The Phoenix Collection

Recent Tasting Notes


Dry – Sweet, earthy notes, somewhat creamy, dates, starch/rice.
Wet – Creamy, earthy, light spice/pepper, dry dark fruits, dates, yeasty, bitter cocoa?
Liquor – Burgundy to Red-ish brown.

1st 5secs Thick, tart, partly, fruity and some smoke?(roasted cocoa/coffee) notes up front. As it goes down, it has an apparent savory, brothy and filling body with some pepper-wood notes and a sweet and bitter-chocolate finish.

2nd 5secs First Sweet, thick, tart, earthy, creamy with light pepper notes and smoke?/roasted cocoa-coffee notes up front. As it goes down it has an initial sweetness, but a brothy and savory character is dominant. The finish is sweeter with tart/bittersweet cocoa notes.

3rd 7secs Sweet, thick, earthy, creamy, slightly tart with dark fruit notes, and faint roasted-cocoa/coffee? notes up front. As it goes down, it has some savory notes the dominate for a bit, but turns sweet again with spice and camphor and a sweet finish that has bittersweet cocoa notes.

7-8 steeps in total The steeps start collapsing at the 5th-6th and after that they are mostly sweet with minor tart notes and faded complexity. You can allow it to rest for a few hours or a day and push an extra one or two, but they are still weak.

FInal Notes
After the Feng Ling pot this one is more than welcomed. I feel like this one has some complexity and depth to it, which it is rare in Shou in general. It is in the between the lines of an amazing every day Shou or a good occasional treat.

Flavors: Creamy, Dark Bittersweet, Dates, Earth, Rice, Sweet, Thick


I officially want to drink this! LOL


I can send you some later. I’ve been really busy lately, but I can me up some time later :)


OK. Thank you :)

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Ceramic Pot Puerh – Feng Ling Tea Factory, April 2000 100gm

Dry – Earth, Clay, Wood, Sweet.
Wet – Sweet, wood and earthy.
Liquor – dark brown almost black.

1st 5secs- Earthy, tart-bitter wood notes, talc/starchy and some clay notes up front. As it goes down, it feels starchy like talc and somewhat sweet, but flat at the end.

2nd 5secs – Think earthy, woody, some spiciness, starsh/talc sensation on the tongue and some sweet up front. As it goes down, it has some earthy wood notes and sweet finish. This steep has more live than the first one.

3rd 7secs – Thick earthy, woody, more apparent spicy middle with a starsh/talc sensation up front. As it goes down, it holds its earthy and wood notes while slowly developing sweetness that linger in the finish.

Quick wrap up
This one wasn’t a hit with me. I feel like people who enjoy imperial Loose Puerh and other traditional high fermentation ripes will get a better time out of this one. I will re-visit this one when I’m more in a Shou mood.

Flavors: Clay, Earth, Sweet, Wood

Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

It seems that the majority of pu’erh consumers feel that The Phoenix Collection is bad and not good. What’s your opinion on them?


VERY honestly, I like David Hoffman, humble and nice guy. But it is a hit or miss. He does have some really good ones, but some that I’d rather not go back to. Although, some people can appreciate those. I’ve found well stored ones, but some that have been in obvious wet storage, which isn’t bad (there’s people who love them) but it would be nice before you put the money in.


Seems like I should steer clear, I dislike humid storage. He seems to be a super inaccessible vendor, as his lowest amt for loose teas is 4oz and puerh is generally 1 cake minimum, and he barely describes them (I can’t even tell if it’s ripe or raw!)


Ex. REally good Shou : Tibetan Brick High grade, Lao Ban Zhang Ripe, Beencha Puerh, Vietnam Been Cha, Lancang/Simao/Mensong Loose Leaf from old trees(although wierd looking). Shou I didn’t like : Tibetan Brick Standard grade (basically heicha), Yunnan Been Cha, The other Large Leaf from old trees ripes, everyday shou(blehh). I can do the same for the Sheng.


I generally dislike Shou, it’s just repulsive to me, like wet-stored teas of any kind. Something about the aroma. I drank nice shou as well, I’ve tried a CNNP, a Yunnan Sourcing, and a mini-coin. I got the same vibe from a wet-stored aged Sun Moon Lake black tea.

A dry-stored sheng though, that’s gooooood.


If you don’t like to talk to people stick to other vendors. I spoke to him about it, the thing is that he is mostly a whole seller so he has no need to advertise or market his Puerh, usually people go to tastings and buy on buy/order on the spot. I’m interested in visiting sometime. He has several old Puerh that is not even listed and some have been pleasant. But if you want to make sure every single is a hit, I’d advice staying with guys like Tea Urchin, White2Dog and other curators that don’t do much wholesales and describe a more limited catalog. :)


yeah I was chatting with a Taiwanese Oolong wholesaler today, quite a nice selection. I e-mailed them with a question a while back, and they responded instantly. However, the lack of flexibility of sampling turns me off. I’m ordering with White2Tea very soon, actually.


