This is the first “production-blended”, aged puerh I have tasted, and the result is exactly what I would have hoped for: well-balanced. The dominance of sheng leaves in the mixture provides a foundation consisting of leather, and dried cranberries on the nose, a smooth, full flavor/texture in mouth, and a desirable cooling on the finish. The shu leaves provide additional weight and just enough strength to the final result without overpowering the development of the sheng. As cultureflip hinted at in his review, the tea is not overly complex, but it doesn’t have to be. It all comes together as an absolute top notch tea, with a pleasant, full, yet meditative “qi”. Sure, there are teas that are more challenging, but drinking this simply puts me in a better place, engendering fond memories of times past, and providing a calming refuge from the day-to-day. I can’t ask for much more than that from a tea.
The Mandarin's Tea Room
Popular Teas from The Mandarin's Tea RoomSee All 15
This tea came as a sample with my most recent order from The Mandarin’s Tea Room. Judging from my first session with the tea, I certainly hope to include more of this sheng in a future purchase. Starting with the dry leaf scent, the tea reminded me of freshly made, high quality Washi (Japanese paper made from mulberry or gampi tree fibers). When wet, the leaves developed a stronger, woody scent, nicely balanced by a touch of walnuts and fine raw leather. I consistently sensed apricots on the nose, but it remained always fleeting, disappearing right at the moment of capture.
The taste is not at all like anything I have yet experienced from a puerh. Especially in early steepings, I was unable to discern a dominant taste marker or profile. Instead the tea presented itself most confidently as a very clean, well-balanced tea, with a pleasant, full texture. As expected at this age, there was absolutely zero bitterness, and the purity of the liquor suggested appropriate storage. There was a woody depth to this 8542, a hint of talcum powder, and a minty finish, but it did not exhibit the complexity found in others, such as the 8582. It proudly provided more than a dozen steepings of even, almost delicate taste, a moderate, calming “qi” and a developing coolness on the finish, the latter I believe a common feature of the traditional Menghai recipes. The product of these elements was a very enjoyable tea session. If similar results are found in subsequent tastings from the sample, I will definitely order more of this tea. I can always find room in my tea cabinet for the well-balanced, zero-fuss consistency provided by this durable tea. Another quality offering from The Mandarin’s Tea Room.
As far as aged oolongs go, this one takes the cake. Aged oolongs are definitely in my top two favorite categories of tea right up there with high quality aged sheng (raw) puerh. This tea belongs in the category of aged oolongs that were only roasted once during production and then left to age untouched for over 50 years as it should be because if a tea is roasted correctly it only needs to be roasted once prior to aging. This tea blew my mind when I first tasted a sample of it. As soon as you put your nose in the bag to smell the dry leaf, you immediately get a musty, ginger/ginseng like spice, slightly plummy, strong chinese medicine scent. However, as soon as you rinse the leaves for the comparison of dry leaf vs. wet leaf, “the aroma is a delicious must of an ancient basement carved out of rough earth and sanctified with old incense. There is a warm monkish simplicity to the liquor and a civilized sweetness that highlights the wild nature of the leaf.” This is by far the highest quality and best stored aged oolong I have ever tried.
This is one of the greatest examples of wet stored (HK) puerh that I have ever tried. There are many different characteristics of this tea that make it one of the best such as the aged plummy taste, extremely thick and gluelike mouthfeel, Hui Gan (after-sweetness), and of course the Cha Qi is very strong and balanced. However, one of my personal favorite characteristics of this tea is what’s called the granny face powder taste (MTR owner’s own term I believe) which reminds some of talcum powder and is a sign that you are drinking an antique of a puerh that is of the highest quality!
Get a sample of this tea right now.
Usually I wait to post tea reviews until my initial reaction has settled down, I’ve tried a tea a few times, written some notes, and considered whether or not I’d buy it again. I only post reviews of teas that I like. Well, I love this sucker. It is, without doubt, the best red/black tea I’ve had.
