ESGREEN

Recent Tasting Notes

85

I think this is the first tea I’ve ever tried from Zhe Jiang Province, but if this one is indicative of the general quality I would certainly like to try more. This is definitely fruity as the description says, with a bit of brown sugar or molasses-y sweetness at the end of the sip. Overall though, it tastes mostly like a Keemun. A lovely light and fruity Keemun. Yum.
I don’t know if they’re still doing it, but I got free points at ESGreen by creating an account and signing up for their newsletter. Cashing them in I ended up getting my order for only a few dollars. So if you’re planning an order I definitely recommend trying that first.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Fruity

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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90

Damn Good Tea :)
malt, floral, honey, baked bread, bold

yyz

Yum!

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94

The dry leaves of this Wuyi Oolong are very different from other Wuyi Oolongs. They are yellow and olivine in color, rather than the heavily roasted leaves that are usually brown or black. From what I can tell, this tea is not heavily roasted like most other Wuyis. The leaves smell fruity like raisins. I’ve decided to brew this tea in my Yixing pot, which is seasoned for lighter Taiwanese oolongs with a fruity/floral/creamy slant. This should add to the flavor of the pot nicely from what I can gather, despite this is not in the same type of teas I usually brew in this yixing pot. The leaves of this oolong came in a tin and were wrapped in a very thin plastic lining inside the tin. They were packed in very well without much room to move, nor had they been crushed and there were practically no broken pieces of leaf whatsoever. These are very well handled leaves.

DO NOT…. I repeat, DO NOT RINSE THIS TEA. Drink the first infusion. It is where almost all of the most amazing flavor of this tea is. Even a single flash infusion discarded will rid this tea of its most incredible qualities. You’ll be missing out on the reason it is so good. Trust me. Drink the first infusion.

The smell of the leaves after sitting for a minute in the warm Yixing pot is heavenly. It mostly smells of toasted almonds and honey, or an almost horchata kind of smell, creamy and mildly spiced. After a 10 second infusion, the leaves smell fruity again, with notes of fig and plum and a strong mineral smell that is to be expected from a Wuyi rock oolong. The tea is a subdued yellow and looks slightly hazy, not cloudy. It isn’t as if there is particulate floating in the tea, it is more like the haze you see from tiny fluffy hairs floating in the liquor of really downy teas.

The tea smells like warm vanilla pudding. The flavor is incredibly complex, with a little more tanginess and mineral quality than i’d expect. It contrasts the aroma so that as you take sips and breathe in between, you get an alternation between the sweet vanilla cream scent and the mildly vegetal corn-like, nutty, creamy, yet slightly tangy tasting tea.

Legend has it that this tea gets its name (which means White Cockscomb) from a moment in time when a monk witnessed a rooster fight an eagle to defend its baby. The rooster, sadly, did not live. In memory of the rooster’s brave sacrifice, the monk buried the rooster’s body in respect and a tea tree sprouted and grew from that spot. This was the first Bai Ji Guan tree, from which all others today are derived.

If ever a tea legend seemed palpable to me, it’s this one. This tea is so complex and graceful, it feels like it could be an expression of a beautiful spirit, a legendary rooster’s swansong. The nature of it is unlike any other food or drink I have experienced. It is otherworldly.

It can be difficult as a tea reviewer to not get caught up in the hype and reputations of a tea, especially when it comes with a serious price tag (shipping costs considered, this tea was close to $1 a gram). It can be hard not to want a tea to be good so badly due to all this that you actually perceive it as something more pristine than it is.

But there are teas that come in huge bags for a few bucks that are incredible, and there are teas that come in small tins for a large sum that are incredible. I try not to consider these things at all when I sit down to have a tea. I clear my mind and focus on the tea alone, not how I got it or what I’ve heard of it. All that considered, this tea is an exceptional work of art on its own.

The second infusion is the same color as the first, with a lot more mineral quality emerging. The brew still smells a bit of vanilla but the flavor of it is more on the tart and tangy side, similar to pineapple or other fruits that are slightly astringent. There’s still a backdrop of cream and nuts, but it is in the background now below the mineral and tangier flavors.

The third infusion is similar to the second, but even more mineral-heavy, tasting more like a roasted oolong, though with the yellow color of the infusion I don’t think this is very heavily roasted tea. The leaves have brewed up a nice green color with red-brown tinged edges.

