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Recent Tasting Notes
A treat for turkey day! Super excited to try this, I cracked open the sample bag to unearth leaves that were not quite tall, but dark AND handsome, in addition to smelling like cocoa and burnt sugar and tantalizing danger to my wallet (we’ll keep this little encounter a secret from the SO, haha).
I started off hitting this with boiling water, which was a mistake. It was delicious nonetheless, with a strong mineral roast flavor across the spectrum, high and low, along with lingering sweet caramel afternotes and a bread-y flavor that ended in an intense dance of orchid bouquet flavors that accompanied each exhale, but was very strong on the roast bitterness and much improved when I switched to 180 F halfway through the session.
The lower temp water brings out an AMAZINGLY buttery slick, creamy mouthfeel along with a decadently rich honey and orchid flavored body and a distinct peach fruit aftertaste, well balanced and accentuated throughout by the now calmer, subtler roast.
There is astringency and bitterness to this tea, particularly at the start where I hit it with (I realize now) much too hot water and the roast stood out strongly, but it is well balanced throughout and I feel complements the underlying flavors, helping them to stand out rather than detract.
The mouthfeel, as mentioned before, is a lovely creamy slickness that coats the throat steadily across sips and brings out a nectar sweetness in the throat that slowly shifts to a more mineral, sugar sweetness and even a surprising subtle menthol cooling quality as it dies. It and the bright peach notes were the highlight of this tea for me.
The energy on this one was excellent and strong, I could feel it rushing to my head by steep 3 and it steadily built over the session in a very invigorating (but calm) way. It fades fast in flavor intensity after steep 10, but those 10 steeps are bursting with flavor and an intoxicating ride, definitely a great way to prepare for the food prep and festivities to follow today.
Here’s hoping it doesn’t break my wallet when it does get released, ^^;.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Creamy, Honey, Mineral, Nectar, Orchid, Peach, Roasted, Sugarcane
Hahah, this tea is something else. I real surprise for me. The leaves have slightly tight compression and give off a sweet squash flower and lemon grass aroma. The leaves are bright and cheery. I picked this up due to the words “early reserved trees”. I trust Eugene, and he is one of the few vendors I do trust. That being said, I put my wallet where my mouth is and trusted that these trees were the bees knees. Anyways, I warmed up my gaiwan and placed some inside. The aromas were nice and bright with some berries, fruits, grass, and sugar. These are all relatively common tones being sweet, tangy, and nice aromas. The flavor was maple candy sweet and lively. I noted some bitterness and viscosity along with butter and cedar. The taste became mildly sour along with some citrus tones. Then, it happened. The reason why I had put my trust in this vendor. The qi approached me. The qi looked me up and down and decided around steep three to take a 2×4 to my face. This qi was strong, and I mean young Hulk Hogan strong. The tastes became sweeter, the aromas became stronger, and the stars seemed brighter; I was lit. I experienced severe ringing and buzzing in my ears between wooden plank wacks. My notes state “…enough power to drive you to the sky”. I feel that this is suiting. To conclude, the flavors are decent and the tones aren’t bad, but I wouldn’t drink this for those reasons; I’d drink it for the power. This has a great punch and fair acidity, and I will be grabbing more.
Flavors: Berry, Candy, Cedar, Citrus, Floral, Grass, Maple, Squash Blossom, Sugar, Wood
A very nice loosely threaded puerh. The leaves give off slight scents of floral with soft wood. It as approachable sweet and tangy note. I warmed up my gaiwan and slipped some inside. The scent opens into aromatic sweet herb with sugarcane. I can pick up some white grape jelly and blueberry in the background. An intoxicating scent rises from the lid. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The taste begins sweet and smooth with a mild astringency at the back. A prominent apricot tone lifts off the tongue, and a candied fruit stays at the back of the throat. The feeling is thick and silky as it eases my throat. A darker woody tone appeared after a few more additional steepings. The hardy wood balanced the flowery fruits. The brew creates a lasting flavor. A stark pear tone appears in final steeping along with some cooling sugarcane. This was a good tea, but the qi was lacking. I enjoyed the flavors and tones, but it seems like something is missing from this soup. I’m not quite sure, but it doesn’t seem complete.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Candy, Dark Wood, Floral, Flowers, Pear, Sugarcane, Sweet, White Grapes, Wood
Dry leaves smell faintly smokey, wet leaves smell so strongly of smoke that they smell a bit like burnt fruit. Lost my notes on the first 4 steeps due to a restart. Will try to reconstruct as best I can.
