The Essence of Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

82

Another sample out of the Puerh TTB here. This is one of the few teas I’ve tried from Essence of Tea – for some reason they just haven’t really been on my radar as far as puerh orders go yet. The leaf had a nice straw aroma, along with some fruitiness and sugar once I rinsed it.

The tea started out with some bitterness in the first four steeps, along with a pretty mouth drying effect. I tasted straw and a fruity finish, sort of apricot, but more the rind than the fruit. That fruitiness started to move more into a pineapple area around steep 4, but not as acidic as pineapple would be.

Steeps 5-8 were mostly just soft straw sweetness. The fruity notes were almost gone in the finish. 9-12 got a bit of a new sweet finish, slightly burnt sugar along with the straw notes. The tea was noticeably drying for the whole session – people who don’t like the mouth drying feeling might not be into this one. I’m really not a huge fan of it usually, but it didn’t detract too much in this instance. At this point in the session, I was feeling a decent amount of qi. Decently powerful, almost jittery.

The tea went on for another 4 or so steeps, getting progressively weaker – still mostly just sweet straw with a drying mouthfeel. This tea was pretty good, but will probably be better in a few years. It probably has decent potential for developing into a really good tea down the road.

Flavors: Apricot, Burnt Sugar, Fruity, Pineapple, Straw

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Knowing that I had a long night on my laptop ahead of me I decided to pull out something from Pubertea. Due to this being old, I went ahead and rinsed the tea twice before letting it sit for about 8 minutes. This is how I start my serious brews with stuff regardless of new/old.
First steep has a nice orange tint to the liquid and a stronger aroma on the musky side. Starts out with a slight sour note and some salty residual taste that comes out in some oolong teas. The depth doesn’t seem to be there and that’s what I am hoping comes out of this or some feels later on. A little mouth dryness towards the back on the very first steep though.
So… I meant to continue to write notes and everything… but, I didn’t.
Now on steep 22 I believe; 6g, 100ml, 95c constant. This tea really smoothed out and the funk is gone. Has a pretty strong medicinal taste at the end similar to menthol. Solid mellow feeling, but no enery or warmth. The taste has gotten what I called darker and deeper so I’m really just diving deeper into it and it hasn’t quite on me yet. I’ll brew the rest out over the night and music, time to see how far this will go.

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100

This tea is a gem!
The leaves are smooth and crisp with light notes of mint ice cream, oak, and musky eucalyptus. The leaves are very delicate. I warmed up my shibo and prepared for brewing. I especially enjoy Malaysian storage when it is done right. The contrasting tones of dark wood and piercing mint just match so well. I carefully slid the leaves inside my vessel and let them steam. The lid of the shibo gives off some strong pipe tobacco; whereas, the leaves give some aged spice tones with plums. A very nice beginning. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The taste begins thick and sweet with a spice at the tip of the tongue. A lingering tangy sweetness naps at the back of my throat. The qi is fiercely slow burning like whale fat; it begins with a spark behind my head. The eucalyptus chill builds while sipping and tangos with the bitter wood bite. A thick honey sweetness interrupts them to begin break-dancing on my palette. This session is a wonderful show! The whale fat inferno has long since spread throughout my body and is now reduced to a smoldering tar resin that leaves me stoned. I am sweating from the heat and slow moving to get away. The perfect flavors, the great vibe, and my happy mind make me stay put as I take in the embers of this qi. This brew is deeply satisfying. The huigan is thick, the kuwei is prominent, and the tea keeps burning well into the night. I am kicking myself for not grabbing a cake while this was on sale. I am praying that a black Friday sale is in the near future, for my wallet may not forgive me for the sins I am about to commit.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BMbzSH2A0Va/?taken-by=haveteawilltravel

Flavors: Cherry, Eucalyptus, Honey, Mint, Oak wood, Plums, Sweet, Tobacco, Winter Honey

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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90

I received a sample of this from a good tea friend. It was quite good. The first few steeps were a mix of bitter with leather and tobacco, all the while a sweet note trying to come through. The leather and tobacco were not incredibly strong like in a YQH tea. This tea evolved into a nice sweet tea although I am not sure what to call the note. If I ever order from EOT this one is on the top of my list.

