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Recent Tasting Notes
From the aged oolong buy:
I started with 1 minute steeps and worked my way up, b/c flash steeping oolong never works for me. Also used a gaiwan.
I agree with LP – the aroma is just “no.” Also agree with Allank that there’s definitely a whiskey note to the flavor, and with Jim in that it’s a very complex and interesting tea.
Based on the appearance and aroma I assumed it would have a roasty flavor, but it doesn’t. It’s actually quite smooth. Whiskey is really bang on. I actually quite like it. After three steeps, the flavor starts to evolve; it becomes slightly sweet, even a little fruity. And then it fades. Fifth (sixth?) steep was 2 minutes and the flavor was very meh, so for my last steep I went all the way to 5.
I’ve never had a tea like this one, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to try it. I have enough for one more session, I think I’ll try it in my clay pot and see how it affects the flavor.
2014 Laos Ban Komaen (Black) Gu Shu Raw – Chawangshop
Price: £33.68 ($48.00) 200g cake = £0.17 ($0.24) /g.
8g in gaiwan.
Summary: A pleasant tea which exhibits a fresh delivery of medium bitter lemon notes and a lingering honey sweet finish. Endurance lacks, but what shines here is the good form, good slightly oily body, and slight complexity in the early steeps.
Dry: Med bright, concentrated herbal.
Wet: Straw, med bright concentrated herbal.
Rinse: Light yellow
5s – Light yellow. Juicy raisin sweetness with brighter sweetness returning after the swallow. Good body. 82/100
10s – Light yellow. There is a fresh fruitiness that is in most young shengs. However, this one is a little restrained and carries a little astringency – very pleasant though. Has a decent thickness to the flavour. 83/100
15s – Light yellow/orange. Well rounded flavour. Bitterness is not as sharp as a Naka, and it is met with a honey-like sweetness. I detect a light oiliness in here which is a plus. 84/100
20s – Light yellow/orange. The sip has a concentrated bitter lemon and sweet note, reminding me of honey and lemon flavoured drink for cold and flu. Flavours are a bit cloudy. For example the base becomes a bit clay like and astringent, spoiling that pleasant sweetness. 80/100
25s – Light/med yellow/orange. Flavour is thin, mainly a deep straw note. The bitterness has faded and the sweetness is cloudy. 76/100
30s – Light/med yellow/orange. Getting astringent; losing flavour. 75/100
35s – Light yellow/orange. Flat. Still a little bitterness with a quick sweetness, but the juicyness and vibrancy have gone. 72/100
Flavors: Honey, Lemon
I found this to be a nice tea from Chawangshop, even better than their 2006 oolong. It’s got a semi aged taste, a bit of that aged fruity plum. Not too roasty. One thing I did notice on the downside was a hint of mustiness. Not that overpowering, though, and I’m somewhat new to aged oolongs so I’m not sure if this is common? Anyway, I like this tea especially for the price. I put 50g away in a tin for aging and will drink the other half now.
From LP’s Aged Oolong group buy. Used all 5.5 (give or take) grams in my new Taiwan Tea Crafts stubby pear pot. I must agree with what others have said about this tea, particularly one reviewer’s observation that this is reminiscent of the DHP brick from White2Tea (I think it was the Sept. club). It’s interesting to compare this to an inexpensive aged 2008 DHP brick I got from a vendor on Aliexpress; this tea is much more subtle, gentle, refined even. Lovely mineral/wet rock sweetness, well roasted and I would guess the aging has smoothed over the sharp edges. The Aliexpress tea is decent, but much more harsh and can get bitter when pushed. One of these days I’m going to try Bana Tea’s DHP brick and see how it compares to these. Overall, a very enjoyable DHP.
From LP’s Aged Oolong Group Buy 2015.
Totally agree with what others have said about this one.
I think this has been aged well &/or the aging process works well on DHP. I think it added some complexity and tamed what might have been once a bit too roasty for me. It was very much on the edge though.
Chocolate notes and thoughts of coffee were prevalent throughout the session (which has been going on since yesterday – a little bit goes a long way), and I didnt get any bitterness, it wasnt too sharp like some DHP, and wasnt too soft like some aged Oolong I have had from this Group Buy. I could taste some fermentation or storage flavour I get from Puerh, but quite subtly, and only in the earliest steeps.
This is defo something I would consider buying, (…aaaaand its gone, we must have got the last one) If only to share with any friends coming round mine. This wouldnt be my usual go-to for a dark roast Wuyi but I enjoyed the session a lot, and thats all that matters right?
Flavors: Chocolate, Coffee, Roasted, Toasty, Wet Earth, Wet Rocks
AKA Bug Shit Tea
OK, this is the review that you all have been waiting for… drumroll please….