Over the next few infusions the mineral taste remained strong, but by the sixth or so it died off to a light and fruity taste with a syrupy consistency, like white wine, sharing some of the flavor profile of second flush Darjeeling teas, especially with the hints of grape.

While I think the first infusion is the real show-stealer with this tea, it’s still a nice journey and one I definitely recommend if you can afford it (or rack up some Green Points to spend on it on ESGreen, like I did, or go halfsies with a friend).

Flavors: Almond, Corn Husk, Cream, Green, Honey, Mineral, Tangy, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 6 OZ / 170 ML
Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

Hehe, do not rinse indeed, it would be like pouring money away (not that I ever rinse oolongs anyway :P )

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97

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Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C

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drank Roselle-Hibiscus by ESGREEN
2611 tasting notes

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After the disappointment with the Huangshan Maofeng, I made sure to wait a while before tasting this for the first time. The first session took place a week or so ago and the pu’er aromatics were mostly absent at that point. Today I re-tasted this Dian hong and could not detect pu’er tainting, but still came to the same general conclusion: I am not a fan.

It is completely possible that I’m being a spoiled brat after tasting the two top grades of Dian hong first (specifically Verdant Tea’s “Golden Fleece” and Teavivire’s “Golden Tip”) before drinking the lower quality stuff. But indeed, this is low quality stuff. Just from the dry leaves I can see all kinds of random treasures that shouldn’t necessarily be there and provide inconsistency: tons of twigs and off-color leaves/stems. The wet leaves provide more insight: to one extreme, a green-colored stem-bud combination that seemed to have escaped processing all together, and overly processed broken leaves to the next extreme. They smell somewhat artificial and highly pungent, masking the yam-like qualities Dian hongs are known for. Subtle aromas of chocolate and malt are present, but I am left grasping for them when it comes to the liquor.

The liquor is ruddy and cloudy in all but the first steep, which has decent clarity. The flavor is aggressive and potent, which by itself is not terrible, but it’s much too metallic for me and leaves a drying aftertaste. There are some nice peppery notes available that are enjoyable on their own, but I can’t really find a base for all the rough flavors floating around, making the brew seem unstable. I can imagine this might be decent to use as a blend as ESGREEN suggests in their description, perhaps to add depth and roughness, but I find it unpleasant on its own. Given a current price of less than four dollars per two ounces, I suppose I shouldn’t complain.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C
K S

This one I enjoyed quite a bit. I agree it is no golden tips but then it isn’t supposed to be. As an everyday Yunnan I thought it was very good.

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Ummm, I hate to say this, but this tea was really tainted on its way here. The ESGREEN samples this time around consisted of pu’er, a black tea, and this maofeng. I’m sure you can guess what occurred. Into the fourth steep one of the main flavors is still like young sheng and the wet leaves smell like spent sheng leaves. It certainly fades from the first steep which just tasted like diluted, vegetal sheng pu’er, but the heavy aromas of aged tea really seeped into these leaves during the months of travel and nothing but a single layer of plastic to shield them.

I used half the sample for this review, so I’ll let the rest air out for a while before I taste this tea again, but I believe the damage is already done. However, there are some things I can speak of that were not affected. While the dry leaves are somewhat faded in coloration, they seem to have been made from decent quality material. Downy hairs are clearly noticeable on many and once wet, the appearance is brought back to life with bright greens and delicate small leaves. Few mottled leaves or odd colors present. While many are broken, they are generally broken in half or quarters, so most of it is probably due to crumbling during shipping. This is opposed to chunks missing from sides of leaves or holes in the middle of them. The serrated edges are very much intact as well.

Addendum:
The above I wrote about a month ago. After this much time of airing out and also tasting another lovely Huangshan Maofeng from Teavivre, I went back to this tea and gave it another shot. Thankfully, it wasn’t like I was drinking shengpu-flavored green tea, but unfortunately, there was nothing else left. The scents of smoke and young shengpu are still caught up in the wet leaves and aroma of the liquor in the first two steeps, but the flavor is practically absent. Long two-minute steeps in the gaiwan provided no remedy, only bitter water. It’s impossible to taste any of the sweet, vegetal, and nutty qualities that I now love about this type of green tea. ESGREEN should definitely reevaluate either their shipping methods or their tea choices when sending samples. The all heicha/pu’ercha sample packs in the past worked well, but this past round was just a good way to ruin what probably could have been a decent green tea.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C
K S

I apparently never reviewed this one on Steepster. My notes show I was confused as to whether it was a green or a sheng. I also caught smoke. This was my first of this type tea. I had no idea it was tainted. I requested the TeaVivre version on purpose to try and see if it was the tea or the type. Loved the TeaVivre. This one not so much.