I’d recommend White2Dog. Paul has been very attentive and the tea has been as advertised. And I have to say, I feel you about sampling. I usually do research before buying anything and Puerh is not the exception. With Phoenix Collection it was a must because the information is limited. If lived in CA I would visit and taste on spot… I wish I could do that in all places actually LOL.


I haven’t tried Paul’s teas yet, but I’ve spoken to him a bit and he’s been great to talk to. Next month (which is in 8 minutes) I’m ordering from him.


Not a fan of this tea either


Sam, I haven’t been much into Shou lately, but this one added the extra ‘clay’ and wood that I didn’t get too much into lol.

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If you’re looking for something special and VERY different, here you have it. Upon first impression, the chunk of tea, thanks to JC, looked like a chunk of dusty dirt with small plant roots embedded within. As the tea seemed very dusty, I decided to give it two washes instead of one. There is one way I can describe the aroma of the wet leaves… an intense wet forest moss… much more so than most shou puerhs I’ve had. I mean, it literally smells like dirt/forest moss! I would say the taste of the tea itself is somewhat consistent with the aroma… very interesting and pleasant. I recommend this tea to anyone who enjoys that earthy taste. Very unique tea. 80/100

Flavors: Earth

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

I liked this one. It is very weird indeed. I couldn’t define it as either Sheng or Shou, I know is not processed as a Shou, but it definitely isn’t a Sheng. It’s that blurred Heicha spectrum of wood and bark tastes. that thing on the floor is very similar to the Thousand Tael log.

Thats pretty cool! LOL. Imagine buying something like that… its like 10,000 steeps worth of tea HAHA.


I’d like the watch the video of you trying to pry a piece of that lol. ‘Ok guys, you hold it…. I’ll try to open and eventually get some tea out".

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A remarkable tea. This is the smokiest tea I have ever tasted but there is still a depth and complexity that make each brew a tangible experience. This is a tea that most people hate frankly, it is very smoky and the raw leaves are quite bitter. It brews to the typical sheng dark yellow and I haven’t exhausted the leaves yet. This tea is hard to classify and it doesn’t play well with it’s neighbors in the tea cupboard. Another distinctive pu-erh from DLH. I’ll be intrigued to try it again in ten years and see what more aging does to tame it some (and I’ll keep drinking it, if only occasionally, in the meantime).

205 °F / 96 °C

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This is the best pu-erh sheng I have ever had hands down. I happened to also have a current year’s (2013) silver bud white tea to compare it to. Visually it is very similar with the same downy silver/gray and green buds. It seems to have all the best elements of the white tea (buttery mouth feel, fresh vegetal taste) and a few more layers of complexity from the aging (notes of apricot, tobacco, and honey).

It’s a very patient tea and yields multiple and complex steeps without flattening out. I have also found it extremely forgiving and it brews a nice cup no matter how I do it or how long I steep it.

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Dry – Pine wood, Malt, sweetness, refreshing.
Wet – Strong Malt notes, warm, faint cocoa bitterness, brown sugar/molasses, woody/piney and thick.
Liquor – Mustard/Golden-Bronze
Gong fu Style in 6oz Porcelain Gaiwan||7gm of tea

1st – 15secs – It has a thickness, full bodied woody notes with apparent sweetness and strong malt notes up front. As it goes down it is sweet with a refreshing Pine-wood notes, a good Yunnan character that becomes more apparent as you zip. The aftertaste is pine-wood, malty and thick.

2nd – 15secs – Starts with a very malty thickness and more present bitter-cocoa notes that become sweet and refreshing up front. As it goes down, it seems thicker and fuller bodied with more apparent maltiness coating the tongue; the bitter-cocoa note reappears but is overshadowed by the stronger pine and malt notes. Thick, malty and refreshing finish with playful bitter-cocoa hints.

3rd – 20secs – Thicker, Sweeter and more apparent malty notes up front with an incredibly pleasant full body and hints of pine wood. As it goes down, it keeps its full body qualities and the Pine and malt notes become more apparent in the mouth and even throat. Bitter cocoa, malt notes and sweetness in the aftertaste.

4th – 25secs – Sweet with very pleasant malty thickness that wears hints of bitter-cocoa. As it goes down, it is sweet and malty, but wears a more apparent pine taste and some more citrusy notes appear together with he cocoa notes. The after taste keeps its malty, pine and bitter-cocoa notes with refreshing finish.

