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Recent Tasting Notes
Out of all the puerh that I have this is only the second Autumnal cake that I own. I tend to steer clear of Autumnal puerh mainly because I have generally been pretty disappointed with what I have tried in the past. This cake, courtesy of pu-erh.sk, really intrigued me when I saw it on the website. It had a minimal description, and was quite a bit cheaper than the other cakes Peter had to offer. I am always interested in finding decent quality Yiwu, so I thought that 53 euros for a 250 gram cake was a decent deal if I enjoyed it. In short this autumnal cake does not disappoint. Here are my notes…
Picking apart this cake is fairly straightforward as it is not that tightly compressed. The dry leaves smell lovely…very, very sweet. I take a 7 gram sample and prepare my 130ml yixing with a short 5 second rinse. The wet leaves aroma is beautiful, again loads of sweetness with fresh fruity overtones.
I do my first proper steep at about 8 seconds. The yellow/gold colour looks really inviting. I take my first sip; Massive Yiwu sweetness, dense, rich, buttery mouthfeel, slightly fruity texture in the background. Clean, crisp, pure. Very long sweet finish at the back of the throat. This is lovely stuff.
Second steep and I am getting more of the same, however the fruity overtones are becoming a little more present in the taste. I am still getting that massive Yiwu sweetness. Damn, I love Yiwu…it has that “warmth” that emits feelings of comfort that you don’t find in most puerhs.
Third steep and the balance of fruity tones and sweetness are now perfectly in synch and are singing together in harmony. I am still getting the rich, buttery mouthfeel. The sweetness at the back of the throat is still there and will not go away. My body feels positive and calm…the Yiwu warmth has charmed me.
I push this puerh up to about 8 steeps and I bring my session to an end. The bottom line is that this is an excellent example of a young Autumnal Yiwu. I have no idea how a Spring Yiwu of the same year would taste, however I could not see it being any better than this. As I have said before in my reviews I tend to prefer bitter over sweet, however in Winter time I make an exception to this rule. For me in Winter there is nothing better than sipping a good quality Yiwu or shu.
Today I went onto the pu-erh.sk website and this Yiwu is still for sale at 53 euros. I cannot believe it has not sold out. Which reminds me, I only have half a cake left of this lovely puerh so I think it is time to get another one. If you enjoy your puerh sweet, with that typical Yiwu warmth and character then I think you should at least get a sample of this to try. As Autumnal puerh goes, this is the better, if not the best one that I have tried. Many thanks again to Peter at pu-erh.sk for another great puerh expereince.
Flavors: Butter, Fruity, Sweet
Another day, and another pu-erh.sk review. I was very fortunate to get a cake of this last year. The pressing sold out very quickly, however Peter managed to find a couple more cakes and was kind enough to set one aside for me to get. I quickly drank up half the cake last year as I enjoyed it so much, but have let the other half sit for the whole of 2014. Tonight/this morning I decided to break off a nice 8 gram bit of it and see how it is coming along. Here are my notes…
Smelling the dry leaves I am getting honey type sweetness and fruity tones. Smells rather inviting. I prepare my 130ml yixing with a short 5 second rinse of the leaves. I smell the wet leaves which are not far off from the dry leaf aroma…plenty of honey sweetness, fruitiness and a faint hint of “biscuits”.
My first proper steep is only 7 seconds. The liquid comes out a beautiful, clean yellow/golden colour and I begin to sip. It tastes very fresh, very clean and very pure. Honey sweetness and fruit start dancing around nicely on my palate. This is a really good start, and is exactly what I remembered from a year ago.
For my second steep I brew for 10 seconds. Now the texture of the liquid looks more golden than yellow/golden, so I am expecting a stronger taste. The puerh does not disappoint and now I remember why I drank so much of this last year…there comes that strong bitterness that I enjoy so much. The bitterness does not overstay its welcome, and I begin to get a lovely returning sweetness after the bitterness has passed. The liquid is a lot thicker, more dense and rich.
The third steep yields very similar results, however I am beginning to notice dryness beginning to develop on my tongue. I don’t find this to be a bad thing at all, for me it actually creates a very pleasant “taste sensation” as all the sweetish, bitter notes are now dancing around on my tongue. I am not getting much QI, but my body is feeling positive.
