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Recent Tasting Notes
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.
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
Drink this unique and delicious tea with hot (not boiling) water, and slowly without any distractions to catch its complexities.
Dried leaves in a moist teapot actually smell like chocolate, but once brewed have an initial pleasant smokiness that changes into a deep forest aroma that is sweet and herbal.
First steep: Bright yellow liquor. Crisp, medicinal/grassy, faintly flowery, subtly astringent, and with a long smooth finish that is refreshing and leaves a rejuvenating warmth (cha qi) that spreads from the throat to the chest.
Second steep: similar to the first steep, only thicker and rich minerals notes. The medicinal/grassy flavors are more pronounced and become savory with a long sweet finish.
This is basically a robust green tea, but more complex, easier to brew, and has infinite aging potential. All that being said, it’s not for those with weak stomachs, but highly recommended for lovers of sheng!
I’m finding myself purchasing more of these quality young shengs…
Flavors: Camphor, Dark Bittersweet, Flowers, Green Beans, Herbs, Whiskey
Okay, it’s time for me to stop being in dragon mode (hoarding it all to myself) and review this. I didn’t want to hype it too much b/c I hadn’t had the funds to order my fill yet, but I just placed an order for the rest that I foresee myself purchasing, so here goes.
Oh boy! This tea has interesting written all over it. I was first drawn to the packaging, as I love the stag artwork on the wrapping. After reading the description from PuerhShop and the other review here on Steepster I knew I should give it a try, so I ordered a sample.
The first sniffs of the dry leaves in a warm gaiwan are wonderful. It has a really soft fragrance with the scent of flowers and fruits. I’m getting hints of magnolia, and maybe some cherry, plum, or nectarine. Definitely a stone fruit scent.
The scent of the wet leaves is more complex and hard to describe. It’s predominantly nutty and vegetal, but with a nice fruity tanginess in the background. It reminds me of really high quality green teas from china. Maybe a Bi Luo Chun. There is also a subtle floral aroma if you inhale deeply. This is lovely.
I gave the rinse a little taste. Even just sipping that there is a lingering floral taste in my mouth. Wow. I’m not going to describe the other flavors of it. I’ll do the first infusion first.
Something about the scent of the brewed tea makes me incredibly nostalgic. It smells very perfumed and flowery. the taste is more vegetal, buttery, and nutty, with green bean notes, but the lingering floral taste and aroma is what sets this Puer apart from others of its kind for me. I can definitely agree with the other reviewer here who said it reminds them of oolong tea. I can tell it is sheng puer from a mile away, but it definitely has a lot in common with oolong in its floral and green notes.
In the second infusion, the tea has become a bit more buttery and nutty. It still has a bright vegetal and floral note, but it is not as powerful as before. It is very prominent on the nose still, however.
The third infusion is a little more sweet and floral. Less of the vegetal, nutty. Still pretty buttery and smooth. I should mention that this tea has zero bitterness and is a really great raw puer. Very warming qi.
If you go with this tea for about 7 to 8 infusions or more, it starts to mellow out substantially, and any hints of young puer bitterness it might have fade away. The predominant flavor is of honey and flowers. The taste and fragrance are something sort of like orange blossom water. It just goes on and on this way for many infusions. It’s so gentle and lovely, I can only imagine how great this tea will be in a couple decades.
I’m buying a handful of cakes of this to age… the first tea I’ve done that with! I have seasoned one of Master Weilong’s one of a kind unglazed interior gongfu teapots with this tea. It smells so nice inside now. This is a tea I’ll be taking with me for the long haul.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Green, Stonefruits, Vegetal
Delicious, beautiful and affordable, this sheng pu’er is sweet, savory, and complex in flavors as it transforms with each steep. The tea broth is very pure tasting, fruity, spicy and smooth. I’m inclined to say it has an oolong-like quality to it.
I’m willing to wait for teas that need to age a few years, but this one is perfect now. It may be one of the best teas I’ve ordered from Puerh Shop yet. See flavor profile below. I recommend using more leaf to experience the full potential of its flavor profile.
Flavors: Cocoa, Dried Fruit, Herbs, Honey, Menthol, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Osmanthus, Rainforest, Whiskey
Very strong stuff. Pleasant and pungent honey-like fragrance, deep complex flavors, with notes of citrus and a long sweet finish. Fine for current consumption if you have a strong stomach like me (I prefer strong flavors in general). Highly recommended for those who can wait 5 years for that cha qi to mellow out into something amazing.
Recommendation: Don’t be like me and store it next to a box of bar soap. Though it had no effect on the brewed tea, I now have to air out that bar soap smell. Must store in a place with no odors!
Flavors: Bitter Melon, Cacao, Citrus, Fireplace, Forest Floor, Green Apple, Honey
5 steeps: rinse, rinse, 5s, 10s, 20s, 30s, 60s, 4min
5s: Generic puerh taste
10s: Generic puerh taste
20s: Puerh that’s beginning to lose it’s flavor on the 3rd steep
30s: Generic puerh taste (once again on the weak side)
1 min: Generic puerh taste
4 min: Surprisingly weak after 4 minutes
Woooow I am floored. The leaves on this were large and flat and I wasn’t sure how much to add so I decided to put in extra just in case. I ended up filling the whole 90ml gaiwan by accident. Wasn’t expecting the leaves to expand that much I guess. Anyway, since the gaiwan was full, I was expecting to end up with tea that was very strong, dark, and maybe a bit bitter. What did I end up with? Just barely decent tea. I kept thinking to myself “what does it say about a ripe puerh if the gaiwan is full and it still barely gives any flavor?” I’lllll tell you what it means. I means I’m a sucker. This was one of 4 teas that I bought as my first puerh purchase. Puerhshop was recommended and I didn’t have much to spend so I selected 4 teas from their clearance section. I thought “Clearance” meant “marked down” teas, not “crap” teas. Literally all four teas (3 tous, and this brick) turned up extremely bland. sigh Lessons learned:
1. You get what you pay for
2. Sample, sample, sample
This is one of the top ripes I’ve tasted from Puershop. It started off a little bitter, but that faded and it became quite smooth. It has a velvety thick texture and very good flavor. Moderately earthy and dark, but not too much. Kind of safe tasting and a pleasure to drink. As is typical with ripes from Puershop, it is very reasonably priced.
