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Recent Tasting Notes
this green pu-erh is exquisite. the only one that i can think of off hand that i enjoyed more is the same from a 1995 vintage. it’s earthy and robust as you would expect from a pu-erh yet not overwhelming. it’s dynamic in flavor as the bold notes of nut and earth make way for subtle hints of fruit and chocolate and finish off with the green vegetal side of this complex brew. i love this tea!
The aroma of the dry tea cake is earthy but I notice a much softer earthy aroma in the brewed tea which I appreciate. I think it is the strong earthiness in the aroma that I often find off-putting in a pu-erh, especially in the brewed liquor. With a much softer earthiness here I find this very easy to drink.
It’s very sweet and mellow. Incredibly smooth. No bitterness, very little astringency, just a very mild flavor. Deep caramel undertones. It is earthy, yes, but, the sweetness from the caramel gives depth to the earthiness.
A very enjoyable pu-erh… going to take this for a few more infusions!
I have been a bit quiet the last few days. My tea time has been largely devoted to this tea. Sample provided by Esgreen.
The nose is musty leather. The first cup is lighter than expected with leather and wood notes. This morphs nicely through 6 (12oz) mugs and ends as mushroom, leather, and hints that make me think chocolate. Not overly complicated but nice and comfortable.
I am still putting together a review of this for the blog. Here is the meat of it -
The first thoughts I had were mellow and rich. Those two descriptions don’t seem to go together but you have to trust me on this one. When it is hot it has a pleasant earthiness to it and only hints at leather. There is a slight tingle on the sides of the tongue but this is not bitter and does not seem the least astringent. It seems to coat the entire mouth with a sense of slickness – not in an oily way. I am also getting a feeling of grit (slick and grit – two more descriptions that shouldn’t go together). I hate to use the term because there is nothing gritty in the tea. This is a sensation not an actual thing. As it cools the earthiness and grit subsides and the leather picks up. I also notice a cooling like menthol or mint would give, without the actual flavor. The bamboo leaf adds a bright wood flavor. This is a winner.
I great mini bing for the best day ever. Well it wasn’t really, but it was a good one. Horse tack – need I say more? Of course I do…
The pod is nice sized eyeball with a white cornea and a pink iris. Well at least that is what it reminded me of this morning. I put it in my press and poured 12oz of boiling water over it and waited for the display. This one opened oddly. It resembles a pineapple. The flower is surrounded by tea leaf but beneath it is a big bulb. I examined it closer and the bulb is wrapped in string so this is intentional. It looks like a big freakin’ spider. There seemed to be a large amount of leaf coming loose from the pod.
The color of the liquor is light yellow with a green tint. It is very clear. The scent is green tea.
The sip has only a light touch of what I think is globe amaranth. This pleases me as I find it can turn a tea sour tasting. This is not sour. In combination with the tea leaf this takes on a very unusual taste that is a bit like oak or maybe nutty. It reminds me of young sheng with out the bite. That is as close a match as I can come up with. It is mildly sweet, lightly floral, and feels milky. Actually it feels more silky than like milk. This is the first blooming tea I have had that was not jasmine. I don’t miss the jasmine.
After a few cups, I cut the string on the bulb and set the leaf free. There is a lot of leaf in this pod. My press looked like a giant gaiwan. It was stuffed with leaf.
Normally I like the display of blooming teas and tolerate the taste. Here the display was just ok, but I actually enjoyed the taste. It is a pleasant uncomplicated tea with a very light floral taste.
This is an interesting Sheng Puerh because it has a very strong earthiness to it – stronger than I’m used to with a sheng. This is much more like a shu to me. But it has a lot of interesting flavors to it – sweet, bitter (which also surprised me, this savory bitterness), even sour notes that morphed into a gently sweet aftertaste.
A rather unusual but enjoyable Puerh. I look forward to trying more from this company!
