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Recent Tasting Notes
This tea has a nice smooth, delicate sweetness to it and a rich history dating back to the Mt. Lu Buddhist monasteries- the exclusive cultivators of Yun Wu during the Tang dynasty. The poets and writers would travel up the mountain, gather at these monasteries and drink Yun Wu tea with the monks to become enlightened. Maybe we too, can become enlightened when we drink it.
Does anyone find themselves enlightened after drinking Lu Shan Yun Wu?
Nearly out of tea. Gearing up for a big order of known unknowns.
I have discovered that the key for the yunnan gold is to blend it with other leaves. This manages the sweetness well. Good options are TG’s malty black tea and, not surprisingly, a fermented pu-erh (which is also made in yunnan, and so, probably very similar leaves to the gold).
Had this tea last night at a puerh class held by the owner of Teance Fine Teas in Berkeley, California.
She outright refused to tell us its name, how it was processed, and why it was in such tiny bits in between the size of fannings and dust grade tea particles until we all tasted it. Looks like very finely sifted CTC tea (or coffee grounds) but what we were drinking was older than Cut Tear Curl manufacturing method’s spread into China. She did let on that animals were involved by asking “Are any of you vegan?” before pouring, and let on that some folks call it “Poo Air” based on its aroma, so it wasn’t a total mystery.
To clarify, many teas fall into the realm of non-vegan, and moreso than this one. Oftentimes there are bits of insects inside the leaves (I’ve found a live Walking Stick in a large retailer’s airtight tin of Bai Mu Dan that haad been sealed for over a year) and teas such as Oriental Beauty Oolong rely on herbivory and excretions by leafhoppers on the leaves to produce some of the inherent sweetness. If you’ve ever eaten an invertebrate in its entirety (insects, crustaceans, and mollusks are in the diet of most of the world’s cultures) you’ve consumed what’s in the animal’s gut as well and bear in mind that honey is basically bee puke, so try to put your squeemishness on hold for a moment.
Okay, flavor-wise this is a hard tea to put a rating on.
Elements of the flavor really demand a spectacularly high rating – tasting it really did have a “wow factor” both before and after learning what the heck it was we were putting in our mouths and swallowing. It blows away many puerh teas in terms of clean-yet-earthy taste, dense body, balance of body to liveliness, interesting tactile impression beyond simple astringency or thickness of body, range of expressed flavor, lasting quality in terms of possible number of rebrews, and length of aftertaste. However, I can certainly see this as a “love/hate” tea. If you dislike earthy tastes or can not stand the presence of any metallic, pepper, or wood notes you will not like this tea. Same goes if you only tolerate teas with a very short aftertaste.
If you like Indo-Pacific coffees – aged or monsooned coffees in particular – you may really enjoy this tea.
Winnie prepared this with a generous amount in a pair of gaiwans. I really have no point of reference to estimate the mass used… If it was equivalent to CTC, I’d say something like 8g per 150ml, but I got the impression it’s more like using fannings – more like 4g per 150ml. Brew time was intended at something like 10 seconds each infusion, but actual contact time ranged from 30 seconds to 3 minutes because of the time necessary to pour out through the tiny leaf bits (and then, if the pour was fast, it would take forever to go through the strainer). Water at about 95 degrees C was dispensed into a thermos that was used for each infusion, so temp probably started at about 85C and steadily declined to 70ishC until the water was refreshed.
Leaves are tiny little pellets. Hard and fibrous when dry – like sifted CTC. When wet, it’s possible with a bit of effort to squeeze/grind between fingernails into a semisolid.
Liquor is completely opaque, shiny dark dark dark red-brown in a wide, shallow 45ml cup. “Puerh is supposed to look like soy sauce when aged well enough,” Winnie said while pouring. I’ve had soy sauce and Turkish coffee less dark than this. Aroma is mellow woody base with a prune-like accent and tart&sweet aromatics of Balinese long pepper or Grains of Paradise. Blood-colored liquid sticks to the sides of a cup in a way that makes me think of oil… or the Venom Symbiote from Spiderman.
