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Recent Tasting Notes
Brewing in my new Crimson Lotus Jian Shui pot!
Spicy and bittersweet , notes of green wood, honey, tobacco, wet earth, and a unique cocoa powder note. It’s not cocoa in a “chocolate” sort of way, but it reminds me distinctly of baking with my mom. Not as green as you would expect for a 2013 tea. The mouthfeel is a bit thin, but I like the strong bitter character and the uniqueness of the flavor.
Flavors: Cocoa, Floral, Green Wood, Honey, petrichor, Tobacco
Brews up a medium yellow, mildly bitter and astringent. This tea has flavors of green beans, whiskey, petrichor, herbs, and a fruity bitterness like white grape skins. Nice lingering sweetness and aroma in the mouth. The mouthfeel is a little bit thin, but overall it’s pretty nice and a bargain at it’s current price.
Flavors: Green Beans, Herbs, petrichor, Whiskey, White Grapes
Note: my tuo was purchased through Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company; given that most of their pu seems to be sourced through other vendors, I just added this one instead of creating a new entry. Should anyone have knowledge that this is a noticeably differently stored tea, I’d be interested to hear it.
This tea is reputedly from Lao Man’E, a region of some renown. It is famous for its tremendous strength and bitterness, and the dry leaf odor alone lends some credence to this claim, as it manages to smell like a kilo of tea in a 250g bag.
I didn’t leaf too heavily, this being the first Bulang I’ve had at all, and I didn’t want to have to spend my evening trying to find where my taste buds had landed after they’d been blown clean out of my head. I think I hit a decent proportion for a Bulang novice at about 1g/18mL, as the bitterness was certainly present in greater quantity than I would expect from a 9 year old sheng, but was not so bad that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the first few cups. Later infusions softened comparatively, but never backed down to the point that you could be sure you hadn’t insulted the tea’s lineage in a past life and it was out for revenge.
This all being said, I do believe this is from very young trees/bushes – it didn’t exhibit tremendous complexity or particularly pronounced aftertaste (though the ku hung around for a bit, somehow in a manner rather enjoyable). Body effect was non-zero, but not impressive. Wet leaves were reasonably intact – most of any leaf was there, but rarely all. As this was my initial crack into the tuo, this could be a covering leaves only phenomenon. Leaf size was rather small.
Overall it was an interesting experience – if I’d read my account of it beforehand, I’d likely have expected to have enjoyed it less than I actually did. Perhaps next time I’ll go big and see if I have an even better time, or just get knocked on my keister.
Likely worth a sample if you like teas that bite back – not that I’m sure anyone offers samples of it. But at right around 20 per tuo, it’s a good value for a “daily drinker” IMO.
Just watch what you say about its mother.
This was a cheap brick. That being said it was a really delicious tasting cheap brick. It started out with a bit of a woody note to it, not sure exactly how to describe the note. It had a fair amount of fermentation taste to it but this was not unpleasant or fishy to me. It developed a nice sweet note to it. To go out on a bit of a limb perhaps a dates note to it. I didn’t pay very much for this brick but it was worth every penny. This is one I would consider stocking up on. It was that good.
I steeped this twelve times in a 150mml gaiwan with 11.2g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, and 2 min. I could have gotten a few more steeps out of this tea but twelve was enough for me.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet, Wood
Drank this today while reading the timeline of Star Trek and now I feel dumb… then again it’s confusing. Enterprise is the earliest of them all but it was made last, why why why!
Anyways, this is a solid tea that has no bitter notes to it and a strong taste of what raw sheng is like when pure and untampered with by elements such as age, humidity, traveling, random hairs stuck in the cake, fast food oil from fingers when it was broken, and anything else.
That being said: All jingmai material I’ve had has been excellent and pure. This is true for this as well, even if I support what Glen is doing and say with a bias; CLT has that good good jingmai.
Here’s a reason to buy this: It’s a 2013 Jingmai cake at only $19 for 200g. I’m being serious when I say that’s a good deal.
