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Recent Tasting Notes
This tasting note is for the maocha version which was available for purchase in a beautifully made Jianshui Zitao Storage Jar. I will review the cake once it has been released.
Aromatics of apricot as well as similar flavor notes along with sweet nectar and a slight vanilla buttercream that fades after a few steeps and becomes vegetal wherein the youth of the leaf shows itself. So much smoother than I expected this would be and a luscious creamy soup with a bright yellow hue. Takes multiple infusions well without fading quickly and I expect to continue to enjoy this session right on through to late evening as I enjoy the happy feels.
10g of absolutely gorgeous looking leaf strands in about 180ml at 200F with one 20s wash, a 30s rest and followed by a 15-20s first and increasing in 5s increments from there.
I’m absolutely loving this sheng and expect it to be even more amazing with age. I will definitely get it in cake form as well.
Update: I managed to seriously oversteep this one infusion midway through which produced this beautiful golden hue. Major bitterness definitely present but with it a heavy sweetness and overly ripe peach quality not present in the shorter steeps. Sometimes distractions leading to mistakes/accidents lead to pleasant results. Though this led to lesser infusions it did not affect later infusions in terms of flavor and bitterness.
*Note: After two days the leaf finally waned. Huge leaf without tears, holes or in pieces.
Overall this was a nice tea. It had a lot of fermentation flavor to it and that flavor was somewhat unpleasant but not fishy. There was a little initial bitterness. There was a sweet note that developed and became dominant. Overall this was very good. This came in a Jian Shui tea jar so I wonder how this will effect the tea aging.
I steeped this twelve times in a 120ml gaiwan with 10g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rest. 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.
Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Sweet
Wow this tea is good! Broke off a bunch and threw it into the new Crimson Lotus dragon egg Jian Shui teapot 100mL. 2x rinse. First three brews were a bit “dusty” with muddled flavors, needs probably 3 rinses next time.
Steeps 4 and 5 this tea started to wake up. A slight mouth buzz developing, sweet aroma, but not so much sweet taste, hint of nutty/chocolate undertones, wet wood, no astringency, no bitterness, slight wodui fermentation but in the background. Lots of golden tips in this cake, and very clean. Rich, thick, full bodied, creamy mouthfeel but no cream flavors. If a tea was chuggable this one is chuggable. Easy on the stomach. Not too complex, but not bland or cloying either. Not getting caffeine jitters, so for the price, this is a great daily drinker. I see myself buying at least another cake and drinking lots of this in the future.
Flavors: Dark Wood, Mud, Mushrooms, Musty, Paper, Round , Smooth, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Walnut, Wet Wood
This is excellent tea. It was really quite good. The surprising thing however was it has not cleared completely. I figured a 16 year old ripe puerh would have no traces of it’s fermentation left. This one had a noticeable amount. It had cleared partially but not all the way. The fermentation taste that I noticed was not unpleasant and it certainly wasn’t fishy. The tea was slightly bittersweet at the start. The bitterness steeped out after about two steeps and what was left was a tasty and mildly sweet ripe puerh. I didn’t find either notes of chocolate in this or a fruity taste for what it’s worth. This was still really good puerh. I’m not entirely sure what to call the sweet note that was there. This is a tea I might find myself buying more of. It seems to me that in another year or two of storage all traces of fermentation should be gone. This one was just surprising as I didn’t expect to find any fermentation taste. Not that in my experience ripe puerh ever loses that taste completely in a sense. You always know you are drinking ripe puerh. No matter how many years you age a ripe it does not start to taste like sheng. But overall this was an excellent tea and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes ripe puerh.
I steeped this ten times in a 220ml solid silver teapot with 14.2g 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, 45 sec, and 1 mini. I could have kept going but at this point I have had something like two liters of tea. I have had enough even of a tea this good.
