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Recent Tasting Notes
Prepared western, 7 grams per 300 ml vessel, steeped for 5 minutes or so.
There is not many things that annoy me, but one of them are “funny” comments about my tea. For instance “You are having some awful smelling tea.”, or “Those weeds you call a tea?” and such. Today it was “You have some really strong tea today, right?”. I said nothing to this comment. Like coffee is refined drink, especialy when they use just pre-grinded coffee beans and fill the cup with hot water (not sure how this preparation method called in English).
So, I was drinking my really strong tea today afternoon, as again I was craving puerh somehow. I rarely get green teas as they don’t understand why I don’t want boiling water and of course, they use it for their coffee.
I got indeed a bit earthy, but not fishy, as AllanK says, indeed quite fermented. Following with sweet notes, quite like a dark caramel to me, with some notes of red berries and their seeds. Interesting flavour profile and I wonder how those flavours will develop during gongfu steeping one day.
Thank you Michelle and Rich for yet another shu puerh.
*they = my family members
Surprised they have this one on Steepster haha. Blind bought a cake of this because it was so cheap (< $0.04/g!) and I wanted to try a different type of heicha than shou puerh. This tea is in bits – some of the smallest I’ve seen in loose leaf tea. Lots of bits of stems too.
I think this is a decent value for what it is. I was hoping for it to be tolerable at least, and that it is. Flavor is a bit sweet, but fairly simple. No astringency or bitterness. Mouthfeel is decent, but not as full or interesting as many shous I’ve tried. Flavor profile is very different from the shous I’ve tried. This one completely lacks any earthy/forest floor notes that are common in shou. Longevity is poor at 5-6ish infusions, but I didn’t try to push the times in the later infusions.
I can see myself sipping on this from time to time, as a break from shous. Will likely take me a long, long time to get through the brick haha.
Flavors: Citrus, Pepper, Sweet
Part of the huge puerh gift box from Rich, thanks!
Earthy and creamy and smooth. Maybe not the most complex, but certainly drinkable and not harsh. Not fishy or dirt tasting, just a standard ripe puerh, you won’t be disappointed if you don’t expect too much. A good candidate for mixing with peppermint.
Sample from fresh PS order. While my experience with puerh is not great enough to tell how dry storage vs wet storage should affect the flavor, this does seem like a fairly green tea for its age. Only trace bitterness though does seem to indicate that it has some age. Nice flavor overall.
Mouthfeel is only mildly thick, and even less so for its age. Stopped after infusion 8. I will say that this is the first time I’ve experienced what I assume others refer to as “cha qi,” and it was quite overpowering. Perhaps this also indicates it has some age to it?
That said, if I could sum the flavor of this tea up in one word, it would be “boring.” I wonder if/how much the storage conditions affect this experience. Not bad and pleasant to drink, but not the tea for me in the end. I have heard some people don’t trust PS’s reliability with older cakes such as this one…
Flavors: Bell Pepper, Bitter, Pear, Smooth, Sweet, Sweet Corn
Last of the 5 samples from Puerhshop. This one was free. Yet another cake under $0.10/g
Basically no bitterness or astringency. Mild sweetness. Initial flavor is bold for a sheng, but I find the complexity, mouthfeel, and longevity lacking. Apparently, Bangdong is a village in Lincang city.
I was really cheering for this tea from the get-go, primarily for two reasons. First, I found an identifiable smell (other than the “smell of sheng” that I can’t classify otherwise) to the wet leaves. Second, the initial 1-3 infusions were quite bold and the flavor was wonderful. Thereafter, the flavor declined steeply, and did not return by infusion 10 even with longer steeps and a temperature bump. I doubt upping the leaf/water ratio would help.
Overall I’m disappointed by this tea, but thankful to have received a free sample. I’m open to changing my opinion when I try the remaining sample again.
Wet leaf: citrus
Flavors: Citrus, Pear, Sweet
This is $0.08/g?! God I love puerh. Not an amazing tea or anything, but for that price it’s quite exceptional. Will be getting a cake of this one.
Bitterness is very mild and far overshadowed by the sweetness of the later infusions. No astringency. Also the first time I’ve tasted cantaloupe (one of my favorite fruits) in a tea. Usually I get notes of honeydew (the bane of my existence; it’s a subtle difference I know :)) if a tea is melony. In the fruit salad of melon-flavored teas, this is a welcome reprieve from monotony. It’s an understatement that I can down some refrigerated cantaloupes on the hot summer days of Georgia. Glad to find a tea that will round out those days well.
