The Essence of Tea
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Recent Tasting Notes
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.
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
This puerh was a bit of a strange one for me. I recently added this to the Steepster database with intentions of adding a tasting note, however my tea session just did not go well. I was brewing this in a gaiwan and simply was not feeling the love…I had a hard time controlling some astringency that is still present and for some reason my taste buds just seemed a bit “off”. I thought giving a rating based simply on this one session would be premature and a little unfair.. So I decided to revisit this one tonight. This time around I have used my new 150ml yixing to see if my session would be a different experience. Here are my notes…
A word of warning first. In spite of its 14 years of age this is still a very powerful, robust puerh that still has a lot of youth left in it. I would say further aging is mandatory. Careful monitoring of steep times is also mandatory…brew this too much and the soup comes out too powerful and astringent. I would strongly suggest 7-10 second steeps for at least the first half a dozen steeps, possibly more. If you manage to conquer the steep times you will tame this little beast and end up with a rewarding puerh experience.
I pick away a healthy 8 grams worth of leaves and place them into my 150ml yixing. I decide to do two quick 3 second rinses…soup is already starting to look amber in texture. I smell the wet leaves…hints of smoke, malty richness, robust, deep aromas. Smells pretty potent! First proper steep at 7 seconds. Resulting liquid is dark amber which appears fairly thick in texture. I slowly sip my first steep…strong, very rich and heavy, nice thickness, woody smokiness, fairly complex aged flavours, mild astringency.
Steeping this further up to six steeps and I notice that I am beginning to sweat profusely from my head and also around my moustache/beard lol. Body is beginning to feel fully energised. Smokiness is beginning to die down a bit, replaced by some really excellent camphor notes. Some cooling on the tongue, not that much vibrancy in the mouth but I am experiencing a very long, complex finish. Liquid still remains nice and thick. This session is going a million times better than my previous experience.
I push this further up to about 10 steeps. Still this puerh is delivering on taste, however now I am beginning to notice some sweeter notes further adding to its complexity. This puerh has excellent durability. 10 steeps no problem…I push this past 15 steeps and still it refuses to quit. After 3 hours I finally decide to end my session. I think this powerful puerh has got the better of me…the leaves remain in the yixing for tomorrow.
So, overall this was a pretty special experience. No puerh has made me sweat as much as this one. It is difficult to believe how much power this puerh has. If I had to compare it to another puerh I would say that its tasting profile is fairly similar to white2tea’s 2002 White Whale. I personally think it has a little less smokiness and has more complex aged textures. Don’t quit at 10 steeps…you would be missing out on it’s returning sweetness which was a very pleasant surprise. From a price point I think £105 per cake is a fair price to pay considering how many steeps you will get out of 8 grams. At the moment this is an excellent, complex puerh that in 5+ years may be incredible. I am so glad that I did not write this one off…it deserves patience and full attention, not only with its durability but also those damn steeping times :) If you want to experience a puerh that has a great balance of aged and youth this one is definitely one to consider. Many thanks to EOT for this complex, powerful beast.
Flavors: Camphor, Malt, Smoke, Wood
In the mood for some aged sheng, I decided to prepare a steeping of this tea. I use about 6 grams in 100 ml of water. Since this is a loose leaf the leaves are intact and beautiful to look at. The colour of the dry leaf ranges from a copper-like colour to a dusty black. The wet leaves radiate an immense wood, wet forest floor-like character with hints of spices in the background. The soup is a dark red with very little cloudiness. It’s thick in the mouth with a smooth texture. As the nose suggests, there are notes of wood and spices. Nice hui gan with an apparent qi. Excellent tea. 87/100
Note : On my third steeping, I think I could have gotten away with much less leaf. Perhaps 4-5 grams would have been sufficient.
Flavors: Earth, Spices, Wood
Dry – Sweet floral with bittersweet/tart notes that resemble fruits.
Wet – Honey, very apparent apricot, floral notes, ‘wild’ oomph, plum, orchid, vanilla?, cream?, spices.
Liquor – Golden to a Red Gold hue.
