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Recent Tasting Notes
Trying this one I got a number of months ago. This is a cheap $10 ripe cake from Chawangshop, made with purple leaves (at least in part). I’ve never tried a purple leaf ripe. I can’t say I noticed much that was unique about it. But it is a very good tea, killer for the price. A little bitter and acidic, but deep and rich, a little chocolate creaminess, and a whisper of smoke. The flavors mingle well. It tastes nicely aged at this point.
One of two awesome gifts included with a cake order from ChaWang Shop. Creamy butter, slight floral, semi sweet, nectar like fruit, zero bitterness. Beautiful leaf and liquor. Takes multiple infusions like a champ. Fresh leaf at its best. Added after smiles were a bonus.
6g Leaf, 100ml bone china teapot, 200F with 5s first infusion and 5s increments.
The dry leaf:
The wet leaf:
6g, 85ml dark zini shuiping, 212F with a 10s rinse and 10s start moving in 10s increments for over a dozen infusions with one last 5m steep.
The Leaf’s End:
2016 Sheng Olympics
I got 3 steeps into this tea today and hit my caffeine level. I can’t take much caffeine these days (another reason why I hardly have any black teas).
It was a really good sheng. I didn’t take any notes but each steep was honey sweet with woodsy notes. A bit of apricot too and a thick creamy mouth feel to it. Steeped at 90C , 10 sec or less each steep and no bitterness at all. I really enjoyed this one.
Flavors: Apricot, Creamy, Honey, Wood
Triple Laos border tea taste test:
This was my favourite of the three. I loved the rounded less fruity but dense flavour. I would like to say hints of veg & cream in there. I really enjoyed it, and every round this one just had a bit more than the blue one had.
I didnt take notes per se, just noted every round which one I preferred and this one was the winner.
This is a tea that I will be stocking up on! It’s unbelievably fantastic!
The cake is nothing special with a very typical scent of a dark wood and some dry grass. I warmed up my yixing and popped it in. I had very low if not any expectations for this tea. I was not impressed, and I thought it to be a very basic sheng. I lifted my teapot’s lid, and all my doubt was instantly washed away. An incredible intense aroma of warm honey, mahogany, and pure maple syrup engulfed my tea room. The taste was so sweet and so potent, I was salivating. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The sweet and dessert flavor remained except a vibrant spinach tone now lie in the background. The liquor was a crystal amber color and steamed with delicate fumes. The brew began with a cleansing grass tone with a smooth floral wash. A quick nip at the tongue kept me alert and ready for the grand finale. Immediately after I swallow, a beautiful and deep huigan drowned my senses. I cannot describe how powerful and clear the honey aftertaste was. I literally looked up from my tea table and “wow’d”. This brew was so good, so potent, so balanced… I was in love. The flavor continued with a well arranged floral delicacy and tangy sweetness that lasted well into the night. The fragrance from my pot grew stronger and filled my tea room with an intoxicating perfume. The only fall this tea has, is the qi is very quiet and acts as a background fuzz that just slightly lifts the drinker. The sensation was subtle and obscure, but it still was a nice companion. This tea is fantastic if you want a sweet, decadent, and memorable sheng. I highly recommend it, and I will hopefully be buying a tong or two.
Flavors: Dark Wood, Floral, Honey, Maple Syrup, Spinach, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass, Winter Honey
I feel like I should be writing more reviews. I realize I’ve been only doing teas that I feel obligated to review (TTB donations) or teas that affected me strongly one way or another. My dashboard on steepster has been sparse lately, so I suspect many others are drifting into the same mode of operation.
This is a nice average sheng. The only thing that stands out is the fairly strong cha qi. I was feeling it in my shoulders after drinking about one ounce. I took a break after my second cup so can’t fully estimate its power, but it’s pretty strong. For me the feeling is more physical than mental. The tea has a pleasant toasted straw flavor, with some bitterness at the beginning of the finish and some tropical fruit that comes out from behind the bitterness late in the finish. I was going to recommend the tea as an inexpensive tea drunk, but see that it is now out of stock. Another opportunity missed.
Another Liu bao last night. very interesting.
the leaf material is really nice, long intact and not too much sticks.
same parameters as i have for sheng
5g/80ml yixing 212F
this Liu bao is nice, smoky not overly. it has that cooling pine needle /minty flavor.
