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Recent Tasting Notes
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.
This is one of those puerh teas that generally age well, if they are stored properly. When I first purchased my beeng (disc) of 2006 CNNP Yellow Label, I was surprised at the quality of the leaves (good mix of leaves and buds) and the pleasant, lightly smoky aroma. Be careful if purchasing through a local Asian market, as it does tend to absorb odors from around it, and you must give it a good sniff before purchasing. Better yet, purchase it from a tea vendor that has taken care to preserve and store it carefully.
As with most puerh’s of this type, the first infusion should only be for washing and awakening the leaves — trust me you will be sorry if you start out by sipping before the second infusion! I like the creamy earthiness that prevails, and multiple steepings can take amazing journeys through subtle woodiness, sometimes conjuring memories of a stroll through the forest, or of fresh sawed lumber.
This is not a terribly complex puerh, but if you value a good simple and interesting tea, often at a true bargain price, it may be one for you to try.
I found what appears to be the exact same tea locally at an Asian Market here in Salt Lake. The Beng has the same wrapping but the exterior gift box is different. The color and generally leave size, and general look of the material is consistent between the two cakes as is the scent of the cake. What is different though is that the level of compression of the two cakes… the one that I bought in So Cal was a hard mass of near mortar like material while the local cake was so loosely packed I was able to break off whole leaves by hand without a pick.
I am going to attempt to compare the two more than anything just because I think it is an interesting experiment. First off let me start by saying I have no idea if these teas are the same tea, just because they have the same beng wrapping and came in similar boxes for a similar price. This is a first for me as far as side by side tasting notes so should be fun and that’s what it’s all about.
I will call the Pu from Salt Lake SLC and the one from San Gabriel SG. SLC was purchased last week, and SG was purchased in January Both are brewed in a gaiwan. After the initial flash rinse the scent SLC is creamy while the scent of SG is more forest with a bit of pine and cedar Initial infusion of the both give nearly identical colors and clarity but the taste is different, almost incredibly so. SLC gives a very vanilla creamy thick mouth filling brew very similar to the 2010 Menghai 7582 I had yesterday. While the one from SG is more of a compost and cedar with sweetness but not as full both are pleasant but I will say SLC wins this round.
Second infusion has the flavors of both evening out. SLC still has a hint of the creaminess but it is less pronounced there is a bit of leather and the flavor of those Alfalfa vitamin supplements. Notes of leather also appear with the SG brew. Both colors of the brew are consistent and honestly much more pleasing to look at than my initial brew of the SG about 3 weeks ago. I have started to use less leaf so perhaps that helps a bit with the color of the brew the color is very similar to one of my orange hue yixing. And as I experienced with SG previously the liquor is extremely clear no bits to cloud the cup, you can see the bottom of the white cup with a bare minimum of bits.
3rd infusion the wet leaves are virtually identical in scent, size and texture the scent is not exactly the same but so similar it is had to differentiate the exactly what is different… And it is the same deal with flavor and color. I am trying so very hard to pinpoint the differences but ultimately I’m going to bet that this is exactly the same tea. The same leather notes exist in both I will also add that the tea is about finished by the third infusion and I attribute that to the lesser amount of leaf I’ve been trending toward but I believe that this tea may need more leaf to get
I attribute the difference in the initial infusions and scent to be a difference in the compression and likely storage conditions but there no appreciable difference between the two by the 3rd infusion, and the forth infusion was basically colored water.
I will honestly say that SLC wins over all the vanilla creaminess of the initial infusion was awesome. This has been a fun hour sampling both of these teas… what a way to start the day.
This was a tea I picked up on a trip to So Cal at the San Gabriel Square Mall in you guessed it San Gabriel. When you buy tea at an Asian Market you usually have no idea what you are going to get and more often than not you’ll end up with undrinkable fannings or tea that is not fresh or low quality. I had had enough Puerh to know that CNNP products are pretty consistent so I picked up a Beng and I’m glad I did and honestly I wished I had pick up a couple more at $8 a piece. Now don’t get me wrong there’s no question this is a mass produced big label shu but for the price it has a lot of the characteristics of other quality shus… As far as flavor I describe it as “leathery”. The liquid is really clean not a lots of bits to cloud your cup, but the color is not all that attractive. Initial infusions are really dark, almost like a black coffee, but again very clean no fannings no bits to have to strain out. But by the 10th or 12th infusion the color of the liquor is a pretty blah beige brown not the red of higher quality shu.
I’m finally beginning to understand what is meant by a tea having a “strong cha ‘Qi’”. I’m normally a pretty thorough rationalist so talk of a tea’s qi just makes me roll my eyes. However, I’m beginning to see that something real is meant. The tea brings a great sense of relaxation, sensuality and feeling of happiness and well-being as I resteep and drink it. I think I understand why PeteG is able to drink puerhs at night without harming his sleep. Perhaps I could with this tea as well.
As I move through the steepings and re-steepings of this tea it develops a sweet, fruity, slightly floral taste. There is a tiny bit of sharpness with a note of resin as well. It has fragrance notes of apricot and lychee and sweet honey. Very nice tea.
Sad to see this tea go, I am grateful to be embraced by its intense warm energy one last time. Soft, soothing, warm and buzzing. This is a fine puerh in my book. Rich, balanced, and with a multicolor display of flavor and nuance. Today, I’m riffing on an intense tropical vanilla scent. It’s juicy, but finishes with a clean, herbal bite that makes it satisfying, quenching, and demanding of another sip. Worthy of the price, I just wish it weren’t so.
Wow. This tea is incredible. I’m so glad to have finally found and brewed a young sheng pu-erh that blows my mind. It’s so delicate, rich and delightful. I’m only on the second steep and I just can’t believe how good this is compared to the other handful of pu-erhs I’ve tried. It’s got an amazing blend of raisins, leather, herbs, spice, cotton, chamomile, dry wood, and sweet flower blossom. The texture is impeccable. And the qi this tea carries has my head floating in the clouds. Wow.