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Recent Tasting Notes
Brewed western style. This is definitely one of the sweetest straight black teas I’ve ever had. It comes through in both the taste and the smell. Mildly malty, and smooth. I got almost a chocolatey vibe off of this one. The gran, who can’t tell the difference from one tea to another took a sip, and remarked on the sweetness as well which says something to me. Nothing harsh, with but a hint of spice as I continue the cup. This is one that I think I’ll pick up some time. Also, on my second steep, I added just a couple drops of vanilla extract to, and oh man, that’s so good!
I’ve been enjoying shopping for treasures at Streetshop88. I went hunting for ripes recently, looking for cakes under $20. To me, that’s my risk appetite for a cake that I haven’t sampled. This one was $20. It’s quite good. Fairly smooth, medium body, dark, with bittersweet chocolate notes. I caught some fruit in a couple of early steeps. The cake looks nice, you can see the golden buds. A good quality cake and I’m glad to have it!
I have bought a number of solid ripes from Streetshop88. I decided to give one of their aged raws a shot. This is a middle aged 7542 that sells for $33 a cake, so I had my doubts. That’s not much more than a new 7542 after all. Well, as far as I can tell, this is the real deal. It brewed a nice bronze color. The broth was clear, the leaves were in good shape, and I was able to get lots of flavorful infusions, as you’d expect from this tea. There was no humid storage flavors. It tasted its age. This is probably the best bargain I’ve seen for a quality factory tea that is more than 10 years old.
One mighty fine earthy pu’er here.
This tea brews dark and strong. The aroma is not distinctive from other pu’er teas though. Really enjoyable taste for a strong shou but it is a bit dry. The steeping on this is much easier because it doesn’t take much to break up the leaf for a nice clean steep. Most appealing to this tea is the color and the pure earthy taste that comes with every sip. If it wasn’t for the dry mouth feel after a sip this would be fantastic. It isn’t impossible for a strong shou to be earthy and leave a semi honey like flavor in the mouth after which would be more appealing, this one just leaves a dry earth instead of wet earth after taste.
More Streetshop88! On my last order, I asked my wife to choose a tea based on how she felt about looking at it. Sort of an ESP kind of thing. This is the one she chose. I ordered a cake knowing nothing about it. It turned out to be a pretty good tea. It is very light in flavor, but quite smooth. The cake is really nice, it has a pretty wrapper which uses very thick high quality paper. I like that. The leaf quality is very good, big leaves. The soup is medium brown, no fermentation flavor. There is not much complexity, but it feels nice and my wife likes it. If you’re looking for a light safe non earthy ripe pu erh to try, I think this is a good one. Anyone know what company this is from the picture?
I bought a sample of this tea with low expectations: a ripe cake that purports to be both organic and from LaoManE? I had my doubts. But I thought I’d give it a shot, I’m the curious type and I couldn’t resist. As for being organic, who knows. Probably not, as we all suspect the organic label on Chinese tea is often not for real, and in fact, I don’t see the word organic on the picture of the label. But as for being from LaoManE, it very well may be. The tea is interesting, and quite bitter. The kind of bitterness you would expect from a LaoManE tea. And it is interesting to taste this level of bitterness in a ripe pu erh. I wonder whether the bitterness will age out, or if it should already have been aged out since the tea has been fermented into a ripe? Underneath the bitterness is a smoothness, if that makes sense, and a hint of that plum flavor and earthiness, though these other flavors are hard to detect because of all the bitterness. It is hurting my stomach like a young sheng. I may buy a cake of this just to see what happens to it. Maybe I’ll stick the rest of this sample into the Pu-erh Traveling Tea Box for this round to see how others like it. You can, of course, buy a reasonably priced sample from Streetshop88 like I did.
It had been quite a while since I last drank this tea. Rich expressed an interest in it but I could not give an opinion because it had been too long since I drank it. This tea is good. It has a lot of flavor. I thought it might have lost flavor in nearly two years of Long Island storage but it doesn’t seem to have lost flavor. There was a moderate amount of fermentation to this tea. More than I remembered actually. However, this went away by the fourth steep. This tea started as a fairly bittersweet tea. It had a fair amount of natural sweetness to it (not meaning sugar sweet) and a fair amount of bitterness. The bitterness went away and I was left with a tasty, somewhat sweet ripe puerh. I steeped this tea eight times and I think it would have gone twelve steeps had I not had enough caffeine already.