Quick impressions gleaned from an hour and a half session: Baker’s chocolate, malt, dates, saffron (what? indeed!), pumpernickel bread moving to rye and then whole wheat, rock sugar, and finally something meaty (cultureflip’s “marinated steak” is dead on).
A few select quotes from my notes:
- “Oh, my!”
- “Is this what ‘tea drunk’ feels like?”
- “I just had to remind myself to breathe.”
- “Damnit. This tea just spoiled me.”
An amazing yancha. I brewed this in a 100ml gaiwan using 11 grams of leaf. The first few flash infusions were strong, thick, and roasty but not bitter. Long lasting mineral after-taste. Later infusions are sweet and fruity. I got about 15 infusions out this tea tea yesterday. Continuing today. I am on #20. Five minute infusions are still bringing out lots of flavor.
I am fairly new to sampling super fine oolongs. This was, for sure, the best tea I have tried to date. A gongfu session with this was intense. 20 infusions. Started bold, dizzying effects. Ended sweet and warm. I loved every minute of it.
I loved this tea. Complex. Great aged taste and aroma without being overly medicinal.
Some of you should be familiar with this seller’s standard by now. He’s picky and his teas are purdy good.
Dry aroma of sweet dark chocolate and nutmeg. Pour some boiling water on it and, lo, a strikingly pungent aroma of delicious pho broth and re-hydrated mushrooms. Smells like it wants to be salty.
The taste is an excellent woody malt with backdrops of wilted rose petal and cumin. The deep florals take prominence and the tannins sit soundly on the tongue with weight and structure. Later steeps blend the differing aspects of malt, broth and flora together quite artfully.
I haven’t had anything less than great from this guy’s shop so don’t be frightened by the seemingly astronomical prices of some of his teas. Even if you just get the sample sizes they are worth trying. There is an element of tea snobbery involved (that I’m sure he would admit to if confronted) but that’s only because of the time and effort put in to the careful selection of his stash. Look past the pomp and packaging and you will find superb tea. That is all.
No notes yet.
excellent balance between texture, aftertaste, and aroma. Walker Tea Review #284. Score= 93
It’s fun when the seller’s tasting notes are sufficient enough. I can just be quiet and enjoy the tea.
Unfortunately, though, I’m becoming spoiled by these high quality, relatively expensive aged teas. Like anything else; if you’re going to do something, do it right.
Tried this tea for the 2nd time tonight, and it was wonderful. 2.5 grams of tea, 60-75 mL of water in the gaiwans, temps near boiling, and 30" first infusion. Somewhere around the 3rd and 4th infusion there was something a bit bitter, but it started sweet, smoky, spicy, earthy, had that slightly bitter interlude, and carried on for another half dozen plus infusions with the sweetness and bit of earthy and spicy. It is a wonderful tea, one I’d be happy to have more of in my cupboard, but the cupboard is already overflowing with puerh.
The wet leaves opened with hot cotton, warm dryers and some bursts of intense ashy smoke. The first flavors rocked between cantaloupe and cooked strawberry and freshly smoked whitefish.
Middle steeps produced a light tartness in the vein of white cranberry flesh – but never intensely sour.
This yiwu proved dazzling in the finish, with a lovely, terse, complex bitterness holding long and giving herbal satisfaction. I enjoyed this tea’s understated, complex, and composed beauty. Wrapping up with fermented cocoa nib dryness in the throat, it was hard not to be impressed. This is my kind of sheng.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=275
Surprisingly, the dry leaf composition may have been at least a quarter small bits and near-dust. This may just be the way the cake crumbles. Despite many tiny pieces, the steeped leaves revealed a unique blend of very large leaves, small buds, and bits. The wet leaf aromas were swirling, complex, and shapeshifting. Rinsing brought a bevy of damp moss, wet bark, agarwood, decaying leaves and trillium blossom. Lots of dew. The first full steep ignited a resin-inspired forest fire. Further leaf aromas came with damp, wet rocks and further forest floor detritus. Flavors were seemingly light. Initially, I got a lot of cooked tomato out of it, but the flavors eventually developed into an enjoyable array of fresh mushroom characters, stemmy, woody, and with distant umami.