Subsequent steeps I am getting more fruity overtones , the sweet finish remains for a long time at the back of the throat. One thing I will say with this puerh is you need to get a good grasp of it’s steeping times. It is pretty potent and punches hard. Brew it for too long and it will be too bitter…it requires a little trial and error however when you get it right you will know straight away as you will get that lovely returning sweetness. My tea session ends and gives me time to contemplate on this rather excellent puerh.
I always enjoy Peter’s cakes, but for me this was one of my favourite ones from his 2013 pressings. It really surprises you with its potency and richness. The dry tongue sensation was one of the highlights of this puerh for me as I could taste everything this tea has to offer. I don’t think that the tea has changed much with a year of storage…it is just as good as it was a year ago and is exactly how I remembered it. So, it is fresh, clean, pure, vibrant, potent, sweet, bitter, dense, rich and punchy. What more could you ask for in a young sheng? Many thanks to Peter for a great quality pressing.
Flavors: Bitter, Honey, Thick
A big thanks to Peter at pu-erh.sk for the generous 7 gram sample. Last year I bought quite a few of Peter’s 2013 cakes but for some reason did not get this one. I always know that I am going to get good quality puerh from pu-erh.sk so was very eager to try this out when I got the surprise sample. Here are my notes…
Dry leaves are pleasant with a sweet, almost fruity aroma. All the 7 grams worth of leaves go into my 130ml yixing. A quick rinse and I smell the wet leaves…rich, fruity, sweet like honey textures, with a hint of “biscuits” aroma not unlike Bulang.
I do my first proper steep at about 10 seconds. The liquid comes out looking a very pure golden colour. Sipping the brew I get a multitude of textures…rich, thick butery mouthfeel, the honey sweetness that I could smell is there in the taste, and a nice balance of “fruit and flowers” It is very, very good. Second steep at about 15 seconds and now I am starting to get a good amount of pleasant bitterness coming through. Still getting the rich, thick, buttery mouthfeel and fruity overtones.
My tea session lasts well over an hour with this one. Subsequent steeps I am getting a perfect blend of sweetness and bitterness which I find very pleasant. This is a very fine, pure tea. I am certainly interested in getting a cake of this so I go to the pu-erh.sk website to check the price. It costs 149 euros (£117) for a 357 gram cake…it is then I realise why I have not bought a young raw cake this year. Young sheng prices are beginning to worry me when I compare to the prices last year, and even last year I was starting to worry about price. I am not saying that this lovely tea is not worth the price, what I am saying is that it is out of my budget for young puerh. I would rather take the money and spend it on good quality, aged puerh, which these days seems to be more value for money and in a lot of cases works out cheaper.
Anyhow, I really enjoyed this puerh overall. I love the thick, buttery mouthfeel, and the perfect blend of honey sweetness and bitterness. It is a very fresh, pure, clean puerh that is definitely worth sampling. Many thanks again to Peter for giving me the opportunity to try this out.
Flavors: Bitter, Butter, Floral, Fruity, Sweet
This is another very interesting aged puerh, courtesy of Peter from pu-erh.sk. I found it to be a challenging tea session as there are several changes the puerh goes through, meaning it is somewhat more complex than your standard puerh. Here are my notes…
This tea is VERY tightly compressed and is tube-like in appearance. Breaking apart the puerh requires a bit more work and “elbow grease”. Using my puerh pick I managed to carefully break off a nice 8 gram nugget of this. After 2 quick rinses I smell the nugget…I am not detecting any bitterness at all but rather a lovely sweet aroma with just a very mild hint of smoke. The nugget is still completely intact…the 2 quick rinses could not penetrate it and break apart the leaves.
As the puerh is still in the compressed stage for my first proper steep I decide to let this sit for a full minute. The end result: A lovely thick, golden liquid. I take my first sip and am not left disappointed…very clean, very pure, very sweet and a very slight hint of smoke. I check on the nugget in the yixing…it is still very much intact.
Steep 2 and 3 both yield very similar results…I am beginning to question where is the bitterness that Lao Ban Zhang is renowned for? I check the nugget again…it is still intact, the leaves resisting and refusing to let go.