Surprisingly similar to two of the first four puerhs I ever had (young mini shou tuochas from Jingmai Shan) but a whole heck of a lot more complex. The whole tacky-thick body, light muddy yeast-like quality and feeling of “it tastes like a well-worn boot” very similar. This has a very slight astringency that balances the syrupy body a bit and goes well with the black peppercorn notes in the aftertaste. Coppery and malty like flavors provide a second tier on top of the woody flavor base. Very light aroma, but the nose while drinking presents notes of humus and damp leaf litter – very foresty. The afteraroma is mild again but has more going on with spiced bean notes (yes, this tea has notes of humus and hummus!), dried fruits like fig and raisins/prunes, clay, arbol chilies, toasted wheat bread crust, honey, barley, and oak bark.
What really sets this apart is the quantity of two effects I’ve only had in a handful of puerhs before and the presence of two effects I’ve never experienced in puerh before (only in aged, traditional oolongs).
First and foremost is the prevalence of the “Chen” note – an “antique” quality that arises out of the light camphor-like notes 20+ year sheng cha develop. As I’ve only had 12 teas that meet this criteria other than this one, it is a quality that really jumps to mind and this just rolls in it. The tea tastes like it has actually matured in character to a point where it has combined and produced tastes and sensations not possible in younger teas. This is not some hokey thing about “oooh, this tea is aged so it is gooood” either – it takes a certain amount of time for the oils, acid-sugar combinations, and fungi&bacteria byproducts to chemically interact based on ambient humidity and temperature fluctuations over years for a resulting change that affects the tea’s biochemistry at a level where the fundamentally acidic character of the leaves actually changes to a more alkaline state. Many, many people have tried replicating “chen” and was one of the drives to develop the wo dui style of manufacture, resulting in shou cha. Best anyone can do, though, is age in certain dramatic climate conditions with great effort.
Next is the perception created by drinking this of feeling sort of a swirling of energetics through the upper body and particularly the head. I tend to not buy into the concept of Qi, though I acknowledge the sensory effect of the supposed key physical points of qi in the body and of the loci where the chakras are purported to reside as well as the beneficial therapeutic effects of training in “energy movement” for physical and mental health… I just happen to have more faith in actual physiological connections within the body and chock bodily connections up to neural connections, hormone signalling, physical strain on connected groups, and psychosomatic reactions. However, it’s hard to figure into that the repeatable sensation of movement provided here. This is one of those rare teas that does invoke a significant, palpable feeling of motion along the deep tissue, skeletal, and nervous system corridors towards the head and swirling within. How can you feel something create a reeling effect in your head without affecting oxygen? Dunno what on earth to call this other than the tea’s “strong qi” despite my reservations about the existence of such a thing.
Then there’s the first quality I have yet to experience in a puerh – a “ripeness” I associate with aged and/or well-roasted oolongs. Like the phenolic sensation of biting into an almost-overripe apricot, plum or nectarine minus the actual fruit notes. The flavors associated with it are more spice notes of peppercorns, coriander, cinnamon, sage… just with that extra deep-chest “oomph” of ripe fruit. This really accentuates a beet note and he potent savory character of the tea.
Finally, this tea has heat to it in terms of spice. Not nearly as hot as actually eating a pepper, but it has a residual heat and even a bit of flavor that has me drawing similarities to Adobo and Chipotle Peppers. I’ve had puerh that exhibited some of these taste/aroma notes and some that draw perspiration after many cups, but this leaves the tingling heat of eating a steak that had been rubbed in powdered adobo, chipotle, paprika, and black pepper. That lingering spiciness stuck with me for well over half an hour after drinking… could’ve gone for an hour or more had I not had a different tea and dinner cutting it off. Funny thing is I was left with a strong desire for barbecue pork (I rarely touch pig) and got some pulled pork with mustard bbq sauce that mimicked the flavor and sensation.
Another interesting bit is the presence of flavor. It sort of pushes open the doors in your mouth in an effect somewhat similar to MSG, beets, or red meat. It’s a good example for most of the vocabulary I’ve adapted to my own use in my notes; It throws a bunch of tastes at you at once (“range” or what I call “horizontal complexity”) and then runs with a progression of flavors into the aftertaste (“depth” or “vertical complexity”) coupled with maintaining a steadfast predominant flavor (“static profile” or “baseline fidelity”) yet showing a shift of flavor and sensations in progressive infusions (“dynamic profile” or my infrequently used “realized complexity” when featured alongside steadfast character) and producing many, many infusions (a “durable” tea). It really covers all bases.