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I tried this sample from Esgreen twice: once on my own with notes and once with a close friend who enjoys pu’ercha during our weekly weiqi session.

I have mixed opinions on this tea. The flavor is interesting, and although the profile is strange for sheng, it’s pleasant enough. The smoky Lapsang-esque aromatics are very apparent, and seem far too potent to suggest natural nuances from the leaves themselves. It may hint at “yan wei,” or smokiness resulting from wood stove drying as opposed to sun drying. This is usually caused when the leaves are dried during the summer months, when the rainy skies prevent the leaves to be dried outside by sunlight, and these summer shengs are generally considered to be lower quality. I won’t pretend to know whether or not that is true for this sheng, but the unbalance of the smoke seems to come from the exterior of the leaf rather than the interior (cf. the Esgreen 2008 sheng zhuan sample from this round, which is also smoky, but does not taste as “smoked”).

The sweetness brought on by the buds is apparent. Besides woody flavors that are more noticeable in the beginning of the session, fruity and sweet floral flavors abound. However, there is a serious lack of power in the leaves. The amount of small leaves and buds may account for both of these features. Considering an age of only about two years for these cakes, the serious lack of texture and absence of throaty kuwei is concerning. The liquor is mild and presents an almost indiscernible cha qi, sitting somewhat unpleasantly in the stomach. The aftertaste is sweet, and there is a very slight bitterness present. I would not say that this is one of the strong points, however.

With sweetness and smokiness being the most noteworthy aspects of this very young sheng, I would not consider storing this for aging. Besides flavor, which begins wearing off after five steeps, this sheng provides a pretty boring session and doesn’t have much else to it.

Preparation
Boiling

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call me weird but of all the teas i tried in chinatown, i liked this one the best :)

unlike other herbs, this has an unexpected sweet aftertaste. like green tea, it can turn bitter when left to steep too long.

my aunt also likes this tea a lot and offered to buy it off me for twice the price, haha. im not sure if she meant it.

so i checked this out and it should not be taken by pregnant/breastfeeding women or if you are taking immunodepressant or blood clotting drugs or are scheduled for surgery in the next couple weeks.

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I am torn on this one. It is very bright metallic (aluminum) tasting at times to the point sweetener barely calms it down. On the other hand it has a smoky layer underneath and is developing leather horsey notes. At times it smells green then it smells barnyard. I think a while longer in storage and this will be a nice one. Of course I don’t have the experience to know that. No rating. I drank on it all day and couldn’t decide.

JC

Since it is a sheng and smells ‘weird’ by your description. If you are going to give it a go at storage make sure that you store it completely separated from others (avoid cross contamination with scent). How was it packed?

K S

Weird isn’t exactly what I meant. It is more like young but starting to age. I like barnyard. This is just a sample packed in a clear baggie. Maybe aging a sample isn’t practical. I don’t know. Is there a type paper I could use to wrap my various samples that I can get at Walmart?

JC

Well, its not very common for a Sheng to smell like barnyard, maybe herbaceous. That’s why I asked. I don’t like to ship Puerh in plastic unless there’s going to be a small frame between the shipping and opening. I would suggest you to let it ‘breath’ for 3-4 days in open air but no direct sunlight. Then retry it.

K S

Am I totally off in my thinking that aged sheng is what shu is trying to emulate? I just assumed this was starting to naturally gain an aged smell and taste.

JC

It is! But it truly never gets there. I guess after maybe 60-70 years? I had 40-45yr old Puerh… you can see where it is going, but you still understand is not really going to get there. (I appreciated the aged tea, I don’t think is worth spending the money in tea that old unless you drink to then boast about it. There’s amazing Puerh out there, and 10-20 years make amazing changes.) Let it air, retry it. It may be also differences in what ‘barnyard’ is to each of us. To me is more of dried hay that was exposed to some mud after a few animals walked by.