Gong Fu Style in thick porcelain Gaiwan 6-7gm 5oz *
1st 2secs – Honey, apricot, floral-fruity notes with a thick body up front. As it washes down, it has a thicker texture/fuller body with apparent tart-fruity notes and very faint but pleasant bitterness that lingers through the very nice Huigan.
2nd 3secs – Tart-Fruity notes that resemble passion fruit, apricot and other floral fruits up front. As it goes does down, it develops a very apparent thickness and active mouth feel (wild oomph?), that lingers through the sweeter and bittersweet playful notes that precede the fast and pleasant Huigan.
3rd 4secs – Tart fruity notes with very apparent floral, bittersweet apricot and passion fruit notes up front. As it goes down, it becomes thicker and has a very energetic mouth-feel that lingers through the bittersweet and tart fruity notes and through the honey notes that become very apparent in the Huigan. At this point it started developing very pleasant and complex notes that resembled spices.
4th 6secs – Honey sweetness that quickly turns bittersweet/tart with floral-fruity notes that resemble passion fruit and apricot. The broth becomes thicker once again as it goes down and covers the tongue with very pleasant and complex tart/bittersweet notes which in turn become very sweet and lingering in the Huigan.
5th 7secs – Honey sweetness with a gentler take over by the the tart/bittersweet floral notes that once again resemble floral fruits like apricot, plum and passion fruit. As it washes down it still wears a thick and active mouth-feel that accentuates the tart/bittersweet notes and wild character of the tea. A very fast huigan and gentle ku. Very pleasant and playful finish with notes that resemble spices.
This one was VERY pleasant. Honestly, my best experience with Wild Puerh by far. To me it started as a very aromatic experience that needs to be acknowledged as soon as you start pouring water and even when you are pouring out the rinse. This is the type of tea that will temp you to drink that rinse. As I started to drink the first notes I noted were the tart/bittersweet notes that resembled several fruits and later I noticed the thicker Honey notes that balances the broth very well.
As I kept drinking, I started to note the hints of spices in the tongue and later on it became more apparent (cumulative sensation). I stopped taking notes after steep #5 because I just wanted to enjoy it. Thanks Sammerz314 for the opportunity to try this beauty.
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Flavors: Apricot, Flowers, Honey
I decided to go back in time with this 1960s Guang Yun Gong that I picked up from David at the EoT. The dry leaves have a dark (almost black) colour with a red shading to it. The dry leaf also seems to have a subtle spicy aroma and a large amount of twigs, probably more than in modern bings. I don’t mind this as I find it adds to the teas visual appeal. A quick wash of the leaves releases a beautiful aroma of spices, woodiness and bell peppers, an aroma that brings the 1979 Aged Beauty to mind. Very pleasant nose indeed. As one would expect, the soup has a dark reddish colour. The soup has a pleasant sweetness, which is consistent with the wet aroma, and mouthfeel. The soup seems to leave a long lasting lingering sweetness in the back of the throat. There is also an instantaneous hui gan. The cha qi is very apparent as a single cup of 40 mL has put me in a state of bliss. In conclusion, this tea is a joy to drink. It’s an example of what we all strive for when aging our own puerhs. Of course, this tea isn’t an everyday tea. At a whopping 5 pounds/ gram, this single steeping has set me back almost $50! However, I do think its worth to try. Easily a 90/100
Parameters : ~5 grams/100 mL brita filtered tap water
15 second steeps
Edit : You better believe I will be steeping these leaves 20+ times LOL!
This stone-pressed sheng from Bangwei Village is a delight! It is full of beautiful, high quality leaves which give the appearance of having been carefully folded and twisted lightly – although I know this is highly unlikely. They are very large with a greenish brown color. The dry leaf suggests smells of the earth and green grass – a very light and pleasant aroma.
The tea liquor is bright and juicy with a nice lively mouthfeel. Smooth to the taste with all the sweet, earthy notes one would expect from a high quality sheng. There is a lovely hint of sweetness throughout. This is my first experience with EoT. Recent notes by Sammer314 led me to order several different 10-20g samples last month and I look forward to enjoying more “tastings” with these high quality puerhs.
