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Recent Tasting Notes
Here I am drinking this tea again, only this time I think I really am drinking CNNP Yunnan Chitsu Pingcha. I think. The other time I reviewed this tea, it was a shou; this time, it’s a white pu’er, or so I’m told. And based on some of the other reviews, I think I wasn’t drinking what I thought I was drinking. OR maybe I’m not now. Anyway, this is what you get when the only local tea shop in your area specializes in flavored teas served by folks dressed as pirates (read: coastal tourist trap) and their employees wouldn’t know pu from poo if a dog (or a 2dog) bite ‘em in the ass. Anyway, unlike the other block of doorstop I purchased the last time, this one isn’t bad, but it’s not something I’d go out of my way to purchase again. The flavor is very mild and floral. The leaves are like chopped spinach, not a trace of a whole leaf anywhere. But that might have been the pirate’s fault; he used his hook and no small amount of brute force to pry a piece of the cake off for me. No, not making that up, and not a pu’er pick in sight. Blimey!
I stopped by my local tea shop and this was the only pu’er they had, so I thought what the heck, it was about 5 dollars for the last bit of the cake they had left (about 30 grams) so I went for it. I used about 8 grams tea, water just about boiling, gongfu, 2 short rinses. I started with very short steeps (5-10 secs) b/c that’s what I do with shou, but the tea was weak and terrible so I upped it to 30 secs and then one really long steep, which didn’t help much. The cake was very, very dry so it may not have been stored well. The aroma is decent enough, not fishy or anything, but It tastes like weak, funky old black tea. A flat zero on the sweet meter. I think I’ve been spoiled by better quality shous, so I’m going to chalk this one up as a loss of five bucks and move on.
Purchased this tea from Mr Mopar. It was in the end tasty. It started out with what I would describe as a woodsy note for lack of a better description. This evolved into a fruity note. I gave this tea eight steeps and think it would have gone a few more.
I brewed this eight times in a 180ml teapot with 10.1g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a ten 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, and 30 sec.
At first, I was unsure of the quality due to the low price tag. Yet after having my first cup, I found it very enjoyable and this tea got me hooked on pu’er teas. After reusing the leaves for a second cup, its flavour only gets more smooth without tasting watered down. I do not have very large experience with tasting pu’er teas, yet I thoroughly enjoyed this one and now I drink it every morning. I do not know how aged it is, but judging by the affordable price tag (~$10), I’d say probably not very long. My verdict is that this is a very tasty and affordable tea for someone new to pu’er teas.
Flavors: Earth, Smooth
This is a nice looking cake full of large whole leaves – there is some serious content locked into these leaves. Age has darkened the color to a deep brown. Two quick rinses to wash and awaken the tea leaves and we’re ready to be impressed……. The soup color is a mature orange tone and both floral and wood fragrances come forward. A smooth thick tea soup that presents a gentle rather complex mix of fruit (berry-like), honey, nuts and camphor. This mix of flavor sensations feels quite refined and pure and light with a lingering rich mouth feel. This is an enjoyable tea and it has it all
- taste, mouthfeel, lingering aftertaste, energy and endurance. The discovery of a well aged cake such as this makes me very happy!
Let’s review some grocery store Puer cake! This is fun simply because you can find these at most Asian grocers, so depending on where you live, this may be the only Puer cake you’ll be able to purchase in person and not online. They’re usually only 10-15 bucks a cake, and because of that, I’ve avoided them, thinking they’d probably be poor quality tea. Let’s find out!
After a rinse, there are some really warm aromas of roasted nuts, sweet tobacco, and leather. The flavor is mellow and round, slightly sweet… earthy, nutty, and with an aftertaste of leather. This is surprisingly non-offensive for a cheap and likely mass-produced tea. There’s a tiny hint of mustard in the taste.
There’s nothing particularly outstanding about this Puer, but as ripe Puer goes, so many of them have very similar flavors to me. I’ve only had one or two where I thought “Hey, this is unique!” Otherwise, they most often seem to just have a similar mellow, enjoyable taste, granted they aren’t too musty. This one isn’t, so no worries there.
So, my verdict is… if you just want a nice everyday kind of Puer cake for helping to get you familiar with Puer brewing, or just to have some tea that you can shamelessly brew without breaking the bank… this isn’t a bad choice! Even if you’re just curious about using a compressed tea cake and aging it, why not give one of these a go? It may not be the most remarkable tea out there, but it’s worth its price for the quantity you get.
Flavors: Earth, Leather, Roasted nuts, Tobacco
Advent Calendar Tea, Day 8
A relatively generic shou, I don’t know what year, or anything about it.
There was only right about 3.5g. I normally do my shou with right around 5g, so it was underleafed for my gaiwan. I don’t know if that’s why I felt this was weak, or if it really just didn’t have much flavor.