JC

Ok, let me take back some of that before I’m ‘attacked’ lol. If you have the money and enjoy really old tea, then it IS worth it. Worthy, is a word of perception and opinion. There :)

K S

:) You’ll not likely ever find one in my tea drawer. I’d rather make the house payment.

JC

hahahaha! Same here. It was an ‘experience’ I feel like I’d rather buy something ‘semi-aged’ (one for drinking and one for storage) and just pray I make it in life long enough to enjoy one extremely well aged.

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This one was nice to look at, Everybody took a sip but none of us actually drank it, We put it in the middle of the table in a wine glass and watched it open and enjoyed just looking at it :)

http://toadsteablog.blogspot.com/

K S

I thought this one was a bit, I don’t know, just ok, to look at. It tasted good though. I wondered if mine was tied wrong or something.

Thomas Edward(Toad)

Ours looked like a big green mutated hundred legged spider with a flower on top, we enjoyed it tho. I poured it out in the front yard finally and a few days later it scared the hell out of me I actually thought it was a huge Spider lol

K S

Guess mine wasn’t tied wrong as a spider is exactly what I thought it looked like. I hate spiders. There was a monster of a spider on the jamb of the garage door this evening right at the back of my car. It is a tight squeeze between the frame and my car. I stood there looking at it for a long time before I finally held my breath and ran. I hate spiders.

Thomas Edward(Toad)

I would have gone right back inside the house lol

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Wow, this is the oldest raw Pu Erh I’ve drank so far (second oldest was like 2001-2003 vintage), but on the other hand I find mellow ripe Pu Erhs more appealing. Dry leaf looks fascinating – long, twisted with rust-coppery texture and minimal leaf brake. You could tell by its appearance that it wasn’t handled much. With a short hot breath blowing onto leaves I definitely noticed dusty dryness with earthy and mewllow backtone and a floral hint (which was quite surprising).

I’m inexperienced with raw variants and not familiar with water temperature appropriate for brewing it but I read that lower temperature is used for younger raw Pu Erhs and close to boiling for older ones. Since I got a 6-7 gram sample of 1997 vintage I really couldn’t experiment much so I decided that I’ll use 3 grams with 100ml water on 95 Celsius. It would be nice if ESGREEN could provide brewing instrucions.

Infusions: 10, 10, 12, 14, 16, 20, 25, 30, 40, 60, 120, 180

Fifteen years is a lot for loose-leaf Pu Erh when you think about it, there’s got to be a lot dust in it so I rinsed it three times. First infusion was somewhat light half-murky caramel tone with faint aroma and heavy (but nut overpowering) acidic taste and light tobbaco finish. Second infusion seemed to awaken the leaf (maybe I should go for four rinses instead?) and brought out a deeper caramel tone wile giving away of not-so-desired wet and stale notes.

However, I did enjoy it more than first infusion since acidic profile settled a bit and made a way for some new, but faint notes to appear. Liquor is silky on tongue and the same tobbaco finish with addition of tinglinkg sensation on tongue. Third infusion is more of what I anticipated – deeper tone with hint of acid (or should I call it sour?), nice boost on tobbacco followed by just a hint of bitterness and dry finish. After few sips I also noticed that some faint notes of… clay? It reminds me of eating a stew from unglazed clay pots.
On fourth steep is where the party started, clay notes blended with those of tobbacco and it reminded me of some better Pu Erhs I’ve tasted. Fifth infusion brought out the mellowness and previous notes that seemed to be of same magnitude. At this point I noticed that the tea is starting to get hard on my stomach/liver. Suprisingly, sixth infusion brought out some floral notes while vanquishing any remnants of dust, but with less prominent tobacco note.

This is where I called it a day and let the leaves rest on cool place untill the next day. I was later advised by ESGREEN that I shouldn’t have done it. So on day two I rinsed the leaves to awaken them and steep it for 25 seconds, and this being seventh infusion it showed some floral notes binding with hints of mineral and more prominent clay profile. Next infusion brought out more balanced appearance with somewhat nutty aftertaste (this stuff has pocketful of surprises, doesn’t it?). The following four infusion (for total of twelve) were less surprising but enjoyable. This is where I felt that I’m pretty much done
with it.

