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Recent Tasting Notes
Gongfu brewed in my shiboridashi. Without a doubt this is a good quality nugget puerh, but it is also more expensive due to the more elaborate “gift tea” packaging. This nugget puerh is on the lighter side but it still has expected smooth sweet mellow taste of one. This is also a very clean tea without any earthiness to it.
Yesterday was a day where I was finally able to sit down in the afternoon and enjoy tea gongfu style. I had tried a new method to making tea since my time was spent in class, at work, or babysitting my three-year-old nephew. I decided that it was “gongfu on the go,” simply because I had quick rinsed the tea into a 32 oz. thermos that my wife had purchased for me since I didn’t have time to drink tea at home (plus, the tumblers I use are too small for the amount of tea that I’d prefer to drink in one sitting). I must say, that I was pleasantly surprised on how long the tea had lasted, how long it stayed hot in the thermos, and how quickly I drink 32 oz. of tea.
Anyway, I had made plans last night to watch the Alien trilogy with my parents, but I (obviously) wanted to have tea during my viewing of the films. I picked out the 2007 Youle Ancient Tree Pu-erh from the Pu-erh shop to try while viewing the first Alien. I took my supplies over to my parents and worked on this tea via gongfu style while watching the film.
The initial taste of this tea had that sweet, grassy (I’d say leafy, but you know, it IS a leaf after all), slightly fruity, mouth drying, and refreshing taste that raw teas usually give. However, these flavors only lasted 8 steeps (not including the first rinse). I liked it; although, the tea was disappointing on the amount of time it had lasted. I’ve noticed that the “Ancient Tree” pu-erhs that I’ve had hadn’t lasted as long as I had thought they would.
With that said, I didn’t make it past the second film of the trilogy since I was nearly exhausted from the long week, the 4:45 A.M. waking time elevating that exhaustion, the tea going dead (I had failed to bring more, so I was drinking plenty of hot water while hoping that I could revive the tea), and the fact that I’ve had enough of cheesy Alien films (mostly the second film due to the cheesy dialogue and special effects).
Side Note: I’ve come to the conclusion that an Alien action figure would make a great tea pet.
Teas from Bang Dong have very recently gotten a lot more expensive. I threw this sample in my checkout basket while revisiting Puerhshop’s offerings. I had no idea what to expect since their Band Dong sheng pu’er offering is almost half the price of other vendors. Dry leaves are tippy, thin silver and dark grey tendrils with a subtle floral scent. Hydrated leaves are intact, delicate-looking, and olive toned. This one is intensely fragrant—pungent honeysuckle and deep sweet forest/medicinal musk. They brew a vibrant golden soup.
This tea isn’t nearly as subtle as the 2015 version from Yunnan Sourcing. It’s pungent in both flavor and qi. It has an excellent mouthfeel, good energy, and strong huigan. Yeah, this one took me for a bit of a ride. I picked up: honeysuckle, grilled asparagus, raw almonds, honey, edamame, stir-fried mustard greens. This might be too vegetal for some, but it has other desirable characteristics to balance that, I think. Admittedly, this experience was totally unexpected from a low-priced tea from this vendor. The tea is consistently full-bodied, potent, very flavorful, and (my favorite part) provides a spicy/numbing feeling that covers my entire tongue for 12+ steeps.
This is one of those teas where the spent leaves are too pretty to toss right away.
A pretty decent raw mini tuo. I used two of them in a 100mL gaiwan, which came out to about 7.3g. Lots of fruity flavors in this one. I think it might be what a lot of people describe as apricot, but I seem to be tasting it more as a dry apple type of flavor – idk. Got a little bit intense as both of them opened up at once. There was actually one steep I went a bit too long on and pretty much couldn’t drink. Seems like two of them is just a bit too much for 100mL, but 1 would’ve been too little. May be a good size for grandpa style in a mid-sized thermos though.
Flavors: Bitter, Fruity, Sweet
Pretty impressed with this raw puerh. Dry leaves had a minty smell to me. When I brewed the tea, they smelled more smoky and herbal. I didn’t get much of any smoke in the flavor of the tea. It was sweet throughout a session which lasted over 10 steeps. I got notes of honey and what could have been either tobacco or leather (maybe both). I also detected a bit of grassy or hay taste during a couple of mid-steeps. Body was not particularly strong but was slick in the mouth. Bitterness was almost nonexistent, except for in a mouth-drying feeling from steeps 3-5 or so. Possible the body would be more robust if I pushed this tea more, but that might also increase the bitterness. Pleased with this purchase. Great price to quality ratio in my opinion. Leaves are rather large and not too chopped up or anything.
Flavors: Grass, Hay, Honey, Leather, Sweet, Tobacco
Quick Review: Old leather shoe with a touch of smoke, wood, and dirt…. I could just brew it up for the aroma that’s left in the pot. Reminds me of tangerine scented potpourri.
Revisit: Okay, I was a little harsh at first. The first steeping was awful; however, the more I drank the tea, the better it became. It was smooth, had a lot more citrus notes hidden within the tea, and was very rich as the session went on. I like it. I might have to rinse this a couple of times before diving in.