1/15s: Very little of the smokiness that made me shorten the first steep time shows up in the cup. Instead I get hay with a bit of melon.
2/20s: Same as previous, with perhaps a bit of smoke
3/30s: Pushing here just a little bit. Getting very noticable astringency, but it’s not unpleasant. Lends a crisp finish to the cup. Hay as moved to a bit more of a background note and the melon tastes are front and center.
4/35s: Actually getting some bitter notes and more of the smokiness I’d smelled in the leaves. Hay is back to the forefront with the melon sort of fading.
5/35s: Hay, smoke and melon. Still picking up a bit of bitterness.
6/30s: Hay melon and detecting a note of apple. (red delicious sort, not tart)
7/30s: Melon, apple… hay in the background on this one. Some pleasant astringency, no bitterness.
8/40s: Flavor is consistent, but any time I push past 30 – 35 seconds, that bitter note shows up. I’m not used to brewing with such a small pot nor with this particular tea so this is very experimental. Melon is prominent. Can still detect apple and hay.
9/30s: Same/similar to steeps 6 & 7
10/35s: Same/similar to steeps 6 & 7
11/40s: Big melon with hay and apple. Nice astringency is still there. Bitter note detectable, but not as biting as previous steepings.
12/50s: Interesting cup. No bitterness, but the smokiness is now showing up as more of a cacao note with hay, apple and melon, though the latter two are now more background notes just present enough make clear that you are indeed still drinking the same tea as previous.
13/60s: Ok this is turning into something both lovely and surprising. More fruit and cacao than anything with a bit of hay. More of the flavor profile I’d expect with an oolong. More rounded taste here with the only astringency present as a crispness in the finish.
14/65s: Same as previous. Lovely. May need to put this pot to more use…. or heaven forbid, buy more 80 – 100mL teapots. _
15/75s: Falling in love with this oolongs now. Wonderful steeps here. Curious if it’s just the tea or a matter of brewing a smaller pot.
16/90s: That stepped up the cacao a bit. Very nice. Still lots of fruit tempered with a bit of hay. Bit of irony that I’m enjoying such a remarkable tea on what may prove a most negatively momentous day. LOL, guess it all a matter of perspective and perception.
Flavors: Apple, Cacao, Hay, Melon, Smoke
This is the first tea I went for out of my Tea Urchin group buy. Thanks to Tea Urchin for including this one! :)
This tea is one of my first really high quality oolongs, and…I might be in trouble. It was really good. The dry leaf had a sweet floral (orchid?) aroma. After a rinse, it also smelled slightly fruity and roasty as well.
The first steep had a light orchid flavor on the front of the sip, with a rich and long lasting mineral sweet aftertaste. After that steep, the flavors flip-flopped a bit, with a nice mineral sweetness to start the sip, followed by an explosive aftertaste which was slightly floral for one steep before moving firmly into a fruity category. At first I thought it was something really tropical, like mango or pineapple, but I think that was just my reaction to how juicy it tasted. After a few steeps’ worth of experiencing it, I decided it was pretty clearly a peach aftertaste. It carried on this way for around seven steeps, also accompanied by a slight drying quality. It was not unpleasant, and I believe it may have even benefited this tea. Here’s how: the sip starts off with a sweet mineral flavor, which is followed by a drying sensation which cleanses the palate to make way for the explosive fruity aftertaste, allowing it to shine through on its own, especially since they’re both sweet flavors.
After these first eight steeps, I finally started increasing the steep times from flash steeps – just a little bit at first. These next three steeps were on the lighter side, with the mineral sweet front of the sip taking over a bit more over the faded peachy aftertaste.
The tea went a further five or six steeps, all of faster increasing times now. In these final steeps, the aftertaste passed once again into a more floral realm. They were a bit lighter and airier all around, but still stayed with me for quite a while.