I dont usually have much to say for green teas because I just don’t drink greens very often because they are my least favorite. This tea is really good tho it is not very “grassy” or vegetal like some greens it is very delicate and floral sweet. The aroma is slightly vegetal and floral at the same time. Very enjoyable tea :-)
This was a nice puerh to me, very dark and earthy yet smooth and clean tasting, sometimes earthy can mean “dirt” tasting which is not always bad this one has a rich earthiness that is very clean and pleasant, This is very enjoyable for people who enjoy a puerh/dark tea Those who don’t care for Dark teas may not be able to enjoy this one. Also it gets slightly sweeter with each steep.
(FREE SAMPLE PROVIDED BY ESGREEN, THANK YOU!)
In a third monthly shipment of tea samples sent to me by ESGREEN I got this TGY. There are other goodies like Hou Kui and Dan Cong, so I’m hoping to review those soon as well.
I’m not keen on drinking Tie Guan Yin, and I guess I can blame really low quality leaf that was first introduced to my palate. It was about two years ago that I ordered some cheap TGY on eBay and I barely drank a third of quarter kilo bag. It was too flowery and astringent to me although I tried to make it in different ways I always got similar results. So I gave the rest to my friend saying that if he don’t likes it he may throw it away, compost it, or whatever he wants.
Anyways, I’ve tried two nice TGY’s recently, and this is the latest addition. I must say that I was surprised when I read on ESGREEN’s site that TGY should be brewed by using 1 gram of dry leaf per 50 ml. So far I got used to overcrowded teapot, using a whole 7-8 gram foil bag, but it seems that I might pull off three sessions with single bag now.
Gaiwan (85 ml)
Leaf – 2 grams
Water – 100 Celsius
Time – 55 sec, 45 sec, 70 sec, 100 sec
Leaf & Infusion:
Dry leaf – Leaf is somewhat small for an average TGY and tightly curled with some thin brown stalks. It’s pale emerald tone reveal that this might be one of those low roasted TGY’s that have a prominent orchid aroma and short shelf life. Deeper sniff reveals some buttery notes.
Wet leaf – Thin with dull green tone, slightly oxidized on the edges. Most of the leaf is whole but there are some ripped and broken ones due to its delicacy.
Infusion(1st) – Clear liquor with light emerald tone and touch of yellow hue. Orchid note is subtle but consistent with some buttery notes in background. Taste is light and crisp, astringency-free and long lasting flowery aftertaste.
Infusion(2nd) – In second steep, light and aromatic refreshing profile is being boosted by some grassy notes and there is a light tingling in throat with short linger.
Infusion(3rd) – As orchid aroma fades buttery notes take the lead, giving a more of saturated aspect to this infusion.
Infusion(4th) – In this infusion almost all of flowery fragrance is lost and buttery note seems to lost its intensity as well. In return, this made a way for a sweet finish to develop and linger for some time.
Infusion(5th) – Identical to previous with slow decline in overall taste.
Conclusion – Although I didn’t pushed this TGY to its limits I really enjoyed sipping this, and it seems that I’ll be finishing the rest very soon. I was really surprised with its quick taste shift in first three steeps and I think that it’s a good candidate for TGY introduction and those kind of people that don’t like to wait for too many steeps to notice the difference in taste.
(Free sample provided by ESGREEN. Thank you!)
It’s been a while since I’ve written any notes on Steepster, and the reason behind it is that I’ve been under some stress – college, looking for new flat to move into has put me away from refining my sribbled tea notes. I’ll try to write tasting note a day (or every other, at least ) since I have a lot of samples waiting for some time.
Glass teapot (250 ml)
Leaf – 2,5 grams
Water – 100 Celsius 180 ml
Time – 3 min
Leaf & infusion:
Dry leaf – Black with very little red hue, glossless and broken. Has a honey-like syrupy aroma with faint flowery hint. I’ve never experienced a broken Keemun with this many fine nuances such as this one.
Wet leaf – Wet leaf is ripped, thin, with dark reddish hue with only few leaf stalks to be found. A simple sniff reveals warming honey aroma.
Infusion – Liquor appears to be of ‘default’ black tea tone, coppery-reddish and deep. As this grade is more of a blending ingredient it lacks a light body of more fine Keemun and rolls over the tongue more as medium-bodied.
Surprsisingly, this broken grade is very sweet and flowery, especially at the end, where sweetness sits for some time while a faint flowery note diminishes.