I only got a few infusions out of it. Then I gave up and tried for one long infusion. It didn’t improve.
I think it would be a good complete beginner shou. It’s not overly strong or too earthy, and it doesn’t have any off flavors. I’m still a beginner to pu’erh, but I think that I’ve advanced beyond this one.
This tea offers a smooth texture with a simple cedar wood flavor. Earthy with an interesting mouthfeel – spicy, sweet, nutty and leathery. Medium compression. Mostly whole leaf with a reasonable amount of stems. Initial scent of dry and wet leaves is reminiscent of walking through a damp forest. Not as much depth and complexity as I prefer but all in all a rather enjoyable tea session.
4.25g in 4.5oz water.
Mellow and earthy with a rich, dark liquor. This makes me think of hiking in the woods: towering old trees, leaves from past autumns moldering into loam on the forest floor, moss-covered stones, gurgling brooks plunging down the hillside, scattered sunlight sparkling on their cold, clear depths. In short, it reminds me of home.
This is definitely worthy of seasoning my new yixing pot with.
Love this Pu Erh. It took me a while to get the preparation just wright (for my taste buds), but once I did this tea became one of my favorite pu erhs out there. Now, I must say that I prefer my pu erh strong, full of aroma and body. So if you are new to pu erh this might not be the best one to start with.
The first time I tried it I gave it a very quick rinse. The first steeping was quite weak and had a bit of a stale musky taste to it.
I sipped it for a bit … then went to check the cake for any signs of staleness, fungus or mold. I scraped it and I pealed it, and smelled it all over, it was healthy beautiful cake:) So I poured the tea out and made the next steeping, now this time the liquor was darker, thicker and richer. It lost most of the stale note and now was on the sweet side, earthy, rich, with mushroom notes but so much smoother. The more I steep this tea the smother it become and the more flavors and aromas it develops, from woody to sweet and spicy. It also lasts for ever, I’ve made up to 8 steepings and it was still going strong. So my backwards steeping process on this one is: Do a longer rinse, basically steep for up to over a minute and discard. Then make another longer steep at like 50sec, or when you see the liquor color rich amber. And after that I do short steepings at like 20-30sec. I also enjoy it with milk.
Did this one with short steeps water at boiling. I have had this one for a while in the pumidor. It has an almost flowery tart aroma to it. It was a very tightly compressed brick so I may have under leafed the cup. It tuned out pretty mellow with just a hint of orange color to it attesting that the aging is working ever so slowly since this is a brick. It has a light metallic taste to it with a sweet aftertaste to it. It is almost a slight flower aftertaste. Not the best but very drinkable sheng. For the money I paid I think it is an excellent performer in that category. I was kind of hesitant to try this after seeing it since it does have stems and rough looking leaves in it but I think it turned out pretty good.
I have been excited for two days… Guess what?! I’ve restored contact with an old buddy through a networking website! The last time we saw each other was summer 2001. I was terribly guilty for not maintaining the contact. And how grateful I am that after all we haven’t lost each other! Ten years! How many times do we lose contact with good people in our lives? For me, I guess that’s many times. We ride the flowing water of time without even realizing a lot of good friends are out of the sight… How may times do we get back into contact with an old friend whom we haven’t heard from in the past 10 years? I guess that doesn’t happen a lot! But there are people in my life who I know will stay in my life, even if I don’t see them for 10 years.
To honor the friendship, I am having a 2001 CNNP Bulang today, a tea of 10 years, just like the 10 years in which we never heard from each other but never forgot about each other.
Tea from Bulang is excellent for aging and for making shu puerh, because of its rich flavor profile. Shu is not my favorite tea category. But today I feel I appreciate it more than ever. It doesn’t have the charming floral or fruity aroma. Instead, it has the “aroma of age”, which, to me, often means the taste of an old wooden box (let me add “clean”, because it’s dry-aged, ha ha…). Then it gives strikingly sweet aftertaste. In Chinese tea aesthetics, aftertaste is often valued a lot more than the taste a tea gives at the first moment. I feel probably the older I get, the more I appreciate this aesthetic value. In our lives, there are people who don’t give you excitment every day, but with time being, you know those are the people who give you lingering aftertastes.
Puerh is not my favorite tea category. But I always think it’s one of the most unique types of tea. On a day like this, when I think of my buddy, think of my own life 10 years ago, think of how much has been changed by time and how much has not… on a day like this, a pot of aged puerh is exactly what I desire!
I first of all found trying this tea a thrill because of the authentic looking wrap. Initially I found sour plums winding out the bitter drink. Further I got the stronger steep, rather I acquired a sippable nectar that had kind of a keemun taste. Futherstill, I can imagine a myriad of chemicals used to produce such red of a drink after 10 steeps on the same 4 g/100
This tea for me has a long story.