This was a pretty incredible tea. I’m glad I used the whole 7.5g for the session, though it worries me that I could develop a pricey oolong habit if I decide to pursue this kind of tea more. This one also had a very relaxing qi to it – I certainly felt good and teadrunk pretty early on in the session. The explosive, juicy, and long-term lingering qualities of the aftertaste really made this a special tea. I think it was quite balanced in terms of sweet and dry.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Mineral, Peach, Sweet
I got a sample of this tea from mrmopar as part of a swap in exchange for something he wanted from my stash. His review appears here also, so the reader can keep in mind we are drinking the same cake.
Taking the time to review because I really like this tea. If I can get the money together to buy one at only $74 for 357g, I will. The leaves are still fairly green after six years, but the brew is a dark golden yellow. Not terribly bitter in my book. Floral top notes with vanilla and oak. What’s amazing about this tea is the tongue coating and huigan. This tea coats the entire tongue hard with returning sweetness and balls up in the throat too. Some presence in the stomach. Very strong caffeine. Bit of qi in the back.
12+ steeps and not done yet.
For me this is plenty easy to drink now, but will be even better. I see some char in the strainer but not much, didn’t think this terribly smoky at all. The mouth huigan is just wonderful though, such long lasting enjoyment of vanilla and wood for me. Awesome stuff. I like teas that give unique experiences. It isn’t always about qi or tea drunk, this one just shines for the mouth activity and full flavors. Beautiful tea.
Flavors: Floral, Oak wood, Vanilla
This is a wonderful yancha! I really enjoyed brewing this tea in my wee lil jianshui. The leaf consists on long sturdy tendrils of blackened leaves with a soft honey aroma with peaches in top. The leaves carry additional scents of orchid, fig, and nice smooth roast. I can already tell I’m going to like it. I warmed up my lil pot and prepared for brewing. Then, I stuffed the pot full and let the leaves warm up. An incredibly sweet and fruity aroma drifted from the lid with a strong scent of burnt sugar, honey, and brief wisps of fresh peaches. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. With yancha, I only get about 1 amazing steeping and 2-3 meh steepings. Accordingly, the first steeping was pure heaven. BTW the steeped leaves give off an explosive aroma of fresh cut flowers and ripe dark fruits. The taste begins with a succulent fruit flavor with a hint of char. The note progresses into a sweet direct peach flavor and crystal honey. This brew has a thick full taste and oily body with an exhale of (you guessed it) peaches and a lasting powdered sugar aftertaste. The qi is electrifying and creates a beautiful flow. I continued to steep those poor leaves over and over in hopes of recreating that first step, but I only received meh steeps (the flavor is decent but the body is missing something). If you decide to continue on this path, the brew will progressively become more and more dry with char notes peeking out. Eventually, my throat gets ached if I drink too much yancha. Anyways, this is still a fantastic tea, and I love my little pot!
Flavors: Char, Fruity, Peach, Powdered sugar, Red Fruits, Roasted, Sweet, Winter Honey
From the Puerh TTB-5
One of my favorite teas is the 2013 TU Peacock, so when I saw a 2016 peacock in the TTB I got greedy and took all 10 grams. It’s been resting for a few weeks, and it’s now time to taste it. I decided to make a big deal out of it and am tasting it side-by-side with the 2013.
Both teas have 3 grams, with roughly 70 cc steeps of 10, 10, 20, 30, 40, 60 seconds at 200 degrees.
1st steep: Both have a fairly light straw color, with the 2016 a bit more green. 2016 has a light nose with hints of fruit, straw, and spice. The taste is more of the same. The nose is more subdued in the 2013 and it has less fruit but a richer texture in the mouth. Later steeps show a tropical fruit underneath a straw flavor. The 2016 has good mouth-feel but the flavors are more on the surface, with much less richness or depth. The Finish is very good, but light and fruity rather than deep and complex. In the absence of a comparison, I would like the 2016 quite a bit, but it suffers in comparison with the 2013, though when I come back to the now much cooler 2013 it doesn’t seem as good as it did.