But… its not a midnight drink. I was starving and had to fix myself a breakfast. eggs, mini bagel and cheddar. i felt quite energized and packed few more never ending boxes ( moving to a new place next week)
To sum up: it is a better version of Lapsang Sauchong. it is smooth and smoke is not harsh. i bet it will only improve in a few years
Ok people. my Liu Bao affair continues. I have Liu Bao almost every night.
I really like this one. it is non smoky. it tastes clean even though its young in Liu bao age. the color is lovely orange. it is sweet and spicy. nothing overpowering or off putting. very safe introduction to Liu bao i think. it is pretty complex and qi is noticeable.
Very nice night drink
i brew it as i would do sheng
5g/80ml yixing 212F
rinse/ very short steeps increasing to my liking
This is a pretty good daily drinker with a lot of cha qi. I had my pot set at 190 F for the first two steeps, resulting in alight straw flavor. After setting it back to 200, the tea had more bite, with a fair amount of tannin, and the straw flavor drifted more toward wood. However, I could still detect a bit of stone fruit under the wood and tannin, and there wasn’t much bitterness, despite a fair amount of dust in my sample.
I revisited this tea as part of my own mini “sheng olympics” this weeken. It was an exercise to assess where my teas are heading in reaction to different storage arrangements. I’ve kept small batches of certain teas in matcha tins leaving the rest of the cakes stored together in my make-shift pumidor. Leaving the Meng song in caked form while introducing some humidity has done it a lot of good in helping it acclimatize.
Dried leaves: mild sweet grass aroma.
Wet Leaves: sweeter tropical fruit on top of what seems almost like steamed potatoes.
Mostly small, in-tact plump buds and the tea soup is of a deeper gold tone with nice clarity. Great base material here—full-bodied, nice kuwei and huigan, and notes of tropical fruits, raw honey, and sweet hay-like base. The energy in the tea creates a nice body-feel. For now, in terms of 2015 chawangpu ranking, it’s Hekai, Lao Yu, and then Mengsong—though I anticipate this order will change with age. I still need to try their 2015 Bada Old Tree. Anyone wanna swap samples? :)
It took me a while to get to drinking this tea. They are now out of stock. They no longer list it on their website so I couldn’t get a photo. This was pretty good overall. It started out fairly bitter and a little sour. Both these notes passed quickly and I was left with a sweet note and a flavor I don’t know how to describe that is I think typical liu bao. Maybe a little bit peaty, not sure if that is the word for this note. I know I have gotten similar notes from other liu bao teas in the past. This one had no traces of fermentation. I don’t even know for sure that this was a fermented liu bao or not. It also had no traces of wet storage, or any other storage notes I could detect. Overall I liked this tea.
I steeped this eight times in a 120ml gaiwan with 8.2g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a ten minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec. There was a little left in the leaves but not much. I suspect I could get two or three more steeps out of them.
One of the joys of pu’er is exploring the various terroirs of Yunnan. Hekai is right in the middle of all those regions in Menghai county that tend to be overpriced, and perhaps even over harvested. This tea seems to defy all of that—it’s inexpensive relative to 2015’s maocha prices (still at $36 for 200 g!) and quite pungent. Really, Hekai is where you can get the pu’er version of quality dry chardonnay.
The leaves on this cake are mostly highly fragrant, silvery plump buds. The aroma is dynamic and evolves with each steep—making it hard to place initially (perhaps sweet pistachio?). Around the 5th steep I smelled roasted peanuts. This is wonderfully full-bodied with a pleasurable mouthfeel, potent qi, nice huigan, and a bittersweet, dry chardonnay-like aftertaste that stays for quite some time.
Key flavors are cotton candy, moscato grapes, broccoli rabe and mustard greens, and in that order. It starts to fade at steep 7, but the leaves still give tasty cups of tea until they fade completely at steep 13 or so. What a great value!
I’m digging through old samples trying to sip down some of my collection but it’s very slow going. When I first got serious about puerh a couple of years ago I figured that if the tea was meant to be drunk aged, I should try to buy stuff that was old. Since I was just getting into it, however, I tried to do it on a budget. The result is a bunch of teas like this one, made with chopped leaves and very, very smoky.
It really makes sense that the higher quality teas from over a decade ago wouldn’t be kicking around in the back of someone’s warehouse for more than a decade, but I keep hoping. Of course quality teas do exist, but I have to be willing to pay up for them, which I’m starting to do.
