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Recent Tasting Notes
Definitely prefer ‘more classic’ Menghai recipes to this 2007. Maybe it was produced at the edge of the tea boom and bust and got rushed through. I don’t see much potential for aging with this one. But, I have only had the 2007, I am not sure if there is another year that is much much better or not
This is a very memorable tea for me. After brewing my teas western-style for years, this Snow Dragon was the first tea I brewed in a gaiwan, JAS eTea actually sent it to me as a free sample when I bought my first gaiwan from them (a gaiwan that has sadly since hit the floor). I remember they enclosed a little hand-written thankyou note in the package too; that made me feel kind of fuzzy inside.. I love it when sellers show some piece of humanity in their products.
But this tea is not the same as I remember it back then. This may be in some part due to the fact that this tea is probably pretty stale now, as it’s been at least two years since I opened the package. Kind of a shame, because I remember being completely enamored with it at first. Of course, another contributing factor is probably that my tea-palate has developed considerably in that time, and I might be a lot pickier than I was when I first tried this.
I’m still struggling with this desire (in tea, and in life in general) to save the best things for special occasions. In all truth, I probably would have enjoyed this tea a lot more had I just gone through the whole package while it was still fresh, and/or I could appreciate it a lot more. But no, I decided that this tea was so amazing, so divinely tea-high inducing, that I had to hoard it away and wait for some specific undefined moment in life to enjoy it. What a silly idea.
The funny thing is, I’m actually finding this tea a little …well, trickier to brew than I remember. Even ten or so steepings in, it seems to very easily oversteep, resulting in a quickly bitter cup if I leave it steeping more than even a few seconds. I can either assume this is because the tea is old and stale, or consider that my novice tea-brewing efforts might somehow have…been better than they are now. Admittedly, back then I was very, very carefully focusing on every motion of the process in true Chinese tea-ceremony style, and right now I just have a plate on my desk that holds my gaiwan, fairness pitcher, and little fish cup, and am just sort of re-steeping as necessary while I’m doing other things (Like writing this, for instance).
This tea is still just as cute as it always was, rolled into tight curls that remind me of woodshavings, and just as wonderful to watch unfurl in the gaiwan, even if I’m not focusing on it as much as I used to. Watching those buds unravel is still one of my favorite parts of the tea-brewing process. The flavor is still very white-tea-esque, light and fruity and sweet fading to a greener flavor in later steepings. Overall, it’s still a very good tea when I focus on it for what it is now, and not in comparison to a distant infatuated memory.
Hah, life lessons from a teacup!
I decided to break this one out this morning, it’s been such a long time since I’ve had it. Last night’s networking event was definitely fun and I’m not used to drinking wine so this morning I have a bit of a headache. It’s the shu puerh to the rescue…. cures all ills.
This tea has a bit of fermentation smell still left in it but when you steep it up it’s just so smooth with a date like sweetness and notes of coffee and chocolate. I already feel it reviving me… yay
I wanted to note that I purchased this Purple Rhyme from Mandala Tea but since it is already in the database twice under two different sellers I didn’t see any point in adding it again since it is the same tea and manufacturer. Bonus in ordering from Mandala is shipping is cheaper than from other places and yet they have a great selection of pu-erhs for a domestic company.
Pretty much figured when I bought this there was zero chance I wouldn’t like it because Menghai shu pu-erhs are becoming some of my favorites. I did rinse this and then gave it a 30 second steep in the gaiwan. The wet leaves are intensely aromatic of forest floor aroma and coffee grounds. Charles is right about this being a very dark shu but I am loving it. It has an almost creamy and rich quality with dark stone fruit flavors. I did my first two steeps for 30 seconds in the gaiwan and tossed them in together in the same glass mug. This is a very eye opening tea.
For steeps #3 and 4 they only required about 10 seconds of steeping time before the tea liquor became very dark and flavorful. To me it is very earthy, and shiitake mushroom like. This is a great substitute for coffee being quite dark and robust, but it also has no bitterness.
