Hou De Asian Art & Fine Teas
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Recent Tasting Notes
This pu’er was unlike any I have had before. Instead of an earthy taste, this one has a very strong woody taste to it. The more I sipped it, the more I liked it. It has a very complex, yet very appealing taste to it that I found I enjoy tremendously.
Dry – cooking herbal blend, Chinese medicine blend.
Wet – Woody, Chinese medicinal herbs blend(dry), books, slightly sweet and camphor.
Liquor – Orange to red Bronze.
1st 5secs – Slightly sweet, Chinese herbal medicine hints with faint woody notes up front. As it goes down, it slightly resembles a Shou woodiness but not quite like Shou, rather it is herbaceous woody instead of the earthy woody of a shou (licorice root?). The aftertaste is cleaner with a slight sweetness with faint woody notes and some camphor.
2nd 5secs – More Woody/Chinese medicinal/Licorice root and slight brothiness up front. As it washes down, it has a woody-herbal medicinal taste with a slight peppery hint that also wears the slightest hint of sweetness. The aftertaste is cleaner, slightly sweeter with woody notes that resemble Licorice and has camphor (slight spiciness as well), gets a bit sweeter with time.
3rd 7secs – Woody, medicinal herbs blend, herbaceous earthiness and hint of sweet up front. As is washes down, it slightly feels brothy/savory then resembles Licorice root and has a spiciness hint. The taste is more apparent in the throat at this point. The after taste is slightly sweeter with stronger herbaceous-earthy notes and some camphor. There’s more sweetness after a while passes but the medicine taste remains and is stronger.
4th 12secs – Woody, medicinal herbs, herbal-earthiness up front. As it washes down, it has a slight camphor spiciness before the brothy woody character sets in again. The woodiness turns slightly sweeter and has some spiciness. The aftertaste is woody, herbaceous-earthy and slightly sweet; there’s some spiciness in the camphor.
5th 15secs – Woody, medicinal herbs, slight herbal-earthiness and licorice notes up front. As it washes down, it is herbal-earthy with medicinal herbs taste and strong Licorice and slight sweetness. the aftertaste is slightly sweet, herbal-earthiness and camphor.
6th 35secs – Woody, medicinal herbs, herbal-earthiness slightly savory up front. As it washes down, it has a stronger presence in the throat and lingers there; in the mouth the herbal-earthiness and woody medicinal taste lingers through the aftertaste. The aftertaste is slightly sweet and medicinal tasting and very strong and present in the throat.
This tea has very strong cumulative camphor and throat presence. The taste becomes more apparent in the initial sipping of the second steep but the throat presence becomes more obvious at the end of the second steep and grows more apparent from then on. It is very important to allow time between steeps, the taste is great but the real reward becomes after the tea has gone down.
I’m glad I bought this. I’m also glad I bought the sample. I think it’s a really enjoyable experience and learning experience, but I don’t see myself drinking this over and over. It’s great, it just isn’t what I pursue in a Puerh.
I was doing a blend at home with herbs and roots(people coughing around are starting to gain on me). And I stumbled across Licorice root and then Ginseng root (both dry of course). So if you’d like to have a better idea of what I mean when I say ‘Chinese Medicinal herb scent/taste’, think Licorice and Ginseng somehow fused.
Fans of Oriental Beauty will love this tea. As I understand it, Guei Fei is a newish tea, developed after Taiwan’s 1999 earthquake, when tea farmers were too busy rebuilding fields to apply pesticides, so tea plants were attacked by a kind of cicada, which makes the tea plant produce a protective juice that gives the tea a characteristic honey flavor.
I tend to brew hotter than instructed, but this summer tea doesn’t like very hot water; it makes for a more floral aroma but a bitter taste. “Shrimp eye” or “fish eye” water yields a more perfect balance of taste and aroma. Of course, the honey is there, but also that buttery caramel of a high mountain green tea. It also has a wonderful texture. It felt “oval” to me; extraordinary balance, warm and floral, lots of depth. The experience is comparable to Oriental Beauty but more subtle, I think, more complex—lighter roast and much less fermentation.
This is a hand harvested tea as is evident by the wet leaves, which open quickly and fill the entire pot. Spent leaves are a beautiful dark green with mahogany edges and intact stems.