Fine notes of honey linger over the palate as freshness in throat starts to develop, quite a surprise actually. After a few sips a roasted aspect with hint of molasses comes into play with just a tiny vegetal hint that can be detected with some concentration.
Conclusion – For a broken grade this Keemun is quite a treat and surprise, too. I guess I wasn’t expecting that much fine notes that are usually involved with finer grades of this tea. I usually tend to judge a leaf by its grade, looks and price, but every now and then some harsh looking leaf shows up and slaps me into face, or better to say – palate.
Having tasted another Dan Cong tea in the past, I set myself up to taste something similar to that: smoky, strong, bitter. This tea absolutely blew me away.
The first taste is slightly bitter, but then the end and aftertaste are sweet and floral. There’s a lovely lingering orchid flavor that I did not expect.
This tea also stands up to multiple steepings. I’ve done 4 and it’s still fairly strong.
Overall I would highly recommend this tea and it’s reasonably priced as well!
Free sample provided by ESGREEN. Thank you!
I received about half a dozen of samples from ESGREEN two months ago and I wanted to try this Pu Erh ball with gaiwan which I didn’t have at that time, but I was fortunate enough to have won 3 Oz gaiwan on eBay auction recently, for quite a bargain price of $4.25 with free shipping.
I did a total of ten infusions with my 85ml gaiwan with water temperature of 90-95 Celsius. This 9,5 gram Pu Erh ball has a faint earthy touch with minty note in front. Reminds me of mini tuo cha but with more serious look about it. With two washes
of ten seconds each I did my first steep with like 15 seconds.
1st – 15s
What I got was dirty brown and pink-ish infusion that could/should have been another leaf wash, but I drank it anyways. It had a nice flovery (or should I say ‘orchid’) note with roasted background finishing with a hint of pleasant bitterness. When I thought about it few moments later, it reminds me of liqueur as I picked up an alcohol-like note radiating from my throat. After a few sips I start to get a tingling, almost pricking sensation in throat with numb, sore throat sensation as I finish the cup. There is very little sediment at the bottom.
2nd – 15s
In second steep I got a deep and thick brown-red liquor that is typical for well infused ripe Pu Erhs. For some reason I associate this appearance with that of strong black coffee. Earthy note is overpowered with roasted impression and you can sense a decent orchid fragrance at the very end. Liquor is smooth with strong character and long lasting roasted note. Coffee, anyone?
3rd – 20s
Appearance of third infusion is identical to that of the previous one. In terms of tasting it’s almost identical to third infusion but with a certain dryness on tongue root with diminishing orchid note. As I was careless to drink this tea on empty stomach I started to feel a punch so I had a quick bread and dry meat snack to prevent any further discontent.
4th – 25s
Identical to previous one and it really goes well after a meal.
5th – 30s
The best infusion! It’s identical to previous two but with more balanced notes and really nice thickness.
6th – 40s
This is where I started to increase from additional 5 to 10 seconds and it really proved out to be a good decision. Enjoying a rich cup of dark brew!
7th – 50s
At this point I start to get a feeling that liqour color is slowly fading out as I could see a circle imprint on the bottom of the cup. It’s still deep and tastes nice without any significant changes though. The ball shape of leaves has completely dissolved by now.
8th – 65s
Raising time for additional 15 seconds. I’m definetely sure that it’s loosing more of color intensity. I thought that this would be a sturdy, monotonous Pu
Erh, but no, citrus rind note emerges out of the blue along with peppery sensation on tongue and notable mint-like freshess airing from throat.
9th – 75s
I did only 10 seconds increase on this one because I got a feeling that I might be ‘squeezing too much of the juice’. What I god was a nice minty aftertaste with faint citrus and peppery notes from previous infusion.
10th – 90s
I really thought that liquor color would fade to pink hue by now, but it isn’t. It’s keeps decreasing in intensinty but still it’s like 5 more steeps away.
Oh well, this is going to be my last infusion for this session. I feel that my senses (and stomach) are saturated. Mineral note is prominent in this one, and when I look
back it started to apear around 8th infusion but I really didn’t pay that much attention to it.