A leaf with magician’s surprise arsenal.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C
K S

What did ESGREEN say you did wrong? Did they give an explanation?

kOmpir

" Hi Alen, you did right for the steeping. Long time stored raw pu-erhs has no steeping differences with ripe pu-erh. But we do not recommend soak the tea leaves in cold water or let’s say: please don’t keep the infused tea leaves. The infused tea leaves are more like cooked foods. There will be subtle changes inside. It may be not good for health. The the flavor and taste will completely change too."

K S

I have heard others say they cold brewed the leaf overnight with success. I usually drain the leaf and spread it out so it can air dry and reuse the next day. Usually it works well, On rare occasion the leaf doesn’t take well to drying and reuse. I have never had mold issues from overnight storage which is where I thought they were going with their advice. What ever works for you and doesn’t give you botulism. lol.

kOmpir

It worked fine for me as well, but I keep my leaves in cool place overnight to inhibit bacteria/fungus growth that might be present.

Uniquity

I’ve kept the same leaves in my infuser for two days and used them. Not that you should, but I’ve yet to see them go bad overnight. One time the beau did leave some green tea in an infuser for several weeks though – that was yucky!

K S

I wouldn’t do this if the leaf looked even a little funky, but it has always looked fine. Not advising anyone else to do it.

ESGREEN

There is a famous TV show in China recommended a diet recipe with over night pu-erh. But I really could not agree with that. No medical proof for health affection. But the flavor could change obviously. In China we called it “Shu Wei” which means “over cooked flavor”. It’s something like fresh vegetables compared with cooked vegetables.

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90

ESGREEN delivers again!

This slightly broken, generic looking Dian Hong is very smooth and sweet with subtle blooming notes and distinctive peppery coating over the tongue.

I enjoyed three steeps (3 gr, 250 ml 95C, 3m-4m-5m) and all I can say that this is by far the most cost-effective Dian Hong I stumbled upon. It’s very smooth and gentle, lacking any harsh body notes that can be sometimes found with this tea. In first steep you get medium-full body with nice potato sweetness and blooming undertones of gardenia and trademark of Yunannese black tea – peppery coating on the tongue. In following steeps this tea develops lighter but still smooth and even sweeter body. It reminds me of ESGREEN’s broken grade Keemun, humble looking but very rich and appeasing.

Will backlog later with gaiwan.

K S

I agree. This is pretty awesome stuff. My favorite from Esgreen so far – except maybe the bamboo dark tea, that was pretty neat too.

kOmpir

Although I’m a big Yunnan black tea fan I have to give an extra credit to ESGREEN’s Keemun. I’ll be getting both soon, though.
Liu An was an interesting experience, but I fear that I might find out that I don’t really like it if I get it, making me stuck with a pound of tea.

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89

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Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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84

Day two with the same leaf. When I put the chunk in the press yesterday it sure looked like whole leaves. Today I see almost entirely small broken pieces. I steeped cup 4 for a minute and a half. The brew is darker than the first cup but no where near as dark as the 2nd and 3rd. This tastes very bland today. I have to work way to hard to catch much of anything. I have only had three hours sleep. This is not going to do. I am done with it. The rating stands from yesterday’s tasting. On to the next.

Bonnie

Sometimes it is what it is!

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84

Interesting. When I had this today I did not realize it was the same one Cody had such a foul experience with. I did notice how easily the chunk separated. I used my usual western method – half the sample and 12oz water. I used 1/2oz to wake up the leaf but decided not to pour off. Added the rest of the water and steeped 1 minute. The brew was Tetley tea colored – basically looked like tea. It smelled like shu poo. The taste reminded me first of grape leaves then an old fallen tree in the woods. Then it was like an old leather jacket – not the horse tack I normally notice. It had rough edges like bark in the throat. I liked it.

The second cup at 30 seconds was darker and smoother. More refined leather and some kind of fruity and spicy notes.

Third at 30 seconds continued on even smoother and very sweet.

That’s all I had time for today. Definitely a different (and better) experience than Cody. I thought this was pretty good.

Cody

Well, I’m glad at least you had a pleasant experience. I’ll try the other half of my sample using something like your method and see if I get anything decent. Perhaps this shu just doesn’t play nice with gong fu style.