Unfortunately noticeable was a suffering texture. Slick, soapy, and with a soup nose of slight pool, the effect of chlorine came through, despite a hard boil of the water. It dampened the experience of the first steeps and clouded the liquor aromas. Redeeming the unfortunate damage I did to the tea, was the fact that it brought on a quick, warming, and rising qi. Soft, but direct, my core warmed and my head floated as the tea coursed through me. I sit now, pleasantly relaxed, and centered in a warm, autumn sun. *Look for an update on this tea soon, when I can enjoy it with filtered water.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=257
Smells like Medjool dates, freshly cut wood and molasses. Tastes savory-sweet like ginseng and licorice root, but the best part is the unmistakably brisk, malty taste of . . . red (aka black) tea. A very clean tea taste constitutes the base of the flavor profile and remains in the aftertaste along with notes of marinated steak and dried roses. Yup.
Actually, this is called Jin Jun Mei not Mai.
This kind of tea was developed in 2005. The tea leaves are collected by professional tea pickers from less than a hundred wild tea tree near the top of Wu Yi mountain. And the baking method is based on traditional Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong. Because of its low producing, it is amazingly expensive. In China, one kilo gram of authentic Jin jun Mei costs at least 3,000 dollars. Many of the Jin Jun Mei sold on the market are mixed with other kind of black tea, such as Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong
At the first three steep, you can taste subtle smell of fruit. That is the unique feature of this kind of tea.
I absolutely adore the appearance of this tea as dry leaf. The balled leaves look like small rough emeralds, with dazzling bright green edges and veins and dark black green leaves, all neatly curled and tucked into compact forms, true tea gems. It’s a vivid example and while I know that my brewing of the tea was not on par with Tim’s, I still found it delectable, full of warm floral-scented breath and a creamy, rich custard-like texture. In my own brewing, I found a delicious foible for morning brain fog and a light, airy blossom scent in the gaiwan and from the top of the cup.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=197
Earthy and austere like the well crafted, solidly built antique furniture that would be found in the study of a man worth knowing.
The dry leaf aroma alone is enough to tell that this will be a quality experience, although I was admittedly caught a bit off guard by the initial sternness of the brewed cup. However, my palette quickly grew accustomed to the sophisticated and slightly sheng-like bitterness that transforms into a long, layered, and thoroughly pleasing aftertaste. The apricot nectar apparent in the dry and wet aromas is overtaken by the structured and “big” body of the tea yet blossoms at the finish taking with it much of the dry, stately florals from earlier on.
I am once again taken to school and instructed as to what tea should taste like. My goodness.
I implore all of you to purchase some samples from this guy. Please! Seriously, your minds will be blown. It’s that good!
edit: now that i’m a little more versed in the world of puerh, i can honestly say that this one is a cut above, like pretty much all tea from this shop. if hindsight serves me there was a distinct cleanliness and clarity to the flavors which, at this point, i won’t be able to extract from memory. they were good ones though.
Oh. OH. oh.
I understand now. . . THIS is puerh. (Oh.) There is a balance of dank earth and cooling menthol overtone that delivers a full, very palatable complexity. Not every tea has to be mystifying to be very, very good.
And I know this is weird but I actually left the wet leaves out overnight (I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away) and had something like the fifth steepage the next day. Weird, yes, I know, but still so good. One of my absolute favorites.
A perfectly balanced intrigue; bold and roasty, juicy and sweet, delightfully complex, poised, calming. The list goes on. Seriously, spend some money and try this guy’s tea. (He also has a private tea room in SoHo I’ve yet to visit.)