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Earth, Sweet
Crimson Lotus offered the opportunity to purchase this aged Jingmai maocha in a custom made Jianshui tea jar and I could not resist. This is a very nice tea! The leaves are whole, long and beautiful to look at. The tea liquor is a deep gold color which when exposed to the air begins to shift toward a copper color. The aroma is full of a thick sweetness and this same sweetness is found in the first sips. Active mouthfeel which continues into the throat where the sweetness lingers. I also found a decidedly citric component in the tea which led me to think of it as having an appealing sweet charm while a tiny bit tart at the same time. Overall the tea has a solid, potent character and is indeed a treat. This is one to be enjoyed now and in the near future.
This is a really good shu. I’m usually not overly excited about shu, but this one changed my opinion. It is full bodied, sweet, with a nutty cashew-like complexity to keep you engaged throughout the session. I recommend picking up a cake or two..
What? I never did a 2015 review. Bad, bad on me. I had so much fun sharing the previous incarnation of this with everyone I know… and my green tea loving sister loved it… it was the only sheng she actually liked… and I tried a lot of fancy teas on her, including a few high end w2t club ones. I am pretty sure my family is biased Kunlu, it’s also dad’s favorite shou.
Kunlu gushu tastes like the wild. Instantly transporting to a forest in the middle of nowhere.
So the kunlu sheng is much less pineappley than the younger trees… but has this really great wild after taste lovers of the 2015 version will instantly recognize. The wildness that evolves and changes as the tea matures.
I will update this after I try the cake version, as well as do a side by side comparison with the 2015 (please remind me, I have one more maocha sample session left and half a cake coming) but wanted to share some initial impressions with people before these went on sale. Because they went fast last year.
So if you tried a sample last year and loved it, the good news is… you are getting a tea with very much the same character as last year. The second time I tried it I was able to confirm this.
What is different?
The aroma. Goodness! This year has aroma in spades. Like I had a small sample of this with some jian shui cups come in the mail last month… and as soon as I stepped out of my car, about 10 foot for the door step, I was all kunlu? o.O? At around 3 feet, everything still sealed was Kunlu! o.O it is delightfully pungent. I’m not sure if this is because it is maocha rather than a cake, or this year is just super pungent.
Also, beneath its still upfront wildness, there is a bit more of a fruity note than I detected last year. Almost a pear.
Also… longetivity… this baby goes on forever and ever until you are done with foresty tastes and decide to grandpa it. I don’t think I’ve ever found Kunlu’s end by gongfu alone…
I need to session more with this to find subtle differences… and how diff notes aged out… but more or less, if last year’s was your jam, chances are you will love this one too. It is a worthy sequel.
The ever kind and benevolent Glen sent me a sample of this with my Kunlu order to haunt my dreams!
It’s amazing. I raved to a tea friend about it after the first steep… then the second…
“omg… you NEED the 2008 jingmai. Am just super hyper and happy I can taste things again. And I brewed up the sample Glen sent with jar… and holy shit
its aged and floral and fruity and minty
and yes… its all fig and honey in a snow storm”
In later steeps I notice the apricot and some kind of stone fruit element more. It kind of reminds me of an oolong in some ways how it brews up, but still has the feel of sheng.
And then I went on chat and pretty much tried to convince everyone I knew to buy up what is on stock so I won’t be tempted to ask what a dragon’s egg tong looks like… I mean they are still in Yunnan… so the danger is real!
I followed up by telling another person on IG " omg yes. I think the biggest shocker though is the 2008 jingmai sample! It is just blowing me away with fig honey and apricot goodness. While still having some of the more abrasive qualities I love in sheng! Like the super cooling aftertaste. If this is how maocha ages… I need to get a hold of more of it o.o only ever had aged cakes before this."
At which point I think Glen saw how much I was raving about this and made a review thread for it.
This shit is good… don’t buy it before I get paid! I mean buy it all up! I’m so confused right now. But this tea is really really good. Like maybe rivaling my love for slumbering dragon good… it doesn’t have the stamina of dragon… but damn those first handful of steeps are magic.
Flavors: Fig, Honey, Mint, Stonefruits
First experience with Crimson Lotus tea and pleasantly surprised. Straight up honeysuckle, honey, gentle sweet flavor, very pleasant to drink, nice longevity, but didn’t get any chi. I was confused how a 300 year old tree could have no chi? I’ll see if this changes in later sessions and update review then.