Now this is a really interesting tea. I am working through a set of samples from Puerhshop.com and I’ve been steeping through them. Some I have to go back to, but this one really turned my head.
I took the first sip and thought I must be drinking an oolong! This has a much different flavor profile from many young shengs. Instead of apricots and smoke, I got more floral notes. It didn’t just remind me of an oolong, it quite literally tastes oolongy.
If cakes of this remain when I order again, I’ll probably grab one. Good stuff!
This is an excellent ripe puerh. And despite it being a “2014” tea is is aged well. It is actually year 2000 tea that was pressed into a brick in 2014 so it is well aged. It has not developed any odd or off flavors in that time. It is sweet with no taste of camphor. There is virtually no fermentation flavor left at all, just as you would expect. It is not expensive for an aged ancient tree brick at only $50 a brick too. There were some complex notes of chocolate and the like in this tea as well as a few others I couldn’t quite place. It held up well through eight steeps and would have taken more but I am at my caffeine limit for the night. It was not very weak even in the eighth steep and I think it would have taken at least twelve or more total. That being said it was not quite as tasty as the 2008 Song of Chi Tse but it was close, relatively close.
I steeped this eight times in a 130ml Yixing teapot with 6g leaf and boiling water. I steeped it for 15 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, 2 min, and 5 min. It held a nice strength even in steep number eight but was of course not real strong. There was only a bare touch of fermentation flavor in steeps two and three.
Thanks to Cookies for letting me try this.
I tried make this shorter with my Western mug. Rinse, and brewed for about 45 seconds. My stove clock is digital. It has an interesting scent. It’s both earthy and ricey. Like if I had mushroom and rice soup. That comes out in the flavour too.
Flavors: Earth, Mushrooms, Rice
Another awesome puerh from boychik! I’m so grateful to have had all these really excellent samples to try :)
My guts are still recovering from my crazy weekend so shu is in order again today. This one started out very earthy/woodsy. Later steeps became a lot sweeter and almost fruity with some earthiness left over in the background. I love experiencing how these develop into different flavors as they go.
Also I know lots of people on Steepster have been saying that shu really helps with belly issues, but yesterday was the first time I’d experienced it first hand! I’ve been drinking shu for a while but generally my tummy is pretty tough so I’ve never tried to use it sort of medicinally like that. It really seems to help though! No more rumbly guts :)
When I first got this tea a few years ago it had a strange mix of being a bit mellow like a ripe puerh but with a harsh edge like young green puerh which was too much for me to be able to handle. Now around 6 years later those harsh edges have left and the resulting tea resemble the samples of aged dry storage puerh but in a lot less time. So it looks like the “half cooked puerh” theory worked out as the tea was able to age much faster than green puerh. Worthwhile to pick up a cake of if you get the chance but if you prefer wet storage puerh like I do chances are you will not be drinking too much of it over the long term either.
I have been sicker than a dog all day, and I honestly wasn’t up to par for multiple short steepings in my lil gaiwan…So, I opted instead, for 1-45second steeping, and 2-1 minute steepings in a glass pot. Mysterious, earthy and lightly smokey.
I am sure this has many more infusions left and while this particular puerh is not especially complex, it feels to me like classic puerh without any bitterness or other distractions~ straightforward.
This is good
This is one of those times where I wish I had the ability to accurately describe the flavor of a tea. At first this tea has a very woody taste to it. At steeping four the taste goes from woody to, for lack of a better word, woodsy. At steeping six the taste goes from woodsy to earthy. The neat thing is, none of the changes were gradual, they happened all at once. Besides the above flavors, there is some very nice and complex undertones in the background. I really like this tea!!!
I was lucky to receive some of this tea as a sample and enjoyed it so much I had to buy some! The tea broth is lovely and thick with a tasty malt overtone and low astringency in early infusions that is almost sweet. There is an aroma and flavor of cocoa, though not nearly as strong as in the Yi Mei Ren. There is also an aroma and flavor that reminds me of cassia, but it was faint in the first steeping. The cassia aroma and flavor intensifies with later, longer infusions, but doesn’t become at all overpowering. The malty taste recedes some after the 3rd or 4th infusion. This tea doesn’t lose flavor after several steepings and the tea broth continues to be a dark, clear red-brown. Later infusions become slightly astringent due to the length of infusion needed, but not unpleasantly so.
The caffeine content of this tea is moderate enough that I can actually enjoy many infusions and not get the headache caused by too much caffeine that I get with most other teas, which makes it a great every day tea. I hope Puerh Shop continues to carry this tea, because I really enjoy it!
This was a one brew sized sample so I’m not sure if it was my brewing or not but this one is a bit different. It has an unusually strong taste for a shu that is more woody instead of earthy which I would expect for what the vendor describes as being wet stores. Too bad the sample was a one brew size as it is one of those teas that it takes a second time or so to try before knowing if you want to buy a whole cake or not.