The 4th steep is when things really start to develop. This time I decide to steep for another full minute and the result it a much darker, almost amber brew which for me looks more like an aged texture. I smell the wet leaves and indeed I am starting to get a nicely aged aroma…still the sweetness in the background with the slight hint of smoke. I slowly sip the 4th steep and this is where the magic begins…there is the bitterness but it has been tamed and matured. It feels thick in the mouth, rich and robust. A lovely aged taste is beginning to develop rather nicely. I am still getting the lovely sweetness, however not as prominent as in my in first couple of steeps. The QI is beginning to develop…not the raw energy you get from young Lao Ban Zhang, but a far more sophisticated, relaxed approach. I look into my yixing and this nugget is still intact. “will it ever let go?” I ask myself.
Steeps 5-6 and I am still getting a clean aged taste, with mildy bitter overtones and lovely returning sweetness. By now my body is fully relaxed and I need to take a break and contemplate. This really is an exceptional puerh.
I actually lost count on how many steeps it took for the leaves to eventually give up and break. This puerh just goes and goes and goes. If you decide to get some of this set some time aside…it will keep you charmed and guessing for several hours before it reveals its full beauty and elegance. The leaves are so strong and potent that you will probably have a few tea sessions that may last several days. You may give up before it gives up on you.
So, the bottom line is that this is an excellent example of nicely stored Lao Ban Zhang. It is very clean and pure, extremely complex in its taste and character, and nicely aged. It will take you on a “rollercoaster ride” with its complexity and reveal itself to you over time.
From a price point this is exceptional value for money. 50 grams is only just slightly over 18 euros, however take into account how many steeps you will get, and when will you be able to try Lao Ban Zhang with age at this price? It is a beast of a tea that has been tamed, but do not underestimate it. A big thanks to Peter at pu-erh.sk for giving us a chance to try this complex puerh.
Flavors: Bitter, Smoke, Sweet
I remember when I first tried this aged sheng puerh well over a year ago, courtesy of Peter at pu-erh.sk. Back then it was one of the better puerh samples I had ever tasted, and although there was still a hint of mild astringency I decided to purchase 2 400gram cakes. This seemed to be a wise decision as the price at the time was 140 euros. Today the price has doubled to over 280 euros per cake which is now out of my price range unfortunately. Both cakes have been sitting for over a year now, so I decided to see how things are coming along. Here are my tasting notes.
In my opinion this quality tea deserves to be brewed in a decent quality yixing…I did not get the same satisfaction brewing this in a porcelain gaiwan. I would also recommend not using boiling water…let the water sit for 5 minutes after boiling before steeping. After 2 mandatory rinses I smell the wet leaves. Beautiful camphor notes fill my nostrils with a nicely aged aroma and sweetish overtones. In short, it smells lovely and inviting.
The first proper 15 second steep reveals a very pure, clean, amber liquid. I slowly sip the warm pure liquid and I begin to smile. The taste has that lovely Yiwu warmth, thickness and sweetness. The astringency that was present a year ago is now gone. Vibrancy on the mouth is very interesting, with a tingling sensation that develops on the tip of the tongue and slowly creeps its way to the back of the throat. This is elegance personified.
Subsequent steepings yield the same results. Camphor notes, sweetness, warmth, comfort etc. I ended up steeping this many, many times it goes on and on and for me never gets boring or one dimensional. I found the QI in this one to be pretty strong, starting with a positive lift in my mood, then giving me a very deep sense of calm and tranquility. The session lasts well over 2 hrs. This is a tea not to be rushed…when and if you decide to get this tea set a few hours aside to fully absorb all its character and beauty.
So, overall you can see that I love this tea. It has such an elegant, pure, clean character that is simply irresistible. If this is what the tea tastes like now, I would love to see what it will be like in the next 5-10 years. I just hope that I will be able to save some as I could easily drink this everyday.
The big question now is “Is it worth 287 euros”. Well that is up to you to decide. If I could afford it now I would buy this again in an instant, so yes I would say it is worth the price. A 7 gram sample only costs 6.50 euros so there is no excuse not to try it out. I would be very surprised if you were disappointed. Beware; its elegance and beauty may just charm you into making a full cake purchase :)
Flavors: Camphor, Sweet
I have been on the hunt for a superior quality shu for quite some time, when I recently stumbled upon this one at puerh.sk. I have bought from Peter a few times in the past, and I have not once been disappointed. For me every time I have drunk shu I have ended up being bitterly disappointed. With good faith and trust I ordered a full 250gram Tuo and discussed with Peter my reservations regarding my previous experiences with Shu. Amazingly Peter said he would give me a sample to try with my order, and if I did not enjoy it I could send him back the full Tuo for a refund, no questions asked. Now, how is that for service and full confidence in his product.