This tea is a truly unique experience, though you may have to muscle through a mental block against it to taste more than one cup. Really, if it were not for the generally mild aroma and the serious distinction I get of it being one of those teas you either love or you hate, I have no other reason to not score this a 100… I’m sure some would throw it to the very end of the other side of the spectrum, though. If you have the opportunity to taste this – the well aged version, not just this type of tea – you really should not pass it up. Kinda gives me a headache thinking of the fact I’m recommending people try a tea that has gone through both ends of a caterpillar, but there you have it. This excreted tea isn’t “shit” – it’s well harvested tea that was carefully processed then painstakingly turned and stirred whilst aging for decades then carefully introducing a single type of invertebrate in a controlled manner to eat the leaves, followed by hand-sorting the little pellets out of the tea mass and rested for more time still.
Remarkable in so many ways but still… Caterpillar droppings…
I’m… “working on”… my tasting notes for this.
I’ll leave this logging saying that I had more than six infusions of this and the aftertaste lingered for an hour (and may have gone longer if I didn’t drink another tea and had dinner).
Strange tea, but not necessarily in a bad way. I’ve had a fair few Shou Puerhs that taste very similar to this in many regards and many that tasted far worse. Never had a Sheng that tasted like this, though…
No, this is not a hoax tea entry. Read Mike Petro’s experience with this type of tea here:
I picked up this tea in the bulk dry goods section of our quasi-local (HEB) “Central Market” this past Sunday. It has become impossible to get a parking place at the Whole Foods after church on Sundays, so I have begun to drive the extra 10 blocks or so to the Central Market. If you’re already 10 miles from home, what’s another 10 blocks. I was shocked, though, because on Saturdays, you can’t get near Central Market with love, money, blood or magicks. But Sundays are quite pleasant as it turns out.
This is a… strange tea. I had it once, yesterday, and I’m going to need to have it a few more times to make up my mind about it.
It is almost sweet, and yet it is not treated with anything. And generally, I don’t like sweet.
However, if you are big into pu-erh, I highly recommend trying one of the many Yunnan Gold teas on the market just to give you a stronger appreciation for what’s been done to those leaves to change them from Gold into pu-erh.
I’m slowly letting my overall collection dwindle so that I can justify a big order from a premium site, soon. Stay tuned.
I used the last 15 min. searching high and low for this tea in Steepster.
Couldn’t find it, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I made a dobbelganger.
The steeping time is only 45 seconds! I’ll let you know that I thought of many rude jokes about the steeping time (some of them comparing this tea with men) but I’ll spare you and just tell you that I had a good grin while counting to 45. The finished product was this bright yellow liquid. VERY bright yellow liquid. The tea smells very oolong tea like (sour leafs) but I can’t catch the fragrance mentioned on the package.
I smiled after the first sip – this tea got everything I remember oolongy, but with a sweet note at the middle. A fruity orange-ish note. Maybe that’s the pommelo flower fragrance? The tea has a sweet and bitter aftertaste that stays with you for some time. Uh-uh! Now I remember this taste! I once read that roses was edible and had a rose eating period. This taste like biting a raw rose! (Please don’t ask into it)
I have to thank Thomas Smith for this tea – he have sent me a package full of pure tea (isn’t he great!?) And I blessed him a 1000 times for sending me some da Hong Pao!!!
Thomas – you and your family have good luck for the next 800 years ;)
I’ve had this tea many times and the honey fragrance has always been there but never really stood out to me over other characteristics. This time, I used more leaf and was rewarded with more honey in not just the fragrance, but in the aroma, nose, afteraroma, and flavor as well.
8g with 150ml water in a zi ni rong tian yixing teapot dedicated to Phoenix Oolongs. Single rinse with immediate pour – 10 second contact time. Multiple infusions in rapid succession using 85 degree C water.