Steeped this twelve times in a 100ml gaiwan with 7.3g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. 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.

Preparation
Boiling 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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94

This was a gift from a friend, and I think it is wonderful!

The leaves are very dark and incredibly aromatic. The wet Malaysian storage has done wonders to the this tea. The scent begins with minty camphor, fresh hay, mulch, and sweet pipe tobacco. I warmed up my shibo and placed what I had inside. The scent opens and builds into a dark green eucalyptus aroma. A strong backdrop of pipe tobacco rises along side some anise; the mixture of smells were very strong. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. First, the steeped leaves give off a sensational aroma of honey roasted almonds. Second, the taste begins warm and sweet at the forefront. A thick honey taste covers the tongue along with a favorable huigan. This brew is nice and sweet. A slight earthiness rises later on along with a rough wood tone. The qi is killer. An intense drowsing effect takes over my body. The smooth woodsy brew drowns me with a balance of bitter tobacco, cooling menthol, and honey desserts. I brewed this until the liquor was clear. It was a delicious treat.

Note: I have the 2013 bao tang from Tea Urchin, and this tea is a wonderful comparison to educate on how drastic and important storage conditions really are.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BI5Q05iA7vo/?taken-by=haveteawilltravel

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Dark Wood, Earth, Eucalyptus, Hay, Honey, Menthol, Sweet, Tobacco

Preparation
9 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
mrmopar

This is a fine tea for the price. It is right up my alley.

Haveteawilltravel

It’s nice to find an interesting tea out there.

tanluwils

Out of all the EoT samples I’ve had, I would have chose this one had it not been for that overpowering prune/medicinal aroma and flavor that seems to dominate everything I have received from EoT. I wish I could enjoy the same notes everyone else has been.

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You know, I have had a really interesting journey with this tea. I bought the Malaysian storage cake for my birthday in November last year and it was admittedly, from the get go, set up for being a disappointment. Their 2008 Bulang sold out the day I was going to buy it and was a tea I had saved up for and been wanting for a while and it selling out so close to when I was going to buy it made it seem like a cruel joke. I then decided to get the Kai Yuan Blue Stamp and it wouldn’t go in my cart so I kind of just jumped for this last minute. Of course the Kai Yuan was still available, and I had not noticed until the order of this shipped. Initially I got this and it did not have too much flavor nor smell, the strong qi written about on the website was not apparent and the bitterness was rough in a seemingly absurdly exaggerated way.I love bitter food and drink.

So I don’t know what happened, but its made a full 180. I now like it so much that it is reserved for drinking only on special occasions. And I do not give that designation for any ol’ tea.

The tea is like a crazy dense cake with a $%#& ton of dried fruit in it. It is HUGE in a lot of ways. Its energy is instant, you feel it travel down, sitting in your throat and warming your belly. By steeps 3 or 4 there is a whole heating of the body and goosebumps happen as the cold is pushed out of your body. By steeps 7 or 8 I am a sloppy drunk. Sober me in the recesses of my mind is thinking, “stop dancing” but the tea doesn’t allow me to stop. Its intense, a full body effect, and I keep sipping and sipping, each time a new flavor or texture or after taste is revealed to me. Bitterness courses throughout, a living breathing pulsing center to this tea, there from the beginning of the sip to the aftertaste. It is no longer overwhelming, but a definite spiky texture which slightly distinguishes it from many bitter sensations I have had.

This is a tea for when you have 3 or 4 hours or more of nothing to do. I highly recommend never drinking when you have something to do. I very much enjoy it and feel a constant pull towards its beautiful essence.

*Brewing tip: lower temperature but same amount of leaf is the key to this tea. Less leaf does not fix the bitterness, flash steeps do.