I Decided to go with the classic 7542 this morning. This tea is a 1991 sheng that I was lucky enough to pick up from David at EoT. During the breaking process, I immediately notice how beautiful the leaves are… most are intact and very few, if any at all, are chopped. Wonderful craftsmanship. The wet leaves produce a beautiful dark red broth… a colour that brings a sweet cup of Port to mind. A primary woody aroma with fruity and spicy notes emanates from the bowl. A very pleasing nose I must say. Signs of traditional storage is apparent from the nose. In the mouth, the broth is smooth, has a thick body and has an aged sweetness that lingers in the throat. There is a strong chaqi with this tea as only a few cups (40 mL each) have seem to put me in a meditative state. An excellent example of an aged 7542. Definitely think an 88/100 is a fair assessment.
This tea brings about a wonderful experience. I began with 4.2 grams of leaf and arrive at a beautiful orange-red liquor. At first glance, this liquor seems to display wonderful solidity. The wet leaves produce a pleasant aged-like aroma. Again, I often find it difficult to relate familiar scents/tastes with characters found in tea. I will say that there is some spiciness in the immediate aroma…perhaps accompanied with buttery-like, woody notes. The buttery -like note within the aroma is definitely new to me. Upon a sip, I find the liquor isn’t as thick as the first glance suggested. However, I still consider this a very nice tea. There are some spicy notes accompanied by an aged woody character… within seconds a cool mintiness joins dance. This tea has, what I sense as, a strong qi and very pleasant hui gan. Excellent tea which seems to display excellent storage conditions. Easily an 85/100 in my books.
In light of Canada’s hockey victory, I’ve decided to treat myself to a steeping of this wonderful 1980s Menghai Yiwu Spring Buds 7532. This is another special tea that excites the soul. The wet leaves release a sweet wood-like character and a soup that is remarkably clean. Its colour brings cherry wood to mind. On the palate this tea has a pure, sweet woody note with a thick body to it. This tea is also pretty dynamic as there seems to be a peak of sweetness near the end of its profile. Clean, sweet, dynamic with a pleasant hui lian. Very good tea in my books.
This is a fine tea. The wet leaves don’t produce a particularly impressive aroma but do produce a soup with a beautiful medium amber colour with little to no cloudiness. This tea has a remarkably smooth body with floral and honey notes that brings upon a noticeable qi. There is a soft Hui Gan which arises with time. I’d say the prominent feature of this tea is its smoothness, a term that I feel is sometimes loosely used. This bing was definitely worth the money.
Edit : Very nice citrus notes
Flavors: Flowers, Honey
Impeccable. That is the single word I would use to describe this tea. Easily among the best young puerhs I’ve had, if not the best. The prominent feature of this material is a wonderful lone note of honey, a note which the wet leaves grace the drinker with. I enjoyed this aroma for a good two minutes or so. The leaves brew a graceful, surprisingly clear, dark amber – a colour suggesting more age to it than there actually is – colour. Beautiful. The soup is smooth with just enough body to coat the mouth with a fine Hui Gan sensation – all this while the notes of honey tickle your taste buds.
I will definitely be steeping this tea for the rest of the day.
Side Notes : I believe the darker soup is due to the fact that this tea was stored as loose maocha for four years, hence, able to age much quicker. Also, despite how much I am enjoying this tea, I feel I would be remiss to not mention, what I feel to be this teas single downfall, the price! This bing sells at a whopping 85 british pounds! If it weren’t for this, I’d definitely own a tong.
Parameters : 6 grams to 120 mL of water. 5-15 second steeps.
I don’t know if this is my exact brand of Alishan, as a student gave it to me. But, I drink a tea that is just like this one. It is a lovely green oolong, and is brimming with floral notes. I drink it all day long, just keeping the leaves in my cup. They are so large when unfurled that they rarely get in my way. The first steeping gets a little astringent, but the third steeping is my favorite tea! This is the tea that got me hooked on oolongs.