Final Notes
I literally ran out of hot water for this tea in the 9th steep. I continued the next day and it was still capable of producing really good tea. I was surprised on how well it held it’s ground along all the steeps and even with the later steeps being longer it never gave me any astringency at all. It is teas like this that remind me why I keep coming back for Yunnan Blacks.

If I feel like anyone who enjoy Yunnan Blacks with strong malt and pine notes, should try this one. It has sweetness and some more complex ‘hidden’ notes but those are its more apparent traits. It is very well balanced and seems to hold forever. If you enjoy Sweeter but less malty and pine like Yunnan Blacks, I’d recommend Yunnan Sourcing’s Imperial Mojiang Golden Bud. I feel like Scott really hit something good with that one. It is really sweet and pleasant and still manages to deliver malty thickness.

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Dry – Smoky, fruity, peach/apricot fruity-floral hints and honey
Wet – Tobacco, Sweet, fruity tartness, Honey Sweetness and thickness
Liquor – Golden to Bronze

1st 35secs – Sweet, floral tart notes with playful fruity notes that coats the tongue in thickness while showing a strong smoky background that is very pleasant. As it goes down it it is slightly vegetal in the mouth while retaining strong floral and smoky notes. As it goes down, the floral and fruity notes linger in the mouth and back of the tongue.

2nd 30secs – Sweet with strong Tobacco notes and tart-bitter floral note that is pleasant as it opens up for the fruity sweet notes that coat the tongue with a thick body. As it goes down, the floral taste is very apparent and slowly turns fruity and sweet one again, lingering in the aftertaste. The floral and fruity notes linger in the mouth and throat with some freshness.

3rd 30secs – The tobacco notes resemble wild wood camp fire but retains its sweetness and floral complexity that coats the tongue and becomes fruity. As it washes down, it is strong in the tongue but thick and slowly moves to the back of the throat. The floral notes become sweet once again, and the fruity hints are more apparent in the lingering aftertaste.

Final Notes
I made several (7-8) steeps of this tea. I really love this one, inexpensive and delivers in all aspects. It is perfect for anyone who enjoys a tobbaco/smoky Puerh with a thick floral body and sweet lasting finish. The tea maintains a lot of its traits all the way to the end, you may notice some astringency apprearing in the later steeps but it is still pleasant.

However, it is a fickle Puerh when it comes to steeping time; I would advice to keep steeps on the shorter side . Doesn’t need a ‘wash’ a quick rinse or two works just fine, it is a good young tea and it doesn’t need much to wake up.

I just started a Blog Please visit and feel free to comment!

205 °F / 96 °C
Doug F

Great start to the blog.


Thanks! Also, if you have any comments or recommendations they are also welcome. :)

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Ease flows into a cuppa,
& suddenly…

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Thank you JC for this sample tea!

I’ve had Tibetan Pu-erh before and thought they were supposed to be pretty much the same.

Evidently NOT!

What I drank before was ‘what the men drink who are herding animals Tibetan Brick Pu-erh’ which was a little on the rough side, although
fun to try.

I’ve been reading a book about the Tea Horse Road in Tibet, and slowly writing a story on my blog about ‘Ritual’.
It’s a story about how tea has become a Ritual in my life, and what that means to me.

The tea I decided to pair with the story is this one, a special Tibetan Pu-erh, because of it’s long and colorful tradition. I also wanted to make some Butter Chai Tea! (Can’t use Yak Butter Chai Tea unfortunately!) And this tea is the one to use.

Butter Chai Tea Recipe
A little milk (1/2 c) and salt (1/4 tsp), some butter (2 TB) and water (5 c) and Tibetan Pu-erh (1TB) and bring to the boil then simmer. (You can make adjustments to suit you.)

A tasty broth to stave off cold when treking through snowy mountain passes, donkeys heavy laden with tea… bound for waiting merchants on the other end of the Tea Horse Road. (OK, I’m a romantic!)

Before making the Butter Chai Tea, I made some regular Tibetan steeped (30 seconds) Pu-erh in my gaiwan.
The flavor was smooth and sweet with a refreshing taste. No extreme earthiness or thick mouth-feel.

The mellow flavor made the Butter Chai Tea light and smooth.

Because the Pu-erh boiled and then sat to simmer (the way it would on an open fire) I wondered how it would taste after a bit.
I waited while it simmered 20 minutes on the stove, poured a mug… and the tea tasted just as good as at the first!

Lovely Mild Puerh

Ritual is a story on my blog

I began drinking tea as a way to be still (quiet) because my mind wandered when I tried to pray. I had difficulty quieting a zooming Silicon Valley mind that had rushed for so many years. Like most people I had worried so much about the past and the future, I didn’t know how to meet with God in the present.