Flavors: Citrus, Dirt, Leather, Smoke, Wood
This is a fairly tasty bittersweet ripe. It is good but not spectacular. It developed a nice sweet taste. Not really sure if I noticed any notes of chocolate in there. There was a fair amount of fermentation flavor. I’d say it was a factor for four or five steeps. It wasn’t fishy.
I steeped this twelve times in a 120ml gaiwan with 10.5g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. 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. There were a couple of steeps left in the leaves but I had had enough caffeine.
Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Sweet
Took this to work with thoughts of drinking an aged sheng all day.
Rather surprised by the dark brew of this was while walking back to my desk. What I like about this tea is how long you can brew it to provide a stronger taste of old earth; in the sense of grassy earth and not dirt like earth, if you know what I mean.
A mild lingering taste in the mouth with an upfront sensation on the lips which is somewhat similar to mint. This is not the kind of sheng that I prefer, but I can appreciate how enjoyable this is for what it is. Ideally this would be an enjoyable sheng during the colder months because it does have a bit of warmth to it and I like that.
This is probably a great candidate to wet store because I can tell the earthy notes from this after time would become better and better.
I found this ripe bittersweet at the start with a fair amount of fermentation flavor. It was dark and rich in the early infusions with some notes of bittersweet chocolate in there. It pretty much lost its fermentation taste by the fifth infusion. In any case I don’t remember that taste being of the particularly unpleasant sort. Perhaps it has simply cleared enough that the taste wasn’t too bad. If so that is a bit of a miracle as this was dry stored in Michigan at Puerhshop. I just bought it but I know they have had it for a number of years. In any case I liked this tea. It was not in the phenomenal category of ripe puerh but was a good solid ripe puerh for a decent price. Puerhshop has in my opinion it’s problems but they are one of the few major sources of puerh on this side of the Rocky Mountains. They have a lousy return policy when something goes wrong. I was once sent a moldy tea. They made me ship it back to them. I don’t know if they were planning on selling it to someone else. Yunnan Sourcing would have never expected me to ship the tea back to them if they sent out something moldy. I wish Yunnan Sourcing would open up something on the east coast.
I steeped this tea ten times in a 120ml gaiwan with 10.4g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. 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. The leaves were not done but I had had enough puerh. I’m sure I could have gotten a few more steeps out of the leaves.
Flavors: Chocolate, Dark Bittersweet, Earth, Sweet
This tea started out a little bit unpleasant tasting with the fermentation taste. It was also slightly bittersweet. It got progressively better though. It lost the unpleasant fermentation taste by the third steep and the fermentation taste completely by the sixth steep. It became a nice sweet ripe puerh with some of the classic notes involved, chocolate and dates I would venture to say. While this is not among the highest quality ripes in my opinion it is a nice solid tea. I liked this in the end, not so much in the first steep. It was very inexpensive at I believe only $24 for a cake. It had not cleared as much as you expect a 2005 ripe to have cleared but I enjoyed it.
I steeped this ten times in a 120ml gaiwan with 10.4g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. 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 could certainly have steeped it three or four more times had I wanted any more caffeine. This tea qualifies in the bargain category.
Flavors: Bitter, Dates, Earth, Sweet
I got a small sample of this with another order and decided to try it. This is a brick tea with low grade leaf, and not a ripe as it says in the title. In fact, if you read the description it says made from 2002 raw leaf which was aged and then either pressed or rewrapped in 2014. This is a heicha border tea, the dark leaves are oxidized and then fermented over time, along with raw, unoxidized leaf mixed in. The oxidizing may have been accidental, or the owner here didn’t know the difference.
The flavor is similar to other aged Tibetan brick heicha, with that Chinese medicine flavor. The leaves are large and papery, some are dark and stuck together a bit. Brew has a bit of thickness, and is a clear, dark orange/red. I don’t particularly care for the Chinese medicine/incense storage flavor, I can tell some camphor is part of it. In a way I’m curious whether I could work out that flavor but I have other such teas to use in an experiment. This tea is currently marked down to $16 or so for 250g.
Flavors: Camphor, Medicinal, Wood
I’m currently bowl steeping this, but I had the pleasure of a gongfu session with this tea on Lunar New Year a couple nights ago with some friends. I will do my best to sum up my thoughts on how it tastes both styles.
Really the biggest difference is that the continuous steep brings out a much stronger flavor. The taste of the gongfu infusions was not remarkably different from one to the next. Also, the tangerine taste comes through much more strongly with the long infusion than with the gongfu infusions, which may be a consideration for how you wish to brew it. I am brewing this with pieces of the tangerine rind in it as well, and I recommend you do it this way to get the full effect of this tea’s character.
