Hou De Asian Art & Fine Teas
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Recent Tasting Notes
I ordered a one ounce sample of this, but it doesn’t seem to be available anymore. Here is a link to a blog post about the tea: http://houdeblog.com/?p=140
This is the first sheng puerh I have tasted. The aroma puts me in mind of wood, smoke, earth, creosote. The flavor is brisk, woody, smoky, herbaceous. Full bodied but not as thick as I was expecting. Creates almost a physical sensation at back of throat. Very lingering flavor.
This definitely intrigues me…I can’t wait to try more sheng puerh.
In addition: I have had this twice, and both times felt a tad queasy after the second cup. This feeling went away after a minute or two, replaced by a very settled feeling. Has anyone else had this experience?
Picked this up about a year ago and it has changed a bit, but not any more than difference in brewing parameters could account for. Still very “green” – basically Yunnan white tea with a bit more color and “ripe” quality to it. Funny how a partial kill-green and some hand rolling affects color more than the flavors (at least while still young). The leaves do look different, though – more breakdown has occurred and it’s getting close to needing a sifting.
Made the mistake like I always do and stuck my nose in the foil bag to take a whiff. Like taking a deep breath through my nose of the dusty underside of a bed. Not only has this broken down a little, but it was a pretty downy tea to start with, so all those little hairs and minuscule tea bits had me coughing and almost sneeze. Like any loose aged tea, it’s better to add the leaves to a warmed pot first and then take in the dry fragrance.
Used 4g with 215ml water in a duan ni clay squat shi piao style yixing teapot seasoned for sheng puerh (rarely brews anything over a decade old). Pour time is around 15 seconds – seems the leaves are blocking water flow a bit more than usual – so tack that onto brew times for full contact time. Single rinse. Infusions progressed: 30sec-86C, 40sec-86C, 50sec-84C, 60sec-86C, 70sec-84C, 80sec-83C.
While there are a few full leaf sets, most of the leaves are single and have some breakage to them. Similar to FOP grade, but not homogeneous in composition. Buds are really long. Dry fragrance in the warmed pot is cottony, somewhat toasty-sweet, with a tinge of honeysuckle and a vegetal fruit quality that’s very familiar to me but I can’t quite place. I want to say cooked zucchini or brussel’s sprouts, but that’s not really it. Wet aroma tweaks that note into an easier to place fresh, wet kelp aroma. “Ripe” quality sort of similar to an uncut pluot or longan non-fruit notes but with some pruned orchid aroma as well. Overall, wet aroma screams Yunnan white tea and this carries through to the liquor aroma but there’s a bit more of a dried marsh grass sweetness to it. Liquor is pale yellow at the shallow end and heavier yellow where the cup is deeper.
Aroma similar to a drying freshwater marsh. Sedges and rushes with some somewhat sweet cottonwood leaves or wild rosebush foliage notes as well. Wet leaf aroma characteristics carry through to the liquor better than I’m used to (much less woody, though). Flavor light and sorta floral, but bamboo and fallen leaves come to mind above anything else. Cottony mouthfeel, again like a white tea. A bit of astringency in second infusion highlights this. By third infusion, the body is up to full force – not as syrupy as aged or shu puerh, but still thick. Mouthwatering. Sort of a sticky rice and nori similarity. Kinda eggy, but not nearly as much as as Yin Zhen. By sixth infusion it’s tasting a whole heck of a lot like Genmai Cha but replace the grass notes with dried wetland grasses (think the smell of a woven basket but a little sweeter). Aftertaste subsides but the effect of leaving your mouth and breath slightly sweet lasts a bit more than half an hour.
Yummy. I wish I could buy more… Suppose I could break up a green cake to simulate the characteristics and aging speed, but this tea obviously had a lot of special care put into it to preserve its qualities in loose form.
Finally, I may have used enough leaf to find this tea enjoyable. Packing my small gaiwan near to the top with these big twisted wires, I was able to get some really fun flavors out of this tea. The initial steep was a fruit and blossom bomb, with tons of white peach, papaya, and nectarine, all backed with subtle hints of cocoa powder, sandalwood, and white pepper. Underlying all of this was a subtle, silky texture and flavor of fresh, perfectly-cooked scallop meat, reminiscent of the really enjoyable pink shrimp flesh I found in a younger Hou De dan cong. Ramping up the amount of leaf and following Tea Habitat’s brewing guidelines (http://tea-obsession.blogspot.com/2008/01/how-to-brew-dan-cong.html) really produced a nice session this morning.
Prepared 10g in a seasoned 200ml duan ni squat shi piao style Yixing teapot. Rinsed twice to open up and remove small amount of broken down tea dust (rinses immediately poured off – about 10 second contact time). I progressed each infusion by about 5 seconds, starting at 15 seconds and finishing at 2 minutes and 45 seconds on the 28th infusion. Heated enough water for three infusions each with a downshift of 10 degrees C at most. Climbed from 80 degrees to just before a boil for the 13th infusion onward.
Leaves are clearly broken down and fairly oily – pretty luster. Coppery deep brown color with hints of silver and far-muted green tinted brown. A couple golden stripes here and there. While there are a lot of intact leaves, there is also heavier presence of twig and what looks like much older leaves mixed in than most of the new puerhs I get. In a warmed pot, the dry fragrance is a dry but cool oak woodland leaf litter mustiness with a faint mineral and black pepper spicy tinge. Hint of ripe red grape skins in there and crisp sweetness. Wet aroma musty and heady with just a hint of an aged port aroma… maybe a bit of clove and brandy. Liquor color is a gorgeous clear deep red with gold tint to the margins. Liquor aroma transmits mostly sweet mineral aromas with that crisp, toasty dried oak leaf and bark aroma as a base. Reminds me of the smell of canoeing down a clean stretch of creek on a cooler summer day with the smell of river rocks, willows, driftwood, sand and just a bit of algae mixing in a warming, relaxing medley.