Longevity is 15+ infusions. Liquor coats the tongue like a weighted blanket. Minutes-long aftertaste is wonderfully sweet.
Apparently Nanzhao has been a series Xiaguan has produced since the 90s. The name refers to an ancient Chinese kingdom in modern day Yunnan. The series tend to have high ratio of large buds on the surface, and aim to be sweeter than the average puerh.
If you prefer the sharp, bitter flavor of unbridled young shengs, this milder tea is probably not your style.
Flavors: Bitter, Cantaloupe, Honey, Smoke, Sweet, Vegetal
I am noticing a trend in shengs as I sample more of them. The semi-aged ones seem to have retained some of the bitterness on the front/middle end of younger shengs (2-5 yrs old), but the bitterness dissipates earlier and is replaced by a more noticeable sweet/fruity presence near infusion 6-8. Will revisit this hypothesis as I sample more shengs.
Mouthfeel is initially bright and later becomes chalky around infusions 5-7. Longevity was good with >= 15 infusions. Bitterness is medium-low and peaks at about the max level I can comfortably tolerate before sliding away with molasses-speed.
This is certainly a nice tea for the price at under $0.10/g, but I’m not yet convinced to buy a cake. I love the initial 1-2 infusions, and dont mind 3-6, but to me, the meat of the tea is in the later infusions. It is unclear to me if, with aging, the flavor of these later infusions would persist, predominate, and/or begin earlier. Certainly a nice tea and definitely one I’d be happy to drink should someone offer it to me :). Apparently, Mansa is a village on Yiwu mountain.
Flavor progression: Cream + oregano → bitter + bright + savory → bitter + wet earth → sweet + apple skins → sweet + apple + honeydew
Flavors: Apple Skins, Bitter, Bright, Chalk, Cream, Honeydew, Oregano, Savory, Sweet, Wet Earth
Found an old sample of this tea in my cupboard this weekend, figured I might as well kill it. I used all three good nugs and some crumbs in my 130ml gaiwan. Gave it an aggressive rinse before letting the tea try it’s best to open up. The storage situation wasn’t the best for this sample, but I was still able to enjoy the thick silkiness of the broth anyway. There wasn’t too much complexity in this tea anymore, which was a little disappointing. I was able to get some subtle dark cherry and woody notes from each steep though, which felt redemptive. all in all it was unmemorable few steeps.
Not using a number rating for this review, simply because the age and storage of this lil sample. It’s had a hard life XD
Flavors: Earth, Mud, Petrichor, Silky, Wet Wood
Well, this is a different ripe pu-erh story than yesterday! Thank you Michelle and Rich!
I have used 6 grams this time. I wasn’t paying again too much attention to it, so it won’t be super-descriptive steep by steep note.
First of all, it is much easier to pry than yesterday. It was almost loose leaf!
Secondly, it steeps quickly, so I started with 5 seconds rinse and fast steeps afterwards.
Thirdly, it has got so good flavour and aroma! I noticed notes of (not in particular order): toast, bread, dark chocolate, bitter, coffee, fruity, dough, caramel, creamy vanilla, smooth.
Brew is usually clear, though oily dark; with interesting viscosity — I believe it was thickier than usual teas are.
I have searched for Rongzhen puerhs, but nothing found, If you got some source… let me know!
Again a puerh from Michelle, thanks to Rich as well.
Again, somehow random choice from the box and prepared western. I took one chunk and loose tea in, but I haven’t weighted it.
It turned out pretty well after about 5 minutes steep. Its aroma was mostly antique store, lightly earthy and pleasant.
However, it taste it was somehow weak, quite boring, lighlty woody and kind of sweet. Brown sugar comes to mind.
It seems that this tea faded a lot, afterall it is from 2008. We will see how last chunk will do in gongfu brewing.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Earthy, Woody
Martin’s note inspired me to do a tasting note for this one.