2nd steep (after 15 minutes to let the cha qi settle; I can still taste the tea a bit!): 2016 tastes richer than before with spice and some fruit. Excellent finish, despite the fact that the flavor seems to be mostly on the surface. The 2013 has less spice but a rich fruitiness that is further back in the mouth, and continues through a long finish. Both teas has such a long finish that the whole side-by-side tasting is compromised: I sip one tea while the finish of the other is still very active. I’m also feeling a full-body cha qi that is probably affecting my tasting. I’m also noticing a significant level of astringency.
The third steep is usually my favorite. Here, after another 15 minute break, the 2016 has a nice, spicy nose, and a crisp acidic taste with hints of fruit and spice. The finish seems more powerful than the taste, which to me usually indicates a need for aging (at least with wine). The cha qi hits me almost immediately. The 2013 is much less aromatic, and the flavor is richer yet more subdued. This tea also seems to get bigger after I swallow. Big and rich, and I’m riding a tea drunk. Drinking the two teas in short succession brings out the best in both, due to the long finishes. Awesome tea drunk.
I waited a couple of hours to continue. 4th steep is spicy but too astringent, but I really like the finish. 5th steep is sweeter, but also with less fruit and spice. The flavor seems to have moved to the roof of my mouth. It has a thick, chewy texture that fills the mouth and lingers in the finish.
Bottom line is that I like this tea a lot, but I don’t think it’s quite as good as the 2013. The question is whether it will age into what the 2013 is today. I may need to buy a cake to find out.
I was hoping for a more aged taste based on what I could dig up on this tea, but honestly, wasn’t getting much love from this one. It’s not much of a bitter tea, although it has a teeth smacking astringent quality despite that (can feel all my teeth while drinking this one).
The aroma is incredibly honeyed and there is something like a waxy honey aftertaste, although the liquor itself has almost no sweetness until closer to the end of the steeps, and even then it is a more of a throat sweetness than a mouth sweetness. The color is less red, more deep yellow bordering on orange.
All in all, wasn’t feeling this one, it was too dry for me to enjoy what flavors might have been underneath (although that honey aroma is pretty nice, I have no idea how it can taste almost nothing like how it smells). Also not a huge fan of the hint of smoked leather or tobacco clinging to the edges of it.
Flavors: Astringent, Hay, Honey, Smoke, Tobacco
Man, this is a nice tea. It’s the opposite of what I’ve been drinking lately – which has tended more towards sort of hostile, aggro puerh. This is rich and warm and smooth, but not in any way boring. It’s actually, it certain weird ways, closer in spirit to certain roasted balled oolongs. It actually reminds me a little of Tea Urchin’s Mu Zha Tieguanyin. It has this central rich sweetness, this glowing aliveness, that sorts of just enfolds you. Less flavor notes, and more this central throbbing sweet thick warmth.
Sadly, they’re out of it. Alas.
Totally gorgeous. I think the bitter puerhs were my first puerh love – dig me some of that Bulang – but this is the next level shit. It’s a glorious bitter, somewhere between a quinine bitter and a burnt-rubber bitter (but good!) – just hanging out and glowing while all this other oceanic stuff – warmth, passing dairy flavors, all kinds of fruity junk – meld and change and pass beneath it. And that bitter flavor just hangs out up there, glowing a little, and just being so insanely beautiful.
I got this out after giving a little time to acclimate to its new home. I got 10 grams off this and it seemed to be loosely compressed and easy to get into. I put this in the gaiwan and rinsed it and allowed it to rest for about 15 minutes.
The wet leaf gave some hints of humid storage but not in an excessive way. I brewed it very quickly as Bu Lang tea is known for strength and bitterness. The brew turned out a nice golden color in the cup.
This is a strong Bu Lang! It seems to be oily and thick in the mouth. There is a pronounced bitter bite in this one. A bit of smoke that disappears very quickly. A hint of the old book and leather as well. I think the bitter and the old ’ horse tack leather’ as my friend KS says come through in this one. This is almost as strong and possessing the bite of a Lao Man E tea. For lovers of strong in your face teas this is one.
Flavors: Bitter, Leather, Smoke, Thick
For a key to my rating scale, check out my bio.
Flavor is mildly complex but too light and eventually quite astringent. Fuller body notes than the other Tea Urchin teas I’ve tried but still quite weak.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Caramel, Leather, Menthol, Plums, Rose, Spices