Carefully learning to prepare tea several times a day, I didn’t just drink the tea but thoughtfully looked for all that was good in the experience.

First, I smelled the aroma of the tea liquor. Then I gave full attention to the scent of the tea leaves, observing the color of the dry and wet leaves. Finally, I tasted the tea prepared different ways (plain, with sweetening or milk, and after the second or third steeping ). I learned to use different types of tea equipment and the tea names from a vast array of tea previously unknown to me.

……and so on….


which book…I have read the ‘tea horse road’ and I have a few others that follow the same theme…..and just curious?


Tea Horse Road


Nice! Thanks for the recipe! This one is a ‘post-fermented’ Tibetan brick or Shu/Shou. I like it because its mellow and sweet. I want to try that butter mixture, and I don’t know how Yak butter tastes but I feel intrigued about it. I want to know which other animal’s butter taste similar enough to try it.

As you said the green/uncooked stuff is on the rougher side but always seem to have nutty/herbaceous taste. I can see that tasting nice with milk/butter, never actually tried it that way.

I’m feeling better again, so soon enough I’ll start drinking tea again, need to resume trying the samples!


Got the recipe from Roughage (in England) who says Yak butter tastes sourish. He tasted it in China I believe. Being that he’s a Necrolinguist (dead languages) and expert on Viking Berserkers, I tend to think he’d know.

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Thank you JC for this generous Sample Sheng!

I took a look at the review by Amy Oh and JC before my own preparation this morning. Amy’s was a 20-30 second steep time and JC’s was short 2 seconds…increasing gradually like Ravel’s Bolero.

I ’m choosing to play a little between the lines.

After one rinse. I steeped an even amount of leaf to water in my Gaiwan (5 grams leaf to 5 oz water) for 12 seconds.
The flavor was savory like artichoke, just short of bitter and thick at the back of the throat.
As I moved back from the glass cup, I noticed a strong wild honey scent and put my nose back to the glass cup.
The scent wasn’t there.
When I went back again to the cup, the honey returned.
I held the cup and moved it around in front of me…the wafting aroma of wild honey magically perfuming the air. Tea magic. Look for this!

My second steep at 10 seconds was dry but had the same big flavor and umami finish.

I lowered the timing down further to 6 seconds and lowered the temperature to 170 degrees. Not so good of an experiment. The tea was too bitter, blech.

Back to boiling water I went, and a 20 second steep (which was where Amy Oh liked it).
Now the flavor was herb butter, savory and sweet. Delicious, rich Umami! Full and substantial with the lingering after the swallow that we wait for…and want for.
(Made me think of having a grilled steak with herb butter. Even the liquor looked like melted golden clarified butter!)

This Sheng is delicious!

Some young Shengs are harsh, too smoky, too one note.
This (don’t kill me JC) is like a good Gyokuro.


Thanks JC


Glad you like it. I like this Bulang because its an Early Spring picking it can be mellow and complex. But it IS a Bulang, so Strong Bitter/Floral and astringency can be achieved.


Did you smell the honey when you drew away from it? Did you get shocked at the gyokuro or did you know what I meant?


LOL! I know what you mean! That’s why I love early Spring Sheng! I wish I had more of that Kong Shan from Zhi Zheng. THAT one was PURE honey. I love smelling the tea and the tea ‘caramel’ that thickening left over in the serving pitcher after a pour.


We’re nerds!


Ha i think i fit in this crowd!


Yes indeed!

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Quick Notes This is a double Session review. Two for one!

Dry – Sweet
Wet – Sweet, Creamy, Malty, Bitter with chocolate notes, slightly citrusy and/or juicy.
Liquor – Brown-Bronze

Gong Fu in 5oz Yixing Gaiwan – 5g (loosen tea result of initial prying the cake)

1st 5sec – Creamy, slightly sweet and earthy with apparent bitterness that hints of chocolate. As it washes down it is brothy and thick with chocolate-like bitterness. The aftertaste is creamy and bittersweet that lingers in the back of the throat.

2nd 3secs – Creamy, bittersweet chocolate notes upfront. As it washes down it is thick and creamy with some sweetness that turns savory almost brothy with bitter chocolate notes. The aftertaste is sweet, thick, creamy, slightly savory and refreshing.

3rd 5secs – Thick, creamy, bittersweet with chocholate notes up front. As it washes down, the bitterness notes become more apparent and savory/brothy. The aftertaste is thick, bittersweet with brothy background that lingers in the mouth and back of the throat.

4th 7secs – Sweet, creamy and then bittersweet up front with weaker chocolate notes. As it washes down, it becomes brothy and bitter with chocolate notes. The aftertaste is creamy and bittersweet that lingers in the mouth and back of the throat.