All in all this is the best Pu Erh I’ve had so far in terms of strong and roasted character. It has much to deliver and it can be a bit dull in first few steeps but it has a few nice surprises later on if you stick with it.
I was careless enough to forgot to smell the wet leaf. Bummer.
Backlog* I tried this one the other day.
Good for drinking many times this one makes a dark thick tea with a smooth clean taste and delicate aroma, this one would be nice for those who want to try a nice Pu-erh but don’t like the strong earthy notes of Pu-erhs, This one is slightly earthy and wonderfully Clean tasting , I would recommend this one to beginners for sure.
Now you can buy just one cake instead of the whole stack :)
I have not been that much of a fan of Shu Cha (ripe/cooked pu’erh) until trying this one. I have said it before and I will say it again, the mysteries of pu’erh are never ending!
8 steeps, 10-35 seconds.
2. A rich, musty smell and a dark amber color. Fairly mild flavor, but with some chocolate notes in the taste! Despite the “ancient” smell that many pu’erhs have (including this one), the taste has strangely made the flavor of my water even cleaner than when drinking it plain. This is a difficult quality to wrap my head around, as I have no idea how a tea can give off the flavor of fresh spring water, while adding such a dark red color to it. But that is what I taste. There is also a kind of nutmeg spice aftertaste, sort of like mexican hot chocolate.
3. Darker color, yet distinctively cleaner taste with this next steep. This is one of the most palatable Shu pu’erhs I have had yet. Though it definitely tastes better when the water has cooled a little. When hot it gives off a slightly bitter smell, like an unripe avocado.
4. An agave sweetness emerges with a hint of red pepper.
5. Sweeter still! This cup leaves a satisfying taste in the back of my throat, like after a filling sushi meal.
6. Suddenly, all the color has gone out and is now very pale. The taste is still fairly sweet with a hint of salty as well. The sweetness has come around to something that reminds of blueberries without the tartness.
8. Same, but less.
Other tasting notes: Vanilla, hazelnut, avocado pit.
(Free sample provided by ESGREEN. Thank you!)
This one is from a previous sampler. Few days ago I received samples for March but I intend to test my patience since I have a gaiwan on the way.
Dry leaf is small, tightly rolled well scented and judging by its texture, well roasted. There are few white tips and fewer leaf stems. I used 3 grams of dry leaf with 250 ml of water on 80 Celsius, and did two 1 minute steeps.
First steep brought out clear and light golden infusion that’s very aromatic and it sits on palate for quite the time but isn’t overpowering. It’s just to my taste actually, and I’m not big fan of strong scented jasmine tea. After swallowing you can feel a certain sweetness resting on root of the tongue. For some reason, first few sips seems to have that note of those sweet bubble gums with sports sticker wrapped around them. Maybe it’s just me. As I finished the first half of cup I felt a slight tingling sensation on tongue with some grassy and roasted notes in background. What a delicious cup of jasmine tea, and to my taste too.
Second infusion is a bit more sweet with less pronounced jasmine aroma than the first. Here’s where it gets more refreshing and savory. First infusion tends to dry out the tongue, but this doesn’t. I’m surprised that the most of the leaves are whole with some tear and oxydation or purple pigment and I could find a few that have up to three leaves on stem – kind of close to oolongs in appearance.
Wet leaf has a fresh air about it with decent amount of soft jasmine. Even after two infusions about quarter of leaves haven’t completely unfurled which promises another good or at least decent infusion.
Although I’m not a big fan of jasmine scented teas this is just to my taste and but if I wanted a jasmine scented tea in my cupboard just for me this would be it.
I prefer dark teas and Liu Bao is one of my favs This one ranks right up there with most of the rest, 2 or 3 rinses is needed for this tea I learned that the hard way lol but after proper rinse and steep this one proved very nice Liu Bao. It was nice and earthy without tasting “dirty” with a sweetish after taste, smooth mouthfeel. Would have been great to have seen some gold dust on it but most loose Liu Bao I’ve had don’t have that for some reason. Great tea to me!
11 steeps, 5-45 seconds.