I also have one of the Menghai Red Rhyme 100 g cakes and I recall that being a little on the lighter and sweeter side but they are both quite good in my opinion. I am not a pu-erh expert, I just know what I like. :-)
These leaves are so cool looking! Little tiny spirals.
This tea is categorized as a green tea, but it looks and smells like a white tea. It even brews to such a pale, white tea color and tastes a bit like a white tea at first. It isn’t until after a few sips that it is more recognizable as a green tea.
The tea starts out with a very fresh, dewy sweetness which builds toward a nutty tone, and sometime thereafter, a fruit-like flavor appears – apricot! There is very little vegetative tone to this tea, even in the subsequent infusions.
A truly memorable tea. I like this one a lot.
I am starting to crave Sheng. This is my fix today. I love that energy I get from these luscious teas. One cup and my mind is clear and focused. These are special teas. They seem to have an effect on harmony. And that is a good thing. I have a ton of samples to sip and ponder before I buy some cakes. I have to up the score on this one.
This tea has a lovely light aroma. It is very uplifting as well. The flavor is a bit thin although I may have had a light hand with the leaves. I am enjoying it. I have to retract my statement about the light hand. As I peered in the Gaiwan it appeared to be just right. So I am going to give this one a deeper steep. The tea has what I would call spirit. The longer steep has improved the quality. It is still mellow. This tea truly has the “feel good” quality. Very drinkable. A good everyday tea. Maybe in a few years it may evolve into a special occasion tea.
I am enjoying this very much. Brewed in the Yixing it delivers everything and more. I ordered five samples of Sheng from JAS eTea to try to get a better grasp of why this tea is so mysterious to me. Out of the five this is the clear winner. It was quite numbing in the first steeping with flavor I still cannot describe. It is better than last time I had it. I think that seems to be the norm with all Pu-erh. There is a certain energy from the better Sheng. A vibrant intoxication of the senses….
I have to admit I always start the day with fresh ground coffee. I also have to admit I am not myself until the first sip of tea. Tea touches your soul. The better the tea, the better the touch. For a young Sheng this tea not only touches you it massages you lovingly. It has one of the best aromas I have yet to encounter and the flavor is beyond good. The intoxication factor is high. This is not a tea for laying around and avoiding. A truly dynamite younger Sheng….
When I opened the sample bag I could smell the lovely complex aroma. I brewed this in a Gaiwan. It is complex and bold yet it is not bitter. After the first cup I always smell the empty cup to further determine the quality and this has to be one of the most beautiful aromas I have ever had the pleasure to smell. It was truly ethereal. This is a beautiful tea. . The dried leaves are already turning brown and it appears to be more mature than it is. I will say without hesitation this is one of the best Sheng that I have had. The liquor is a golden hue and the flavor is absolutely sublime….
I brewed this in the Gaiwan today. This is a very strong Pu-erh. The first steeping was somewhat fishy. I know I should rinse it. When I doused the leaves with boiling water for the second steeping the liquid becomes quite dark quickly. The fishiness is gone and the liquid is very robust even after a short steep. Flavors that I envision are old leather chairs in an old building with dark wood. To those who like Shu, you will love this. This is not for beginners. My GF would say it tastes like Chinese medicine. Well, maybe centuries ago this was.
This is another young Shu that is very powerful. I brewed this in the Yixing for about 30 seconds and the result is a very flavorful and strong brew. It has a coffee richness. I was generous with the leaf but not too so. Cup #2 is numbing and dark. Still coffee-like. This is nothing unappealing about this tea. Flavor, check. Aroma, check. Cha Qi, check.
This is real nice and smooth. I made this with plentiful leaf in the Yixing and steeped it for close to a minute. It is strong and full of flavor. I love how it is perking me up. It’s cool when you have a break between teas to better gauge them instead of constantly drinking all day. The liquor is a dark brownish-purple. Remember, I made this strong. Cup #2 is wonderful with more life. I did not rinse this. I personally love the very strong first cup. This tea has improved from my last tasting. Was it from not having tea since this morning? Or my heavy hand with the leaf or just the fact that Pu-erhs get better with age? This tea is so dark you definitely have to brush your teeth when you are done….