Lasting huigans, gentle bitter/astringency that converted to gentle sweet lingering honeysuckle which is one feature of shengs I love most!
I enjoyed this tea. it was entirely pleasant and mellow and you could tell made with quality material. I think these will age well. I will buy another 5-10 balls and see what happens to them over the years.
brewing: 2 flash rinses with reused rinse water, so water was cooler each time. Didn’t want to fatigue the exterior leaves while I tried to hydrate the interior. The interior was packed very hard and was dry even when the outter leaves were soaked and loose. After 2-3 rinses, I left lid on teapot for 1 hour 45 minutes and then came back and gave it another flash rinse with boiling water. Then when it cooled enough I used my hands to slowly and gently separate the ball leaf by leaf until it was completely loose maocha. Then I started my gongfu sessions.
Flavors: Honeydew, Honeysuckle
From the Pu TTB
This is my first tea from Crimson Lotus. The tightly rolled tea takes a few steeps to fully open up. Nice floral and honey notes on the first steep. Moderately bitter and lightly mineral and fruity. HONEY! The honeyed taste only seems to become more prominent with further steeps. A very nice sheng that I would consider buying, though a bit pricey for me at $6/planet.
I made my first order with Crimson Lotus a couple of days ago; a little black jian shui pot! Did anyone pick one up from them last year? I look forward to trying it out and comparing to yixing
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Mineral
I received a set of two handmade Jianshui Zi Tao Bamboo Tea Cups from Crimson Lotus Tea today so I thought it fitting that I christen them with one of these awesome little planets.
This tightly compressed orb of love needed a little extra TLC to awaken to the world so in the pot it went for a 30s bath followed by a couple minute steam rest, then back in for a couple more baths as it slowly started to blossom. I admit with zero shame that I drank every subtle thin rinse and enjoyed the not yet strongly flavor noted goodness. On the final awakening bath I could really see what this would become. Early steeps were slightly bitter but nothing overwhelming and notes of light apricot were present as well as some slight vegetal characteristics that disappeared in later infusions. As the session progressed the liquor became sweeter and the apricot almost transitioned into honey sweetened peach. At this point all I could think is how this felt like what would happen if bug bitten oolong met sheng. Even further in some slight black pepper, light smokiness and some spice like you’d get in a spiced rum. The leaf really opened up and took multiple infusions well to the point that after about seven I stopped and will finish tomorrow.
This is not only beautiful to look at in its planetary form but also as it unfurls into beautifully sized green leaves of love. Nicely aromatic and full of some serious flavor notes that keep evolving. I definitely need to purchase more of these beauties.
Around 8.5g, 120m Duan Ni, boiling temperature with 30s pre bath, 2m steam bath, another two 30s baths and then 15s steeps and climbing from there.
I expect at least a half dozen more infusions at least until the leaf wanes.
The Lonely Planet:
The Evolution of Leaf:
A day later and the twelfth and final infusion…
It was hot as hades today, with nearly 100% humidity, and it rained on and off. I spent most of the day making trips back and forth between my storage unit and my house, prepping for a coming yard sale. I moved the contents of a 10 × 15 storage space filled to the rafters; furniture, dozens of boxes, and was so determined to throw the Stuff Monkey off my back that I attacked the accumulated craptastica of my life with a ruthless disregard for sentiment. Still, this was emotionally taxing work, and when I was finished for the day, all I wanted was a shower and some tea. I had neglected to make some cold tea in advance of my endeavors, so I needed a hot tea that was going to be light and not make me sweat. Also, something easy. I was in no mood for jacking around with steep times and persnickety brewing parameters – sometimes I get in a mood like this and I just want to fill my pot with some leaves and put some hot water in it, count to ten or whatever and not be disappointed with the result. So this tea was the perfect choice. Fruity, light, sweet, floral (but not in a nasty gut-punch kind of way), and cooling. Refreshing, and calming. If there’s a 2016 version of this tea coming, I will consider purchasing a cake for the summer.