I was a bit wary of this tea due to the youth and the fact it’s a factory production, so I went a bit light on parameters, using 6g leaf and 200 degree water in my 100mL gaiwan. I was ready to be assaulted by bitterness, but was pleasantly surprised. I definitely got some heavy bitterness in steeps 3-5, and steep 3 did make me shudder a little bit. However, I expected much worse. The flavors were mostly vegetal, though the first two also had a definite spicy note, like pepper. It was reminiscent of peas or maybe asparagus or something like that. Not particularly interesting, as that was the main flavor throughout, though it did acquire a bit of a floral aspect in the last couple steeps.
The leaves were quite chopped up. I actually had to go and clean my strainer mid-session, because it got all gummed up with leaf. Thus, the tea got going pretty quickly, and died off a bit sooner than more whole-leaf puerh might.
I am pleased with this purchase, and might pick up a couple more to hang on to, because I found it enjoyable now, so I’m rather certain I will at least in the near future as well.
Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Peas, Peppercorn, Sweet, Vegetal
The second tea that I’ve tried from the Puerhshop. I bought a TON of tea recently from them (plus some cakes from Crimson Lotus and the Dark Matter from LP) and I’d say I’m good for a long time. On top of that, I have a vendor from China sending some samples for me to try (which I hope isn’t a scam—although he didn’t want anything from me but an address…so….I’ll let you know).
Anyway, back to this tea….https://www.instagram.com/p/BDMiwkQg-0p/?taken-by=sgsanders1
I had a total of 10 brews from this. The first steeping was sweet, slightly astringent, and vegatal. However, as the sessions continued, the astringency wore off, and the vegetal notes grew, and it had a touch of sweet grass. I wasn’t able to get a full set of notes on this, due the inability to focus 100% on the tea because I was playing Star Wars Battlefront online; however, I know that this tea was enjoyable, and will be put on the “to get after I sipdown half of my tea cupboard” list. I loved this session, and that is all I have to say about it.
Not even a hint of pickle … not that I would have expected that except for a reviewer’s comments. This is the largest 250gm cake I’ve ever seen. Very thick cake. Just brewed up 7gm in small yixing gaiwan… about 100gm of water or less, 15 seconds. It’s dark red in color, very smooth but much more savory than sweet. A bit of spice around the edges. I then brewed the next steep in about 10-12 oz of water for about 30 seconds. Very dark, opaque, smooth and soothing but without any particular distinctive flavor sticking out. My experience with shou of this age is that it takes time for the cake to air out and sometimes the flavors open up a bit in subsequent sessions as more of the cake is picked apart. I wouldn’t recommend or not recommend this one. I’ll enjoy this cake but won’t replace it. Would like to try it after a heavy meal. I can picture it as a soothing end to a fine meal.- what I left out yesterday, this tea has a lot of staying power. I was right – perfect after a heavy meal, also fine right before bed, did not keep me awake… and still going strong the next morning and even better than yesterday’s brews – more distinct spice, a bit of vanilla and even a little “oily”
Short on time today so I brewed this up western style. This is sweet with little bitterness. There is a fair amount of fermentation flavor but not of the unpleasant sort. Also seem to be getting a bit of camphor in this tea. It is pretty good.
I brewed this once in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and boiling water for 30 seconds after a 10 second rinse.
Rich gave me a sample of this and either he was trolling, something went wrong with the sample, or this tea is not meant to be drank.
I brewed this for 10 second with 100c and it taste like someone strained a pickle in maybe a drop of puer. One of the most sour drinks I have drank before and it is not appealing at all. There is no way I can finish drinking this or provide a positive remark unless you’re making candy with this somehow.
I got this one from madametj who first reviewed this tea. It’s pretty bad. I drank maybe 4 ounces of it. I’ll probably just toss it.
So far I’ve been spoiled with tasting only good shou. Good to learn that there is bad stuff out there and to experience them, which makes me appreciate the good stuff even more.
Again a revision – drank this yesterday and used 5.4 gm in about 8 – 10oz of water. The tea has really changed. It was deeper, richer, darker and held up nicely under multiple steeps. Putting the rest away again and will try it over the summer to taste how time has worked its magic.
