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Recent Tasting Notes
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 :)
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
A leaf with magician’s surprise arsenal.
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.
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.
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.
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. :/
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.
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!
I have enjoyed this sample. I think this is the fourth session and the last. It is not as full bodied as the TeaVivre versions but the browned cocoa notes that drive this are quite nice. I didn’t get up with the intention of having this. It was setting beside my kettle and just kind of pushed itself on me. Glad it did. It went well with the cinnamon crumb cake (breakfast of champions).
Just curious – anyone ever seen a Cheapster Steepster Dian Hong in a bag for lazy or gotta run days?
I love Dian Hong. The leaf smells malty and that is not lost in the cup. The main flavor is browned cocoa. There is a little roastiness in the background that gives it the browned note. The second cup shifts gears. The first cup flavors step back and allow straw and horse tack to come into play! These are not heavy notes like in puerh but they were definitely there. Third cup changes again – very sweet and the taste is milk chocolate with fruit notes. I really liked this one.
This has gentle Yunnan Black notes with a cocoa powder type taste to it and a Golden Buds type BANG mixed in. It’s slightly floral and fragrant as well as slightly fruity and even has a spec of sourness in there – almost like sour milk – but not enough to be disturbing. It works! The after taste that lingers contributes an oh-so-slight bit of smoke.
This is different but good!
YES!!! I’m a little behind…somehow these ESGreen samples dropped to the bottom of my YET-TO-BE-SAMPLED Box. Oops!
So…I’m trying to make-good on that today!
Here’s the first infusion on this one…
Smells like a woodsy, smoky, slightly fishy pu-erh once infused. It has a nice medium brown/orange color to it.
It has a softer earthiness to it – more of a dirt than a leaves or wood, really, but still it’s softer and more pleasant. It has a wheat-like flavor working side-by-side with it, too. There is a bit of maltiness that I’m diggin’ too! I’m liking this one more than I anticipated!
2nd infusion notes coming soon…
This has a slight wormy aroma like some pu-erh’s I’ve tried, thankfully, it’s on the mellower side. It has a velvety yet woodsy flavor. There is a quick sweetness in the middle of the sip that jumps in and out really quick as if it were playing “double dutch” with the woodsy flavor. There is a ‘greenness’ to this that I really like. It’s naked, it’s real, it’s original! This is pretty good!
Thank you mrmopar for this mini Pu-erh Tuo cha!
There was an old woman who made a China Lapsang Souchong, smoked pepper, Urfa Chili meat rub (one plain and one with brown sugar)…
then made a Earl of Anxi infused simple syrup which was ladled over a warm golden yellow cake…
followed by lemon pudding infused with cream of Earl Grey, poured and set in shot glasses… chilled…
ending with a viewing of Pixar’s, ‘BRAVE’ while sipping infusions of
sweet, smooth ripe cassia Pu-erh. (I’m like ‘The Old Woman Who Lived In The Shoe’ however, instead of too many children… I have too much tea I don’t know what to do!)
Layers of tea to cook and bake with, then a relaxing Shu Pu-erh to watch the animated Scot’s Princess fly through the forest as the brave heroic figure in my movie.
Who says you can’t enjoy such things at my age. Ach!
The little tuo cha was delicious. A small cake-like dessert Pu-erh, not earthy at all. Mild, smooth and easy. Slightly sweet.
I steeped 2 quick 30 second steeps in my Gaiwan and took a taste then in the mug they both went. A full mug of Pu-erh (which I soon repeated)! kicking back.
A good ending to a lovely day with no creative mishaps!
Thank you Esgreen for the free sample!
The leaves of this raw pu-erh smelled a bit mushroomy or fungal, and a bit earthy. Every leaf had downy white hairs on them. The leaves were green, white, yellow, brown, and others were black. The rinsed leaves smelled earthy, fungal, vegetal and smokey. Once brewed, they smelled more fungal and woody.
The brewed tea smelled smokey, mossy, and had a light earthiness. The light yellow-green brew tasted floral, of mushrooms, and was mossy. I was very pleased with the first brew.
This brew was much more floral than the first, and exhibited less mushroom notes. However, it was just as woody and mossy as the first. Each sip had a slight earthy finish.
This brew was smokey, floral, and a little spicy. This cup tasted more like an aged pu-erh. Mild earthy notes crept into the last sip.
I really liked this steeping. It was extra floral and sweet. A tiny bitter nut flavor followed. The fungal notes had gone.
The steeps were still holding strong. It reminded me of the third steeping. Smokey, lightly floral, and a bit earthy.
Thanks again for the tea sample!