I steeped this tea eight times in a 170ml teapot with 10g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse then let the leaves rest for ten minutes. I know more time is recommended to let the leaves open up but I didn’t have the patience to wait any longer. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec.
Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Sweet
I decided to buy a sample of this tea from Streetshop88, in part because it is a ‘gold award’ winner. I wonder what gold award it won? Maybe it is smack talk. But Streetshop was kind enough to offer a sample for sale at my request. It wasn’t that great, but definitely pretty good. Maybe I’d give it a bronze award. Smooth, medium fermentation. Good flavor and nice broth.
This tea is really yummy. I think we have Allan to thank for discovering it. Very smooth, great flavor, deep and rich. Some fermentation funk permeates all steepings, but I suspect it will fade and this tea will turn out top notch. I’m going to get a tong, the cakes are only 100g and reasonably priced.
Oh. My. Goodness.
This is amazing.
It’s everything I love about ripe puerh….
Mineral notes (which always come out as baked-good…almost baking powder/cream of tartar notes to me)…. raisin like, sweet and so deep…
Yes. This is a definite ‘add to cupboard when you can!’ type tea….
Thank you SO MUCH Dexter for sending this to me to try… It’s even better than I had hoped! :)
oh dexter. can we buy more please? when you get to being allowed to buy more? I pulled this one out randomly today because i always try to take time for at least one puerh when i work from home because even if it gets busy, i generally have time for a few steeps in between meetings. Today i christened my new pot that i picked up from the tea festival with this one. I’ve only had a couple steeps so far, so more to come if life doesn’t get busy..but i really love this. It’s rich. i have no other way to describe it.
it’s smooth…and deep…and rich…and just downright satisfying.
sneaks over to ebay
mmmmmm delicious! working from home today so i’m trying at least a couple of the samples dexter sent my way since i have time to enjoy them…sort of haha
there are malt notes in this tea and some underlying chocolate notes that are very faint i had a couple steeps of this one and it was thoroughly enjoyable. This would be one that i would consider picking up if i place an order through streetshop88 :)
This is a fairly tasty, and fairly malty flavored black tea. The malt is prominent. I also get another note that I think can be described as baked bread. There is a third, sweet note too. No time for a long review as I have to go to work.
I brewed this one time in an 18oz teapot with 3 tsp leaf and boiling water for 2 min.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt, Sweet
First time sampling it I decided to just go forth and use my zishi.
I don’t use gaiwans for shou anyway.
Used my ~90 ml zishi dedicated to shou and around 6 grams of leaf.
The cake had very light compression for me. I easily broke my sample from the cake without use of a cake-tool.
Very beautiful leaves. Had a strong aroma too.
Used two quick washes after adding the leaves to my warmed up pot.
First steeping was a bit fishy and bitter but I could tell it was just waking up. The true flavors were yet to come out.
The second steeping I was getting hints of creamed wheat with a Bittersweet Malty aspect going on, still little fermented taste but nothing major.
The chaqi was very warming in the chest and stomach.
I felt alert and energized but was perfectly content sitting listening to peter tosh and sipping this delicious tea.
Can’t wait to try this with company and see what they think of the taste.
To me it’s a winner.
Perfect price, smaller sized cake, decent delivery speed minus customs in my case, and a great taste.
Flavors: Creamy, Dark Bittersweet, Earth, Malt, Wheat
When I saw Dexter’s Instagram post on this tea I just had to try it. In a short phrase, I will buy this again. This was an excellent black tea. The notes of malt were quite subtle and there were chocolate notes in there too. I added a small amount of sugar to this tea which I think intensified the chocolate notes for me. It reminded me a little of Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha, just a little. The chocolate notes were not as strong but this was an excellent tea. I am glad today that my work schedule tomorrow does not relegate me to decaf and low caffeine green tea for I was able to enjoy this tea. For several days I had been drinking decaf teas even in the afternoon and it was annoying.
I steeped this four times in a 230ml glass teapot with 4.2g leaf and boiling water. I steeped it for 1 min, 1.5 min, 2 min, and 3 min. Even after four steeps the tea wasn’t finished had I wanted to continue. I am sure I could have gotten at least two more steeps out of it.
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt
Of course there are two listings for this tea. It wouldn’t be Steepster without excessive duplications! :P
This sample is from Dexter, thank you! I have enough for one more pot, or a “terrible treatment” in my thermos. Haha.