Beautiful long, dark, twisted leaves with stripes of yellow, mossy green, deep red-violet, gold, and dark sienna on an umber brown background. Average length is over an inch in twisted, dry form. Fragrance is toasty, sharply nutty (pecans, filberts, and chopped almonds), and while not sweet smelling it leaves a sweet impression within the sinuses. Wet leaves are much lighter green like iris leaves with olive leaf dark patches, though the light yellow stripes are retained. More clove and honey in wet leaf aroma with antique wood cupboard sharp, slightly musty note and a hint of tobacco leaves. Clear, yellow liquor has mild but thick, soothing sweet aroma – more nectar-like than honey… Ripe nectarine or honeysuckle and a baked bread aroma like ripping open a fresh wheat roll. Tropical flower aromas flit in and out as well. Very much like the aroma of a greenhouse.
Smooth up front with a bit of astringency in the throat as the flavor recedes. Honey on wheat toast aroma. Lightly sweet and mouthwatering. Myriad of fleeting flavor notes pop in and out with each sip. Peach pit tang is dominant and potent when slurped yet mixed evenly in a balanced, delicate flavor melange when taken as a draught. Ginger-like umami. Really warming from the head all the way through the belly. Spice notes include practically every spice I have in my cupboard and every herb I’ve grown but clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, star anise, thyme, and basil are the first to really make an impression. Ginger flower, sorrel, rosemary, orchid, chocolate-mint flower, and amaryllis florals present in nose and many reappear for aftertaste. Gives my breath a sweet and vaporous feel for a long time. While not an actual flavor or aroma, the combinations of tastes, sensations, and aromas produce an effect reminiscent of honey in warm cream. Makes me think of buttered cinnamon French toast with agave nectar or lavender honey drizzled over it. Roughly 2-3 minutes after drinking, a second (or is it third or fourth?) aftertaste comes out of nowhere with more of those wheat toast and crystallized honey flavors.
Seeeerious lasting capability. I’m falling asleep before the tea is and really running out of capacity in my stomach. Not declining at the 12th infusion, where I typically start wrapping this up at when I use just a little more than half this strength.
Mild in flavor but rich in expression and a sort of thick-air quality emanates from this tea (even greater in the mouth and when swallowing). Many different flavors and aromas. Not the most complex, but more so than the vast majority of teas out there. It seems to take a slight step down in intensity and expression compared to some other Phoenix Oolongs as a tradeoff for comforting feeling. This is one of those teas that can produce a bit of a “tea drunk” feeling and sure helps promote the idea of curling up and falling asleep… Toasty, warm and sweet… Definitely a comforter.
Wonderful floral and fruity notes. This was definitely the most sweet smelling tie kwan yin I’ve ever had. Absolutely delicious and smooth, from the first infusion.
The smell of the dry leaves reminds me of my grandparent’s barn after my grandpa died and my grandma got rid of the cows – dusty but clean with a residual sweet smell of hay. After steeping, it smells very freshly green and rich, almost like sencha but not as grassy.
The flavor is rather delicate and sweetly floral and green with a fresh hay and flower taste going on. Really very pretty but with less mouthfeel than I’m used to having with baozhongs. Ah, there’s the mouthfeel. Apparently the tea has to cool a little bit to get that silky, almost textured quality that I’m used to/look for in this type of tea.
Second Steep: 2:00, slightly less delicate with less floral and tasting faintly of buttered greens though I can’t identify what type.
Third Steep: 3:00, a more solid flavor but I do miss the sweet hay and floral. It’s leveled out to a more buttered steamed asparagus. Based on the smell, the leaves might have one more steep in them.
Overall a nice tea that I like but I have the feeling that I should be able to get a bit more out of it. I think I’ll try this with more leaf next time and see how that goes. If it doesn’t work, I’ll up the water temp.
So I bought some gyokuro from englishteastore.com for an almost too good to be true price. So I was skeptical about its quality considering that most places charge 3 times the amount. So far I’m not that impressed. Maybe its a lower end gyokuro or something. I’ve experimented with a range of temps and steep times….100-160 and 1 second to 2 minutes. The later steeps are shortest. I looked online about ways to prepare it and the customary japanese method is very complicated but super cool! And they eat the leaves afterwards. He used vinegar and sesame oil so I tryed the same and it was delicious! It tasted like a seaweed salad from a sushi restaurant. Its nice to know how healthy it is too.