So what does this tea look like? It came in a little plastic bag, and the dry tea looked like little grains. I put about 3g in my gaiwan. I took a whiff, and it smelled very musty and earthy. Then I took another whiff as my wife walked by, and it smelled a lot like poop. Then my wife said ‘excuse me’ because she had farted. True story….
Anyway, on to the brew. I hit it with the hot water, waited about 30 seconds, and poured the tea into our cups. A number of floaties hung out on top, then most of them sank. That’s when it got real. It looked to me like rat poop was in our cups.
The tea soup was golden brown and on the light side. Then we sipped…
It tasted like musty soil. That’s the best way I can describe it. Very musty, light, and earthy. Not terribly unpleasant, but I can’t say I enjoyed it. Two steeps was all I could take. The qi was on the strong side and was very bright.
So, that’s the poop scoop. As for the rest of my sample, I am offering it first to Liquid Proust, as a reward for his diligence in dealing with his last two group buys I have been part of. PM me, LP, if you are in!!!
I decided to try a new tea on my last Chawangshop order. This is a hei cha with golden flowers. Frankly I don’t know how to describe this tea, it is very unusual. It brews a light golden brown. The soup is not thick like ripe pu erh, but the leaves look like shu, with lots of tiny gold dots everywhere, and a number of stems. The flowers, I assume, impart a very unique taste that I can’t put my finger on. It is an easy going tea, though I’m not sure if I like it. My wife enjoyed it. It’s only a couple bucks to sample so if you are curious, give it a try if you place an order with them!
This is one delicious oolong! It was included as a free sample with my last order. It is very smooth and sweet, it almost seems aged, I was surprised that it is a 2015 vintage. Dark leaves and a fairly dark brew. It is one of those ‘bug bitten’ teas that supposedly imparts a honey flavor. This tea does indeed have a very pronounced honey sweet fruit flavor, almost orangey. I’m really impressed with the oolongs I have been trying from Chawangshop.
2012 Lantingchun TF “Mang Fei Cha Hun” Early Spring Raw Puerh – Chawangshop
Price: £21.63 ($32.00) / 357g cake.
8g in gaiwan
Summary: Early steeps show interesting, textured and green tasting tea, but later brews reveal a tea that has way too much smoke to compensate for astringency and sourness. It does have good energy and is cheap for a cake though.
Dry: Subdued concentrated herbal. My tea is completely loose leaves. Colour is lighter shades of brown and some silvery. Some dust.
Wet: Straw, dry medium smoke, light concentrated herbal. Some black char on some leaves – that is black specks that can be moved off the leaves. Could this be due to not cleaning the wok from the previous batch?
Rinse: Light/yellow gold.
10s – Light/yellow gold. Quite smoky on the sip and into the finish. Tobacco smoke. Slightly astringent with a good powerful body. It has not strong bright herbal and is instead mild leather and is green. I’m not noticing any obvious fruit to name so I’d say green fruit.
15s – Med yellow/golden. Very smoky with a concentrated fruit that starts bitter and becomes sour. It fills the mouth well, but carries medium astringency. It is quite oily.
5s – Light yellow/gold. Not particularly fresh; it is more stale. The smoke and bitter/sour fruit give it a rough texture. I quite like this.
10s – Light yellow/gold. Astringent, drying, sour fruit, smoke that isn’t integrated well. A vegetable note – asparagus. It’s thick, concentrated and heavy going. It’s different.
15s – Light yellow/golden. Very astringent. Its like drinking a cigarette in water. Not good.
Flavors: Asparagus, Green, Smoke
2004 Dehong raw – Chawangshop
Price: £4.04 ($6) / 50g = £0.08 ($0.12)/g.
£26.96 ($40) / 500g brick = £0.05 ($0.07) / g
Summary: A fun tea with a strong cumin like spicy note. Not complex, impressive or oily.
Dry: Dark brown, flat piece. High compression. Some dust. Spicy, raw beetroot attack!
Wet: Soil, aged aromas: furniture polish, bird cage, old building. A faint hint of cumin. A lot going on here.
Rinse: Light golden (not orange).
Rest for 1 hour 20 min.
10s – Light/med golden. Tastes like soil and it quite watery.
15s – Light/med golden brown. Light soil with a refreshing spicy note that lasts from the sip to the finish. Medium thickness. No bitterness or astringency. Flavour is quite basic. 74/100
20s – Light/med brown (golden has gone) Thin liquor. Light furniture polish with a spicy note, which is similar to cumin, but very mild cumin. 75/100. I’ve had a tea like this before from Yunnan Sourcing: 2005 Wild Tree “Ye Sheng Cha” Raw Pu-erh tea brick of Dehong.
25s – Med brown. Produces a medium thickness when the flavour comes in, which is peppery spice, light smoke and light furniture polish. Slightly astringent this time. Body has a dryness to it. The finish has a dry spicy note.