Rasseru

Another company I love the art style, so beautiful

zacherywolf7

Quite the wrapper to own. Its extremely thick, and probably handmade, paper too!

Rasseru

Even better :)

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First session was mostly broken leaves from the sample bag, and super bitter. But it had redeeming qualities so I made a note to revisit.

Second session a week later, I brewed 4 steeps and mixed them together. A final, and admittedly lazy, attempt to see if this tea had anything worth while. And yes it does!

Super thick body, mouth coating, well balanced, complex flavors of vanilla, wood, earth, leather. The bitter is there, but its like the bitterness of a grapefruit or orange peel (minus the citrus).

Filling chaqi, gives my body a full and strong feeling. Super cooling huigans. This is a good tea.

Not for the beginner puerh drinker.

I’m really glad I didn’t skim over this tea with all the samples I’m working through. Adding a cake to my next order.

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No notes yet. Add one?

Preparation
4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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I cannot in truth explain the properties of this fine tea, for in has, in truth, gently turned my mind into soup. It is a splendid tea for relaxing, most excellent in longevity of flavor, if not as much durability.

I do not recommend having it if you intend to undertake strenuous activity or even partake in other teas subsequently.

There was a bit of storage in the early going, but it went away relatively quickly.

Pretty good value proposition due to being loose, I can see why he’s sold through various iterations of loose Da Ye over the years. Outside of storage it doesn’t progress overly much, but it does enough imo to keep focused attention.

And as you may have noticed, it can also cause rambling stream of consciousness. Well done, EoT.

Rasseru

I still have yet to try any EoT, have you been impressed so far?

Wocket

I have indeed, although I can understand why their storage doesn’t do it for some folks. Also my favorite thing I’ve had they’re out of. But while the pound is down, this and the Qi Sheng Gu seem good value buys, provided you don’t mind a modest amount of Malaysian basement in the front or will air out for a large period.

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This tea is an old, stately gentlemen, sitting in front of a chessboard, telling long, winding tales of a time few remember anymore. You haven’t a hope of winning the chess match, you’re just using all of your clock and a lot of delaying maneuvers to hear more of what he has to say.

And as he declares checkmate on you, the garrulous fellow stops in mid-sentence and looks up at the sun, nearly fully set now. He seems ready to stand, but looks into your eyes and reads what’s there. A smile creeps over his face, and he begins to replace his pieces in the starting positions.

“Again?”

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73

This is a sample I took from the puerh TTB. I used 7.8g in a 120mL gaiwan with boiling water. The dry leaf smelled smokey and a little leathery. Once rinsed, I got more smokey and peaty notes with hints of fruit. I also smelled a menthol aroma in there, but this never translated to the flavor of the tea for me.

The first three steeps were smoky and peaty…not in a totally off-putting way, but it wasn’t particularly good. Slightly sweet as well with some fruitiness and leather. Second steep saw a bit of bitterness enter the mix. If I had to pick one word to describe these early steeps, it would be “abrasive.” Just the texture mixed with the flavors was a little bit rough to my senses.

Over the next couple steeps, the smokiness dissipated a bit, becoming a more palatable woody note, still with light fruit notes in the background – plum or prune I’d say. The smoky peaty flavor is still there, but more in the background.

Steeps 6-10 were probably the best of the bunch. The sixth actually got a bit of a nice creamy texture going with some sweet fruitiness, though still retaining a bit of a rough edge. The next three were progressively smoother with sweet wood and fruity notes.

I gave it a couple more steeps at the end. These ones were back to being kind of rough, smoky…not too fabulous. The leaves were pretty chopped up – I don’t know if it was just my sample or the nature of this tea normally, so I’m not surprised it didn’t go any further.

I would guess this is a tea which needs more age on it. Steeps 7-10 seemed like they were a bit of a sneak preview into how this tea might taste in a further aged state. As it is right now, just too smokey and rough for me to enjoy a great deal.