OK; time to revise my impressions of this brick. Tried it again tonight. Used a little over 6gm and about 100gm of water. I can see some potential in this tea. The little bricks are about 11gm each and you probably need to use a whole one for a session. There is still some fermentation flavor but I don’t mind it. I like the direction it’s going in and it might eventually get there. Still reluctant to give it a numerical rating but also not committed enough to “recommend” it; but I want to be fair to the tea ;). I had to push the steep to a whole minute so I think this tea might work as a western brew with half a little brick; although not ruling out gong fu with lots of tea to water ratio.
Just received 2 100gm bricks of this today. I was very excited to brew up a square and experience a rich, sweet, wonderful Dayi shou experience… unfortunately, that’s not what happened. I found it disappointingly flat, cloudy and devoid of flavor. I’ve loved Red Rhyme and V93. Of course those had some years on them (2010 & 2011) but can’t imagine time will rescue these from their blahness. Maybe I’m wrong and time will bring these bricks to their full potential… so back in the cupboard they go. Plenty of other teas to try in the meant time; I’ll refrain from giving this tea a numerical rating for the time being.
Ok… and we’re back. I let this sit over night and then steeped. What a difference. now it’s clearer, deeper in color and thickness and tasting in the right direction, while still not brimming over with flavor. I now have hope this tea will eventually be worthwhile.
I just got a new electric kettle, and this is what I picked to test it out on. This cake is gorgeous. Long chaotic tendrils of dark green, silver, gold, and brown mix wildly together. The cake carries a dry fruit and almost tang scent. I placed a generous chunk with some maocha in my warmed yixing and gave it a shake. These leaves have a smooth and creamy scent. I could almost taste caramel. I began my brewing. My kettle is amazing! I feel as though my tea experience has been upgraded. I now have a reliable and consistent temperature. The warmed leaf has an almost chocolate and cream scent. The taste was spectacular. My mouth was immediately coated with a warm tingling sensation upon sipping. The liquor was sweet and honey like. I detected no bitterness or astringency in this brew. I was getting honey suckle and floral tones throughout steeping. This tea stoop up well for quite some time. It was a very sweet and succulent gong fu session. The qi was uplifting and intense. My body was heady and my eyes were lite up. This was my way of winding down after a very long day. I loved this session, and I cant wait to continue revisiting this cake!
Flavors: Caramel, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Smooth, White Grapes
After a rinse the leaves smell like pear and forest. The rinse infusion tastes very light. The taste starts out a bit like prune and is slightly woody and smokey in the finish.
The first infusion is really tasty. Lightly smokey at first with a mid sip of sweet fruit, orange peel and a bit of honeysuckle. There’s a long lingering taste of orange peel after the sip.
The second infusion is a bit more tart and reminds me of orange again with notes of green olive. The next infusion is even more tart and with a bit of a bitterness in the finish. There is less distinguishable flavor overall and more the sensations of tartness and bitterness. Subsequent infusions taste similar but the flavor continues to pale. The tartness wanes but the light bitterness stays.
This Puer was very tightly compressed, and it took several infusions to really come apart. The first few infusions of this tea were a real delight and what I’ve come to expect from MGH, but I didn’t feel it performed as well in later infusions. The young bitter Puer qualities seem to lurch forward. It isn’t my favorite from that factory but was definitely a nice sample to try.
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Honeysuckle, Orange, Smoke, Tart
Had to add this one the database. This was a sample sent to me by Puerh Shop with my last order. I’m up way later than I should be with anticipation for the first ever Midwest Tea Fest in the morning… which starts in 8 hours and I haven’t slept. Haha. Oh well. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
This tea smells smokey after a rinse, with some forest floor and dried fruit aromas as well. The initial rinse brew tastes a little bit smokey and pretty earthy. I’m going to skip on to the first infusion. Second infusion is also rather smoky tasting with just a hint of dried fruit note. Third infusion is also full of plenty of smokey flavor. There’s a bit of a drying quality on the tongue and a peppery aftertaste. The next infusion is somewhat bitter and vegetal, still very smokey.
I’ll end my review here as I can see that this is going to be a very smokey Puer experience. I am not one to personally go for this type of tea, and the drying feeling on the tongue is a bit of a downer to me too. It’s not a tea I don’t like to drink, but not one I’d seek out.