I really like this one. Especially in later steeps when it starts getting so fruity. It’s still steeping up pretty dark although I’ve done 7 or 8 steeps already. Every time I go into the kitchen I flick the kettle on and do another cup. :) The only downside, and I think this is because it’s such a tightly packed puerh, is that there are lots of “bits” that need to be strained out. The Huron I had yesterday didn’t need to be strained at all, but then again it was a loose tea.
And I think I might prefer this one.
Thanks so much for sharing! Hopefully I’ll be able to come off hiatus at some point this year so I can pick up a cake. :)
From Dexter, so I can decide if I want to buy a cake or not. :) Thank you!
I have an online meeting this morning, and a tea setup on my desk. So of course I had to take advantage and try to gongfu a tea while taking minutes. :D
1 quick rinse, because it was pretty compact. Then it rested FOREVER while my fancy kettle boiled.
1 steep, IDK about 5 seconds. Maybe I’ll drink this. Hmm. Oh hey that’s pretty good. I have coffee lingering still, but the tea is pretty sweet. There’s a bit of that musty-fishy smell in this rinse/steep still, but it’s super mild.
2 steep, whoops I got distracted. BLACK TEA. Smells yummy though. Kinda fruity. There’s a bright bitterness at the end of the sip.
3 steep, distracted again. I accidentally mixed 2 and 3 in my milk jug.
4 steep, … I got busy with typing. But I’m drinking all the tea! Yum yum yum.
? ? ? How many steeps did I get? I honestly have no idea. But so far, so good.
(CRACKLES! http://instagram.com/p/yXXRHbR5A9/ )
Edit: I’ve gone through just about 2 litres of water drinking this today, with about 1 cup of waste product… WHOA.
Wow this is good!!!!
Edit: I need to write more than just it’s good. This is a perfect hybrid between a fuzzy golden bud Yunnan black tea (malty, sweet, chocolatey, sweet potato) and a really nice smooth ripe pu’erh (earthy and subterranean). There is nothing nasty in this tea. It’s flavorful without being in your face. I love it. Great way to step outside my comfort zone into the wonderful world of shou pu’erh.
You are probably at this point (or even earlier) wondering what happened to Tea Book Sunday, well it has not died, it has evolved to Tea Stuff Sunday to encompass all those things that are related to tea but not exactly tea. I figure I will run out of tea books eventually, and there are some weeks when I am too swamped reading books for review purposes on Netgalley or Goodreads that I just don’t have time to read a tea book (tragic, I know.) So have no fear, there will be more books, but there will also be other cool tea themed things.
Like today! I am looking at the newest addition to my tea gear collection, Jing De Gongfu Porcelain Plum Blossom Bamboo Gaiwan Tea Set from ebay, it was a birthday present (by way of a monetary gift) from my grandparents (fun fact, while visiting them I taught my grandmother how to use a gaiwan, she loves it!) I added this unusual collection to my wishlist months ago, but ended up buying the bat gaiwan instead because it would be more versatile.
This set is very much so not perfect for all teas, well that is not true, the cha hai and cups work for anything, but the gaiwan is more specialized. I bought it specifically for ‘needle’ teas, long curly leafed teas, and basically ones that do not need room to unfurl. Not a gaiwan suited for my much loved balled up oolongs, that is for sure. While some people might consider this limitation a negative, I love it because it means I have a gaiwan with a really unique shape. Also, the width of the gaiwan’s lip means I have not once burned myself with it.
The cha hai might be my favorite part of this set (even if it oddly lacks the red coloring on the plum blossoms) because it reminds me of a calla lily, each time I pour with it I feel like I am pouring nectar from a flower. It adds a bit of whimsy into my tea brewing, which I love. It also has a mostly clean pour, the only time it drips is if I goof and hold it at a weird angle while pouring
The cups are lovely, they are a tiny bit translucent in their thinness, and this is beautiful. It does also mean that the heat transference is pretty intense and they get scalding hot quickly, so I really have to be quick if I am handing the cup off to someone (so far that someone has been my dear mother) and even then there is usually a chorus of the both of us going ‘ow ow ow’ the whole time.
As a fun finish, I am including a video I recorded, fair warning it is not professional quality! I filmed it with my camera which makes mediocre movies, and I have no idea how to edit things so you get to hear instead of just read my rambling. This video shows my gaiwan technique (a facebook friend asked how I do it) and some practice methods I recommend if you are just starting out.
