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Recent Tasting Notes
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.
1997 CNNP Big Red Mark – Chawangshop
7g in gaiwan.
Summary: An aged tea with a soil/earth flavour. Nothing special flavour wise. Lacks depth of flavour and clarity. I think it is genuine 90’s tea judging by the long number of steeps, the bold flavour and the leaves.
Is it worth the £150 ($210.00) for a cake? No. The flavour is too basic. It hasn’t matured into something special.
Dry: Med brown. Smells earthy. Light/med compression.
Wet: Soil, earthy, clay, slight smoke, foisty. Wet pastry. Later: aged aroma: old building, some furniture polish.
Rinse: Med brown. The earthy aroma was strong when pouring out the rinse.
10s – Med brown. Taste is earthy, not in a flat way, but in a pleasant way. Absolutely no bitterness or astringency. This tastes like soil so far.Rest – 1 hour
15s – Med brown/red. The thickness expands in the mouth. This tea has some complexity and flavours which I’m struggling to describe: old furniture, a tingling and a long aged aroma in the finish. The body is good. It has some spicy notes and the aged aroma can be tasted when breathing.
20s – Med brown/ref. Bold aged flavour with good form.
25s – Med brown. Some polish flavours hitting the roof of my mouth.
45s – Becoming harsh, but has that aged flavour still.
This is another one from Liquid Proust’s Aged Oolong Sampler. This one is roasty, very roasty. It was fairly smooth though and a little bitter at points. Strange that I didn’t notice the bitterness in all the early steeps, just some. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention. I probably used a little too much leaf in this. I didn’t have enough leaf for my larger gaiwan so I put all 5.3g in my 60ml gaiwan. Probably should have gone with 4g but it seemed like a waste to save 1.3g of tea so I went with it. Eventually a sweet note showed up but it was behind the roast note, barely perceptible. This is not a tea I’d go out of my way to buy again, just too roasty for me, but it’s nice to get to try it.
I brewed 5.3g of leaf in a 60ml gaiwan with 200 degree water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. 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. Judging by the color of the leaf this tea would keep on going with longer steeps but I really don’t feel like drinking any more of it.
2015 Chawangpu Hekai Gushu Xiao – Chawangshop
Price: £23.94 ($36) 200g cake.
7g in Gaiwan.
Summary: Bright, lively, citrus with good base. Let down by being a bit flat and lacking clarity. Good staying power – it just kept on brewing.
Dry: Grey and brown leaves. Citrus, concentrated herbal. Fresh and green.
Wet: Bright concentrated herbal, but with a bit of base. Strong leaves. Promising…
Rinse: Light yellow.
10s – Light yellow. Lively, bright concentrated herbal with some base. This is better than their 2013 Chawangpu Gao Shan Liu Shui. The flavour stays in the mouth.
12s – Light yellow. Pleasant bitterness. Slightly astringent on the swallow, but the sweetness pushes through.
15s – It has some high mountain Oolong in the body. The high sweetness is balanced by a slightly woody base. This is quite good.
20s – The high mountain Oolong creaminess is the main taste. Becoming astringent.
22s – Astringent, but still lively.
Many more fresh and lively brews…
2013 Chawangpu “Goa Shan Lin Shui” Yiao Bing Cha – Chawangshop
26/25 g :) My first order to Chawangshop.
Price: £3.33 ($5) / 25g
Summary: Bright, fresh sheng which gets astringent too quickly. Plain and straighforward. Plantation tea taste. I looked at the price for a 200g cake – £30 ($45). I believe that is a little high.
I agree with Rich’s review of this tea, although I am not sure I would interpret Hobbes’s review as that positive.
Dry: My sample is the part from the bing hole. Brown and grey leaves. Med compression. Bright concentrated herbal.
Wet: Bright fruit. A ‘Jing Mai’ aroma: fresh and vibrant.
Rinse: Light golden.
5s – Light yellow. Full and soft in the mouth. Sweet floral.
15s – Light yellow. Very, very sweet. Long, sweet, very slightly astringency in the finish. Not a thick liquor. Tastes very much like 2007 Mengku Mu Ye Chun from Dragon Tea House. Astringent and mouth drying finish.
This one is strange. Black as coal. Form is a strongly compressed cake that flaked and powdered under my pick. Like shou, but even darker. I wound up with 3 chunks and a bunch of dust.The aroma is burnt, with an undercurrent of caramel. Taste is hard to describe. The burnt taste seemed to float at the front of my mouth while the caramel moved back to my throat. The burnt flavor faded then reappears in the finish (which is very long). This one is REALLY not for the light-roast crowd! I messed up the second steep and did about 5 minutes. Really strong but not bad. The flavor rivals espresso for intensity but without too much acid or bitterness. Some bitterness does appear in the finish and it became more bitter as it cooled. 3rd steep is effectively about the 5th steep due to the long second steep. Still strong. Nose very burnt but there is a sweetness developing in the taste. Drying out my throat.
5th steep is sweeter and less roasted. I’m liking it better, though it is also a bit simpler. Still smells like burnt toast. At this point I stopped taking detailed notes but kept drinking. I’m at about the 10th steep and the harsh burnt flavor is just about gone. What is left is a complex mix of tobacco and leather. The taste is still strong, and the finish is unbelievable. I’m also getting light-headed from the cha qi.