K S

By the third cup it was a beautiful burgundy. Smelled bad. tasted good. Hope your second attempt is better and foreign object free.

Cody

The liquor color is something I can definitely agree with. That was a huge plus for this shu, when so many others are thick and murky and black. I’m not sure I can count the second attempt as better, but it was certainly much “cleaner” in multiple ways. I’m about to post another tasting note on it.

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38

So, going off of KS’s steeping parameters, I tried this one again. I used boiling water, the other half of my sample, filled my 16oz cast iron pot to about 12oz capacity with no rinse, a bit more than one minute duration. The liquor was an extremely clear dark brown-amber color. It felt like more of an embodiment of the first two steeps I had done when I tasted this gong fu style. But it was still really weak in flavor, and it just seemed to dissipate and left me grasping for the rest of it. Western style, the mouthfeel felt more “chalky” to me, but there was an added cooling effect that went unnoticed previously.

Yet, as I’m sipping through the pot, I keep getting a thick musty/fishy kind of taste at the bottom of each cup. This is noticeable to me in the aroma of the empty cup and the taste once the liquor has cooled. It’s not really sitting in the stomach right, either. I noticed this the first time, but didn’t comment in case it was some combination of something I ate and the tea, but it occurred this time as well. I generally have a pretty weak stomach, especially with heavy creams or chocolate and such, but teas are usually okay with me. This one not so much.

Anywho, I trust KS’s judgment and taste buds, and hopefully inconsistencies can be explained by me just getting a bad batch or that I have a completely different view of shu pu’er. But we seem to have had pretty similar opinions of past shus, so I dunno! In any case, the leaf quality, lack of depth, and negative cha qi are things I can’t get over regardless of the other odd things I came across with this shu, so I’m sticking with my rating. :/

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 15 sec
Bonnie

recently this happened to me where everyone raved about a tea and my batch sucked! something was amiss! Rotten batch,a plot,the IRS..don’t know. I sent it up to space in a weather balloon(I mean a UFO),get it….Colorado? Better pu for you. I had a Nepalese puerh style black tea tonight. The first ever they tell me. Very good!

K S

I never noticed the musty or fishy qualities. Mine had a strong poo smell that wasn’t in the taste. Almost makes one wonder if they didn’t misslabel one of them except we describe the leaf being loosely packed the same and the light color of the first cup. I left the leaves in my press and plan to try them again today. Hopefully it keeps improving. At least mine wasn’t horrible.

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38

Sigh. This one isn’t working for me.

I started my session with a close inspection of the dried leaves. The sample was made of one large intact chunk from the tuo, so I was happy to see fully intact leaves and minimal chunks n’ dust at the bottom of the pouch. I was about to take my pu’er pick out and divide the sample in two, but as I took the chunk out of the bag, I realized it was quite flexible. Either the tuo was very loosely compacted or the sample really loosened up on its way over the ocean.

Yet, as I was pulling intact leaves apart, I noticed a very thin, black object. Thinking perhaps it was a stem/vein I gently tugged at it and the leaves around it so as not to break anything. But then I observed it continuing up and over the other leaves and it’s sheen made it apparent it was not leaf/plant derivative. Oh boy… I pulled it out from between the leaves and was left with a two inch long black stringy object tapered in its diameter. Hmmmm, hair or string? While both are generally considered to be “okay” if found in pu’er from what I’ve read, the fact it was in a sample and also present when processing (since it was within the leaves) seems to indicate some poor quality.

Well, in either case, I was going to taste this sample (minus the questionable object) and hopefully I would enjoy it so much that the prize I discovered would be rendered moot. Yeah, that wasn’t the case.

I used half the sample with boiling water in my gaiwan. Wash was around ten seconds, the first steep was fifteen. This is probably the greatest example of incorrect first impressions. The first steep was awesome. There wasn’t much to it, but there was this interesting nuance that I’ve never tasted before in tea, especially not in shu pu’er. It lingered gently on the tongue and roof of the mouth after a sip and passed in and out of taste during a sip. It was some delicate amalgamation of sweet, nutty, woody. There were also notes of coffee and I think cocoa. While it wasn’t incredible and was weak-bodied, it seemed to suggest these flavors would be enhanced or transformed. I excitedly performed my next steep at twenty seconds…

And got nothing. Ughhh it was so disappointing. One dimensional, weak flavor, barely any aftertaste, oily mouthfeel, and a dry feeling in the throat. Worst part was that the interesting flavor completely disappeared. Okay, maybe I didn’t steep for long enough. Upped the time to half a minute for the next steep. Meh. New note of apple and a more metallic aftertaste. Tastes kind of burnt. Still quite weak. There was also a bit of a sparkling mouthfeel, which I liked, but didn’t make the steep much better.