Grabbed one of these when I ordered some teaware from CLT. I’ve heard about its reluctance to open up so my first few steeps were long and included me steaming the ball in the gaiwan as well as manually trying to pry the damn thing apart. I managed to do so and then realized it’s much too much leaf for the gaiwan I was using. I think maybe you need a 200-250 ml container? I removed about half of the leaves to continue steeping later but then lost them in a tragic fridge accident that also managed to take a large chip out of one of my gaiwans :(
The first few steeps of this I got pure apricot. It was quite possibly the most apricot tasting thing I’ve ever had including most actual apricots. I was a little suprised by this as I don’t remember it being mentioned in anything I read when I decided to pick one up. The second steep was almost a bit smokey which was strange. Later steeps continued with the apricot along with some light drying astringency coming out. Then it mellowed out into honey. It steeped for awhile, but I lost count with all the fumbling around with the leaves and the mess I made. I’m steeping out the last of it in the fridge now to see if I can’t get a bit more.
It’s more leaf than I really need at one time for home use but I would love to see how this fairs in a travel mug for all day at work. I’m a little bummed I didn’t grab the set of five…one lonely planet indeed.
Flavors: Apricot, Honey
Beautifully clear golden liquor with a strong savory pu erh scent. I really enjoyed this one, it had a good, meaty mushroom/earthy flavor throughout most of the steeps that really accented the sour apricot/stone fruit flavors that showed up in the middle.
At ten grams per ~90-100 ml, this had a nice savory, cleaaaan mineral body that served as a good background for the plethora of interesting flavors that played across the steeps—I detected a bit of smoke and some wood at the beginning, something like barley and mushrooms and earth in the early to middle steeps, and then various stone fruit, sour apricot, and hay for much of the rest, emphasizing the mild sweetness.
Many of these flavors revisited and played in and out in various strengths and roles with some mild to moderate astringency across steeps. Not much of a body buzz, but it had a nice relaxing energy.
Flavors: Earth, Hay, Metallic, Mineral, Mushrooms, Smoke, Sour, Stonefruits, Wood
I started drinking this earlier this afternoon, but wasn’t able to sit down and have a few cups before heading out to work. I just had my final cup for the evening (steep # 6), and I might get to the rest of it for the morning. As far as my week has been going, I need a solid tea to help me wake up tomorrow.
Anyway, this is good. I like the wet Earth aroma and flavor to this tea. Aged teas are mostly to my liking. They remind me of hiking and the outdoors; which, now that the late winter may be over, can happen. I must admit that the gym isn’t as appealing to me as being out in nature can be. This tea has a solid flavor, thick soup, and a not too overly drying mouthfeel. I might try to find a larger quantity of this tea so that I can enjoy it more often on days like today.
Side Note: On the plus side, I’m nearly done planning the one man trip in August. I want to do something with a lot of exercise (Appalachian Trail?) , historical (Gettysburg? Williamsburg?), and fun. I thought I’d have my wife join, but she’ll have to work, and we won’t have the foster kids, yet. So, since my summer schedule is in, I have to take the time to go somewhere before vacationing becomes less frequent.
Side-Side Note: Cat Steven’s “Tea For The Tillerman” is the album for tea sipping today.
Here’s the track, “Wild World:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qj4ibL1VqDo&list=PLtS_jNy6-K_ceZvwxJH93XrWUqu1huEAV&index=11
Listening to this on vinyl is especially enjoyable :)
Flavors: Wet Earth
The tuo has a smell unlike any raw puer I have encountered, almost like shu. There is an undercurrent of the distinctive Xiaguan aroma, but not as strong as in dry-stored tuos of similar age. The leaf is age-darkened almost to black. The dry leaf in a warmed gaiwan has the Xiaguan scent (tobacco? leather?) a little more strongly.
The tea is not old enough for the soup to be really red: it’s more of an orangey-bronze. The rinse and early steeps leave more of a floral dry cup scent than I have found with other Xiaguan teas, though this one is probably higher-grade starting material than any of the others I’ve tried.