In a way, I was lucky to oversteep the tea. Otherwise I would probably have given up after about 4 steeps, as the flavor, while interesting was not all that pleasant. However, I’m enjoying the later steeps very much and while I need to stop because I’m probably way over my caffeine quota for the day this tea doesn’t want to quit. I’m not giving a numerical rating but this started out as about an 84 just because it was interesting, dropped into the high 70s because I got tired of the burnt flavors, but is now in the high 80s because it is just so darn pleasant to drink. With the exception of the second steep, all my steep times have been about 1 minute. I normally increase oolong steep times after the third but haven’t felt the need for this powerful tea. I still have a few grams so may try this with much shorter steeps next time.
Thanks again to Liquid Proust. this was a lot of fun, and a tea I never would have tried on my own!
Thank You Liquid Proust for this aged oolong sampler. This is the fourth tea I have drank from this sampler. I found it was not in the catalog and added it using Chawangshop’s rather long name. This is pretty good. Despite it being called heavy roasted it didn’t seem so to me. It was roasty in the first steep but not so much in the second and gone by the third. There were left a variety of sweet notes that I totally failed to identify. But suffice to say this is good tea. When I say it was sweet I added no sugar so it is just the natural sweetness, not a sugar sweetness. I gave this eight steeps and I think it is pretty much played out. In the eighth steep it tastes a little bit watery.
There was also a bit of a medicinal note to this tea. But not a strong one.
I steeped this tea eight times in a 120ml gaiwan with 6.5g leaf and bittermelon with 190 degree 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, 30 sec, and 45 sec. I should note that I couldn’t list bittermelon as an ingredient because it is not in the catalog and the computer won’t let you add an unlisted ingredient. Why I wonder do they think were going to add nonexistent ingredients.
Flavors: Roasted, Sweet
This was the second aged oolong that I drank yesterday and it was the first to disappoint me.
Water hit 90c and I was ready to start the session. Washed the leaf briefly and the aroma hit me…. no :(
I ended up sipping and throwing out six steeps. This tea taste like dirt to me, just like cheap ripe pu’erh taste like.
I’m hoping that others may enjoy this though because I tried 10s, 15s, 30s, 45s… nothing worked. I don’t think it was the 90c water, amount of leaf, or timing. Can’t always have a great cup I suppose.
Thank you Liquid Proust for doing all the work for the aged oolong sampler. This one is fairly smooth with no roast flavor. I’d say it has a whiskey note to tell you the truth but without the punch of real whiskey. That is just my best explanation for the notes in this complex tea. Someone else may have a better explanation as to the main notes of this tea. I steeped it twelve times and there was little bitterness to it. I’m not getting much in the way of cha qi here but maybe it will hit me later.
I steeped this twelve times in a 60ml gaiwan with 4g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 454 sec, 1min, 1.5 min, and 2 min.
I got a sample of this tea with a recent order. It is a very clean mid aged tea. No off flavors. It starts off with a little smoke, but that fades quickly. Then it turns into sort of a bland tobacco flavor, with just a hint of fruit and sweet, and a mild huigan. Seems like a pretty good tea, though I’m not sure how much I like (factory) teas of this age. I don’t have much experience with them.
For the last couple of days I’ve been drinking aged sheng, Yang Qing Hao samples mostly, but today I decided to go back to young sheng, trying to get through some samples from Chawangshop. I’ve been curious about this one for awhile. Well, I’ve been curious about Hekai in general. I have to say, at only $36 for a 200g cake, I will very likely add one of these cakes to my next CS order.
Wet leaf aroma is juicy fruit. Brew is smooth, sweet, and not too bitter at all, particularly with water just under boiling (200 degrees F). I did use boiling water initially and I found the tea to be on the bitter side. One of these days I will remember to count my steeps, but I’m sure I’m well over 10 and it’s only now starting to fade just a bit. The leaves are largely whole and beautiful .
This is an incredibly calming/sedative tea, but the calmness is juxtaposed with a serious hunger. I do not know if this is related to the tea or if it’s PMS or it’s close to dinner time and I just need to eat, but as my Irish wife often says “I could eat a farmer’s arse through a hedge backwards.” I honestly don’t know what I want to do more right now: keep drinking, eat, or sleep. Will likely settle on all of the above.
I got a sample of this on my last order. A blending of Jingmai and Meng song sounded interesting to me. I know Mengsong by itself is pretty nice. Jingmai can be hit or miss to me. I had previously tried the Huang Pia from this shop from Jingmai and it met my approval as well.
I got 8 grams out and gave a quick wash and allowed it to set for about 10 minutes.
The first brew was a light gold, very little char in the strainer indicating good processing. The brew was very clear as well.
Taste notes are nice. You can feel the burly part of the Mengsong and the softening the Jingmai gives it. The aromas of the wt leaf are somewhat floral. The tasting is deceptively sweet. It takes a second or two but the it s there. The later steeps bring the citrus of the Jingmai into the mix as well. This tea is viscous and thick with bitter, sweet and citrus rolled in there.
The leaf in the gaiwan is easy to pick the smaller Jingmai and the bigger Mengsong out in there. I am not sure but the larger leaf looks as it can be a bit older the Jingmai. It is making me sweat a bit as well from the Cha Qui.
Well done production.
Flavors: Bitter, Citrus, Floral, Sweet
I got this in my latest order. I bought 100 grams in hopes I could age it similar to the 2007.
I got 10 grams out to brew and gave a rinse. I let this sit about 2 hours since it was highly compressed.
After rinsing this tea gave off a very sweet aroma. The sweetness of the bamboo is present here. The color is a nice golden brew.
The initial brew is slightly sweet and then gets the light buttery punch in it. It is a thick brew that coats the mouth. Good feeling with this one. It starts to give the cha qui head sweat after drinking the cup. The aftertaste lingers in the mouth for a while.
Very enjoyable and I am glad they got this from the bamboo before shipping it.
Flavors: Bamboo, Bitter, Sweet