Okay, let’s bring it to one minute. Nada. 5 minutes? Nope, just tastes burnt. I probably would have received better results if I would have used the entire sample, but still…

So what did the leaves have to say? Could they explain this disappointing session? Quite so. The “leaves” were made up of about 20% blackened stem, 75% black halves of leaves that disintegrate with slight rubbing, and 5% greenish brown leaves that practically rip from their own weight. Actually, when I attempted (and easily succeeded) to rip one of these lighter leaves, the topmost membrane of the leaf face separated from the body of the leaf. Ew.

There’s a good chance that I won’t be drinking the rest of the sample. Maybe I just got some really bad fluke, which I’m hoping for the sake of the other Esgreen tasters on here. I’m anxious to see what you all have to say.

Preparation
Boiling
JC

Hey Cody! That’s not uncommon.. though it is STILL unwanted. Much of the process in bigger or ‘mass’ producing factories use ’broom’s with thick black hairs to more the leaf around with out damaging much (could be worse with shovels although some use them).

I know it freaks you out to find this, but ‘foreign’ material is not that uncommon in all Puerh, but especially in factory made. Smaller hand made teas usually don’t have this but you could still find your usual human hair. If you find more than one or two things in a single cake then you might want to reconsider buying again.

Cody

Agreed. I’m not really freaked out by it, and it’s to be expected with the amount of processing involved. The rating isn’t based much on finding whatever it was. If the leaves would have been excellent with a taste to match, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the “hair.”

JC

LOL. I agree. Well, I’ve learned the hard way (especially, but not limited to Pu-erh) that beautiful full leaf doesn’t equal best tea/best leaf quality. Especially with the aggressive and growing tea market. Everyone is making their own Garden plantation and making Puerh cakes.

Cody

It’s a shame for sure. And then you have all the “fakes” and counterfeit cakes being made. As far as leaf quality with this one, both the raw materials AND the processing seem to have been botched. One leaf had light brown growth/splotches on the undersurface, a good deal had holes in the leaf face, and nearly all seemed to have been burned. Size and shape were very inconsistent as well. I mean, I was expecting a blend, but I don’t see any ratio from what I got.

JC

That’s unfortunate. It has happened to me. I felt like I was a victim of a scam artist. But hey, I was told the biggest truth once “Nothing will teach you about good Pu-erh like really bad one” :P

Cody

Indeed! Every tea is a learning experience, whether awful or brilliant or somewhere in between.

Bonnie

I feel fortunate that most of the time we get winners and not losers.

Cody

^ I feel the same. And I have to thank Steepster for being at least part of the reason. :)

Bonnie

Amen to that!

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100

my most preferred tea, is wonderful even after the 6th or 7th wash! it also has amazing adaptogenic properties making this tea superior for good health.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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90
drank 2000 Liu An Dark Tea by ESGREEN
64 tasting notes

So this is a backlog from ages and ages ago… I just never got around to logging my notes and the new tea samples kept rolling in soooo yeahhhh. I suppose it’s best to catch up with the old ESGREEN samples before I get around to the new ones. :) Thankfully this was a memorable tea and I wrote extensive notes on it!

Anywho, this was a pretty tasty tea. In line with the name, this tea is quite “dark,” indeed. The wet leaves are pungent, smelling of age, old books, damp moss, and rich fruits. They’re pretty mulch-like, kind of like coffee grounds. The liquor’s aroma is much like the wet leaves’ but with added buttery notes and an apple-like finish. The addition of the bamboo makes it pretty interesting. It’s like some hybrid of a shu pu’er and a medium oxidized oolong.

As far as flavor goes, this tea is well-balanced. And I’m surprised I find myself saying this, because I would think mixing aspects of green flavor spectrum and the darker aspects of the earthy and spicy flavor spectra would not mesh well. Yet, the greener qualities remained subtle enough as undertones to mold the overall flavor, without causing conflict. Overall, this tea is very sweet and rich. Earthy, peaty flavors are very strong and remain that way, more or less, throughout the eight steeps I took this tea to.