There was much anticipation when my order arrived. Inside my package was the generous sample which I quickly began brewing in my 140ml gaiwan. Here are my notes.
After a quick rinse I smelt the wet leaves. A rich, nicely aged aroma filled my nostrils with anticipation of good things to come. After the rinse I then steeped for 2 minutes, as per Peter’s instructions. The end result: A thick, dense, dark liquid that to me almost looked like melted dark chocolate. The taste, well simply sublime. Not a hint of bitterness, no horrible “fishy” taste. I am not the best person at describing specific flavours, all I can say is that the taste is thick, bold, rich, aged, with a lovely returning sweetness at the back of the throat that lasts ages. It is simply “yummy”.
Further steepings yield the same results. This tea has immense power and flavour that last many, many steepings. To put things into perspective I must have filled up my 250ml cup at least 5-6 times. The liquid goes from the dark chocolate to amber with multiple steepings, however the taste and returning sweetness is still there. The more you push this tea, the more it delivers. No problem leaving the leaves overnight…just rinse and carry on steeping the next day.
As a test I wanted to see the differences between brewing this in a gaiwan and a yixing. I found that when brewing in a gaiwan the flavour was more bold, aggressive and “in your face” so to speak. With a yixing I found that the boldness was tamed, and the overall flavour was more soft, mellow and balanced. In my opinion both are equally as good.
At 99 euros for 250grams this is also a very good deal, considering how many steeps you can get per 7-8 grams. Shu of this quality is a rarity and I am so glad that Peter has made this available for those looking for excellent quality shu.
So overall this is a fantastic tea, probably the best puerh I have drunk this year. For those that are sceptical about shu at least give this one a try. If you are disappointed I will buy it from you :)
I have not bothered to put in steeping times as you will very quickly work out what works best for you.
Brewed in gaiwan (approx 100ml, 10g leaf), boiling water, gonfu style, you know the drill.
First few infusions (1-4) come off as rather weak and a little uninteresting. However, the tea quickly improves, and remains energetic with good mouth feel throughout subsequent steepings. Had to stop after about 10 infusions, but I’m sure this could have survived at least another five (and perhaps more).
A few days ago after a longer period of taste cell capacity loss (flu) I decided to examine myself and taste one of the older samples I have had at home to see if perhaps I have been recovering well. The sample is 2008 Gedeng from pu-erh.sk. For those who might have not known, GeDengShan (革登山) is a famous Mengla tea mountain. As this tea belongs to very delicate ones, having a good olfactory impression would therefore prove the test positive and lucky me, I have smelled something.
It consists of strangely shaped large leaf and some stems, falls apart nicely when using needle in a moderate way. Dry leaf in a hot teapot smells after ripe plums, wet leaf brings a different smell, rather soft and light, something like vanilla or gentle tone of strawberries. The smell is promising, however, I had to struggle with proper brewing method.
It took me a while to understand that this particular tea needs her time, it is a good teacher of Tao. The first time I was probably too impatient and tried to squeeze her up too many times in very short time. The second tea session I decided to use my intuition and dedicated the first infusion 30 second long bath (5g / 80 ml). It was a wise thing to do.
This tea is too delicate to be pushed in any way. You just cannot help it, brewing tea is the real art of conversation skills. I perhaps did not ask the tea properly the first time I tried to make her adapt to my own needs. It should have been done the other way round, I know now with all respect. This tea needs care. If you allow her time, she will give you much pleasure.
Do not expect any intense flavour, the aroma is a sort of clue for your imagination but the flavour keeps its secrets. If you are patient enough, after a few cups it will appear in all its beauty. It is not one of those kinds of tea you can drink without your full awareness. Well, of course you can but believe me, in this case it is a complete waste of time. I cannot tell you much about the particular characteristics, this tea is very hard to define. Each time I try, it simply runs away. It does not like being categorized. It is simply good.
To see the photo documentation and read the whole review, see my blog entry:
The dry leaf is beautiful dark green, long, and easily separable. Wet in a hot pot it smells intensely after raspberry and blackcurrant. The first infusion is rather light yellow, with an ochre tone, it smells after fruit and honey. The taste is very intense, typically NanNuo, something I really enjoy, with absolutely amazing huigan.