At any rate, this tea is a better than average example of the genre. It is no longer available but I bought a sample from Chawang Shop at a reasonable cost about a year ago. I was hit by a strong smoke aroma pretty much then the water first hit the leaves. I was surprised to find that it dissipated almost immediately and left a tea that was a light straw flavor with hints of tropical fruits. This was the first (and best) steep. After that, the smoke pretty much dominated for the next 4 steeps. If I didn’t like smoky teas, I probably would have dumped it and moved on. However, the finish was better balanced, and hinted that there was a good tea lurking under all that smoke.
I kept drinking and the smoke slowly faded, but the underlying tea faded at pretty much the same rate, and the finish began to get a bit of that ash flavor that smoky teas sometimes produce. Around the 5th steep, the tea developed a sweetness that was stronger than the smoke and the taste became more like leather, with smoke underneath. The finish also improved: no more ash, though somewhat bitter.
The later steeps were quite pleasant, but I had to pass through smoke and ash to get there. I probably rated this too high, but that first and later steeps were really pleasant, and I do like a smoky tea. One funny note: I didn’t really notice much cha qi, but the first time I had this tea I rated it high for cha qi. May depend on my mood?
Rather dark brew from this one. The taste is on the mild side with sweet notes throughout the steeps simple mouth body and easy to brew. Ideally to be drank when working on other things as complexity is not within this tea making it one to enjoy while being busy. Depending on the price and storage conditions it could be a daily morning cup while driving to work. I think a little wet storage on this would make it pop a bit
Comparing notes to the 2006 Benshan.
This particular tea has more of a woodsy and roasted taste profile while the 2006 has a slight cocoa (dry chocolate) taste. I prefer the cocoa taste notes, especially when the tea thins out. For those who like a medium roast profile, being less than most roasted tgy have, this is a tea that can last for hours. There isn’t much that has to open up for this leaf which helps with a consistent brew. My suggestion with this, as with most roasted teas, I advise to drink some water between steeps because the back of the throat dries out pretty easily after 20oz; this is my experience. My personal preference for Benshan is of a lower roast while tgy is higher and overall I prefer the roast profile found in wuyi teas. This is surely a hit for many, but the few (such as I) this leads to just a sampling.
This has a pleasant apricot color. The scent of the liquor is mineral and rock though. The taste is like a white tea, but not a great white tea. It’s kind of drying and I mainly get rock and some mild grassiness. Subsequent steeps didn’t really reveal any new flavor notes. S’okay but nothing I need again. Glad to have tried it, thanks to James for sending a share of the Sheng Olympics my way. :)
Had this one a couple days ago but kept a few notes on it.
The first couple of infusions were very light with light vanilla/floral notes. The tea had a silky feel to it which I like.
Infusions 3-5 had a bit of bitterness creeping in, more apricot notes coming through and the vanilla/floral notes seemed to disappear. Other than the first two infusions, it was pretty much a typical young sheng.
2016 Sheng Olympics
I can only be honest when I review tea and unfortunately this isn’t something I want to keep drinking. The other Laos tea I had the other day was wonderful, in fact I want to buy a cake; rather, I will. This tea though… not feeling it. The intimidate dryness after the sips is quite annoying since there isn’t a taste to associate with it. This tea lacks depth, taste, and anything inviting for me to drink it again. Hopefully the blue will be better, but I will try that tomorrow and continue with an oolong for the night.
After reading about the concept of insect feces as tea, it was only a matter of time until I drank it. This product is said to be a home made product from the early 1980’s via Chawang. A short excerpt:
“Local people put medicinal herbs and old tea leaves into a bamboo basket and let them natural fermentation to produce aroma to lure insects lay eggs, after some months larvae eat the leaves and leaving the droppings there. People take droppings out and dry them in the sun, then fry the droppings together with tea and honey in the iron pan for 20 minutes so that the final insect feces tea is ready for drinking.” (http://www.chawangshop.com/index.php/1980s-guangxi-chong-shi-cha-10g.html)
How could a tea addict not let these words brew curiosity within themselves of an unknown journey that this would provide? This is something that I knew I would approach with a lot of time dedicated to the thoughts of brewing it as well as tasting it.
The first steep had a flash wash just to wake it up; I wanted my antique poop to be more alive when I tasked it! The first session I stuck with the typical 10 second steep as I would with a liubao or raw puerh I have no idea what to do with. The first thing you notice is, this is poop; just from the look alone, there is no denying that I just put poop in my teapot. The first steep I decided to sniff it awhile while it cooled. There is a medicinal smell in there mixed with a bit of that ‘dirty’ smell that luibao tends to have. The first sip took me by surprise as I was expecting more of a dirt taste and dryness. Initially I tasted some wet hay that is in the drying process. The similarities of luibao and this tea are evident from the look, smell, and taste. What I like most about this is how smooth it is. Interestingly, it leaves an oil like texture on the back of the teeth once you sip it down. That feeling is enjoyable until I remembered that it’s basically poop lubricant that I’m running my tongue across to assess the feeling.