For blog, photos, and video: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/11/jing-de-gongfu-porcelain-plum-blossom.html
Man… Another winner from AllanK.
One rinse only, and this had just a subtle earthiness, definitely not much. It was smooth and lovely. The tea brewed up to a topaz shade. Very lovely.
I had a long and unpleasant Sunday, into today, in a war with an Ikea bed frame. I’d like to say that I won, but it was more of a tie. I’m not feeling super poetic, but this was damn good. I’m just gonna leave it at that!
I am not sure if I should recommend this tea or not and I am pretty sure I didn’t brew it quite right.I steeped it in a 220 ml gaiwan with 8.5 g of leaves. The dry leaves had the smell of tobacco, for lack of a better description. I used boiling water. I first rinsed it twice. The rinses were quite light in color so I steeped it for thirty seconds. This seemed oversteeping so I steeped it again for 15 sec. This steeping came out better. It had sweet notes, sour pungent notes, sour berry notes and an overriding flavor I did not identify. It was my first experiment with Fuzhuan teas and was an interesting flavor. I sourced it from Streetshop88, an EBay tea shop that has sold me some excellent Puerh and Oolong. I think it is worth exploring more in a couple of days or weeks.
Flavors: Berry, Sour, Sweet
This tea has an interesting flavor that is a mix of ginseng and oolong tea. It is not bitter but a little sweet with the pungency of the ginseng. Is is a flavor that is hard to describe but good. I added sugar but I think it has some natural sweetness and little of the wood notes common in oolongs. I brewed this with boiling water because I read that you need boiling water because of the ginseng shell around the tea leaves.
Ah, freshly dyed hair is always such a good feeling, especially when it is a shade of blue. I have spent most my life envying vibrantly blue birds, wishing my drab Peahen ash blonde hair was more of a Peacock blue. Then I grew up and realized, Holy Plumage Batman, I can dye my hair whatever color I want thanks to the art of science…and cosmetics! So having had my hair pretty much every color of the rainbow, I tend to stick with either Grackle Blue Black or some shade of blue, this time dark teal. Rock on my feathered friends.
Oddly enough, for all my rambling about feathers, this review is centered around bats. Specifically my new amazing tea set procured from China by way of ebay shop StreetShop88. This lovely blue set consists of a Gaiwan, a Cha Hai (or pitcher, fairness cup, or tureen) and a pair of cute cups. A little backstory, I have two other gaiwans…my fish themed travel gaiwan and my now quite chipped white gaiwan, I wanted a third one specifically I wanted a third matched set for everyday use. It took me about a month and a half of window shopping till I found the one I wanted.
I had a few specifications: it needed to be 100ml or less, it had to have a wide rim, it had to be less than $35, and lastly it had to have an awesome design. I had originally settled on a Phoenix themed set from the same store and then I saw the bats and it was all over, I had to have that one. Bats and the round Shou character are very auspicious symbols in Chinese art, five bats, according to A Dictionary of Chinese Symbols by Wolfram Eberhard (my go to source for all Chinese symbolism) represent the Five Blessings-a long life, riches, health, love of virtue, and a natural death. The Shou character represents Longevity, it is a symbol that I like to have around.
Symbolism and aesthtics aside, how does this set function? First off, I don’t burn my sensitive little fingers, I love my fish gaiwan to pieces, but its fairly small rim tends to heat up very quickly meaning on steeps that go on a big long end with me going ‘ouch’ a lot. The really wide rim and equally wide and somewhat squat body means that leaves get to really roll around and unfurl beautifully.
This set was put together beautifully, when you pour off a steep from the gaiwan into the pitcher, there is a perfect amount for both cups. No leftover and no one gets left out, this is the first set I have had where I get that result. The Cha Hai makes me exceptionally happy, it pours wonderfully and looks like a creamer. Also I absolutely adore that inside the gaiwan and cups the Shou character is printed inside.
For the most part there are no real flaws with this set. There are a few errors on the printed design of the key pattern on the rim of the gaiwan’s lid, but oddly I find this a bit endearing. The only other problem is it is fairly thick porcelain so the temperature tends to stay pretty warm, this might make brewing green teas a little difficult, but that is easy to adjust with cooler water or shorter steep time.
Over all I love this thing, I recommend it if you are looking for a new gaiwan tea set, especially if you love bats!
For photos and blog (including my blue hair!) http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/07/an-auspicious-tea-set-tea-gear-review.html