5th 9secs – Sweet, creamy and bittersweet that is slightly juicy/citrusy. As it washes down, it becomes brothy and savory that slowly turns juicy with some bitterness. The aftertaste is bittersweet and thick, it still lingers but not as apparent as previously.

6th 17secs – Creamy, sweet, and bittersweet with juicy/citrusy up front. As it washes down, it becomes brothy and then juicy with bitter notes. The aftertaste is sweet with a bitterness that lingers in the mouth and back of throat, slightly juicier than previously.

(three steeps before I ran out of water)

1st 50secs Creamy, slightly earthy with sweetness and immediately bitter that hints of chocolate notes up front. As it washes down, it feels heavy and thick with savory and brothy body that is also bitter and slowly develops some sweetness. The aftertaste is thick, creamy but savory with bitterness that resembles chocolate notes. (slightly refreshing).

2nd 35secs Once again Creamy, sweet with earthy notes that turns bitter with chocolate notes up front. As it washes down, it feels thick and creamy; brothy/soupy savory notes that also wear bitterness that slightly resemble chocolate and develops some sweetness. The after taste is creamy, savory and slowly turn bittersweet with slight chocolate notes.

Third I steeped for a about 45 seconds. The steep was very similar to the previous but had a more ‘juicy’ feel and slightly less creamy.

Final Notes
I like Lao Ban Zhang as a Sheng more than Shou. You still get some of the Bitterness and ‘chaqi’ that characterizes Lao Ban Zhang but its different. To me this cake smells really sweet but it has a sour/bitter taste together with a brothy/soupy savory body as it goes down, its really good. But to me it reminds me of a Pho soup, its savory but it has a certain sour/bitterness to it, that can linger in the mouth. I love Pho, but only when I feel like it. This might be the case with this cake, that is something that you can love when you want it. I’m going to drink it a few more times to give it a fair rating currently I seat around the 78s to 89 range. Good tea, great tea if you want Ripe Lao Ban Zhang.


OMG this sounds SOOOOOO GOOD! Can we say SWEET AND CREAMY more? I was GIDDY reading this!!! :)


Indeed it is. I’m still not sure how I like it compared to others. If we ever do a swap I’ll send you some Tibetan Brick. I’m addicted to that one. SWEET and Creamy.


Ok, you got me JC, after reading your Phoenix reviews last couple of days, I now have to check them out… (hopefully, they don’t ship to Canada and I can maintain new year’s resolution!)


LOL! Less tea is not a good New Year’s resolution, I can understand “I will keep my tea fund under control”. So far I’ve incredibly happy with the Phoenix Collection. I think partially is because I’ve spoken to David to get recommendations based on my preferences or just on ‘current curiosity’.


Another David in the tea world?? What’s up with that ?? How many are out there??
As for my resolution, believe me, it’s a good one! Just means I’m gonna have more of the fabulous tea I already own :-)


Ahhh. Stocking up on favorites! I need to do that. I’m still doing a lot of exploring. I might use a partial budget for restock.

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Thanks to JC for sending me this one, I don’t have a ton of experience with drinking Liu-Ans, this is only the second one I have ever had! Regardless I decided to steep this in the Yixing teapot I have for shus and there is a lot of similarity to a shu pu-erh, this tea seems to me to have a slight coffee bean aroma and flavor with a hint of bitterness in the finish. Pretty interesting but I don’t know if I would buy it and I have no idea how to rate it so I’ll leave that off for now…

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

I know what you mean. It is VERY similar and somehow VERY different from other teas I’ve tried. I have to admit that I liked it more after several tries and finding the ‘right’ ratio of tea to water. Overall, just different. :P

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I have gone through about an ounce of this wonderful green, which I like a bit stronger than my usual steepings. There’s a smokiness to it that kicks the AM off well, and then falls off as I continue to refill my tumbler…In my opinion, a fine tea to begin one’s journey into the world of lose leaf.

Boiling 3 min, 45 sec

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This is a very earthy, even tea, with a bit of tartness up front, which obviously wains as you continue to steep it. Wonderful color, and a bit of the Chinese countryside in the steeped aroma. For a seven year old tea, the Zhi Ran holds its flavor well.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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A very affordable tea from the phoenix collection and one that I often share with people as an introduction into tea. It has a very nice nose both before and during steeping. Definitely use a low water temperature as it’s a white tea, and I usually do about 30 seconds a steep for this one. The main note that I would describe in this tea is simply “sugar”. play around with the steep times and enjoy introducing your friends who currently like flavoured tea to their first stepping block away from it

165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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Quick Notes – This is a ‘Standard’ or ‘Traditional’ version of the material used. I have logged the ‘High Grade’ and bought this for comparison for myself, learn more about differences material used make.