All infusions shared a base of sweet toasted malt, slight tanginess of mineral clay and tannic dried leaves, incredible smooth and thick mouthfeel, and sweet woodsy lingering yet clean-feeling aftertaste with an evaporative orchid-floral effect. First six infusions were markedly different in prime attribute expression. 1st – mineral clay; 2nd – smooth cabernet sauvignon (ripe red fruit); 3rd – old vine zinfendel (peppery and plum); 4th – sweet toasted grains and dry eucalyptus wood; 5th – home baked wheat bread just out of the oven drizzled with honey (camphor afteraroma); 6th – hummus on toasted grain cracker with a touch of ripe plum and pear and very thin slice of 1-2 year old creamy cheddar cheese. Fruits gave way to a bit of moist leaf litter and bark aromas in later infusions, but the floral and sweet, toasty afteraroma and taste kept going. While the telltale water chestnut crispness started advancing through the 18th-28th infusions, I gave up long before the tea did. Dunno how many infusions I could’ve gotten out of this guy… The next morning I re-rinsed and brewed two pots with the old leaves 4-5 minutes with near-boiling water and it still tasted sweet, clean and mouthwatering but most of the unique flavor characteristics were gone.
Used this as the representative of an aged sheng puerh for my Ten Famous Teas of China tasting, and I feel bad for the folks who had to leave before we started brewing this beauty.
This is a very interesting tea. It is tightly rolled, unusual vs the other wuyi oolongs I’ve had, and looks fairly green in the rolled state, and unrolls to a deep green leaf. But the tea liquor reminds me more of a Dan Cong style of oolong—astringent, complex, toasted, sweet, spicy. And it has the ability to last through a dozen infusions easily, getting lighter at the end, but even the light infusions are still fruity/sweet/spicy.
I started this brewing with 3 grams of leaf in a 100mL red clay pot, water about 185 degrees, and infused at first for 30 seconds, and extended as long as 2 seconds by the end of the session.
This is probably the 4th time I’ve brewed some of this wonderfully delicate tea, but I goofed in a way that probably limited the potential of the infusions significantly: I used a too low leaf to water ratio, and I was let the water cool too long before the infusions—too much attention to the camera setup as I was working on photographing what I was doing. In spite of that, the tea was good!
Leaves are twisted, large, green to black, with a light sweet scent.
2.2 grams of leaf into my 6 oz glass pot, because the leaves are so pretty as they unfurl.
1st infusion 175°F/79°C 30", sweet, hay, floral, but too light, should have been longer.
2nd infusion water closer to 160°F/71°C (let it cool too long, misjudged), let it go nearly 2 minutes, again a very light, sweet, floral infusion.
3rd infusion 175°F/79°C several minutes, similar—light, sweet, floral.
4th and 5th infusions were with water just off the boil, several minutes’ steep, and were still lovely.
I’d try water closer to 195 and 30" steep with 3-4 grams of leaf for the same pot next time around; or 2 grams in my 2 oz gaiwans, same temp/time recs as above.
Based on the reviews of others, I’m fairly sure that my brewing of this tea was inadequate. I didn’t get nearly as richly colored a soup, nor was there really much depth to what I brewed. That being said, I was a bit bummed out. I found the tea a bit shallow. It’s aroma was excellent, however. It showed the bright spicy cedar-wood character that I found in 2007 leaf, but also had a nicely aged caramelized plum towards the end that made it rewardingly balance, at least in scent. I’ll have to work on brewing this tea better, to get better texture and more flavor depth. I’m sure it’s there.
I received the 2007 version of this tea in my recent DanCong sampler. Again, only my second DanCong, so my experiences may be a bit naive. The aroma on this tea is amazing. Rich, deep super spicy cedar wood and roast. Bark, smoke, and pith. In the aroma cup, it just pours out sage, burnt field grasses, and sauna. Wonderful. The soup is much more caramel, grayish brown. The flavor and texture is a bit harder for me to handle. I thought it was touch coarse and bitter right up front, then it smoothes out, gives some of the cedar, a bit of caramel roast, and then a harsh, biting ash character. Light sweetness balances it a little, but the flavor of this tea seemed a bit uneven, which is unfortunate, because the aroma is killer.
Received as a three-DanCong sampler, this tea was actually my first DanCong, so my impressions may not be entirely valid. Regardless, I enjoyed this tea, although the overall flavor seemed a little light. I used around 3grams in my 3oz gaiwan. Started with 20s, 30s, and 40s steeps, then just went by intuition. The aroma was very snappy and complex. A lot of woody spiciness, fresh mums and peonies. The depth of the flavor and aroma held a very creamy super-fresh pink shrimp meat character. A bit of old bay, and creole seasoning popped up in the back of the throat. It gave out around the fourth or fifth steep. Nicely sweet.
This is a great example of what the Da-Yieh cultivar can express as a green tea. There’s lots of honey, raw nuts, and orchid florals. Not as pungent as similar oolongs, but still very expressive and juicy. I wonder if this tea is basket-fired, because it has a distinct, but fleeting, charcoal character in the back of the throat. While this is a delicious tea, in the end, it may be a bit pricey for the overall experience.