Around 1969 I started tasting several types of tea. I met puer in 1975, the “little french” tuo Xiaguan Xuao Fa and liked it a lot. It become a standard buy, and when later (around 1980) my grocery store had another puer, this Chitsu Bing, it was expensive (probably 5$ or even a bit more ;-) but I decided to invest in it, and I was rewarded. When I finished the first, I bougt another, but unfortunately I had health problems, I was asked to reduce drastically smoke, coffee, tea and wine: I decided to preserve wine, and give up completely the rest. The tea went to a box, that was forgot when I moved.
Three years ago I had to give up wine, so I tried again tea, starting with puer; I discovered gonfu cha, and eventually found again the old box. Silver needle, tie guan yin, bi lo chun, bai hao, lapsang souchong were completely spoiled, and the loose leaves in the chitsu bing box were a bit state, but I could recover the core of the bing, about 60 g. of almost 40 years old tea perfectly preserved. Still incredibly good, and the best of my shu collection.
Today I prepared an infusion with 4 grams in a 10 cl gaiwan, 90 C. water.
After rinsing the tea, the first 30 seconds infusion still has some stale notes, and little flavour and color, so I discarded it. From the second on, the leaves lost the stale bit, and started to develop giving a deep amber color and a sweet, mature taste starting with a slghtly pungent note, developing in a fruity taste and a very long aftertaste. The subsequent infusions, increasing the infusion time up to 90 seconds in the 7th infusion, confirm their sweet character with a pungent start.
Probably several more infusions woud be possible, but I could not waste a drop, and 70 cl of tea are enough for now; I will continue later.
I purchased this at the local Asian market. I passed by it in the huge tea aisle many times. My GF told me that it is no good. She is Chinese and does not drink tea. I figured with a price tag in the single digits I would take a chance. The tea comes in a nice package that is copper colored and the inside has this yellow silk-like fabric. The tea actually is quite good. I brewed this up basket style. The first steep for maybe a minute or so. It has a nice smooth flavor. No funkiness or off tastes. It is a very nice tea for under ten dollars. I saw it on Ebay for twenty. As I delve into cup #2 I realize I have made a very wise purchase. The tea is still smooth but now it has that carbonation in my mouth with under a minute of steepage. I will mail this tea for anyone who is interested. I have no idea how old it is. Hmm. I may have seen it in the store for maybe over 2 years or close to it. It is 357 grams and it was $8.99. There is also another one that I bought that is smaller that I will review later. As I sip further, the tea is numbing. It is very energizing without the jittery feelings. I made have to think in a few years it may be awesome. It is very good now….
I started with 2.3 grams of very powerful smelling tea in a small gaiwan (about 75 mL), water 205 degrees.
A bit dusty/musty, going to flash rinse before drinking an infusion
Waited a minute, then first infusion pour in/pour out—less than 10 second steep
Let it cool a bit—grabbed the wrong cup for this—it is mild, sweet, bit of smokiness and earthy with the camphor. As the infusion sits between sips, the smokiness, earthiness and camphor all intensify, and the sweetness drops into the background.
2nd infusion—also pour in/pour out—sweet, smoky, earthy, camphor, but the first note is the sweet. Long camphorous aftertaste.
3rd infusion—pour in/pour out—the sweet is still there, and the smoky/earthy/camphor is starting to overtake the sweet even at the beginning of the sip.
Brought it home with me in the gaiwan, then left overnight, starting again in the morning, and it is again earthy, camphorous, smoky, powerful stuff….and this is another flash infusion.
Longer infusion is strong, earthy, camphorous, a little sweet….and if this is after a dozen years of aging, what must it have been like when it was young? 5th infusion was longer, about a minute, because I forgot it, but even though stronger than I really enjoy, it still was not bitter or actually unpleasant.
Quite an amazing tea.
Another half dozen short infusions character changing only gradually.
Infusion 12 still is potent, but the sweet is coming more strongly now, again. Those early infusion were rather rough, but this is really getting very nice. At this rate, this is going to be a 20-30 infusion tea, methinks…but will need to heat up another kettle’s worth of tea.
2.3 grams may be a whole day’s worth of tea at this rate.
Started this one Friday evening, just four infusions; continued Saturday, probably 20 infusions; and Sunday, another 4 or 5 before I stopped. At about 2 oz per infusion, that was a couple of liters of tea from 2.3 grams of leaf!
The later infusions were well towards sweet water, but still had distinct flavor. Mmmm.
And the leaves were quite impressive—most were quite broken up, but look at the size of the one on the left—penny added for scale. Big leaf with a very big flavor.