Dry – Sweet, woody/earthy
Wet – Sweet, creamy, malty, earthy/woody.
Liquor – Clear Burgundy-Red.

Gong fu in Yixing Gaiwan 6-7g/5oz

1st 45secs – Sweet, earthy and woody up front. As it washes down, it has a spiciness together with woody notes that resemble black pepper corn. The aftertaste is sweet and woody, slightly refreshing.

2nd 22secs – Sweet, smooth, earthy/woody with leather hints and spicy up front. As it goes down, it is more spicy resembling pepper corn with woody notes that become sweeter. The aftertaste is sweet, leathery and refreshing.

3rd 22secs – Sweet, smooth, woody/leathery and spicy up front. As it washes down it is slightly creamy but is mostly smooth with wood and leather notes. The aftertaste is sweet, woody/leathery, smooth and refreshing.

4th 30secs – Sweet, smooth, woody/leathery and faded spicy notes up front. As it washes down, it is cleaner and resembles pepper win woodiness and slight spicy notes. The aftertaste is sweet, woody and refreshing.

5th 42secs – Sweet, woody/leathery and spicy up front. As it washes down, it becomes sweeter and woody with spicy notes. The aftertaste is sweet, woody and refreshing.

6th 1min – Sweet, woody/leathery and cleaner up front. As it washes down, it is cleaner but still has woody and spicy hints. The aftertaste is sweet and slightly woody and more refreshing.

Final Notes
This is a more ‘standard’ or ‘traditiona’ Heicha grade brick. The material is coarser, and somewhat uneven in distribution. The high grade is a small leaf, buds and smaller leaf piece distribution, while this one is a more twiggy, stems, larger leaf and smaller leaf and leaf pieces (maybe a few buds). The difference, thickness. This one is a lot cleaner, it has some thickness but I’d say is a medium bodied while the high grade is a Full bodied creamy one. Doesn’t mean bad, its great aged puerh, same process just different materials = different results. I love the high grade over this one but I’d still stock up on this one.


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Not a taste note; see previous notes
I usually try to avoid black tea at night, but today I felt like I could stay up a bit longer as long as enjoyed it. I love this one, as I mentioned in the tasting note it has some differences with the standard version, some are subtle but not unnoticeable. And those that are apparent make it that much more worth while (lasting flavor and aftertaste, I’ve come to love this trait in teas).

I’ll enjoy this while I blow some steam playing video games!


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Dry – Sweet, Chocolaty, nutty, faint fruity-complexity
Wet – Chocolaty, creamy, honey, thick and a hidden fruitiness.
Liquor – Bright Golden/Mustard

Gong Fu in Yixing Gaiwan 5-6g/5oz

1st 1sec – Smooth, creamy and sweet up front. As it washes down, it has a more apparent creaminess with a deep chocolate note and honey sweetness with a woody/nutty background. The aftertaste is sweet, thick and chocolaty.

2nd 1sec – Smooth, creamy, sweet and tart with chocolaty notes up front. As it washes down, it is smooth and creamy with apparent chocolate notes and fruity complexity in the background. The aftertaste is sweet and tarty with chocolate notes.

3rd 2secs – Sweet, smooth, slightly tarty with chocolate notes up front. As it washes down it becomes creamy, chocolaty, with tarty fruit notes. The aftertaste is thick, sweet and chocolaty.

4th 4secs – Sweet, smooth, creamy and chocolaty with tart notes. As it washes down, it is creamy, chocolaty with tart fruity notes. The aftertaste is thick, creamy, chocolaty.

5th 7secs – Sweet, tarty and smooth up front. As it washes down, it is slightly cleaner but turns creamy and chocolaty with fruity tart notes. The aftertaste is sweet, tart-fruitiness and thickness.

6th 12secs – Sweet, smooth and tarty up front. As it washes down, it is smooth and creamy with mostly tarty fruitiness that feels almost wine-like. The aftertaste is thick but cleaner than previously with faint chocolate notes.

Final Notes – I loved this one, there are subtly and no so subtle differences between the standard grade and this Special Grade. This one has a deeper and more lasting chocolate note, while the standard version is a sweeter chocolate that fades faster. This one offers a higher complexity that is better balanced; the fruity-tarty notes are present the entire time becoming more apparent during the last steeps but never having a pungency or overpowering presence.


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This is a revisit note/update

I’ve had two or three of these cakes for a while now, probably close to two years, but not yet in the two year mark. I have to say that I still love the overall scent of the cake and the scent of the liquor when I brew it.