So most of my steeps are a little bitter despite using very low steep times and low temps. And I don’t use the last few drops becasue thats typically the most bitter. I heard that the more rolled up the leave the higher end it is. And these are maybe a little tighter rolled than my stock sencha. I ‘ll just keep experimenting. I’ve have had a couple lucky steeps that taste way better than the regular sencha so there is hope!
Meh. Pretty, tippy leaves, but not much flavor.
Teaplz’s lovely log from earlier reminded me what a delicious beast this tea is, so I had to have some. Sadly, I only had enough for half a cup so I am now out of this tea. ::sob::
But it was a really good half cup. The second steep (@5s) still remains my favorite, being super rich, buttery and grassy. Love it.
Let’s just get this out of the way: Auggy is a goddess.
No, seriously. Because I think I’ve finally gotten what all the hullabaloo has been about Japanese greens.
I’m perpetually amazed at how different various permutations of tea can be. Not only through the white – black scale, but from different companies and different preparations. It’s almost frightening. I thought I pretty much knew what gyokuro was about from the Harney & Sons version I had a few weeks ago.
I thought wrong. Completely wrong.
Gyokuro is one of those teas that’s beautiful to look at. I don’t think that photos do it justice. The leaves are silky and a deep blue-green, most thinner than a toothpick. Really gorgeous stuff. The smell coming off them is a sweet, very grassy note, with just a hint of butter.
So I waited… and waited… and waited for the damned water to cool down enough to begin steeping this one. I believe I started the pour at 50 secs, just because I really wanted to make sure that this one didn’t oversteep. It’s that delicate. I also steeped with the lid off, to give the gyokuro some room to breathe. I don’t want to scorch the leaves in ANY way.
I knew immediately while the tea was pouring that this was going to be something special. The smell… oh my gahd. Very grass, but also very, very buttery. Mmmmm. The wet leaves smelled much the same. It’s like a freshly cut grass smell, mixed with melted butter. It smells delicious.
And the taste? Joygasm. Seriously.
I’ve been having a lot of trouble with greens, I think mainly because in general, I tend to dislike green things. I really don’t like vegetables. I hate salads. Beyond artichokes and asparagus, and maybe the occasional piece of broccoli… yeah, they’re not my thing. But this tea… it’s lighter than Harney’s gyokuro, but just as intense and interesting. It’s pretty grassy, but that grassiness is tempered by butter. Rich butter. It’s silky-smooth and delicious and satisfying and REFRESHING. You can taste the award-winningness of this one.
There’s just this general sweetness to the entire cup as well. There’s really no astringency. Towards the end of some sips I sometimes get this almost tart feeling that develops just into a green sweetness. It’s almost similar to the sweetness you find in sugar snap peas (another green thing that I love).
I think Auggy just converted me with one cup of tea. I can’t wait to see what the second steep tastes like, although I probably won’t drink the entire thing, since gyokuro’s caffeine levels are off the charts. But DELICIOUS and NOM. Wow. Taste the quality!
The Second Steep (5 secs, 140 degrees) was pretty tasty, but a bit thinner than the first. The taste was a bit more grassy and a bit less buttery. Hrm. I’ll try to get a third steep out of this, but I doubt I’m going to finish the cup at all. It’ll be just for tasting purposes! NOM, though!
So Steep Three (1:10, 140 degrees) just sort of tasted like grassy umami water. Not that it was bad, but there’s no tea-ness to it. So I dumped the leaves out. I also played around with the wet leaves a bit, and they’re as soft as silk.
very smooth and soothing
not too harsh or bold
but kinda misses the risker aspects of my favorite
Comforting – perfect for flying.
I realized today that it has been a bit since I’ve had a truly awesome tea.
So I decided to have this.
The counter may now be reset.
0 days since our last awesome tea.
Auggy was kind enough to send me a little of this. This is the first gyokuro I’ve made myself and I wanted to do it up right so I got a kyusu. The tea arrived here before the kyusu did, so there was a bit of an internal battle going on until I got my Rishi stuff. I was literally, at one point, standing and staring at this tea until I caught myself and shook myself out of it.
Anyhow, I was good and I waited. I’m not sure what difference making this in the kyusu made, but I liked rocking and swishing the stuff out.