I brewed it differently, I have a tuffy strainer inside a slightly bigger cup where 150 ml will cover a few scoops of tea. After a rinse I start with 1 min, then start adding 2-5 minutes at a time until the last steep is 15-20 min. To me, brew times depend on the first sip, is it too weak/strong then add/subtract some time. When I’m done traveling so much I might be inspired to try the best of gifted shou in my clay pot.
This one is one of the better shous from Rich, I think. Its earthy and creamy with a bit of chili spice. Not bitter at all, and I’d call it more smooth than earthy.
Thank you Michelle for this tea from Rich — so thank you too, however, not sure when and if you will read this. But that’s not important. Sharing the tea is lovely.
So, yeah, after long shu puerh hiatus, I am trying a few again. I have received some tea samples from Michelle, so I am curious if I find love for them.
Searching for actual teas is sometmes hard. For example I thought there are spaces in the name of this, but apparently they aren’t.
First steep also as a flush, 5 seconds long
It has changed the color rapidly! While dry, the leaves were smelling after chocolate, but when wet, they are a bit peaty, woody and mossy. A little mushroomy maybe as well.
Brew is very light though, with strong woody presence and I notice some “dirt” taste. which can be only because it was brewed so weak and flavours weren’t able to develop well.
Ten seconds steep
Peaty chocolate? Weird aroma, but it is exactly what it reminds me. Taste is even more woody, thick, with red fruits aftertaste? It’s so short, but I bet it’s fruity.
15 seconds steep
See second steep and double the intensity.
30 seconds steep
Very thick, tends to be sweet and mostly chocolate. Again, red fruits aftertaste. Sadly, short and almost no mouthfeel overall.
Is it a hot chocolate? Nope, it’s Yiwu puerh. Tastes great, but thin. No aftertaste, no mouthfeel after a sip. Sadly. That’s reason for lower rating.
Just right timing to call it done. Brew is light and I got only woody notes. Maybe I did too big increments.
Flavors: Chocolate, Mushrooms, Peat, Red Fruits, Thick, Wet Moss, Wet Wood
Part of my shu tea box from Rich.
This one is earthy and spicy with camphor notes. The wet leaf smells like dark chocolate and cloves, and there is a slight bitter aftertaste that lets you know its puerh. My favorite, and I think the smoothest, of the ones I’ve tried so far. Maybe not for one trying to ease into puerh, but certainly an enjoyable cup.
Flavors: Camphor, Clove, Dark Chocolate, Wet Earth
This little tea surprised me. A very smooth and sweet little brick. Zero bitterness.
I added these to an old order about a year or so ago from Puerhshop Canada just to sort of pad out the costs (it’s only a couple of bucks for a little 50g brick so I got a bunch). I noticed it was a bit on the dry side when it arrived so I just lined the wall of my puerh container with these little guys.
Compression isn’t super tight so it’s quite easy to break up.
I placed the dry leaves into a steaming pot and they have a slight green-wood and camphor/vanilla note which is promising.
What you get is clean, simple and sweet. It loses the sweetness a bit after steep 3, and heads into the milder sort of ‘sweet pea’ territory.
There’s zero detectable storage funk. Clean.
The scent from the first few steeps and the pitcher is close to the crispy caramel on a creme brûlée. Along with the hints of vanilla custard. A little of a eucalyptus or camphor note, but this fades toward vanilla and sugar pretty quickly.
I’ve brewed this in a few pots. Right now, it’s in a larger (130ml) Qing Hui Ni pot – and it’s fairly plain and sugary. I tried it in a smaller Zhuni (90ml) earlier and the eucalyptus/camphor note was stronger but there was probably a higher leaf ratio.
I get a bit of a numb tongue afterwards.
Would definitely recommend it. Extremely good bang for the buck.
I’ve put 85 because it’s just got one main note (definitely not complex flavour combo) and it doesn’t infuse much past the 4th infusion. But what it does have is very nice.
Flavors: Camphor, Caramel, Eucalyptus, Peach, Peas, Vanilla
Solid aged white.
Smell: Honey, malt, some remaining floral character, books, muscatel, etc.
Taste: Malt, woody, autumnal
Really good for the price. An easy going cup with enough complexity and age to keep things interesting. Really dig it.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Paper, Wood
Purchased from puerhshop.com summer 2021.