30s – Medium brown. The spiciness takes a step back and the furniture polish is stronger. It washes down smoothly. I can still taste the spicy note after finishing the cup.
35s – Med reddy brown. Still going to the max.
Rest 20 mins.
40s + 50s – Soil, spice, astringency. Fizzes on the swallow.
From the Group Oolong buy… I really enjoyed this tea. It is similar to the tiny brick in a recent White2tea club offering. I think it helps to know what you’re getting yourself into with these aged dhp bricks. They are like whiskey in a lot of ways. This one tastes like dark oolong was aged in an oak barrel – a very strong vanilla note coupled with roasty oak undertones. It is really fun to drink, in my opinion. A tiny chunk goes a long way, kind of like shu pu erh. I think it helps to use a gaiwan and do short steeps.
1990s “Jin Gua Gong Cha” Chawangshop
Summary: Airing out this tea for a week has massively improved it. It gives a good aged taste which hints at 2000 Green Peacock by Essence of Tea. However, the furniture polish note is still too bright to fully enjoy this tea.
5g 100 ml gaiwan. The sample has been open and airing out for approximately one week.
10s – Not unpleasant like the last time I tried this tea. Still smoky. Has a nice aged taste. Still on the bright furniture polish, but only slightly.
15s – Med orange/golden. Open aged flavours. Some kipper smoke. This is much improved after airing out. It leaves a pine smoky taste.
20s – It has flavours in common with 2000 Green Peacock by Essence of Tea: log burning smoke, bright pine smoke – all softened of course. However, currently it is not as good as that tea. It leaves a bright furniture note in the mouth, and it’s currently not too pleasant. In time I’m hoping this will be less bright and more round.
1990s “Jin Gua Gona Cha” – Chawangshop
30/100 – Undrinkable (at the moment)
Summary: Not good. Mainly undrinkable. Not natural tasting. Aged flavour of furniture polish, but way too strong. Dry, flat tasting, harsh.
Maybe this tea has had storage problems as it is not pleasant to drink. Instead, it is harsh and drying with a strong odd note of furniture polish. It leaves my mouth quite dry with that dark, static furniture polish similar to stewed black tea. Or maybe this tea needs time to air out.
Dry: Very dark brown. Quite flatly compressed. High compression. Smoky cheese – reminds me of Essence of Tea teas.
Wet: Aged aroma: furniture polish; no old building or bird cage. Quite smoky: some electric, some cigarette… Leather. Coal tar – very odd. Some of the leaves are a little rubbery and dark.
Rinse: Med golden.
10s – Strong med golden. Liquor has smoky notes. This is a strong favloured tea. I think this is what furniture polish may taste like. Raisins: some bright; some astringent. Stewed tea. Not too good. Maybe I brewed it for too long. 50/100 – barely drinkable.
3s – Med golden. Not good. This tastes like T-Gel anti-dandruff shampoo, which contains coal tar. The flavour is quite strong with a medium astringent finish. 45/100 – undrinkable.
5s – Med golden (some brown). Some aged flavours. Has a finish of furniture polish.
Rest – 40 mins
10s – Med golden brown. Sweet raisin sip and then that odd drying, dark fruit taste with furniture polish. I’ve had aged teas before and they were more palatable than this. 50/100 – barely drinkable.
15s – Darker med golden brown. It has a sour flavour.
Mellow and sweet with some astringency mid-session – light, clean and easy to drink. I could consume 200g of this, but unlikely to buy it because… reasons. If you’re shopping on a tight budget and want something easy-going, it’s a superb deal ($0.085/g you really can’t go wrong). If your preferences lean towards the aggressive, or you plan to age it, the “old tree” bada ($0.1/g) is probably a better buy.
2004 Shi Kun Mu’s Menghai Gushu Raw
Shi Kun Mu is a tea trader/blender/master from Taiwan and I was very curious about the 2004 ShiKunMu productions (Yiwu, YiBang, Manzhuan, Menghai). When my Menghai and YiBang cakes arrived over 18 months ago, they seemed a bit dry so I stuck them away to freshen up a bit. They have been in my humidity monitored tea cabinets and they now seem ready to taste. The Menghai cake is rather enjoyable – overall a tea of rich flavor and mouth feel. Reported to be spring ancient arbor material, the leaf looks good and the dark golden tea liquor is very clean. Sweet aroma lingers in the cup. Early steeps offer an earthy mushroom flavor which lightens and becomes sweeter in the next cups. The flavor includes a bit of rather delicate astringency in 3rd and later infusions but this makes the tea a little more interesting and complex in my opinion. Camphor and menthol appear off and on. Reasonable amount of Qi builds up through the session. Decent endurance – I’ve enjoyed eight cups and the tea has more to give. My mouth continues to water from the tea session which ended an hour ago.