For the first half, a strong peppery taste greeted me during the first steep, and then gradually faded with each steep until it became hardly noticeable. Subtle tones of grass and vegetal qualities remained present until the fifth steep where they just seemed to have dropped off. Woody notes became apparent into the second steep in addition to smoky aromatics that snuggled in between the greens and the woods.

The fifth steep really changed it up. There was this mixture of pepper, cornmeal (I wrote “like a tortilla”) and a new, but very slight beefy flavor that churned out a pleasant steep with a sparkling texture. After this, things circled back to the beginning with sweet earthiness most pronounced, buttery pepper flavors underneath, and barky, smoky flavors bringing in the rear. A tingly spiciness was felt on the tongue.

In regards to mouthfeel, I really enjoyed this tea. For most steeps, the texture was milky smooth, but every other steep introduced a slightly different textural element. First it was an evolving bitterness, which transformed into a subtle huigan, then a cooling sensation, then the sparkling, and finally spiciness. Considering the $19/450g price, it’s a pretty great deal. I would definitely stock up if it weren’t for the horrendous shipping prices… Still, very happy I was able to taste it!

Preparation
Boiling
Azzrian

Oh wow – on the shopping list this goes! I have never had their teas either so it will be an adventure when I get a chance to try them out! Thanks for your wonderful review!

K S

I’d love to sit and sample puerh, or in this case dark tea, with you and learn how to experience all the wonderful descriptive flavors you find in them. I love these types of tea but they tend to all taste either sheng or shu without being able to find the nuances. I can tell you if I like it or not but often can’t tell how one is that much different from another. Your reviews amaze me. Keep it up!

Cody

Haha, glad I could help! It was one of the most intriguing teas I’ve tried. Or heard of, considering “dark tea” seems to be its own category. Most of the references I consulted considered pu’er to be a category within dark tea. Originally I had thought it was the other way around.

Cody

And thanks so much to both of you for the high compliments!

I’d much enjoy to sip pu’er with you, KS! I like your tasting style and it gives me a different perspective. I enjoy seeing your posts about the overall flavor to help ground me when I get too caught up with the nitty gritty. But, I just love trying to pick out little things here and there and notice when they are absent or present in other, similar teas. When I first started with pu’er (and I claim to be no expert on the class of tea) I had no idea what I was supposed to be looking for. They tasted too foreign and too similar to each other. Eventually I was able to try others with certain flavor profiles so I could learn to look for them. I still feel that I have a huge amount to learn, though.

K S

Yeah, but more to learn is what keeps us coming back. I can’t wait for your reviews of the latest batch from Esgreen. I’ll read them and then retry them myself to look for the nuances. No pressure, eh?

Cody

Haha, sounds great!

JC

Nice notes. I’ve had two Liu-An here for a while. I need to properly log them. They are such weird variations of tea that it bugs my taste buds while tasting. I agree it tastes partially like shou + oolong and would add that is has some sheng bitterness and sometimes astringency. I got some herbaceous notes that made me think ‘no wonder this was used as medicine only at one point!’.

And about ‘dark tea’ or “Heicha” should be be the ‘type’ of tea and different processes like shou/sheng be under it. But in reality Puerh is the ‘evolution’ from Hei cha. Hei cha in my opinion has a much MUCH wider spectrum of processes and even results in tastes. You could easily classify a Sheng or Shou by blind tasting but Hei cha (depending region and process) would surprise you. Dividing ‘Puerh’ as a separate category makes it ‘easier’. Or better yet, Shou Puerh and Sheng Puerh are well defined categories but Heicha is not as well defined.

Cody

That’s a good way of looking at it. I agree that puerh cha has certainly become its own animal now, especially considering it’s relative popularity.

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90

I sum this up with a story. A co-worker enters my office and asks, “What’s that smell?”
“Smell? What Smell?”
“It smells like old house in here.”
:)
The smoke really makes and sets this apart from the rest of the shengs I’ve tried.

Sil

Haha that’s awesome :)

Claire

That’s great! Rayn referred to a puerh I was drinking as “burning barnyard”.

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