I have two cakes for storage purposes and one that I drink from. I’ve always had a bit of a problem with the compression and keeping the leaves in good shape for steeping but the closer I get to the middle of the cake the worse it gets. This is its biggest flaw, the grade of the material seems to be the same in the middle which is good (larger leaves, cut large leaves, occasional buds and stems with leaves), but what is the point if the only way of getting a piece to steep is to break them? The compression is beyond Xiaguan Iron cakes. I had this one in high regards (even with the compression and how choosy it can be with steeping time), but I have to downgrade it. It went from only at home Puerh, to ’what’s-the-point?-let’s-take-it-to-work-Puerh’.

Still a good drink, the compression has allow it to keep younger notes of flowers and honey, but aged thickness…. then you have a rock that you’ll have to break barehanded so you don’t stab yourself with your Puerh knife (guilty).


lol, well at least it was the knife which is flat as opposed to the pick that is basically a sharp-er screwdriver.

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Quick Notes From what I’ve gathered, ‘Golden Sail’ USED to be a great Puerh Brand. As the Guangdong Tea Import and Export Co. went to the what I call ‘the dark side’ of quantity over Quality production, this is no longer a ‘good’ Puerh Brand(opinions, you choose what you like). Apparently, 2006 and earlier are the last ‘good’ batch, sad to see Puerh go bad. To the tea.

Dry – Sweet, fruity, floral.
Wet – Honey, fruity,tobaccoy,smoky,bitter-floral.
Liquor – Deep Golden.

Gong Fu in Yixing Gaiwan – 6-7gm/4.5oz

1st 12secs – Smoky, savory floral notes with hints of tobacco and smoke up front. As it washes down the smoky and floral bitter notes turn sweeter but retain some of the tobacco notes. The aftertaste is sweet with tobacco hints.

2nd 12 secs – Tobacco, smoky, floral-bitterness that turn sweeter as it goes down; but once again, retaining the the tobacco notes while the smokiness subsides. The aftertaste is slightly sweet, tobbacoy and bitter that slowly becomes sweeter and refreshing over time.

3rd 10secs – Tobacco, smoke, floral-bitterness up front. As it washes down, it retains its tobacco and floral-bitter notes but slowly becomes sweeter (hinting honey) with floral notes and refreshing. The aftertaste is tobaccoy and bittersweet that slowly turns sweeter.

4th 10secs – Strong tobacco notes, smoky, floral-bitterness up front. As it goes down, it retains the tobacco notes but slowly becomes sweet and floral. The after taste is bitter-sweet floral with tobaccoy notes, it slowly becomes sweeter and refreshing, as well as lasting in the mouth and throat.

5th 12secs – Strong Tobacco notes, smoky, floral-bitterness up front. As it washes down, it is tobaccoy, floral-bittersweet that turns sweeter while maintaining its tobacco notes. The aftertaste is bittersweet, slightly floral with tobacco notes; as time goes by it becomes sweeter and refreshing, very lasting in the mouth.

Final Notes
I was able to do nine good steeps this way with very similar notes, the ninth being a bit ‘cleaner’ but still had some bitter-to-sweet changes. I did another session (a while ago) with shorter steeps and less leaf 3-4gm, it works amazingly if you like to have some hints of tobacco/bitterness with out it being in the front and body (mostly sweet).

I liked it this way better, It has a strong mouth feel that is not unpleasant and it slowly and somehow ‘cumulatively’ gets sweeter in the aftertaste.


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Dry – Honey, Chocolate, Walnuts, Orchid/Plum
Wet – Chocolate, Honey, Orchid, slightly nutty.
Liquor – Reddish Gold / Bronze

Gong Fu Style in Yixing Gaiwan — 5g/4.5oz

1st 2secs – Thick and creamy up front with plum/orchid taste that is immediately overtaken by chocolate taste with honey sweetness and walnut notes. There’s a refreshing ‘juicy’ hint of plum and honey that turns chocolaty at the end.

2nd 2secs – Strong chocolate taste, honey with very present plum/orchid notes. As it washes down, the creamy chocolate notes become more apparent with nutty hits that resemble walnut and lasts in the mouth. The aftertaste is joint of slight chocolaty notes and apparent plum/orchid notes.

3rd 3secs – Chocolate, creamy, honey and plum/orchid notes up front. As it washes down, it is creamy with nuttiness but then turns juicier with plum/orchid notes. The aftertaste is sweet, creamy but has orchid/plum notes that linger.

4th 6secs – Chocolate, plummy/orchid notes and honey up front. As it washes down, it is slightly creamy with chocolaty-nutty notes, but slightly juicier with the plum/orchid notes. The aftertaste is creamy, but has strong/dominant plum/orchid notes that linger.

