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Recent Tasting Notes
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
This one is solid. Despite having absorbed some of those off-putting ‘aged’ prune/leather/medicinal flavors of EoT’s other cakes, the underlying quality of the leaves are clear. There is a very solid base in these leaves that is indicative of old trees. The tasting experience isn’t entirely compromised by those initial storage flavors. After the 4th or 5th steep the tea’s unique flavors are revealed—raisins, menthol, cedar wood, and green apple. There is substantial body, prolonged aftertaste, big cha qi and dynamic mouth activity (cooling and tingly sensations) here. This tea performs exceptionally well in my Ni Xing teapot. This clay in particular subdues those storage flavors and releveals more of those fruity notes and fragrances. I got at least 15 steeps out of this tea and a distinct fragrance of honey crisp apples. It’s a bit out of my budget, but I’m glad I could at least sample this tea.
This one deserves another review. Sampling this one that had undergone mrmopar’s storage motivated me to order an entire cake to air out in my pumi for a few years. My other cakes have responded well to my plastic container storage, so I figure why not.
Upon smelling the wrapper, I knew I wouldn’t have to wait at all. Perhaps having had over 2 full years to acclimate in Malaysia has resolved the issues I had with the storage smell of EoT’s sheng cakes. There’s nothing off putting here. Instead, the undesirable prune-like smells are replaced by soft cedar and dried fig notes in the aroma.
The tea vibrates in the mouth, leaving behind pleasurable and pronounced cooling and tingling sensations that spread in the mouth and throat, which lasts far into the later steeps. This is my favorite characteristic of this tea, and EoT believes this is enhanced by Malaysian storage. I don’t feel the qi on this tea as intensely as others do, but I do feel its clarifying and uplifting effects. It’s a young tea, but it already exhibits mid-aged notes of complex woods (cedar, sandalwood, oak), green apples, dried figs, cloves, and leather.
I’m happy to be able to finally enjoy this tea as it is.
Brews a medium yellow-orange. Very earthy and woody definitely aged “beyond it’s years”. Thick and buttery with notes of pretzel, citrus, sandalwood, camphor, and vanilla. Slightly medicinal. Moderate honey sweetness and a fairly strong bitterness.
Part of me wants to like this tea a lot, but I get a sort of off putting note that reminds me of over-ripe oranges on a hot day. I suppose that’s a strange thing to taste, but I grew in Florida with an abandoned orange grove in the back yard. It had it’s perks; free oranges and the lovely scent of orange blossoms wafting though the air. It also had it’s downsides though; rotten fruit and rats and rattlesnakes thicker than your arm! Any way you put it the taste of this tea brings me back.
Flavors: Bitter, Camphor, Citrus, Honey, Vanilla, Wood
From the Puerh TTB
To start off, I steeped this one quite aggressive as I was feeling in YOLO sheng mode. That was a bad idea with this tea – the flavor is pretty harsh. It is strong, soggy ashtray of menthol cigarettes, and a prominent sour bitterness that lasts a long time after each sip. The texture is a slick feeling in the mouth, and the dryness is moderate, but whoa, the most bitter bulang I’ve had. The smoke is light, it tasted like it got drowned out at some point.
But yeah, a new sheng drinker should likely stay clear of this one, or steep it low, around 185F. If you are a sheng drinker who loves bitterness (more bitter than W2T New Amerykah) have at it. The loooong aftertaste is quite pro, if you like bitter.
From the Puer TTB 4
This is a pretty light sheng. The taste is very clean, with a gentle fruity sweetness. I got around 9 steepings, with the final ones being a touch dry, giving a squeaky clean mouth feel, with notes of steamed grass. A good sheng for someone who likes whites, greens, and delicate young shengs.
I didn’t get much cha qi, actually this one made me sleepy, haha!