This is the second best aged oolong that I’ve had. Decided to try it because I thought the 96’ wasn’t that good and I was just wanting one cup… turns out, I steeped this one over 10 times. Nice texture to the sweetness that is in the background constantly. It’s a little dry, but for the notes that it has and its resteeping value, i am able to deal with it. The leaf opens up at around the third steep and gets a bit thicker which when it is best.
- from the aged oolong group buy*
!st steep at 200F (1 m): Very sweet and smooth. Flavor reminds me a bit of a nougat candy, though not exactly. This is very good. 2nd (60s): Interesting aroma: I think I’m smelling the roast, but it’s much more complex than I’m used to. Taste is big: opens up in the mouth, then collapses into a really nice finish. The flavor is dried fruit: raisins, dates. Slightly bitter as the cup cooled. 3rd (60s): The nose is richer than before but the taste has faded a bit. Not weak; just less powerful than the second steep. The finish is still complex, powerful and long, with just a hint of bitterness. I’m also feeling some cha qi. 3 more steeps were fairly nice but not special.
Another very interesting tea. My rating is more a grade for being interesting as being pleasant to drink, though I did enjoy the flavor. I’m thinking of buying more.
*From the aged Oolong group buy *
Strange: has a big hunk of gourd skin in the package ( I wasn’t brave enough to steep any of the rind, but may try it in the next sample) 1st steep: (60s) leads off with a strong roasted, almost burnt taste, almost like French roast coffee. This is quickly followed with a mellow caramel flavor that makes me think sweet, even though I don’t actually have any perception of sweetness. The caramel fades in the finish, but a hint is still present. The finish seems more like nutmeg. Decent texture in the mouth: just a bit of viscosity. Fairly consistent through tasting as the tea cools, but when it got near room temperature it became bitter.I waited about 10 minutes before the second steep, as the tea leaves had not yet unfurled. 2nd (60 s): Very roasty in the nose, but the immediate sensation on first sip is sweetness. The taste is tar and leather. I don’t notice the caramel. Big finish. Later in the cup the tar is starting to be replaced with caramel; the taste is very smooth and mellow. I delayed about 30 minutes for the 3rd steep (60 s) to let the aftertaste of the last cup fade away. This is mellow with mild leather/caramel flavors. Not at all burnt or toasted. The finish seems almost bigger than the taste at this point. I gave the 4th steep at little extra time, but there wasn’t much left.
I really enjoyed tasting this tea, but the initial roasted flavor was a bit too much for me. I used 3 g of tea in 6 oz of 190 F water.
I predicted this to be among the least interesting of my random chawangshop samples, but it turns out my prediction was completly wrong.
Youthful and a little aggressive for its age (dry stored), many interesting features. Mouth activity is good, texture is quite smooth with decent body, aftertaste is good with some lingering bitterness. There is definitely chop in it, but it’s not hard to pick out some nice, intact leaves. It’s interesting enough to keep steeping, even on a tea-Friday.
Is it worth $0.30/g though? Meh.. Maybe. It’s a closer call for me than other teas in the sample binge (so far). I wouldn’t mind owning it, but hesitant to take $100 out of the tea budget to get it.
Pretty fruity aroma but the taste is more like earthy-sweet-fruity with some astringency. Marginally more interesting than the 2004 Xinfu Yiwu I had yesterday, which is the same price range; a bit thicker and overall darker notes. Leaf quality is decent, but with a fair bit of chop. It would probably remain drinkable for several more infusions (but it’s going in the bin now because I’m bored with it).
Same conclusion; it’s decent, but also not something I would buy at this price.
Another one from chawangshop bargain hunt. Seem like this tea is no longer available (I’ll refrain from commenting on the chawangshop search feature… suffice to say it may be in there somewhere). Not sure how it was priced; sample was $10/25g, so I would guess $0.30/g range for a beeng.
It is certainly a big step up from the 2005 Nan Nuo I just had; more balanced, thicker mouthfeel, more active. It has lost a bit of steam by the 5th infusion, especially in terms of texture. Profile is quite light and sweet for a Yiwu. Overall good, but not amazing (e: and if it is in the $.30/g range, I would buy something else, but it does show some potential for improvement with age)
Bought a sample of this, bargain hunting.. Pretty much as expected for a “random” $45 2005 factory production. Sample leaf quality doesn’t resemble the photos of the outer cake, could not find a single near-intact leaf digging through 12g of spent tea, all finely chopped… and I venture to guess a fair bit of huang pian in here. Again, as expected.
Mostly floral and sweet with a thin body and some aroma. Fair bit of astringency, otherwise not a lot of activity. Not terrible for what it is, but I can think of better ways to spend the money.