Flavors: Fruity, Leather, Peat, Plums, Smoke, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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80

Initial Notes
I initially thought I was going to be updating my first note, but not I noticed that I never uploaded that. I will put this current one and just edit it later with the original at the bottom for reference (when I find that note from over a year ago).

Dry – plummy and prune like with some mid-aged bittersweet wood and a musky sweetness (wee like). lol
Wet – Prunes for sure, dried fruit (aged), musky melon, bittersweet woody notes, some hints of dark richness.
Liquor – deep gold/light amber >> amber.

The initial steeps with woody-tangy fruit and the ‘prune’ sort of intensifies a bit with hints of medicinal notes, yet they are a lot cleaner than I would expect from the initial notes. There is some minor astringency, but the final sensation is oily and numbing.

The mid steeps are more woody and bittersweet in the front with a more definitive ‘prune’ and slightly more bitter to bittersweet woody note, yet it goes down smoothly. There is some slight astringency followed by a pleasant numbing sensation, but it becomes oily and thick in the finish.

The final steeps are smoother still, but they ‘prune’ taste is A LOT LESS fruity like and more like medicinal, think like Chinese aged fruits that have that mix of ‘fruit’ but then has a lingering bitterness than can be just as pleasant as unpleasant (to me it depends on the day and the tea, but I’ve had this before in other mid aged teas from EoT.

Preparation
7 g 4 OZ / 110 ML
tanluwils

I’m glad I’m not the only one who notices that prominent prune note in EoT’s mid-aged teas. Even the ’04 Long Lan Xu has strong hints of prune before you can actually enjoy what the tea leaves have to offer. I did notice however those prune notes moving further towards the back as the ’06 Wild Peacock sat around and aired out.

tanluwils

Correction: ’04 Long Lan Xu should read ’14 Long Lan Xu.

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“You can know a man by the trees he selects,” said nobody ever.

My primary impression of Mr. Feng is that he is a man who enjoys a well-aged scotch. The robust, thick liquor that the tea produces is smoky, and the flavor lasts a long, LONG time. It will punish you if you oversteep, much as you might be punished (though more belatedly) if you don’t exercise prudence with your scotch.

Other reviewers have noted that they feel this will become better with more age, and I’m inclined to agree. It’s a rare case where I feel justified in stating that with several more years of quality storage, this will likely become a treasure.

As it stands now, it just tells us that Mr Feng likes his trees to be in it for the long haul.

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Long overdue PU TTB review obligation.

The first two steeps are absolutely lovely. Leather, camphor, hint of menthol. You find yourself amazed at how much of a mellow aged flavor is present for a tea so relatively young, but then by the third steep, the bitterness comes out of nowhere, punches you in the face, steals your wallet, and leaves you on the ground in a dark alley thinking “I should have waited another ten years.”

Dr Jim

Better late than never.

curlygc

Dr Jim, I still have a few more to review from that TTB!

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From one of the Puer TTB

This one is sold out now, but was a pretty decent price for age. The notes are pretty nice, a good chugging. Nice mineral notes, bit of camphor, with a nice apricot fragrance. Slightly dry feeling.

I got quite a few infusions, say 12 or 15.

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First, let’s address the elephant in the room right up front. You know it’s wrong, I know it’s wrong, and it’s high time somebody was held accountable. I want to make it clear however, that while this happened to come up on an EoT review, they are far from the only offender. Tea Urchin has fallen prey to this. Yunnan Sourcing, at time of writing, offers four cakes and five pieces of teaware flaunting this inequality. It’s high time we demand change for this injustice!

I’m talking, of course, of the amazing prevalence of peacock cakes, especially it compares to the COMPLETE LACK of peahen cakes. Hell, I’d even settle for a peafowl cake. Throw the ladies a bone here, vendors. I thought gender equality issues, at least in the states, were getting solved. I defy any one of you to press a Peahen in 2017 and state loud and proud that you support equal rights for Phasianinae!

static crackling

HI there, sorry I’m late to my own review, but the tea just wouldn’t quit. I left the radio dialed in to a talk station, hopefully they had something interesting to say.