This was a very interesting tea. I enjoy most of this company’s offering, and the ones I don’t still add up as an unique experience. This cake comes out and is dark and shows its age very well. I can see the tips are bronzed and the leaves have muddled; however, I can still place some dark forest green. The bing gives off a powerful eucalyptus and menthol aroma with the classic wood and leather aged scent. I warmed up my gaiwan and placed a chunk inside. The cake did not differ or expand in scents, for it only grew in depth. The warmed tea gave off a deeper leather and menthol aroma with the tang of tobacco in the background. I washed the leaves and prepared for brewing. The taste begins sweet and oily. A nice sugarcane and stone-fruit taste washed over my taste-buds. I can note some astringency lingering in the background. The brew still carries a green punch, but it is subdued by a drifting huigan. The taste becomes sharper and filled with wooded tastes and some light fruitiness in later steeping. The drink gives my mouth quite a dry feeling. The qi is pretty solid and really gets me moving; I can note a nice warming and rushing sensation filter throughout my body. This tea is pretty good, except there isn’t much complexity. I believe that this tea shouldn’t be drunk just yet. I think in a few more years it can develop into something truly worthwhile.
Flavors: Eucalyptus, Leather, Menthol, Smooth, Stonefruits, Tobacco, Wood
Another overdue review from Puerh TTB #4
I wish I hadn’t waited so long. This is just the type of tea I enjoy: lots of different flavors vying for attention. First steep (10s) was very rich for a first steep. Powerful apricot flavor with a hint of earthiness underneath the fruit. Very good mouth-feel, depth, and finish. I probably should have waited for the second steep, as the finish from steep 1 was still very strong in my mouth. But I didn’t. Second steep had a strong nose with hints of wood. The wood is more obvious in the flavor, along with a lot of smoke. Builds in the mouth to a huge finish. This is not for the timid! I’m also feeling the cha qi in my chest and shoulders, though not so much mentally, which is how it usually affects me. As the cup cools, the apricot comes forward and the smoke and wood recede a bit, though are still present. The cha qi has now reached my head and I’ll need to take a break after drinking 4 ounces. Powerful tea in multiple ways. After about 10 minutes, the finish was barely noticeable, and the qi had faded enough for another cup.3rd steep: Tremendous. Apricot dominates, with wood underneath, and a hint of bitterness at the finish. The flavors are less separated than before. Still tons of cha qi. The tea still fills the mouth, but feels a bit more acidic in the mouth. In the 4th steep, the wood is dominant, and the smoke tastes a bit like ashes underneath the wood and fruit. This is more noticeable in the finish but is subtle enough so that it isn’t unpleasant. Strange rhythm: the odd steeps have been dominated by fruit but the evens were more woody. No idea why.
Around the 8th steep, it became very sweet. Taste is more like corn than apricot with some wood underneath. Less powerful, but no less pleasant or interesting.
Thanks very much to Essence of Tea, who donated the samples for the tea box.
I woke up this morning knowing I needed a serious tea to power me for some cleaning that needed to be done. I grabbed this on because EOF is expensive so I made a dumb association with $ to qi.
This was quite nice. Chest warming and a mild head feel with a taste that mellowed out by steep four; became quite nice but I think that it does need a few more years. The mouth pucker is almost, ALMOST, gone. Probably only 2 years of some storage on this and it will be golden. The only negative aspect to this tea is that it is on the darker spectrum of sheng, to which people will continue to hear me say that I like my light sheng.
Last night I had some friends over and we were talking about how one of my friends was kicked out of the church because he took a stance that homosexuality is not a sin… as difficult of a conviction that such a thing can be right now with things happening in the US and the church figuring out how to respond, it’s just beating me up. So, anyways, if only it was that simple!
My parents ended up joining us and it’s only around my friends that I discuss such things because I know that they will throw the: ’ I thought we taught you better’ and make me feel as if they ‘failed’ me…
My stance on not understanding psychological and biologic implications to life choices leads me to believe that this whole issue revolving around gay marriage is stupid. The condemnation has now put me in a position were I may not speak to my parents as much because they think that my thoughts are tainted and I’m not sure if I can channel my love for them to see past these negative comments that they spread to the rest of our family. Stupid ass drama that doesn’t need to occur; my thoughts do not change the way in which I act. Whether I think A or B is right or wrong, I’ll always treat people with respect and treat them as I would want to be treated.
Tears are shed as I lose my family because of my own thoughts which now define me…
p.s. that friend who was kicked out was a pastor and it was done via email; for real?