Started off by giving this tea two 5 second washes because I had a feeling it was going to take a while for the ball to expand. Which it did. The color began as a light amber, but on the third cup, everything changed to a ruddy burnt umber color. Even the texture thickened. For a second, I thought I was pouring out water from a clay river.
At first the taste was the spiceless earthy flavor of many ripe pu’erhs. Which is to say not much excitement at all for my western taste buds. The fourth and fifth cups yielded some odd metallic notes, but after that it sweetened up a bit, reminding me of honeybush tea (especially with the color). Shortly after this, I detected another distressing toxic flavor that gave me an ugly feeling in the back of my throat. This was when I put the tea down for the night and let the leaves rest. But being the glutton for punishment that I sometimes am, and really wanting to give this pu’erh it’s due, I rinsed the leaves off in hot water and charged them back up for 4 more brews over breakfast the next day. By the seventh or eighth cup (total), an enjoyable masa (corn flour) taste developed. Toward the last good steep there was a brief maple flavor that developed, but like most of the other notes, it was nearly undetectable. Then, on the tenth steep, the color went out almost entirely and I was pouring out nearly clear water. I tried one more steep just to be sure, but that was that. The leaves turned off just as shockingly as they had turned on in their burst of crimson.
So based on this one experience, it was a rather unpredictable and unenjoyable tea. Did I do something wrong? I was really pushing myself to find some redeeming qualities, but maybe this tea is just not for me.
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.
8 steeps, 8-45 seconds varied.
This has been one of the best ESGREEN mini tuo cha pu-erhs so far. I should also plug the sale that they are having right now on some fantastic Ju Pu pu-erhs that have been aged inside of hollowed out tangerines and pomelos. Not to mention 10 year aged tangerine peel for an herbal tea. The tangerine added a light honey flavor and a carrot-like sweetness to the otherwise dry, vegetal tea. Some of the early steeps yielded a somewhat unpleasant smell, but overall it was a very comforting experience.
Into the 3rd and 4th steeps, the color of the liquid become much darker while the flavor got brighter. The 5th steep brought forth those peppery flavors that I have becoming accustomed to in these pu-erhs, but also something new: licorice. Even the consistency of the tea became slightly sticky at this point, a bit thicker than before. In the 6th steep, there was an interesting minerality present. Though that could just be a quality from my water that the tea is bringing out. (As David from Verdant Tea points out in his fantastic article, water is the first ingredient in tea… http://verdanttea.com/the-first-ingredient-in-tea/)
Finally on the 7th and 8th steeps, some carob and malty notes as the liquid looks almost like coffee in color. Speaking of, I have to add that I have been enjoying the caffeine content of these pu-erhs. Buzz!
Another enjoyable aspect of this tea can be seen upon pouring out the brewed leaves for inspection: big fat chunks of tangerine peel amongst the umber leaves.
I have drank a number of these flavored mini tuo chas from ESGREEN now and I would have to say that overall they are about restaurant quality, which is right for the price I think. Most enjoyable when prepared properly in the gongfu style.
Just made another pot of this last night with some friends and I wanted to revise my previous comments. I am a self-taught pu-erh drinker which means that up until recently there was an enormous gap in my knowledge of how the ceremony actually works and what to expect from each steep. I am fine tuning my expectations as I go and learning how to enjoy pu-erh unique to other teas.
First off, if you are steeping a pu-erh and it doesn’t taste like much, don’t brew it for longer in the same water as I mistakenly did the first time round. The pu-erh flavor actually does develop as you continue to “wash” it in multiple short steeps. Pour out all of the tea liquid in the pot and put fresh hot water in, then repeat. (Thank you kOmpir for your detailed time appraisal!)
What happens as you prolong the ceremony is kind of magic. With each steep, the color is slightly different as is the taste. This method will definitely help you to appreciate the appearance of your teas more and I would highly suggest using clear glassware so that you can see the tea from every angle. The flavor, while still subtle, changes from clear to honey to smoky to spicy to stone.
My new rating now reflects an appreciation of the ceremony involved with making this tea as well as a minor change in understanding the taste. When it comes to pu-erh, my palette is still fledgling, but it will be developing quickly as I will be reviewing many new pu-erhs in the coming weeks.