Upon finishing the first session, I decided that I needed to go on to the next. Surprisingly this resteep very well. The next steep has a lot of the same qualities that you find in a really dried out white tea. It’s quite nice to have mixed in with the luibao taste. The oil like feeling has gone away which is unfortunate now because the after taste is quite dry. Little pieces are finding its way in my cup as they may be dissolving and getting smaller. Now I’m drinking and eating poop that’s older than me; isn’t that a weird concept?
I went ahead to four total steeps with a total of 22’ish ounces brewed and drank. In regards to the price: At $8 for 10g, it seems high but you have to keep in mind that you won’t be using 4g for a session. I think the price is lower than it could be, it’s actually a great deal for the experience and age of what it is.
Shout out to Honza for including a sample of this in my last order. The other two Chawangpu cakes (Mengsong and Hekai) tasted a bit off due to shipping and the dry DC winter, but this sample doesn’t seem to be affected by its transcontinental trip or the environment.
The dry leaf came as one whole tightly compressed chunk and smelled like charred sandalwood with subtle hints of fruit. The wet leaf aroma is reminiscent of a smoky yesheng purple tea varietal without being overly so and with more sweet grass in the background. The leaves are mostly small and only somewhat broken due to my poor prying efforts.
Initial steeps are much brighter, lively, and savory than I expected. The smoke, though still there, moves to the background after the 3rd steep revealing classical pu’er flavors of camphor (some have interpreted as gasoline), dried fruit, sandalwood, sweet peas/grass, and other sharp savory/floral notes I associate with an unmanaged tea garden.
The tea soup is very pure, bright, nicely thick, and oily. Good Bulang energy that stays in my chest instead of my head which I like very much. Not much in the way of mouthfeel, but pleasant savory/borderline floral aftertaste.
It’s a comforting tea. Not impressive, but that’s fine. I think I know what Jakub meant when he said he was unable to tell why he liked this tea so much. It’s certainly worthy of drinking now or aging. I don’t like smoke, but here it’s actually comforting and interesting. If the price stays this low, I may just add this to my next purchase from Chawangshop.
Addendum: 9 steeps later, the tea leaves are still flavorful with good strong energy. I’m only now noticing the mouthfeel and cooling/tingling sensation that accompanies the huigan. This is good base material. I anticipate the off taste of the two cakes mentioned to improve as the teas acclimate.
2015 Chawangpu Mensong Old Tree raw – Chawangshop
Price: £10.51 ($15) / 200 cake = £0.05 (0.07) / g
I got this as a 16g free sample with my order.
Summary: A good tea that shows a restrained bitterness for a young tea and a good honey sweetness.
8g in gaiwan.
Dry: Concentrated bright herbal. Good base. Not off the scale brightness. Promising. Honey. Med high compression. Brown, grew, silver leaves.
Wet: Slightly subdued bright concentrated herbal, light smoke, rounded fruit. Hot strawberry jam. Some complexity.
Rinse: Unusual – very light peach.
10s – Light peach. Subtle,sweet fruit. Very mellow for a 2015 tea. Finish lingers with a soft bright but soft fruit. Body is good.
15s – Light yellow. Similar to the other Chawangpu teas: bright fruit dominates, but the brightness is rounded with this one and not in your face. It leaves a fresh green fruit in the mouth. Little bitterness; no astringency.
20s – Light/med yellow. The aroma of the liquid is very sweet medium bitterness turning sweet. The high sweet notes are there. This does not taste like 2011 Menghai Mensong, the only Mensong I have had. Although it does share a deep woody sweetness in the throat. A further tasting has shown definite honey, the main appeal of the 2011 Menghai Mensong for myself.
25s – Light/med yellow. The bitterness with bright round sweetness gives a nice tangy finish. This is quite good.
35s – Light/med yellow. More in the bright, bitter notes. Sweet finish. Good mouth action.
50s – Light/med yellow. It is going to high mountain oolong, but is currently treacle/honey.
40s – Light/med yellow. Becoming astringent. High mountain oolong, but still ok.
1 min – Pale yellow. Sweet. Astringent.