I love a good Jingmai. I had my first taste awhile ago and ever since I’ve been in love. I opened this bing up and took in a whiff. The leaves have become very dark and let out a distinct smoke and lingering red fruit aroma. The crisp leaves give off a sharp leather tang along with some pipe tobacco. This a stenchy and potent tea. I warmed my jianshui up and placed a generous amount inside. The scent deepened into some dry wood along with a mild eucalyptus aroma. This displays a lot of classic aged scents. I’m hoping there is some unique body though. The aromas were good but no overly intense sensations. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The body is smooth with some drying feeling. I experienced some slight creamy tones with a brief huigan. The brew keeps a nice and smooth body; however, I note some astringency and bitter wood in later steeping. The fiery orange liquor smells of soft wood. This brew becomes a decent mix of sweet and sour tones with a good amount of age behind it. The brew keeps this consistency and develops no complexities. The huigan dissipates quickly and is delayed. The qi is extremely slow moving until after the session it washed over me with far reaching heat head waves and a nice serene and relaxing sensation. Altogether, this is good daily drinker, but it displays nothing a superb 10+ yr old sheng should display.https://www.instagram.com/p/BCvPanJTGUh/?taken-by=haveteawilltravel
Flavors: Dark Wood, Eucalyptus, Leather, Pleasantly Sour, Red Fruits, Smoke, Tobacco
Taste started out soft, sweet and fruity (not quite apricot, but close) with a good finish. My whole body is feeling the cha qi. Decent body: I’m feeling some thickness on the tongue. I’m noticing a bit of acid under the flavor, and a bit of what I think is smoke riding on top of the fruit. Very interesting.
The 3rd and 4th steeps were balanced between sweet and bitter. Flavor is more woody than fruity, though I see hints of fruit. Still lots of cha qi. I reduced my usual steep times for the 5th steep, and found that the astringent woody flavor receded while the fruit came forward. I preferred this balance, so did relatively short steeps. Still going strong at #8.
I had high hopes for this tea – I love everything about jingmai teas. Unfortunately, this tea is all smoke and age. Great underlying flavors and amount of aging for 15 years, but there’s so much smoke that the tea is overpowered, even after 11 steeps. I can’t, in good conscious, say that this is a “good” tea or that I would ever try/buy it.
Working this one up tonight. I bought this after tasting a sample of it a while back. Mengsong material is usually pretty decent.
I grabbed 11 grams out to start with and gave it a rinse and a little sit time.
Wet leaf you can pick some hints of floral but subdued and there is some smoke in there as well. The tea brews a nice aged golden color in the cup.
It starts out fairly thick and seems to rattle around in the mouth a bit. It is a pretty strong brew with the mintyness and camphor and bitterness rolling around in there. It is not as strong as a Bulang area tea but it is quite strong. Letting the cup cool a bit the bitterness can really come to the front. I see this one doing quite a few quick steeps as I am already 8 in and the leaf keeps giving. The aged profile of this will make you think it is a few years older than it actually is.
Flavors: Bitter, Camphor, Floral, Mint, Smoked
From the Puerh TTB #4
I’m trying to lead by example in producing reviews of the donated teas. When I got the Essence of Tea donation, I immediately pulled 4 grams from each, packed the rest into the box, and headed for the post office. The samples then sat in a box waiting their turn with all the other samples. They finally made it to the head of the line.
1st steep (10s): This is amazingly well-integrated. No rough edges. Delicate nose and flavor, but the flavor builds in the mouth. Good finish. The cha qi kind of stuck up on me: at first just a feeling of well-being, but now my entire body feels energized, yet at the same time relaxed. 2nd steep (10s ) Rich nose of leather and a hint of smoke. There is a really full body in the mouth, and sweetness that extends into a long, tasty finish. Much more powerful than the first steep but still perfectly smooth. This is what I picture a fully aged puerh tasting like. 3rd similar to the 2nd but more woody, with camphor appearing.
This is the style of tea that I enjoy: not too harsh or bitter, but with complex, interesting flavors. I’m usually not a fan of camphor, but the subtle hints of camphor I noticed here just add complexity and interest. The cha qi was obvious, but not to the point where I needed to take a nap, though perhaps too strong to want to drink this tea at work. The overwhelming feature for me, though, was the absence of rough edges. This is one of the few puerhs I’ve had that I didn’t feel was too young to drink.