This tea, if you will excuse the tortured simile, is a barbecue advertiser’s wet dream. It’s thick. It’s rich. It’s smoky. It’s bold. It’s every overused adjective for condiment manufacturers rolled up into one powerhouse of a package. I’m sipping in infusions 16 and 17 as I write this. They may not be quite as robust as the first 15, but the fifteenth was still lively enough to convince me the attempt was warranted, and that’s saying something.

In the early steeps, this tea is Smoky. I know they probably burn through a lot of unfiltereds during pressing and such, but Xiaguan probably called to ask how they got that much smoke in a tea. The truly impressive thing is that after one of two steeps, it manages to integrate nicely into a lovely overall flavor profile.

The soup is thick, and the flavors are long lasting. This is why your grandparents were always telling you they don’t make them like they used to. To get tea of this caliber today, I don’t even know what sort of immoral acts you’d have to commit to which Chinese government official. I dare not even contemplate it.

Still, despite its considerable highlights, it did not have the elusive “it” that would compel me to exhort all listeners to mortgage their homes and sell all their lesser teas to load up on this buy the jian. I’d happily drink it anytime… but I wouldn’t ecstatically drink it. I look for something ineffable in the very best teas, and this tea is totally effable.

Given that I’m never going to outdo that last sentence for sheer asinine potency, I think I’ve said enough.

Super Starling!

This sounds like the Guy Fieri of teas.

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looks/smells/tastes like Camelia taliensis, mostly buds. Never had taliensis gushu before, but taliensis is distinct for anyone who’s had it. You can try Hojo’s Feng Qing Wild White tea if you’re curious, its comparable to Secret Forest, but Secret Forest has much stronger aftertaste/flavors. Maybe because Secret Forest is a puerh not a white tea, its maocha and wasn’t steamed/pressed into cake, and its probably from an older tree.

Opened the bag and never smelled something so strong and pleasant. Aromas mirrored the flavor. Strong apricot, stone fruits, and I’ve found taliensis has a dankness almost like hops, can’t figure out how else to describe it. Sweet muscatel.

After one cup I got body massaging chaqi and my whole body covered in goosebumps, but it didn’t return. Energy then went to my head and stayed there the rest of the session. Later sessions I didn’t get any chi.

Lots of longevity. But the problem I’ve seen with taliensis is that it lacks complexity needed to keep it interesting through its longevity. After a while I move on to another tea.

Final thoughts: A session with this tea takes me through about 3 phases. Its like young sheng up front, a white tea in the middle, and finishes like a black tea or even oriental beauty. It oxidizes in a matter of hours in the gaiwan. So the length of each ‘phase’ depends how long you let it oxidize. Initial steeps are yellowish-green, progressively turning darker and darker until you’ve got dark amber liquor at the end of a session after maybe 2 hours.

Flavors: Apricot, Muscatel, Sugarcane, Sweet

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96

From the Pu TTB:

Very clean for its age. Mineral, camphor, and cocoa notes. Slight apricot fruityness, fall leaves. I felt that this had a strong cha qi that I could feel as tingling across my forehead

Flavors: Apricot, Camphor, Cocoa, Dry Grass, Mineral

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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I’m not even going to attempt to justify or explain this.

Last night, I wasn’t feeling so great, so I took some laudanum* and lay myself down. In my dream, I saw this tea review appear before me, hundreds of lines long. When I awoke, I rushed to put it to paper, but before I could finish, a person from Porlock came to my door on business. By the time I’d ushered him out, I had lost the rest. So here is what I have of -

Qi Sheng Gu

A tea-dream. A fragment.

In Qi Sheng Gu did Nada-cha
Procure a most delicious tea
These tiny leaves, so fresh and raw
Were gathered up once Nada saw
And sailed across the sea.