I read/heard/saw somewhere that gyokuros are supposed to sit for 5 or so minutes in cold/room temperature water to open them up and keep them from before steeping them warm. That’s something that’s stuck with me for some reason, but I’m also not sure how specific that is to the type of gyokuro, and whatnot. I’ve also read many different things about water to leaf ratios and the temperature of water that’s “supposed” to be used for hot/warm infusions. I’ve heard that you’re not supposed to use water hotter than 160°F and that you should infuse in ice water. What all of this has led me to believe is that I just need to drink a lot more gyokuro and see what slams my door.
Anyway, I let this sit in some room temperature for five minutes. [I did try to drink that but it was relatively flavorless.] Then I did about four steeps at 1 minute in 140°F water, all of which tasted relatively the same. I probably could have kept going, to be honest, and I make a face as I type this – I think I might have wasted the leaves as a result. I also see that Auggy has varied her steeping times for different infusions [which is what you’re probably supposed to do]. Luckily, I have some left of this to play around with, so I’ll have to try steeping otherwise. I think I’m going to try and read some more about these before I do, because right now I’m very much saturated with conflicting information and I think some of it’s going to begin dripping out if I don’t try and filter and sort some of it.
All right, enough about my brain scream over “proper” gyokuro steeping. The tea. The tea was good! I really doubt that this truly shows the range of where this can go, but I enjoyed what I got out of it and that’s a good thing. What I was missing was that buttery taste that both the description and Auggy both mentioned. I was searching for it, and I think that maybe because I was I thought I caught a glimpse of it, but that could have been purely psychological. What I did get was a vegetal taste followed by a delicious, chlorophyll-y sweetness. The sweetness was bright and high and clear, and only grew in volume when accompanied by inhalation. It also, and I’m really not sure how to describe this accurately, it tingled. It hopped around on my tongue.
This experience has intrigued me enough to really become interested in gyokuro, so I think I’ll be trying to procure some more and do a little experimenting.
Also, should you be interested, pictures of the new kyusu begin here [they are, however, without tea]. http://bit.ly/5oRgh0
I wanted another cup of tea but didn’t really want to resteep the Ceylon King so I pulled this one out. I’ll probably have a steep or two of this and switch to something non-black for the rest of the day. I actually had to go rinse my mouth out after the first steep because I was getting some taste of bitterness from the Ceylon still. But once I’m all rinsed out, this tea is back to the yummy sweet and lightly earthy taste I know and enjoy. Not getting much peppery out of it except at the very end of a sip, there’s a slight prickly warmth left on my tongue. A nice fallback plan of a black tea.
ETA: The husband is having some too and I’m not sure if he has before so I asked him what he thought. His response: “At first I think fish and then melon.” Weird!
I should have used a bit more leaf – I only used 3.5g for my 6oz – so this isn’t as strong as before. But this tea is still so good. Clean, sweet and fresh tasting. The tastes makes me picture lush green hills, a cloudless sky and temperate weather with a slightly cool breeze. Delightful.
I’ve had gyokuro from different sources but I think this is one of the best. It comes from Uji, which is the province of Japan that is best for green tea. It has a delicate and pretty high vegetal flavor, with a hint of sweetness at the end
I tried this tea at a tasting at the shop when I lived in California. It had a really good flavor but its the only Lu Shan Clouds and Mist I’ve ever tried!
Well, yesterday was an insane tea day – 7 different teas for me and multiple steeps of most of them. So that’s BIG for me. And I liked it. So I decided to carry over the tea bounty on to today. I’m not going to hit 7 – maybe 4 if I’m lucky – but still. Yay tea!
Brewed this up in my handy dandy ingenuitTEA using filtered water from home. I’m pretty sure that makes me a big ole dork, bringing tea water to work, but the water here is nasty and using bottled water makes my tea flat.
For some reason, the leaves smell of fruit. Some sort of berry. I think when I first got this tea, it was sitting up against a plastic bag of black currant tea so I’m guessing the smell soaked into it a bit. Which is weird. But at least it doesn’t carry over to the brewed tea. It smells comforting – kind of like dry grass plus a little spicy and bit of baking chocolate. Plus, I get to drink it out of Totoro so how can I go wrong?
Buttery, sweet and smooth, with honey and cucumber aroma. Astringency is very slight, but enough for a clean finish.