Drank this for three hours while working on some computer maintenance :)
Solid smell of smoke when just examining the dry leaf. Brewed this one hardcore for two steeps and tossed, left alone for 8 minutes and came back to it. Liquid has a nice middle color to it telling me that it wasn’t going to be light nor would it aggravate me with a strong taste. I ended up tasting a mixture of storage on this tea which was really odd. The one thing I noticed most was how dark the leaf became after my 3 hour session. Almost a amber hue to the leaf as if it was either dark leaf in the beginning or the storage did this. Unsure of both accounts because the taste was a bit hard for me to determine. Does this mean I don’t know my stuff or I was correct that the storage taste is mixed which makes it hard? I don’t know :/
It was an enjoyable session, but I would have prefered the other Peacock raw I’ve had from EOT over this one.
Lately, I’ve been exploring affordable semi-aged teas and I’m quite happy with this one. It’s a great example of clean wet storage. Dried leaves are a dark purple tone and largely intact. Wet leaves have a sweet forest aroma after the rains. This is an easy-going tea. There are no off-putting flavors to speak of and the tea soup is clear and an attractive deep orange. It has a straight forward flavor profile of sweet forest floor(peat?), sandalwood, ripened plums and dried stonefruits. It’s very smooth, warming, has good energy, and develops just enough astringency (accompanied with fruity sweetness) in later steeps to keep the drinker’s attention.
Having had sessions with this tea before and after it’s acclimatized, using a gaiwan and nixing teapot, I’ve come to appreciate its reliability—which I attribute to well-sourced leaf and careful storage. Now that it’s lost some of that initial awkward storage flavor/scent (smoky/stewed prunes..yuck), I can enjoy it on a regular basis!
From the PU TTB: I much prefer this one to the Green Peacock. Soft, with a hint of sweetness. No musty old basement to this one, which suggests it’s been well stored. And the mouthfeel is absolutely smooth/creamy/lovely. I’m eight steeps in and feeling a wonderful relaxing qi, and so far not much in the way of bitterness. This sheng is right in my aged sheng wheelhouse and I am gutted it’s sold out :-(
Thank you to the good tea friend who gave me this sample. This tea was strong, this tea was fairly smoky. I was getting notes of hay and tobacco along with the smoke initially. These notes persisted for a while. It’s hard to say exactly when they were no longer a factor, but at least six steeps. This tea turned into something nicer, it just took a while. By steep twelve it was fairly smooth. I did develop into something with a type of sweet note, although not the sweet note of apricots of a young sheng. I don’t think I will buy this but you never know. This might just have the characteristics of something that will age well, but that is a gamble. It might not age well at all. It had already aged somewhat. The tea soup was somewhat red although not as red as the tea I drank yesterday from Yangqinghao. After drinking a Yangqinghao it’s hard to give something else a good review. I did like this well enough to steep it twelve times in a 120ml gaiwan.
I steeped this twelve times in a 120ml gaiwan with 10g 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. I’m sure I could have gotten a few more steeps out of this if I hadn’t hit my caffeine limit for today.
Flavors: Bitter, Hay, Smoke, Sweet, Tobacco
From the PU TTB: I think this might be the oldest sheng I’ve ever had. It starts out, well, frankly unpleasant. Overwhelming storage/musty old basement. Once it gets going, there is a tarty fruity sweetness; somewhere in that old basement, underneath the leather books and ossified apples, there’s a pleasant sourness. But the overwhelming note is camphor, even after numerous steeps. It does get a tad bitter when pushed. Some 10 or 15 steeps later I am tea drunk as hell. Upshot: I didn’t love it enough to want to buy more, but I am still drinking it and it’s not just for the buzz. Approaching 20 steeps and this tea is showing little sign of weakening. And it’s growing on me a little.
Purchasing from different vendors has taught me about my storage preferences. I’ve had several sessions with EoT’s 2012 Qi Sheng Gu, 2012 Bao Tang, 2014 Long Lan Xu 2006 Wild Peacock, and their 2000 Green Peacock. They all share the similar aroma and strong initial flavor of smoky prune in their first 3 steeps. I’m not a fan. I can only assume this is a storage issue since the affects are the same across teas. This is unfortunate, as I’ve heard nothing but good things about EoT.
The tea soup starts out cloudy orange and gradually transitions to yellow, which I find interesting. The smoky prune aroma is a turn off and only begins to recede after the 5th steep when the leaves release a tingly/numbing sensation and subdued floral notes I associate with 2015 YS Bang Dong and some YS Jinggu teas. I’m a big fan of this characteristic.
I’m annoyed by the fact that the storage has dominated the flavor and overall experience of what is probably a lovely tea (and other EoT teas), so far. I hope to return to this tasting note with positive edits.