This tea is just fascinating. Being quite young, it offers typical bitter kuwei which goes hand in hand with returning sweet and altogether it creates a wonderful palette of tones. The bitterness gets stronger in the second, third and fourth infusions, it is never paralyzing though. After the sixth infusion the taste becomes much more balanced, still accompanied with wonderfully intense Bergamot orange trace, provoking sweet aftertaste and mouth-watering effect. This tea’s got simply everything.
2010 Pu-erh.sk NanNuo
Bitterness / Smokiness: High / None
Aroma: Sweet and spicy, interesting, typical NanNuo
Flavour: Bittersweet, intense with Bergamot orange special bonus
Aftertaste: Intense, immediate, sweet and refreshing
To read the whole review, see my blog:
I like the leaves of this particular sample: clean, easily separable and simply beautiful. The smell of dry leaf is sweet, fruity and ripen, I was even able to identify a hidden tone of chocolate dipped cherries. I truly enjoyed the way the tea broth got thicker, the taste rounder and sweeter with every infusion. The aftertaste came with a nice refreshing citrus trace. The fourth infusion was surprisingly creamy, I was not expecting this to appear and it was really a nice surprise. After the 6th or 7th infusion I could feel a slight trace of astringency and dryness, perhaps due to the little aging of the cake. Nevertheless, it was all in norm and did not affect the regular taste much.
It is in general a very friendly cake and I would recommend it especially to those who would like to try some of the young ancient tree cakes and do not know which one to go first. I must say it is one of the best Yiwu cake samples I have tried so far. However, I seem to run out of words when describing typical taste of this particular area.
If you want to read the whole review, see my blog:
In general the huigan of this particular tea is not very intense but when I decided to double the dose I usually use, it made wonders!
The tea soup is much deeper, thicker and definitely more complex. It even has that sweet effect which can be observed on wine glasses when the wine tears roll down the glass leaving “bridges” on the side of the glass. I would call it something like “honey effect” as the colour, aroma and taste reminds me of honey. It even pours down slowly from a narrow mouth of my teapot, as if it was full of sugary nectar.
8g-10g / 100 ml:
Aroma: sweet, fruity, specific yiwu
Taste: sweet, fruity, honey and nuts, thicker
Aftertaste: stronger in higher amount of leaves and longer steeping , sweet and nutty
If you are interested in reading little more about this tea session, see my blog entry:
The Jing Mai sample’s aroma is definitely sweet and fruity and the sweetness is well identifiable in the first infusions too. So is the bitterness which is not as strong as in my yesterday’s testing. Jing Mai just feels like You Le’s weaker sister, if it ever can be compared (sorry if you think it cannot). The first infusions were quite strong, I even thought for a minute I somehow happen to put too much tea in my little teapot but the fourth and fifth infusions were suddenly much weaker than the previous ones. I continued with warmer water and longer steeping but it unfortunately did not bring any better effect as the taste got really stable, even unshakeable by the influence of higher temperature and time. I ended up, however, with quite many brews and I really enjoyed the way the tea broth changes its colour, starting from shaded darker yellow to sparkling golden…
To read the whole review and view the photos from this tea session please see my today´s blog entry: http://teadropping.blogspot.com/2011/10/2009-douji-jing-mai.html?spref=fb
The smell of dry leaves in warmed teapot is just indescribable. It smells of something very very concrete, I just don’t know what it is. It reminds me of forest fruit jam or marmalade. The tea broth of the first brew is very thick and it becomes golden and transparent in later infusions as the tea leaves work exposed to air and water. I have been continually sticking my nose into the leaves for half an hour to be able to describe the aroma of wet leaves and it is typically gushu-ish fruity style, rather lighter and sweet, in contrast to the taste of the flavour. The flavour could be probably best described as soft sweet with higher bitterness and some astringency which altogether creates a nice symphony of tastes. After the sixth or seventh brew the color turns sparkling golden and the bitterness tones down in a very nice constellation, as if the tea got something MengKu-ish within to offer, a slight trace of bitterness which never paralyzes nor disappears, it just stays there and it gets smooth but long lasting. The aftertaste brings a tone of grapes.
To read the whole review see my blog: