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Recent Tasting Notes
I recently exhorted people to write reviews of the TTB teas, so realized I need to set a better example. Hence, this review. In fairness, I’ve been inundated with other teas: two group buys from Liquid Proust, and one from Emmett, and two groups of samples I wanted to get through before Black Friday. However, it is now after Black Friday, and I’m out of excuses.
This is a tea I set aside before I sent out the box. I’d never had Essence of Tea puerh before so I was looking forward to trying some of their teas. The first steep caught me unawares, as it’s been a long time since I’ve had any Bulang, and this was a really powerful example. I was initially a bit put off by the earthy, slightly meaty nose, but the taste was great: very complex with earthy/leather flavors and a long, slightly sweet finish. As the cup cooled, the aroma changed from earthy to spicy. The second steep (10 s) was similar to the first steep. Very complex. I’m really starting to notice the cha qi. I was feeling light-headed when I prepared the second steep, and now I’m feeling it throughout my body: Very relaxed and detached. The mouth-feel is thick; almost chewy. The finish is so powerful that there is no obvious change in taste when I swallow (or even a minute later). The 3rd steep (20 s) has a rich meaty nose. The taste is wet wood with slight bitterness on the tongue. 4th (30 s): Wet wood with increasing bitterness but still interesting and enjoyable. I’m still working on the 6th steep but the trend seems to be for the flavors to become more woody and somewhat bitter. I would say that the tea peaked during the second steep. It is still good now but less exciting. I realize that I need to clarify that the bitterness was not excessive and I suspect many reviewers would have referred to this as “good bitterness”. To me that’s just a contradiction in terms.
I was surprised to see that this tea was only 3 years old. I would have guessed closer to 10. I guess that’s the effect of Malaysian storage. I’m not a fan of bitter teas, and marked this down a bit because of the bitterness. However, I really loved the complexity and the subtle change of flavor from cup to cup and even within the same cup as the tea cooled. Someone who likes “good bitterness” might really love this tea.
Thanks again to David and Yingxi at Essence of Tea for contributing this tea to the travelling tea box.
This tea was something powerful. I opened the package and was struck by a very prominent camphor scent. This aroma was fresh and intense. I broke off a chunk and placed it into my warmed gaiwan. The aroma deepens to an all encompassing camphor with eucalyptus. I could feel this scent begin to cleanse my body. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The wet leaves reminded my of the leaves of a eucalyptus tree. This session is largely composed of cooling sensations with an underlying of wood tones. The flavor was incredibly peculiar. The brew begins as cask wood and alcohol. The term “bourbon barrel” comes to mind. The drink carries a prominent menthol and camphor flavor that fills the mouth and follows through to the stomach. The drink emits a cooling sensation that encompasses the body. The qi is quite powerful and centering. The feeling begins in the temples and encroaches upon the body as a whole. This is a very “now moment” tea. The tea sips begin with a peppery kuwei and a dripping pleasant huigan. The mouth feel is nice and lubricating with a smooth filling. The aftertaste leaves a whisp of smoke. I love the mouth action this brew brings to the table, and there is plenty of hair prickling. However, there is a heavy bitterness present in the brew, as is with all other bulang. The leaves are large and unbroken with buds and some large stems. This cake runs in line with the classic Bulang material characteristics. The sips contain nice tantalizing kuwei, a sharp swift bite, light cask wood, and finish with a lasting slight huigan. The unique part is the storage, which added the menthol and camphor like tones. This tea is a prime example of how strongly storage can affect your puerh. I would compare this to the non-Malaysian stored version of this Bulang this company offers.
Flavors: Alcohol, Camphor, Eucalyptus, Menthol, Oak wood, Pepper, Smoke
Pu’erh TTB 2015 Tea #3
After drinking the Green Peacock yesterday this just seemed to be the next one for me to try. The first thing that is easily noticed is that it is much darker, though I am not intending to compare the two as they are different but that is what I will do. The mouth feel isn’t as smooth or lingering as the Green Peacock which is one of my favorite parts about pu’erh. This is a tea that the first six steeps did not appeal much to me because the slight bitterness needed to be pulled out and the deep taste of sheng was a bit stronger than I like. For those who like a stronger sheng this would be a great option, but people like me who want a cotton candy that has been fermented and looks like leaf this is not that.
Pu’erh TTB 2015 Tea #2
It was about one week before this TTB was announced to have a new round that I asked someone here about Berylleb’s Peacock teas because I have enjoyed the style quite bit. As I was about to buy four samples, a few weeks later, I noticed EOT provided two for the TTB :)
This tea is potent from the first steep which is nice right now because I need the strength. The tip of my tongue gets a slight sweetness during the taste of the liquid and as it goes down the sides of my tongue to my cheek experience a passing camphor taste which is quite enjoyable. I’m not sure which portion of the cake I had as it was broken off nor how it was stored for the last 2 months…. and I don’t care, if a tea taste good than it taste good. I’m looking forward to trying the purple peacock now!
Now I’m window shopping….
https://www.essenceoftea.com/tea/puerh-tea/2012-eot-qishenggu-400g-puerh-tea.html has my attention :)
Puerh Tea TTB. This tea is one that I at first, because of the coincidence in the name, took to be a shou puerh. It is a tasty young sheng instead. Only after drinking it did I find out the nature of the linguistic coincidence. Huang Shan Shu is the name of the village from which the tea is sourced, not shu in the sense of shou. It is a quite tasty sheng. It had very little bitterness to it. There were the traditional notes of apricots and stonefruits in this tea. It was sweet. It is also mildly astringent. There are no notes of smoke and I didn’t get any camphor. Overall I would rate this among some of the best sheng I have drank. It seems to have some qi as I am feeling quite relaxed after twelve steeps. Stopping now because of the caffeine but I’m sure this tea would have gone a few more steeps.
I brewed this tea twelve times in a 60ml gaiwan with 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. This is a good tea to drink now because of a lack of bitterness. I don’t know how it will age as I have heard that bitter teas age better.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Stonefruits
Puerh Tea TTB. This is the first tea I am drinking from the box. The first couple of infusions were light yellow in color with the taste of a totally non bitter young sheng. At first I was unsure if I was really drinking an aged tea. After about the fourth steep the leaves had fully opened up and it took on the color of an aged sheng, a dark amber brown. I noticed that Grill mentioned storage taste in this tea. I did not find what is commonly called wet wood or wet storage taste. There was a spicy note however that was quite strong and prevalent throughout the first eight or ten steeps. It never completely went away even after fifteen steeps. It did however mellow out. There was a flavor in the middle steeps that I just call aged flavor. It crept in but I don’t know how to describe it. This tea was smooth despite the spicy taste. I think I would even say there was a taste of camphor in there. I am currently feeling the effects of this tea’s qi. I would not use the term tea drunk but it is quite relaxing. This is definitely a tea I will want to look into buying, don’t actually know how much it costs.
I steeped this tea 15 times in a 60ml gaiwan with 4.2g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. Even so it took several steeps for this tea to open up. 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, 2 min, 2.5 min, 3 min, and 3.5 min. The tea was pretty much played out at fifteen steeps but I probably could have gotten one or two more steeps out of it.
Another EoT sample from the TTB – Round 3. This tea was pretty simple so this wont be a long flowery review. Sweet and fruity, decently thick ( thicker than the green peacock). Durability was pretty good, session wasn’t all that dynamic but honestly wasn’t expecting fireworks here. This is something for the price that I’d buy a couple of brick of as a tasty cheap daily drinker type. Falls right in line with a couple of other teas I’ve had in this price range and would love to have it in my rotation and I can see why it sold out so fast. Hoping this comes back up for sale soon.
Second TTB review. I admittedly started this session not expecting much as most Bulangs I’ve tried have been harshly bitter and overall disappointing. Glad to say this tea was anything but that. This was rich, thick and oily. Bitterness was fairly strong but not at all harsh, in fact it was of the most enjoyable parts of the session. The kind of bitterness you would get from both high quality espresso and semi sweet chocolate. Those flavors were the most dominate in the flavor as well along with caramel, brown sugar. Some dark dried fruits and mushrooms were also present but in the background and didn’t make their way to the forefront till the end of the session. Coated the mouth and throat well which led to a strong and long lasting aftertaste. Big floral bloom in the mouth upon breathing out which was a bit surprising since it didn’t show up in the taste. Maybe it was there when younger but has been aged out by the excellent Malaysian storage. Qi came on fairly quickly, by the second cup or so and lasted throughout the session. Not overly strong but persistent and of good quality, best way I can describe it is I felt pretty damn awesome lol.
Glad to have finally had a great session with a Bulang tea and any MengHai county tea in general. Finding good high quality west banna sheng (without paying through the nose) seems to be very difficult as compared to tea from Mengla county.
First tea I’m reviewing from the TTB – Round 3. 5 grams in my shibo, gave them a quick rinse and let sit for about 5 minutes before starting my first brew. This tea has definitely seen some humidity and would benefit from some airing out for sure. Early tastes were dusty books and basement with underling fruit, camphor and some vanilla. Overall really complex and enjoyable flavors and my favorite aspect of this tea. In general the body was light and the after taste wasn’t that strong. Some throatiness early in the session but it didn’t develop or last for more than a couple steeps. As the session progressed the storage tastes lightened but never went away completely, astringency on the tongue and cheeks on the later steeps until the very end. Had to push this tea fairly early which is usually a sign of trouble but it turned out to be fairly durable and got around 15 steeps.
Overall the tea was pretty enjoyable but nothing mind blowing. Some people may be turned off by the storage taste but it doest bother me. As I said earlier airing this out would do it wonders as the flavors were the highlight of the show here. Also I do like teas with thicker bodies and oily texture but I’ve come to not expect that all the time from older tea.
Yesterday I spent time throughout the day enjoying a 2004 Yiwu. A few months ago, Essence of Tea offered a “sale” on a few very special somewhat aged teas they had introduced on a very limited basis. I picked up a few different 25g sample packs and this ChangYuHao Yiwu was one of them. Whole leaves from old trees nicely darkened by 11 years of aging – genuine non-plantation leaves; careful storage in Malaysia; and all the characteristic aromas of true quality YiWu material. The aroma from the wet leaves is sweet and rather pungent. Very clean tea liquor with sweet and spicy umami. Definite throatiness and a lingering aftertaste in the mouth. A smooth, heavy, sweet tea with feel good cha qi – I am happy to have an opportunity to session this 2004 YiWu. This is a good tea!
This was quite an experience. I let this cake air out for a little bit. I saw the 2000 year, and I knew I had to jump on it. I love the experience from aged sheng; especially, when it is properly stored. The cake consists of long twisted knots of muddled black and is intertwined with little bronze linings. I broke off two generous chunks and placed in my warmed jianshui pot and gave it a shake. I let the dry leaf warm up and sit for quite some time. I really wanted this brew to wake up from its 15 year slumber. I lifted the top and took a peek inside my clay pot. The scent was light but intense. It gave off the scent of age. It was like an old book store with the musty parchment. I also took in a dried fruit scent, perhaps it was grapes. I washed the leaves twice to get them to fully open. The liquor was tarnished gold. The old book scent followed this brew consistently. The flavor was largely complex. I am happy that I let this cake settle before brewing. The taste began as a deep raw wood. It was like the core of mahogany and mixed with cherry oak. This taste then moved into a dried fruit with a lasting huigan to follow. The liquor had a intense and brief kuwei that was soothed by a fermented fruit taste. This mixture frequently transits from a heavy wood and slight earth, to a more fruit and spiced tone. The brew lasts forever! I was able to pull countless steeps while still achieving a prominent orange liquor. The background flavor of camphor also follows the drinker the entire session. The qi is something special. The feeling is not overwhelmingly powerful, and it sneaks up on you. I did not notice it for most of the session. For me, it began at my temples and forehead with a warming sensation that grew into a fiery internal feeling. This wave of warmth rushed through my body and lifted me up. This session helped calm me down and help me focus for the work ahead. I enjoyed this brew thoroughly, and it is a good example of some aged sheng. I believe that if stored properly this could grow into something even more fruitful. Lastly, I am happy to be able to experience Malaysian storage. This country’s storage conditions was a new concept for me, and it was a wonderful experience.
Flavors: Cherry Wood, Dark Wood, Dried Fruit, Drying, Musty, Paper, Smooth, Spices, White Grapes
From the Puerh TTB #3
Thanks to EoT for providing this and other samples for the TTB
One of the benefits of organizing the tea box is that you get to be first to try the teas. I was really excited when the EoT box arrived, since I like to try older sheng and there isn’t that much of it available. Also, I can now mail out the box to all the other tea-addicts who have been waiting patiently for me to get it all together.
My first few cups were disappointing. The tea had some camphor and tobacco notes but was dominated by the flavor of ashes (think fireplace on a damp day a week after the fire). Fortunately, the ashes became less potent by the third or fourth steep, though they never really went away. I’m still drinking the tea, but have lost count of the number of steeps (around 10). It is a burnt sienna color, fairly strong in flavor, with a sharp, somewhat tannic bite, and flavors of wood and leather (and just a hint of ash). Drinking it was an interesting experience, and I’m glad I had the opportunity, but I don’t think I would go out of my way to drink it again.
In some ways I wonder if older sheng is really worth the wait. I’m reminded of the wine experts raving over 50 year old Bordeaux raving about the flavor of shoe leather, and thinking the younger stuff tastes like fruit and other stuff that I like. It might also be the difference between wet and dry aging. I was also a bit disappointed with the W2T 1990’s wet storage sheng, which I bought in part to learn how aged sheng was “supposed” to taste.
Next day: I’m up to about 15th steep and still getting a lot of flavor out of 1 minute steeps. No negatives: just an enjoyable, interesting tea.
This review is based on many sessions with over 100 grams of this tea.
Its a great tea.
Excellent aged aroma to rinsed leaves.
Clean, fresh mouth feeling.
Mostly wood, earth flavors in the tea itself.
I drink it for sense of relaxation and well being that it invokes.
This tea wont mess up your digestion with cold bitterness as some more flavorful young teas will do.
I believe that this tea is a good value and a solid choice for those who drink puer for its mind/body effects.
The raw material in this cake is from ancient, wild trees (800-1000 years old) on Wuliang mountain and the possibilities drew me to the tea. I was not disappointed. The leaves brew a lovely clear liquor and the wet leaves smell powerfully sweet, fruity and complex. The first brew is reasonably thick with a very interesting fruity sweetness – no bitterness or astringency detected. Some Wuliangs I have had before revealed smoke in the flavor profile but fortunately I did not find that in this tea. The strong sweetness is the main feature here – sweetness mixed with spice and citrus suggesting the healthy characteristics of the trees and environment from which it comes. Rather full in the mouth with nice, gentle, but long activity on the tongue promoting a lubricated mouth feel with a persistent warmth. An interesting “wild” tea – sweet, soft, lovely in its gentle aroma. The stamina of the tea is quite good but later steepings became a little thin in taste for me so I did not push the tea past 9 steeps. The tea’s primary taste is rounded and smooth – some people might say that it is too smooth but I found a strength of character which provides the tea drinker with interesting and complex textures. I am definitely a fan!
Pressed in 2012, the mix of large and small leaves is 2007 maocha from 400-500 year old trees. There are light scents of leather and smoke coming from the dry leaf. This is a soft and gentle tea, not at all aggressive. Very friendly and pleasing to the taste buds. It started sweet with a mineral (almost metallic) impression, too, but the tea’s fruity sweetness easily dominates the taste. There is also a light hint of smoke with a little something else as well – citrus I think. Pleasant mouthfeel and an equally appealing aftertaste – neither lasts very long. This is not a “powerhouse” tea but it did provide a clear and refreshing feeling as I drank the cups. At the end of the session, I was both relaxed and invigorated. Fairly priced ($72/400g cake) for this 2007 material pressed in 2012.
Revisiting this 2006 DXS Yongde maocha pressed in 2013. The dry leaves are thick, large, whole and vibrant with a clean and crisp scent (raisin-like but a tobacco smell comes through as well). The tea soup is a rich clear orange color and emits a sweet fruity aroma. A thick soup coats the mouth and provides nice mouth activity. A tart grapefruit taste comes through with a sweetness that serves to balance the tartness. A light bitterness builds up after several cups but takes little away from the overall sweetness of the brew. This is nicely complex with good qi. Floral and sweet taste but for me the lingering aftertaste is the best part of this very special tea. This is almost as good as one of my favorite shengs, the 2009 Yongde DXS from Finepuer (unfortunately now sold out).
I am quite fond of material from Da Xue Shan (DXS). After several years of careful maturation, this particular collection of DXS leaves in the E from ancient trees has developed into a fine tea. (These Essence of Teas cakes are pressed using lightly aged maocha.)
Lightly compressed so that it is very easy to pick off beautiful whole leaves. Clear crisp tea liquor. Nice texture and body. Taste complexity; both fruit (dried dark fruits) and appealing sweetness found in the sip. Good mouthfeel (active and buzzing) that lasts. A welcome positive qi arrives quickly with energy that begins in the mouth and quickly spreads throughout the body.
Very good for about seven brews and then it goes rather flat. I wonder if that is becaused aged maocha was used to form the cakes? I am very glad to have a 20g sample to enjoy but given the combination of price and limited durability, I am unable to justify the purchase of a cake at this time.
I got a cake of this last year firstly because I am a big fan of puerh from this region and secondly because I was curious to taste a semi-aged example. When EOT was still based in the UK they manged to get a few examples of Malaysian stored puerh, and this was one of them.
Due to time constraints I don’t have much time to do a long review like I normally do, so I will keep this tasting note pretty brief. Dry leaves smell nice and sweet, material appears to be of a good quality. 9 grams go into my 150ml yixing. Boil the kettle and let the water settle for a minute. Quick rinse and I smell the wet leaves…aroma is rich and sweet…I think I can also detect mint there as well.
First proper steep at 7 seconds. I slowly sip the brew…clean, crisp and pure, light woody textures amongst a sweet background, hints of pleasant bitterness. Very, very nice. Second steep at 10 seconds. Liquid appears a bit darker with reasonable thickness. Getting the same taste sensations as the first steep except there is some astringency, more minty notes which creates a rather pleasant cooling affect on the tongue when you take a deep breath in.
Third steep at 12 seconds…now tasting some aged camphor notes, still getting some pleasant bitterness however for me the sweetness is far more prominent. The Bulang’s robust nature has been tamed somewhat…overall my impression is that this is pretty “gentle”. I am enjoying the long, camphor and light woody sweetness in the aftertaste that remains between steeps. I am feeling the aftertaste far more on the tongue than at the back of the throat. I would also say this has some decent QI…I am feeling positively relaxed, warm and a little sleepy. I have a few more steeps and my tea session comes to an end.
As much as I enjoyed my session with this my personal feeling is that this puerh is seasonal in that I could see myself drinking loads of this in Autumn/Winter rather than Spring/Summer. It has a warm, comforting nature that is perfect for those cold Winter nights. My only “negative” feeling is that I am not a massive fan of its astringent properties…I think this needs a few more years of aging before it becomes ultra smooth. I was pleasantly surprised with its gentle character, yet behind this there are a lot of complex taste sensations.
My conclusion is that this is an excellent example of a semi aged Bulang. From a price point this costs £88 per cake which I think is pretty fair considering its not easy to find a Bulang of Ancient Tree material. I think with another 5+ years of aging this could be an exceptional puerh. Many thanks to EOT for another great example of Malaysian stored puerh. This was one of my favourite cakes out of their Malaysian stored selection, only being beaten by the impeccable 1991 7542.
Flavors: Bitter, Camphor, Sweet, Wood
A little surprised that this was not on Steepster, so thought I would have a tasting session with this. I still have roughly half a cake left from the cake that I bought last year. I was pretty impressed with it last year, but was curious to see how it would develop over a year. Here are my notes…
How many leaves you choose to brew really depends on how much bitterness you want. I personally love the bitterness found in Bulang puerh so I used 9 grams in my 130ml yixing. Dry leaves smell pleasantly sweet. Boil the kettle and let the water cool down for 2-3 minutes. A quick 3 second rinse and I smell the wet leaves…“biscuit” Bulang aroma that smells potently rich.
My first proper steep at 7 seconds. Nice golden texture. Sipping the brew I am slightly taken aback by how mellow this tastes. Smooth, buttery mouthfeel, honey sweet notes, no bitterness in the background. “Very elegant” I think to myself.
Second steep slightly longer at 10 seconds. Texture is now darker golden. I take a sip and there it is…liquid has become pretty thick now, lovely, complex bitterness with sweetness in the aftertaste, mild astringency. Already starting to feel some good energy from this.
Third steep at 15 seconds. Colour is even darker, and mouthfeel at its thickest. I decide to sip this once it has cooled down a bit. Rich, robust, heavy, bitterness still pushing through like a champ, good sweetness, still the mild astringency which is really rounding off everything nicely on the tongue and at the back of the throat. The initial energy I felt has now been replaced by a relaxed mind and body, making me feel just about ready for bed. This is a seriously solid Bulang.
Later steeps and the “biscuit” Bulang aroma from the wet leaves is nearly gone…I can now sense a more “flowery” aroma. The bitterness is starting to fade in the taste, and I think this is a good point to end my session. I lasted 10 steeps over 3 hours.
So, overall I think this is an excellent Bulang. In my opinion it is probably more elegant in its taste compared to the New Amerykah powerhouse. Which puerh I drink entirely depends on my mood. I prefer the brute strength of the New Amerykah overall, however this Bulang is the perfect end to a lovely meal. New Amerykah I have first thing in the morning when I need to wake up, this Bulang is great for quieter, more relaxed sessions. Variety is the spice of life. From a price point I feel this is not “inexpensive”. The price is now £103 ($165) which is essentially double the price of the New Amerykah when it was available…these days I would choose something with a bit more age for the same price, but that comes down to tastes evolving. One cannot deny that this Bulang is of an excellent quality, and deserves at least a sample to try. Many thanks to EOT for a really decent Bulang!
Flavors: Bitter, Butter, Sweet
One of the first puerhs I purchased from EOT, I felt that the Mansai was pretty good bang for buck being only £25 per 250 gram cake. I remember getting two cakes of this and I am down to my last half a cake. Unfortunately this one is no longer on sale at EOT today…they must be long sold out. Decided to brew some of it tonight to see how things are going with it. A highly enjoyable puerh session evolved. Here are my notes…
After drinking a cake and a half of this firstly here are a few tips. This puerh is pretty deceptive in its bitterness. It packs a mean punch if you steep for too long. For me I enjoy this type of boldness, but if you want to get a good balance of sweetness and bitterness then I would highly recommend 7 second steeps.
I take 7 grams and pop them in my 130ml yixing. A quick 3 second rinse to wake up the leaves. To be honest in my opinion the leaves don’t appear that impressive. A mix of chopped up leaves and shortish leaves. However appearances mean nothing if the tea does not taste good. First proper steep at 5 seconds. A nice light brew to begin proceedings. Taste is very clean, crisp and smooth. Not that much thickness to begin with. Nice light sweetness, no astringency. I remember this puerh being a little astringent…this puerh seems to have mellowed out very nicely as I am not detecting any astringency.
Second steep slightly longer at 7 seconds. Liquid now appears a little darker in appearance and becomes more thick generating a good buttery mouthfeel and slickness down the throat. Still not detecting the bitterness yet, but I am sure this will come soon. This stuff is getting very tasty.
Third steep at another 7 seconds. Very similar to the second steep. Still getting lovely sweetness but still no bitterness. Good QI is beginning to set in sharpening my mind and thoughts. Fourth steep at 10 seconds and now the liquid has become dark golden in colour. I take a sip and there is the bitterness that I enjoy so much. However excellent balance of flavour as again the sweetness kicks in. I push the puerh a bit harder with longer steeping times and end up with the same great results. This is an excellent example of an every day, no frills puerh.
So, overall the 2010 Mansai for me is a little champion. It’s clear and crisp, smooth and mellow, however punches you hard when you want it too. This will all depend on how much bitterness you enjoy in your puerh. It’s great to see that with a bit of storage the tea has really mellowed. If there was any astringency I did not detect any. It certainly is a damn fine tea at a competitive price point. Many thanks to EOT.
Flavors: Bitter, Sweet, Thick
It is a cold Autumn evening and I am in the mood for some good quality Shu. My current “benchmark” for reviewing Shu is that if the puerh is as good as the 9016 TuoCha I recently reviewed, then it is a really top quality tea worthy of purchase. I recently noticed this 1980’s Zi Tian on The Essence Of Tea website and I simply had to get some just to try out. At £340 a full cake is out of my budget, however I was happy enough to purchase a 10 gram sample. I have big expectations for this shu puerh, so here are my notes…
I like to push shu pu to the limit, so the whole 10 gram sample goes into my 140ml gaiwan. I was tempted to have 2 5 gram sessions, but thought it would be best to go “all the way”. I do two quick 3 second rinses of the leaves…the liquid is already looking dark and syrupy. My mouth starts to salivate with anticipation. I smell the wet leaves…earthy, woody, aged tones with a very slight hint of fermentation. This smells like “the real deal”.
First proper steep I push this to 2 full minutes. Liquid comes out black, thick and very syrupy. Exactly the way I like my shu. I take my first sip; thick, rich, bold, ultra smooth, silky, creamy, mature, sweet finish, a complex multitude of flavours that I find very difficult to describe…in short, very, very tasty indeed. I glug some more. Lovely mouthfeel, some tingling sensation beginning on my tongue, and a cooling sensation when I take a deep breath in. Not even a hint of bitterness, sourness or anything that will leave me disappointed. My first steep and it is already this amazing.
Second, third and fourth steep are more of the same, but now I am detecting other complex flavours…“vegetable” comes to mind but I am not sure what…maybe beetroot?, I am not sure. QI is starting to become noticeable as my body and mind start to calm down and unwind after a long, hard day at work. I smell the wet leaves again…the hint of fermentation is gone fully replaced by the earthy, aged aromas. I think I can even detect a hint of dark chocolate there as well.
Careful monitoring of steeping times goes out the window, there is no need to keep track of how long you steep this amazing tea. In my opinion the longer the better…you can push and push and you will still get that ultra smooth, silky mouthfeel. I am now beginning to lose count on the amount of steeps…this stuff just goes and goes, delivering tasty sip after tasty sip. Its durability is second to none.
Several hours later and my tea session comes to an end. I will carry on steeping these leaves tomorrow as I am sure I could push them a bit further. So, is this as good or better than the 9016 TuoCha? Well, in my opinion it is better…in fact it is the best shu pu I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. It does not beat the 9016 by a huge margin, however it has characteristics that I prefer slightly more. In my opinion it is more smooth and silky. It is also a bit more thick and syrupy. It has a longer, more complex finish. It really is the nectar of the gods.
I feel privileged to be able to taste shu as good as this one. Do I think it is worthy of the £340 price tag? Well, yes I would say so. In my opinion you are probably not going to taste any better shu than this. If you do, I would like some please :) I guess I am going to have to save up and hopefully snag a cake of this before it gets sold out. Between this one, and the 9016, you will be in shu heaven. Many thanks to EOT for an amazing shu pu session…it could not have gone any better.
Flavors: Earth, Vegetal