This is the only version of Guei Fei I’ve tried so I can’t compare. But this should definitely be listed among the really great Taiwan teas.
Sampled this sheng from Hou De, very nice large leaves…from what I’ve read, the larger fatter leaves and juicier thick stems suggest an antique plantation which has been partially recaptured by nature. Initial aroma of dried leaves are somewhat fruity and musty. After a quick rinse, the leaves smelled almost like smoked fish, I was a bit worried by this. But the smokiness dissipated with the first infusion—sweet hay, peach, hazelnut skin. Very smooth and getting good and relaxed off of this one. The second infusion was more of the same. Leaves starting to unfurl more and more. Lots of thick stems and twigs. Very few broken bits. Aroma from the steeped leaves is somewhat horsey and gamey. But tea liquor is beautifully complex and haunting, very smooth and silky. I brewed it 8 or 9 times gong fu style over the course of two days. Could have pushed it 5 more times, probably.
Nice, calm, balanced. Not especially old, but this one has quite mature Qi.
The taste is soft, round and harmonious, first steeps had sweet aftertaste which diminished in later brewings.
I brew this in 1,5dl glass pot, and around second brewing I started to get slightly dizzy. Qi isn’t aggressive, the tea is past its youth. In a way this tea is right now at a very boring age, it isn’t young and arroganta and interesting, but it hasn’t yet reached the deep wisdom and calmness of elder pu’ers.
I know a lot of you enjoy various kinds of bamboo tea. I just stumbled across this video on the Hou De blog site and thought you would enjoy seeing the tea-making process.
I found it very beautiful.
I’m amazed at how tightly the tea is packed and how gentle the roast is.
I guess I expected the bamboo to burn.
Trying a more formal tasting for the Shui Xian: 2.5 grams tightly curled leaf, 2.5 oz water in a gaiwan.
30 seconds 1st infusion—sweet, silky, earthy, toasty, warm, a bit too dilute, should have let it go longer, because the warm flavor is there, but nothing else yet.
1 minute 2nd infusion—now the grassy, herbaceous flavors are strong, but not bitter, and it tastes utterly different—chameleon tea! (this is why I am quite in love with it)
30 seconds 3rd infusion—what will it be this time? The hay/straw/warm toasty flavor is still noticeable now, but the grassy top notes are strongly present too. Mmm.
1 minutes 4th infusion—again, a nice mix, a little more of the grassy/herbaceous notes above the warm, toasted finish.
1 minute 5th infusion—nothing new to describe, just marvelous.
90 seconds 6th infusion, flavor fading a little, should have been a longer infusion….and can be a longer infusion…..returned tea to the gaiwan for another minute….and….warm toasty hay/straw still dominant, but a bit richer now.
And….checking kettle…there’s no more water left. I think I will call it done for now.
Some of the best Yanchas I’ve had have been from Hou De and this Shui Xian is excellent. It is grown in an area of Wuyi where the soil composition consists solely of weathered rock, which I’m guessing is what gives it its characteristic strong, malty, minerally flavor. That and some heavy roasting.
I played with it a bit, searching for its tea soul.
My Yancha pot is biggish — 160 or 170 ml — and I filled it three quarters full of leaves. First infusion at 190-ish degrees, pour quickly after 15 seconds. First taste was leather and chocolate, almost dank but in a pleasant way; from the taste I would have guessed I was drinking an aged oolong. But the mouthfeel was a bit thin and the taste lacked complexity. I was slightly disappointed with the first cup.
Second infusion I decided to use almost boiling water. Wow. The heat brought the smokey charcoal taste right up front. Strong but pleasant. Lots of pepper and spice and a great roundness in the feel — a kind of mineral feel. Heavily oxidized as well as heavy roasted, I think, and I would bet this tea is from old bushes. Beautiful dark red color. Both color and taste were puerh like. I think it’s correct to call this tea as Yan Gu, “rock bones,” which describes such depth of flavor.
Third and fourth infusions, back to 190 degrees but I let it steep a bit longer — maybe a minute but not much more. Exquisite. Much more balance between the spice and charcoal. Cloves and nuts appear. Some fruit peeking through, dark berries; definitely charcoal and nuts and berries, maybe vanilla, too; more complexity. Very full feel, round and thick and a nice lingering dryness.