5.4g in 100ml gaiwan:
- Smell (Dry Leaf): Honey, Malt, Old Books
- Smell (Wet Leaf): Old Books, Almond, Sugarcane, Caramel, Dried fruit, Malt, Oregano
- Smell (Liquid): “Aged”, Old Books, Oregano
- Taste: Malt, Paper, Age, Paper, Honey. Did I already say paper?
This tea is a solid, well priced, aged yue gang bai that is absolutely worth buying if you drink a lot of aged whites and want a daily drinker. It’ll really help you keep your hands off the really good stuff you want to have aging. The Troy, Michigan storage from puerhshop is definitely on the very dry side of storage, but luckily that has been really good for this tea. I was worried that the storage would have really hampered the aromatic quality of this tea, but that isn’t the case. Going to have to buy another cake for daily drinking.
Flavors: Malt, Paper, Sugarcane
5.4g, gaiwan, 100mL
I brewed this past midnight during midterms prep, so I was cranky and didn’t continue infusing. Notes are sparse and probably reflect as much.
same dry leaf smell as rest of PS order: dates and dried fruit. Something is up with their storage or my nose. Maybe one, maybe both. First time getting a surprise with the leaves: leaves had a piece of straw/hay inside. lol.
212f, 1×5s rinse
200f: wet leaves exude strong smoke. Lots of stems in this sample.
5s: unpleasantly smoky. Hint of date on the aftertaste. Sharp note.
12s: Sharp and smoky. Cooling on aftertaste with slight sweet.
2013 MGH 1312 MengKu Ancient Tree Green Pu-erh Tea #1503
5.2g, 100mL gaiwan, Brita filtered water, 200f
1x 5s rinse
dry leaves smell like rest of PS order: dried fruit
wet leaves smell of tart dried fruit, w/ hint of smoke.
5s: light w slight sweet aftertaste
10s: astringent and sharp notes. Stopped here to put the rest to cold brew overnight.
Cold brew turned out nice and fruity. Generally speaking though, likely wouldn’t repurchase. Can’t remember from my notes why I stopped after 2nd infusion, but this was probably one of the days where I was trying to focus on too many things at once and lost interest in this one.
Flavors: Astringent, Dried Fruit, Fruity, Smoke, Sweet
2011 Dayi 7542 Green Sheng Puerh #1324
5.2g, 100mL gaiwan, Brita filtered water, 200f
This is one of the advised first stops in the puer journey, so I’m making a roundabout of sorts here in my own tea history.
Dry leaves, like rest of PS order, smell fruity and sweet
The wet leaves smell of light smoke and unexpectedly very sweet.
1x 5s rinse smells of shou: damp, mushroom, earthy
2s: slight sweet, slightly thick. Light, clear yellow broth.
5s: leaves smell a touch more smoky. Bitterness hits. Sharp and a touch medicinal. Broth thinned out.
10s: brew darkens to a light golden color. Bit drying in the mouth, unpleasantly so.
15s: feels slightly thicker again. Sweetness more pronounced.
30s: color returns to a light yellow, thin and sort of lifeless. Decided to kick temp to boiling for next steep.
1 min, boiling: not much to note. Put in a cold brew, which tasted pretty alright, but not much else to note.
Not terrible, but unlikely to purchase again.
Flavors: Earth, Fruity, Medicinal, Mushrooms, Smoke, Sweet
2006 CNNP 7542 Green Pu-erh Tea #1602
5.4g, 100 mL gaiwan, Brita filtered water, 200-212f, increased for later steepings
1x 5s rinse
dry: woody and slight medicinal.
wet leaves smell very smoky.
5s: a shou-like smell: grainy, mushroomy, dank. tastes lightly sweet and medicinal.
continued steepings of various times brought little progression. This tea was rather linear. The lightly sweet notes become more noticeable at the end as the medicinal woody notes fade. I’ve never had a sheng older than a couple years, so this was a sample I bought to see how it evolves, so to speak, and it tasted like a light shou, which I didn’t like before, but am growing to appreciate more (not enough to buy a cake, but I don’t dislike them in the same way I used to). Not much in common with shengs I’ve tried so far. Wouldn’t purchase a cake, but this was okay. Will probably drink through the rest of mine on lazy days where I just toss things in a mug to steep. Also perhaps of note is that I’ve never tried a CNNP tea before, so maybe this is expected?