5th 10secs – Chocolate, creamy, honey and plum/orchid up front. As it washes down, it is slightly creamy with honey and chocolate notes that turn juicy again. The aftertaste is sweet, chocolaty and plummy.

6th 20secs -Honey, slight chocolate notes and plum/orchid notes up front. As it washes down, it is smooth chocolaty and then juicy with the plummy/orchid notes. The aftertaste is sweet, faded chocolate and plummy/orchid.

Final Notes
I did eight good steeps this way. When preparing it western cup style I prefer to do three steeps: 45secs, 1min 20secs and 2mins. I loved this tea, the Walnut/nuttiness of the dry leaf is amazing. I love chocolate and walnuts together so I love the smell.

It isn’t as chocolaty as expected but still very good. I went with ‘walnut’ because it reminds me of scent when I crack the shell and the the ‘prize’ out. I wanted to try it as a base for a blend, :/ didn’t work out as expected. Great tea on its own anyway!


This sounds fantastic!


It is! I had been ‘eying’ this one for a while, but never really went for it. I’m glad I did, it isn’t as chocolaty as I expected but the combined nuttiness more than makes up for it.

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I took some of this sample from JC over to the guys at Happy Lucky’s during the Denver/Ravens playoff gametime last week when I knew the shop would be quiet and we could drink tea samples.

We drank a lot of tea, especially Preston who is newer at tea and trying EVERYTHING to the point that we just watch him get a little tea drunk and smile.

This tea was his ephipany. He loved it!

I wrote about the event on my blog


At first I thought you went there to WATCH the game and was very confused. A tea store that shows sports games?!


Oops…no football at the tea shop but it was cold out and most people were home watching the GAME except me. That’s why I went to Happy Luckys.


saw the blog and look forward to exploring it more….couldn’t ‘follow’ it with a simple move…so I will have to save it.


I glad you got share it. I’ll send you some more next time if you want to. I wish I had a traditional tea house. Here(DC), this are a bit more up tight. I bet that if I scout out more I should find one.


With the international community and Universities, there should be something there. Getting to know the tea people is what makes the difference. There’s a brand new tea company in Denver that I met here and they only sell tea from farms they know personally in Nepal (the owner’s parents lived there). All profits go to Nepalese Charities. These are things you learn about at tea houses. I’ll send some Nepalese style Puerh when I get some. Will taste it later today.

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Thank you JC for this sample tea!

I’m a little late with my review today…had a ‘Senior Moment’ and ran out of gas in town. Too bad that the spot was in front of my favorite Tea House and it was closed for inventory. UGH!

This inconvenience just made getting home to tea all the more welcome!

Ever since I read JC’s review of Thousand Tael Tea with the little yellow flowers in it, I’ve wanted to try some.
He had graciously offered to send some to me…and what a wonderful addition to my New Years this is!

When you first read about the little organisms called flowers, you might feel ‘creeped out’ about them. I mean, what are they?! These little dots that are called ‘flowers’ are organisms that change the picked green tea leaves into drinkable tea.
The color changes, the health benefits found in tea are due to these good little flowers. Drinking them is good for the body in many ways.

The tea I used was crumbly as I lifted it apart with my puerh knife to expose the little yellow dots of ‘flowers’. I was going to drink this ‘science project’ looking tea with great interest.

I used 1 gram leaf to 1 oz. water and rinsed it once.
Steeping was 6 seconds, 10 seconds, 20 seconds (ick), 10 seconds.

JC went into detail on his tasting so I’ll be brief.

At first taste, I thought of unsalted chicken broth (although it was a little sweeter than chicken broth). I didn’t spend much time thinking about the flavor, first steeps are usually misleading.

The second steep was still savory with a honey walnut aftertaste that made me think of walnut honey shrimp. OK, I was loosing it. Maybe I was hungry. The tea was pinging my taste memories like a pinball machine but in strange non-puerh territory.

If I steeped the leaves a little longer, I thought, maybe I would get a grip and find the base flavor I need to identify the flavor for this puerh!

So, I lengthened the time to 20 seconds which was a big mistake.
There was an odd rutabaga, sweet straw, vegital taste that was a bad move. Blech.

Back to 10 second steeping went I.
The taste was walnut, sweet with a slightly savory flavor but no straw. This was good and a little bit salty. Not dry or astringent.

I wouldn’t be afraid of the little yellow flowers, you don’t see or taste them when you make the tea. The tea flavor is mild. (Then again this is a 2001 which is very mellow)


Scary one huh? When I first pried the ‘log’ piece, it exposed the flowers together with its dry scent which to me is like really old tree bark. But once I steeped it it was very pleasant and refreshing. Today I gave my friend some of it, he went home early lol. Tea Christmas!

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