The soul doth rise.
I don’t know about you guys, but up until recently I’ve sought for the “correct” way of brewing yancha. Lately, however, I’ve gained the confidence to challenge convention. It’s kind of thrilling to taste what almost boiling water can do, for example. Or using more leaves than normal. Or shorter and longer steeps.
Also, I think staging teas is important. For example, I was drinking Taiwan dong ding the entire day before I tried this Wuyi Shui Xian tonight. The lighter tea with vegetal tastes set parameters which made the dark, spicy Shui Xian all the more vivid and challenging. In the morning maybe I’ll look for a more fruity tea.
I’m thinking that a tea’s soul is more differential than we’ve been told.
Just another love note to this interesting tea, which has such an interesting combo of sweet fruity (plum/peach/cherry) floral notes, and spicy herby backup (cinnamon, cloves, thyme). It is a bright light green deeply rolled tea that looks like it should be a new-style TGY, but when the water hits the leaves it’s much more Dan Cong-like. And the flavor varies and unfolds infusion by infusion, just delightful stuff. Today’s infusions deserve a higher rating—this is 95+ stuff.
8g, rinsed twice with 90 degree C water then brewed with 150ml 75 degree C water with infusions progressing 10 seconds each round, starting at 20 seconds.
This has become my standard method of brewing young loose Mao Cha or broken up young Sheng Cha and it’s the first time I’ve used it on one of my favorite Mao Chas.
Great tactile impression – body on par with chicken broth, light fleeting astringency, and lingering (and drippingly) mouthwatering effect. Fourth infusion’s sweetness reaches a sugary level. Sauteed broccoli and bamboo shoots definitely come to mind plus yellow plum undercurrent.
Alas, I’m down to only a couple pots left, and hopefully I’ll leave it alone for at least another year.
I’m adding a footnote to a previous tasting note. Today I brewed this using what I understand to be the brewing method of the Chao Zhou region, which is to fill a small pot (120 ml max) almost full with leaves. Don’t crush the leaves, but use as much as the pot will hold. Rinse twice as quickly as possible; it needs two for the leaves to open. Then fill the pot with water and immediately pour the tea. Don’t let it “steep” for more than a breath. You can reinfuse many, many times, so this way is no more expensive than using less leaves.
This tea was so good my head almost popped off. It actually compelled me to smile!
My understanding of the chemistry of this is that the leaves never get as hot as the temperature of the water. No risk of too much astringency (which is a concern with Dan Congs). And yet, you get a blast of tea oils nevertheless. And the aroma was strikingly more fragrant and different than before. Much more flowery (magnolia?) rather than just peachy, though peach is still there, too. Very full in the mouth.
I may also use this as an excuse to purchase another, smaller pot. Hehehe.
Let me first confess that I am a big fan of Tea Habitat’s Dan Cong teas and consider them the best Dan Congs available. I went the whole way and got a little Chao Zhou teapot from her, made especially for Dan Congs (same as Teaddict, I believe), I brew according to Iman’s instructions, pour low to high, etc., etc.
All of which is to say that this Dan Cong from Hou De is right up there in the Tea Habitat echelon. This is premium quality, old bush, not commercial grade Dan Cong.
The aroma is fabulously peachy, as expected from “Eight Immortals.” The thickness is very satisfying, really difficult not to gulp. Sometimes, a lesser Dan Cong’s aroma can be meretriciously ornamental. But this aroma is a precise index of the actual flavor of the tea. I filled my 120 ml pot half to two thirds full, steeped for just less than a minute. The characteristic Dan Cong astringency is perfect. I was left with a very good feeling.
Now I’ll modulate to slightly picky. The leaves were a bit broken in my package. Maybe it was the end of a bag. Maybe I wasn’t careful opening the package. The very first brew was a tiny bit cloudy, but subsequent infusions were brilliantly clear. I didn’t find this tea demanding. I agree with The Skua that it is mild, but only compared to a Yancha or something. Almost minimalist. But it’s a generous giver. It’s the kind of tea that could become a daily, especially given the entirely reasonable price.