I brewed this in my Yixing with boiling water for between 30 seconds and a minute. It is a rich, smooth and very robust young Shu. Hints of Mother Earth that will undoubtably improve with age. This tea is great on a rainy night. I would assume this would be a decent investment. The liquor is a dark red with a strong flavor. It satisfied this Shu drinker. The 3rd steep is more alive. It has a slight effervescence while numbing the mouth oh so lightly. It is getting cleaner and crisper.
This tea is really unlike anything I’ve personally ever had. Slightly nutty with a sweet initial flavor, absolutely zero astringency, all combine to make an amazing cup of tea. I brewed it in gong fu style and each cup was extremely delectable. At about $7 for 50 grams it’s very reasonably priced for something that tastes so great. I would highly recommend this tea to anyone.
I bought a sample of this tea because of all of the hype over Xi-Zhi-Hao on Jas-eTea. I wanted to try what many others were calling the best Sheng out there. This one is younger (2007) but considering several of the highest end bricks I have are that young, I figured this one would be old enough to try.
The sample is a nice loose compression with big arbor buds and leaves. Very nice visually! I had high hopes for this brick. I am using 5 grams of leaf material and around 200 degree water on this one. There really isn’t all that much to say about this tea to be honest. What I did recognize right away is that it is not offensive. Usually with sheng pu’er of this age you will get something unbearably drying and smokey right from the start. This tea tries to steer clear of any of that. It doesn’t necessarily want to say anything however. With some sheng of even higher quality than this one you will get something that is not only non-offensive but also minutely complex and interesting.
This one is not.
By steeping 3 the classic “Sheng” flavor of smoke and a common astringency start to creep in. But overall I would actually say that this is a better sheng than probably 80% of what I’ve tried. Not really worth investing money in a brick but certainly wasn’t a bad experience.
I bought this brick because of the positive reviews on it and in hopes that it would age in to something great. Keep in mind that I am basing my review of it on what it tastes like now…the true value of it will be seen in the years to come.
This is an above average Sheng brick considering it is only 3 years old. The liquor is thicker than other green Pu’ers of this age range. It’s not overwhelmingly astringent which is a good thing, and while possessing some of that young “smokiness” that bricks of this age can have, it is not overbearing and I could see this turning in to something pretty nice considering the complexity it already possesses.
Hopefully this helps you know what you’re getting in to a little bit better. If you’re comfortable buying a young Sheng and letting it sit then I would recommend this brick. This one is probably not one that I would considering buying multiples of for aging, but lets see if time proves me wrong on that!
I know a 2010 ripe puerh is a bit young to be drinking but I am greatly impressed at this quality and how it compares to a 2009 tuocha of the same label. This tea has no trace of any wo dui odor and off tastes in the brew and has a equally clean test to it. The only real notable difference from the 2009 version is that the smoothness is not as strong so I wonder if smoothness tends to develop more with age in ripe puerh. Anyway a great tea at half the price as the 2009 version which might be just as good as the 2009 version is now come 2012.
A wonderful clean and smooth puerh with a bit of maltiness. I would say this one has a medium fermentation level that is darker than most ripe puerh in the growing trend of lighter fermentation levels. Just watch out and pay attention to your time and tea to water ratio as this is a ripe puerh that can be overbrewed with less than ideal results if you do not take care.
A very smooth and slightly silky ripe puerh without any trace of undesirable off tastes or earthiness. Although once again the idea of a mini-cake that can easily be broken up into mini-bricks for brewing has less than desired results as the mini bricks are still too big to brew whole without breaking up first and the paper inner ticket is a pain to deal with when the brick is scored into mini blocks.
A solid black tea, the dry leaves have a bit of musky Yunnan funk to them that doesn’t carry through to the flavor. First two steeps are brisk, floral, and light on the malt characters. A bit of biscuit and some conifer. I really like the nice small, even buds used in this tea, I think they lend it an extra sweetness. Enjoyable, but not dazzling.