Really the tangerine comes through strongest in the aroma, where it really smells like a fresh tangerine peel, despite being aged and oxidized until it’s entirely dark brown. In the flavor it comes through mildly and a bit tart with the gongfu infusions, more as a backdrop to the very forward flavor of the shou, which predominantly tastes like cedar and earth. When bowl steeping this, the tangerine flavor is much more tart and involved, and the first few sips of this tea had an almost meaty flavor that reminded me of smoked salmon with a squeeze of lemon. This Puer lacks sweetness, though I don’t find that it suffers from this. I think this could be good with sugar in it for people who like sweet tea. I tend to just drink things straight these days.
This is not a tea I will likely buy again, as I find it lacks the complexity and nuance of unflavored higher quality shou Puer, but this was a curio and a fun experiment to try for the first time, and I thought it fitting to serve to some friends as a part of a tea spread for Lunar New Year, since small citruses are a very common symbol of the holiday.
Flavors: Cedar, Citrus, Earth, Meat, Smoke, Tart
This was a free sample sent some time back with a previous order. A nice, smooth shou with a distinct malty sweetness & balanced the earthy flavors. Malt is new to me in a ripe pu-erh & I liked it. No fermentation flavors here at all. The first five or so steeps brewed dark, with good mouth feel & some coating oils. After that, it started to fall off & the flavors gradually tapered to a mellow earthiness by steep 8-10. I would have liked it to hold out a little longer. It seems the ‘06 is gone & puerhshop.com is now carrying the ’07. Maybe I’ll add a beeng/sample to my next order.
Flavors: Earth, Malt, Sweet
Another wishlist tea from dexter This seems to be a good every day sort of puerh which to me means, i don’t need to restock this because i want fantastic puerhs. I have every day blacks…when i have and take the time for puerh, i want it to be a great experience, not a decent one. That being said, there’s nothing fundementally wrong with this puerh. It’s smooth and offers slightly earthy notes (not strong) in the beginning and then tapers off to a smooth almost sweeter puerh in later steeps. this was good to kick off the morning, and i’m glad to have tried it. thanks dexter!
My nose could detect some fermentation on the rinse, but it has been clean tasting from the first steep. Tea brews a dark red-brown and has medium mouth feel. Not oily, but it does linger on the palate and has reasonable strength in the early steeps. Flavors are earthy/leathery, with some grain/cereal additions. This shou isn’t overly sweet, which I like.
Flavors: Earth, Grain, Leather
I normally steer clear of shou, but I have become curious to find clean and tasty options for a change of pace. I grabbed up this (free) sample from my stash hoping it would fit the bill on a cold and icy morning. So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The broken/separated dry leaf smelled sweet with a touch of earth and none of that nasty fishy/fermented stink. After a single hot rinse the earth was dominant in the pot, but not unpleasant . The first steep was immediately thick, dark and coated my mouth with soft cereal and earthy sweetness. I’ve steeped this sample 6-7 times so far and haven’t noticed much change except for a slight increase in sweetness over earth. If I had to say, this one might actually be a little too soft and uncomplicated even when given extended (2-3 mins) brew time. The strength of flavor doesn’t quite match up to the color, aroma, and mouth feel. Still, this leaf was enjoyable to my tastes and that is an achievement. I’m now hopeful there is a shou out there for me.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet
A very nice brick. I rinse 3 X 5sec. each before starting to enjoy this heartwarming shu. I find it to be rich and creamy with nice depth. A 10 year old brick which is quite easy to pick apart and retrieve many whole leaves. I’ve enjoyed 6 thick syrupy cups this morning – rich, earthy aromas and smooth sweet flavors. This is listed on the PuerhShop website as 450g brick for $32.95; however, mine came as (2) 225g bricks in the package (making it very easy to split with another shu lover).
Just got around to spending a couple of steeps with this tea. Ripe wasn’t cutting it so I decided to whip this one out. Brews up thick and smooth. It is quite smokey but I don’t mind it.. purple tea often is.. not sure if it’s the way it’s processed or innate to the tea or both. None-the-less, it brews up a deep amber color, lots of viscosity and very smooth. Don’t find it astringent at all with short steeps. I do remember having tried it about 2 months ago and found it bitter. This time, not at all. Can’t imagine 2 months made the difference, it is probably that the first time I drank it, there were a lot of broken leaves and tea dust that had fallen off the edge of the cake. This time, I picked some carefully off the back.
One of my harp students, who also happens to be a friend now (most of my grown up students end up also becoming my friends) stayed for tea after her lesson today. First we shared a pot of Russian Caravan from The Tea Spot. Then I handed her my Tea Index and let her pick one. The last time she stayed for tea we ended up trying a purple black tea (I can’t remember which one), so today I answered her questions regarding puerh, shou vs sheng, purple teas, etc. Then she selected this one.
She just left, after 6 or 8 rounds in sets of 2, and I don’t really have much to say. (I hate that I’m the first to review this….really?). It’s good: nice buzz, a little bitter, a little sweet, kind of smokey, a little rough on the stomach (I had to take a break after 4 rounds to share an apple, and now after a few more rounds I’m reheating my leftover breakfast soup). There’s a nice tip of tongue numbing, sinus clearing aromatics, and though it has mostly been a savory tea, the most recent rounds are yielding a sweeter taste.
Thanks to Tea Explorer for the generous sample :)