I have a suggestion if you try this tea: Choose a Sunday when you can sleep late. The Saturday before, wash your best bed linens and give them an extra rinse so all detergent is rinsed out. Fresh, cool cotton. Drink this Dan Cong when you wake (don’t set a clock!). The clean, fragrant minimalism of the tea connects with the memory of the smell of cotton. Open a window, even if it’s cold out. The different, fresh smells and sounds and memories and dreams of the night before all connect. Your spirit moves around with little effort. It’s quite wonderful. I just happened upon that experience, but next time, I’m fixing for it.
This 2006 Yiwu puerh is what I would think of as setting the standard for sheng cha. By that, I mean it is high quality with the taste profile you expect from sheng cha from the famous Xishuangbanna prefecture, with little surprise. (Let it be said that I only had enough tea for one session; other sessions might have yield more surprise.)
The tea has a very pleasant, full, broad feel on the palate and back of the throat. I detected some vegetable tastes, ginseng, and mild fruit, maybe pears or white berries (if there are white berries), underlined with mild earthiness. I keep saying mild, but I want to stress it is also very full.
It was interesting to compare this to Norbu’s 2006 “Qi Cha” (please see my notes on that tea) from Yong De County in Yunnan’s Lincang prefecture, which I found more bamboo-like, less fruity. It would also be interesting to compare Norbu’s Yi Wu mountain bamboo roasted puerh to this tea — same mountain, different processing.
Very nice session with this tea today, and shared some of the middle infusions—a little mellower than the first—with some of my tea-loving colleagues at work. I’m not sure the more aggressive early infusions are what I should be sharing with those mostly drinking jasmine and flavored blends…..but I love the spicy deep roasted flavor. Given how light and green the leaves are—I always am momentarily surprised by the deep wuyi/dan cong flavor profile of this one.
Spicy with cinnamon notes, this is a neat oolong. The cinnamon notes fade a little quicker than the general spiciness, but not so fast as to suggest anything but natural flavors; I just note that I don’t get more than 5-6 infusions from this one gong fu style. It can get all the way to bitter if overpacked in the brewing vessel or if not watched carefully.
This is one I only brew gongfu cha, never the brew/hold in thermos I do so often with other teas. It’s just too subtle and tricky for that, but quite rewarding—really, Dan Cong-like—in this. I use enough left to fill the gaiwan about 2/3 full after the leaf is wetted—about 1/3 full of dry leaf. Sorry, haven’t weighed this one out for a while—maybe ever—for a formal tasting with pics.
I’ve been drinking two different “oriental beauties”: Norbu’s Bai Yun (which is also Yunnan Sourcing’s “Wild Arbor Oriental Beauty”) and Hou De’s Taiwan Bei-Pu Bai Hao. Norbu’s is a Yunnan varietal made by Taiwanese tea masters who brought their Bai Hao skills to Wu Liang mountain. Hou De’s is the classic Taiwan oolong, harvested in the summer in the humid, foggy, northern part of Taiwan, after the legandary little bugs have poked holes in the tea leaves, provoking the plants into a juicy protest that produces more intense flavors.
Both versions of the tea have a beautiful, autumnal mixture of dry leaves — mahogany, golden brown, and the “white hairs” of the name.
Beginning with a half full pot of dry leaves, I brewed at 200+ degrees for 2+ minutes. Golden amber cup. Though honey is definitely present, it was not so pronounced as in the Norbu cultivar. And rather than berries, the taste was more of mild stone fruit, nectarines I would say, with lycee nuts. In the first and second infusions, I distinctly detected a mysteriously sweet pine. This tea is rounder and “wider” in my mouth, whereas the Yunnan varietal sent some bright vertical tracers up toward my nose. I find this tea generally round and horizontally mellow, whereas the Norbu perhaps asked for my attention a bit more. But it could also be that I tasted this second, after drinking an entire pot of the Norbu first.
The wet leaves show the quality of the processing, with little bundles of stems and leaves intact. They are an extraordinary golden-purple-red that are even more beautiful in my pin zi ni purple pot. My guess is that this tea is less oxidized than the Yunnan, with no roasting.
I found both these teas rewardingly complex. I intend to do another tasting, tasting the two in the opposite order.