It is going pretty good by the 3rd infusion. The characteristic Xiaguan taste and roughness is there, but is not overwhelming. There is more sweetness than I have previously found in Xiaguan tea, and some floral notes near the end of each cup. How much of this is down to the quality of the tea v. the storage I cannot guess. I am not tasting humid storage at all.
Things fall off pretty rapidly after about the 7th steep, and by the 9th I am lengthening the infusion time, and again after the 11th. Still, considering that I would discard other Xiaguan tuos by that time it’s doing pretty good. There is still some tartness, sweetness, and that distinctive Xiaguan whatever-it-is when I’m up to 2-minute steeping times, at which point I give it up.
I needed some powerful tea to get my head working, and this one did the trick. At the price, I think I would rather drink higher-grade young sheng from Yunnan Sourcing or White2Tea, but am glad I bought this.
Flavors: Stonefruits, Sweet, Tart
From the Sheng Olympics. Thanks to Liquid Proust for putting it together.
I had this immediately after the Whispering Sunshine. The 1st steep is sweeter with less spice. 2nd steep was more interesting than the 1st steep, but still suffers in comparison to the Whispering Sunshine. Lots of cha qi. By the 4th steep I’m noticing some spice that wasn’t really there before. Also has a bit more bite to it. Really feeling the cha qi. The spice gradually submerged the sweetness as the dominant flavor, but the tea never achieved the complexity of the Whispering Sunshine.I suspect this tea suffered by comparison to the Whispering Sunshine. I found myself liking it better (and raising the score) as I got to the later steeps. It’s a bit more approachable, though and I enjoyed it on an absolute basis.
From the Sheng Olympics. Tip of the cap to Liquid Proust for putting it together.
This is just the type of tea I love: fairly complex but not too heavy or bitter. I liked this immediately. Strong for a 1st steep, with spicy straw flavors and a long finish. Strong cha qi. 3rd steep (20 s): Really good texture right into the finish, which is long and powerful. Taste is still primarily spice and straw, but the exact nature of the spice varies. Got smoother in later steeps but was really nice. The cha qi started to let up after a few steeps, but if I hadn’t spaced out the session over an hour or so it would have hit me hard. I had about 8 steeps before I noticed it was fading. Might have been able to do a few more but was anxious to move on the the other CLT tea in the group.
2016 Sheng Olympics
I love this tea! It’s floral and fruity (grape) with a nice mild honey sweetness. Hardly any bitterness. Very smooth. It’s such a light sheng. I could drink this all day (which I have been today). I’m just annoyed I didn’t buy a cake of this when it was available. Oh, well, I’ve got plenty in my cupboard to sip down.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Grapes, Honey
2016 Sheng Olympics
Since I enjoyed the Whispering Sunshine yesterday, I thought I should move right into Hidden Song today.
This is very similar to Whispering Sunshine, but I do feel that it is more sheng and less white. If you drew a line between aged white and sheng – this would still be on the white side of the line but closer to sheng than the other one.
It’s pretty sweet, fruity, but it’s sharper (?) – not bitter, not astringent – but the notes are higher (brassier). What I’m not getting is the veggies – lots of others have commented on asparagus, greens, edamame – savoy – vegital. I didn’t find that – I got more fruit.
What I didn’t find in either of these was the earthiness – part of me thinks that pu’erh should be earthy, or at least I want it to be earthy.
I like this – and while I probably liked yesterdays better – this would have more chance of making it back into my cupboard, because it is more sheng like (of course it’s sold out so that’s really a non-issue).
2016 Sheng Olympics
This is really light and gentle. Zero bitterness – zero astringency. It’s pretty sweet, quite a bit fruity (grape earlier shifting more to apricot/peach later).
This is a really nice tea to drink. While I really like this, I don’t think it’s sheng ish ( and that’s probably why I like it). To my tastes this is more like an aged white or a moonlight but not quite as deep of flavors as those are. If I were reaching for this style of tea I would be more apt to reach for a really good moonlight.
Happy to have experienced this – had a couple of really nice afternoons with it – but I don’t think there is a place for this in my cupboard.