by the Jinuo minority group inhabiting the You Le Mountain area. Cakes are made using classic traditional methods developed over hundreds of years of tea growing.
This Nannuo Mountain tea is sun-dried and fairly potent yet easy to drink. There is an appealing bitterness and it provides a surprising spectrum of tastes – aged-worn leather, forest wood and tobacco but there is also a bit of fruity sweetness (maybe plum) present. The gold tea soup was a tad cloudy and there were a few stem pieces in the mixture of leaves I picked off from the moderately compressed cake. Nice huigan which builds throughout the session leaving an aftertaste which offered a pleasant cooling effect. I found this tea very easy to like. A good moderately aged tea at the very fair price of $39 for the 357g cake.
I purchased this tea looking for a less expensive comparison to white2tea’s 2005 Naka which is a real stoner tea. Chawangshop doesn’t make claims about this tea, but it appears to be the wild mountain leaf tea just like the other Naka I like. This tea has been dry stored, and has no humid smells, but it is very green, tightly compressed with hardly any aging. It comes wrapped in paper rather than in the bamboo.
I don’t taste any bamboo flavor which is slightly disappointing, but the apricot taste is pleasant and not smoky. Psychoactive effect confirmed, not as intense as the other Naka I like, but there. I ate a bag of chips afterward. At $7.50 per 100 grams, this is a value buy and I don’t expect to see it in the shop long. I just wish it were a bit more aged, and that I would have time left to age it.
More and comparisons with other Naka teas on my blog: http://deathbytea.blogspot.com
Dry – Sweet, faintly flowery and fruity, refreshing.
Wet – Honeyed sweetness, faint bittersweet floral notes, some thickness, fruity.
Liquor – Golden/Light amber.
The initial cups are sweet that resembles mellow honey and has subtle fruity and floral notes. The body is medium to full, but not the most lasting. I would describe it as being full initially and keeps a medium body as it washes down. The broth is sweet, fruity,floral and mellow with a smooth body and some thickness. The bitterness is very subtle, almost non-existent at this point.
Mid session the liquor has some more floral notes and the sweetness is not as strong as the initial two or three cups. The Honey notes are still there, but take a backseat to the floral that is still gentle and smooth, the liquor maintains a medium body and is mostly smooth with minor astringency appearing at the end of each sip.
The final cups have an initial floral with faded fruity notes and some ‘vegetal’/green notes with some astringency. There’s still sweetness left in the cup, just not as apparent or as forward, but still enjoyable. The tea is holding up pretty well for the age and most of the young notes are herbaceous with astringency.
A very nice tea, specially for the price range. This is a recommended for those who enjoy mellow teas or people still getting used to Puerh. It isn’t flashy, it is subtle and mellow with not much change in the session. The huigan fairly lasting and the final astringency is not overwhelming at all.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Honey
Got a sample of this with my recent Chawangshop order, based on a positive review from the Half Dipper. It is indeed a power pu, nice and thick, some real bitterness at certain points in the brews, and good flavor, though not outstanding. It gives and gives. I liked it, though not enough to order a cake. I’d recommend giving it a whirl if you order from them.