One thing I didn’t expect was how thin the mouthfeel was. I read Jay’s review from his HK stored one, so I went in expecting a thickness to the brew, and that never happened. I know storage makes a difference through what I’ve read, but it’s not something I’ve experienced yet. We’ll see how the rest of the samples I bought turn out! Cautiously excited. Maybe some gems, or perhaps just tuition. :)
Flavors: Grain, Medicinal, Mushrooms, Sweet, Wood
Got a free sample of this with my first PS order.
Little anecdote: I called the shop the other day, and asked the guy for any recommendations since I’m fairly new to puer (more like I actively try to avoid expensive hobbies as a broke student and yet the siren call still drew me in eventually). The guy told me they don’t give recommendations since if I didn’t like the tea based on their recommendation, they’d have a problem on their hands. Seems to me to be a fundamental misunderstanding of the point of recommendations (do we all share the same tastes?), but whatever goes. Must’ve dealt with some rough customers in the past LOL.
Anyway, review time.
7.9 g (whole sample), 100 mL Brita in a 200F, gaiwan
Rinsed 2x 5s w/ 212F
dry leaves have a medicinal date smell, but so does the rest of my PS order so I don’t know if it’s storage or what.
wet leaves smell smoky and fruity.
5s: medicinal, sweet dates. Aftertaste is sweet and smoky. Slight thickness.
10s: stronger sharpness. Something reminds me of cherry.
20s: bitter and sharp. Drying.
Bubbles throughout, but not /as/ scum-like as the last Beantown tea I tried.
Later infusions brought up a light fishy smell. I couldn’t continue drinking, but continued infusing to see what happened. Nothing exciting. Continual sharpness with a bite, but sweetness fades almost immediately after the first few steepings where sweetness was noted. I would be sad if I had to drink through a brick of this.
TL;DR: I’m glad I didn’t pay for this one.
Flavors: Bitter, Cherry, Dates, Fishy, Fruity, Medicinal, Smoke, Sweet
Brewed in Yixing, Zhuni 125ml / 5g tea with spring water.
I read previous tasting notes (from 6 years ago) stating that this tea was incredibly smoky and bitter (no surprise, that’s exactly what I’d expect). That’s largely disappeared now.
The cake looks to be well produced, with large leaves and little brittleness. That usual ‘aged’ smell is present on the dry leaf. I put it into a steaming hot pot and I’m getting a slightly acidic ‘guava’ note off it along with the usual ‘sheng’ notes (and a barely detectable smoke).
I was able to easily loosen a chunk from the side of the cake with minimal breakage (didn’t have to use a pick at all). So the compression isn’t overly tight which (I imagine) helped speed up the ageing process a bit.
The wet leaves are aromatic and I get that spruce scent with a tropicality and a hint of forest floor.
A clean, vibrant and golden hued brew proved consistent across all of the steeps I did.
Nice and fruity first glass, I mean… it still tastes of a well mellowed sheng. Mouthfeel is good too. Very smooth now, with absolutely no bitterness and very little astringency. It makes you salivate and has a good hui-gan. There’s smoke in the distance, but it serves to accentuate the sweet/savoury barley-water mouthfeel.
The second steep I’m getting a bit more ‘sweet rock’ minerality in the roof of my mouth. Also a bit of ‘clover flower’ sweetness on the after taste.
Third steep, still performing well, but I understeeped a bit – silky mouthfeel is still there, but a bit thinner. The energy is good, fairly strong at this point. Very warming.
Fourth steep – left for longer – still similar, but I’m getting more sweetness ( the clover has moved toward sugar-cane). Excellent body, like a thick wine or barley-water. Quite a bit of oil visible on the surface and it coats the tongue
Revisiting the leaf gives an intensely bright metallic and sweet scent.
I’ll stop here, but this could definitely go on. Overall this hits the balance of savoury and sweet dead-on and has an extremely pleasant complexity worthy of many revisits.
A solid and well produced tea that has aged well (11 years old atm). If you’re familiar with a decent middle-aged (dry stored) 7542 you will have a close idea to how this feels and tastes. Energy is great.
Allowing for ‘value’ (an 11 year old Dali production is currently just under $500, this is $22).
This is 5 star tea. It’s been well stored, tastes excellent and the taste ‘lasts’. Very enjoyable. I would highly recommend it.
Flavors: Dry Grass, Roasted Barley, Sugarcane