This village, secret, none may know
Just where it is, or how to go
and take this treasure for themselves
Go raid the unsuspecting trees
Though through the hills the tourist delves
This land is not brought to its knees.

All right! Enough! I hear some cry
The background story’s great and all
But cease! It’s clear you know well why
We clicked this post; no more deny
You lured us with a siren’s call
Inherent promises were made
And debts incurred that must be paid
So trifle with our hearts no more
Be frank, and let us know the score
What, in the end, hath Nada wrought?
Is this a tea that must be bought?
Or sadly, market-speak, that ought
Be struck from our minds and forgot
So in his web we shan’t be caught
Tell us! is it good tea, or not?

Yet one more side note, if I may
My skills were not on par today
I measured tea with just my eyes
With no care for its dainty size
So in the end, rather a lot
Has found its way into my pot.
A sweat has broken on my brow
Describe the tea? I know not how!
What started full, yet smooth and light
Will keep me up now half the night
As all fatigue it doth erase
Across the halls I swiftly pace
But do not blame this on the tea
All fault, I fear, must lie with me

But hark! all hope is not yet gone
As steeps keep piling up
The brews just calmly soldier on
More clarity each cup
The bitterness can’t overtake
The floral, fruity notes
And sipping on my thirst I shake
More odd comparisons to make
My mouth the liquid coats
I soon grow happy, calm, serene
For in the end I’ve clearly seen
What a delight that this can be
The Qi Sheng Gu of EoT

- *No I didn’t. Do not take laudanum.

Cwyn

Awesome…love your reviews.

Nicole/Tea-Historic

This is just fabulous.

Zennenn

I read way too much historical fiction trash and really enjoyed the laudanum reference. Yay!

tanluwils

This was a fun read. I’m also trying to figure out this tea. It’s been acclimatizing for sometime now and I need to revisit it.

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So… catch 20/20 here… this was in the TTB so I should review it, but it was so ‘eh’ that I have had nothing to say for the last week about it. I thought to myself, ‘just let it pass and don’t review’ but then I realized I got to do what I got to do.

With so many different sheng out there and what not, and being that I’ve had a ton: Either this is something that isn’t very noteworthy or it needs time?

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This was a much, much cleaner tea than my previous liu bao experience. Its flavor profile was intensely earthy early on, and made me think of words I haven’t heard since various earth science and biology courses, like “loamy” and even “fecund”.

The soup was quite thick and satisying. There was decent, though not amazing, longevity. It was a tremendously satisfying free sample, which was all the more critical since EoT provided it with both my orders thus far. I would recommend this to anyone who likes very earthy shupu, or who wishes to reconnect with the earth.

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From the Puerh TTB:

Very astringent, but also pleasantly sour, which I quite like. Despite being very pleasant going down, huigan is nonexistent for me. I don’t taste any smoke, but plenty of tobacco, camphor, and leather.

This is not a strong tea at all; considering its age, it’s one of the lightest in terms of flavor that I’ve had, even when pushed. Speaking of pushed, I don’t find it particularly bitter either, but not particularly noteworthy. It’s not bad at all, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase more.

Now, having said all that… it might be that it’s Friday night. It might be that my wife bought me cronuts, or that she’s giving me The Look. But nine steeps in and I must say I am in an exceptionally good mood.

Kirkoneill1988

what is a cronut?

curlygc

It’s a hybrid confection… croissant + donut. It’s lovely!

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Puerh Tea TTB. This tea did not have the strong leather and tobacco notes of other aged puerh but they were there to some degree. It was very astringent. There was some smoke present. And the note of dark wood on the write up seems accurate. I didn’t get any qi off of this. Gave it eight steeps.

Steeped this eight times in a 120ml gaiwan with 6.8g leaf and boiling water. Gave it a 10 second rinse. Steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec. I still have not found an aged sheng that I really loved the taste of. Some that I liked for their qi but I don’t seem to like the taste.

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Kirkoneill1988

try that iron cake i mentioned before. its pleasent

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