Flavors: Bitter, Dried Fruit, Earth, Smoke, Vegetal
This is a fairly tasty but bitter sheng puerh. It was quite bitter in thte early steeps. I would say it took at least four steeps to begin to lose its bitterness. It also developed that fairly typical sheng sweetness often described as apricots or stonefruits, but it took a while. This was not a tea that was noticeably sweet in the first few infusions. I would venture to say that this tea also developed a noticeable aftertaste, bittersweet in nature. As to the big question about this tea, is it real LBZ material for the price Puerhshop gets? I have been told that it cannot be but there is no proof that Puerhshop is lying about its origins. Alas, it is not possible to answer this question. The only real question I can answer is did I like this tea, overall, yes.
I steeped this tea ten times in a 140ml Ru Kiln Celadon teapot with 8.2g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and let the leaves rest for ten minutes. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, and 1 min. I should also note that the leaves on this tea were still somewhat green and the color of the tea soup a dark yellow. It definitely needs to age a bit.
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter
Hello, Friday! I have a love-hate relationship with this day, on the one hand I usually have the whole day to myself because Ben works an awful 11+ hour shift, so it has become officially ‘my’ day, of course the hate part also comes from working that shift because it takes a toll….ICE CREAM TRUCK!!!! Sorry, as I was typing that an ice cream truck drove by, and I am still such a kid at heart that I get really excited by it, though I have not bought anything from one in years, last time I tried to they wanted $3 for a lousy snow-cone, yeah not happening. Anyway, I hate how pooped poor Ben is after his shift. Usually I prepare a favorite tea for him when he gets home, a giant mug or large teapot, depending on exactly how rough the day was.
Ok, grab yourself a snack or better yet, some tea, because this introduction is going to be a bit of a long one, it is time to finally look at some Hunan Gold…en Flowers! Yes, I am looking at that Eurotium cristatum encrusted Hei Cha from Hunan that was once trundled across the Tea Horse Road to Tibet in very large baskets. Oh, where to begin, let us start with the golden elephant in the room, the Eurotium cristatum, the golden flowers that give this tea its name. First off, trying to research this fungus is a nightmare, there is not a ton of information on this fungus out there, sure I can find a few reports here and there (including one neat one on finding a new species of Eurotium and Aspergillus in Chinese soil, and yest it was Eurotium cistatum) and there were LOADS of websites about EC extract and the tea itself, and all the supposed health claims related to it. This tea has a tendency to really squick people out, turns out we are kinda hard-wired to not want to consume things that have things growing on them, oh sure yogurt and other fermented foods are fine because we cannot see the growing things, but it gets super weird when you can see that it is still very much so alive. Not to mention that looking into this fungus will pull up a lot of bad info on the Eurotium genus, but basing the ‘badness’ of one fungus on the reputation of the whole genus is not always the best thing, I mean look at the Amanitas for example, a lot of them are rather toxic (including the very deadly Amanita virosa) but Amanita caesarea is a well loved edible mushroom, fungi are just funky like that, and don’t get me started on the Tomato/Nightshade thing! I could go on…and on…on this subject, but that would be bonkers, so next a bit on Hei Cha! Hei Cha means Dark Tea, it is the official term for fermented teas, including Puerhs, Liu Bao, and a ton of other teas that have a microbial party going on in their leaves.
So, finally on to the specific tea of the day, 2008 Fu Zhuan Tea Brick from PuerhShop, as soon as I opened my sample package (thank you to fellow Tea Drinker’s member, Michael for this tea adventure!) I had a blast admiring the tea, being a fungophile, the Golden Flowers are really quite beautiful, I had to show them off to anyone who would listen to me rant on the beauty of the fungal bloom, of course the sad thing was when this first arrived I had that stupid cold, so I could not try them (I mean I could have, but I would not have tasted them) so into a foil bag the tea went for safe keeping. It was a long, hard, wait, and not just because colds suck, but because this tea has been on my ‘to try’ list for AGES, because I am obsessed with fungi and this is a colony of the stuff. The aroma of the tea is incredibly woody, not so much a forest floor woody, but a steaming pile of mulch woody. There are also notes of leather and a touch of sweet pine loam. It is such an intensely woody smelling tea, the mulch notes remind me of a mix of oak wood and tanbark (which a quick look-up just informed me is oak, specifically oak used in tanning from all those tannins!) and I have mixed feelings on it, it reminds me of helping my grandparents with mulching their garden, good memories, not the best smell.
So, I brewed this in my gaiwan, doing my usual thing I do for a dark tea, specifically in the vein of a Shou Puerh, meaning I did a rinse (doubled up this time) and really short steeps. That first attempt was not so good, so I looked up instructions and altered my method a bit to only one rinse and a long first steep with very short later steeps. The aroma of the soggy (and not so golden anymore) leaves is so woody! Like a pile of stems and mulch, oak heavy with a bit of pine loam. There is also a bit of a camphorous almost effervescent quality to the leaves, even though it is super woody it smells pretty good. The liquid is a pile of wood, like lying face first in freshly rained on oak mulch with a pinch of leather on the finish.
I am going to just lay it all on the table, I do not like this tea, at all. I am not sure if there is something wrong with the tea (having never had it before, though I do have a different sample of a Fu Zhuan to try now sitting on my desk, convenient timing on that one) or if I just do not like it, so I cannot judge it on quality. Doing a little research on Fu Zhuan, it is said that the taste will connect you to the element of Earth in Chinese Medicine, personally I think I got kicked in the face by an angry Ent trying to impart lots of the element of Wood. It tastes like drinking mulch water (yes, I do know EXACTLY what that tastes like) mixed with leather and that same odd taste you get from chewing on the collar of your cotton shirt (and yes I know what that tastes like too, I was a chewer once upon a time) there is a touch of sweetness at the finish that reminds me of pine loam, that part I liked, but the woody and almost cardboard like aftertaste killed it for me.
I did a second steep, because you never know, maybe it will be really tasty! I have a Puerh that the first three steeps have to be tossed because they taste like the Asian market I bought it from, but oh man, the steeps later are amazing, so I am going to try some more. This steep is better, but I still don’t like it, which I admit is really weird. You all know that I love teas that are woody, and often say that is one of my favorite aspects of Shou, but something about this specific woodiness just does not taste at all right. I confess that I legit sad and cried into my tea, I tried a couple more steeps and did not like them either, I was so excited to try this tea and not liking it just hurt. I guess I can love every tea I try, no matter how badly I want to.
Addendum to my last tasting note:
I’ve tried many teas samples in between these two postings and I decided to purchase the entire cake based on the quality, uniqueness, and price. It’s a neat exercise to go back to earlier tasting notes while sipping on that same tea to compare current to previous flavor descriptions (and writing ability). The description still holds true.
Jim from the Puerh Shop claims it’s “truly grown wild”, and I think I can believe. It has that extra-long pleasant finish that fills the mouth and unique sharp edge (not astringent, but herbal and sweet at the same time) I’ve picked up in “wild” teas from other vendors. It’s also true that Jim doesn’t seem make that claim very often. Puerh Shop has gotten some bad press in the Western online puerh universe, but I won’t go into those issues.
Unique, delicate, savory, honey-like, and fragrant. I used hot (non-boiling) water. The leaves are olive green, intact, and have an unusual orchid-like aroma. The first steep is somewhat monotone, but the second steep is where the flavors begin to reveal themselves. It has that wonderful sweetness that reminds me of a deep pristine forest in the summer. The tea brews bright yellow with very little astringency, and leaves an unusual up-lifting sensation in my mouth and chest. Even without reading the description, it’s clear these tea leaves were well sourced from a pure environment.
Jim thoughtfully included this sample in my last order. I’ve never had pu’er this young before, but I am quite pleased. The dried leaves in the teapot have a flowery fragrance, but when brewed remind me of a campfire (not BBQ) in an old growth forest. Very rustic and deep. Brewed leaves are green and the tea liquor is golden. I’m surprised by how pleasant it is to drink now!
The first steep is sweet, aromatic, herbal, with hickory tones that compliment the overall flavor profile rather than overwhelm. True to its description, I’m left with a very long, pleasant sensation deep in my throat. Quite remarkable.
Flavors: Campfire, Camphor, Flowers, Herbs, Rainforest, Vegetal