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Recent Tasting Notes
There is a local shop called Yan-Tsu Hong herbs that sells Chinese herbs, medicines, and teas—-Regina friends, have you been here? It is right by Cuppa’T. A few years ago, I tried their Iron Buddha tea (Tiekuanyin—it says on the label) and hated it but that was before I appreciated and knew how to brew oolong teas. Trying it today, I know my tastes have changed because I am really enjoying this. It is buttery and floral with vegetal notes. This is a decent green oolong.
I think that I will brew it at a lower temp next time though to see if that brings out more sweetness.
Hello Steepster! I’m back, after a dreadful bout of…. something. On Wednesday I got really ill, and have been slowly recovering.
My stomach is coming back up to speed, but I haven’t felt up to tea, beyond the ginger tea that I have, and today a random Milk Oolong that my boyfriend has.
I’m hoping next week to return to my tea drinking ways.
The dry leaf aroma is sweet and floral. It’s also almost fruity. The brewed tea aroma is a floral green oolong. This is my kind of tea!
I got this sample from a co-worker/friend. I have no idea what company this is from as the red, vacuum sealed package is only covered in kanji. I tried translating 茗典茶藏 and determined it says: “tea for ceremony, tea to have.” Anyone come across this before?
The leaves fully unfurled after the second infusion for two minutes. It’s a shame I can’t identify the source because this is a great tea! The leaves have more stem attached then I’ve ever seen before, but the resulting tea is delicious! It’s probably an unflavored milk oolong. This second infusion is creamy! Mmm, yum! This is soooo good! It’s really hitting the spot. I’d rate it a 92.
Bagged houji-cha. Made at work with microwave boiled water (not having a hot water dispenser kind of sucks…)
This was good. First time having a roasted green tea and I was struck by how oaty it was. Reminded me a lot of oatmeal without actually tasting like cereal. This was interesting enough to warrant revisiting … perhaps with a loose leaf version.
Two from What-Cha: one green one black. The black was interesting. It definitely tasted like a usual black with a malty astringency, but definitely had the fruity taste that it describes. I would maybe say it tasted like a vague stone fruit. I brewed it six times and each cup was fairly similar, but more fruity later on. Closer to a usual breakfast tea, but the leaves are pretty like a Ailoashan. I’m going to have to try this one again.
The green tasted incredibly similar to a genmaicha. I need to also try this one again because I was not enamored, but it was growing on me. Very nutty, dry, and similar to umami.
Another random one that is so good. LP granted me some Wild Dian Hong from Berylleb, and man, it is pretty great. In terms of taste it is actually closer to a Loashan for me having weird berry notes, some almost like lychee. Definitively sweet in every steep, with more pronounced chocolate in steep 2 at fifty seconds, and caramel in steep four for me. So glad I have a decent amount of this. Got a little buzzed on steep 1. Thank you, Andrew!
Liquid Proust sent me another lovely sample, with lovely leaves. I brewed it six times gong fu, two of those brews being a cold ones overnight. Changing, gorgeous, and nearly divine. This is how I like my teas, oolongs in particular, which brings back my fondest memories. I kinda got tea drunk after this one, then felt a great sense of connection and peace. Yet that’s the qi, i.e. caffeine or whatever energy you like to call talking.
This tea has and shall become something special. That’s all I can say for now.
This is a random sheng from my W2T goodie bag. :) The wrapper it came in had no English clues for me, but did include the number “2008”, so I was wondering if it was another aged sheng, but this doesn’t taste very aged to me. None of that earthy/musty character at all. The wet leaves are mostly an olive green colour, some a bit mottled with light brown, and a few noticeably darker brown leaves mixed in. They are pleasantly aromatic and zingy – even many steeps in, I like sniffing the leaves in my gaiwan after pouring. The tea liquor brews up a light to medium gold colour, and it has a fairly bright, tangy flavour. I kept the bitterness at bay by sticking to 80-90deg water and ~20 second steeps many times in a row. There is a slight softening and complexity (compared to the 2015 shengs I’ve been drinking recently), and I remember getting some interesting muted floral notes about 5 or 6 steeps in, but other than that, not much beyond “hi I’m a sheng!!”. There is the sweet coating on the back of my throat, but not much sweetness in the actual sip. I’m getting a moderate amount of astringent drying on my inner cheeks. Having said that, I keep compulsively steeping and drinking this over and over, so apparently all the bitterness and astringency is no barrier to my enjoyment of this tea, lol. :) I’m actually finding it a bit energizing, which is a nice change of pace from all the teas that keep making me want to have a nap (secondary theory: the time of year is what’s making me want to have naps constantly). I’m so confused by all these bitter/astringent teas I keep drinking, when normally I love me some sweet, smooth, creamy teas (black, green, oolong, etc). Ahhhh, I think I’m being bitten by the puer bug, this is so, so unfortunate, lol.
So I’m doing a comparison of some shu I got from Whispering Pines. I ordered a few ounces of the loose leaf a couple of days before the cakes were released. I’m not going to do a full review until another time when I can focus on one tea at a time and I’m in the right frame of mind for it. The 1357 Ontario loose is a smooth and mild shu. Clean, no funk. Wet leaf aroma is dirt, forest floor, mushrooms. Not terribly pleasant to be honest, but the flavor is decent. The flavors are primarily mushrooms and earth. WP also sent a small sample of the Ontario cake with my order. I’ll be honest, I don’t detect a huge difference between the loose and the cake. The chunk of cake I got was a small 10g sample, but still, it’s quite similar to me. The Gold Needle has a much more pleasant wet leaf aroma. It has a pleasant sourness but it’s not what I would call funky. Earth, mushrooms, a bit of hay. I prefer this one to the 1357, but not by much, and probably because there’s a tiny bit of sweetness present that I find lacking in the 1357, and if there’s one thing I like in a shu it’s sweetness. Overall, these shu are collectively not my favorite, and I’ll be honest I’m a bit crestfallen b/c so many others have raved about them. They are ok, but I’ve had better. I think a couple of years crock aging might be in order.
A few months ago I did a tea swap with the lovely Oolong Owl, and knowing how much I love shu, she sent me quite a bit of it. I am still working through those countless little baggies of joy. Today I came across one labeled “2006 Special Dark Loose Shu Pu’er – Mandala Tea.” She further states on the label that it’s not for sale anywhere but that she thought I’d like it, and that’s it’s very strong – so quick steeps. She is correct on all counts! Absolutely love it; it’s probably one of the strongest loose leaf shu I have ever had. The wet leaf has such a uniquely pungent aroma – it’s not the sourness of fermentation or storage funk at all. It’s something totally different. Oh, it’s baked bread! Yeast bread! It’s like having yeast bread and coffee all in one cup. Yum!
Today I’m drinking the 3 Dahongpao teas from the Aug/Sept White2Tea club. I’m putting this here because I don’t want to do them separately. I will review the Qilan teas separately though.
Fresh DHP (4g)
Really interesting aroma. Tangy? Intensifies w/ wet leaf. Smells like candy actually.
The brew is much milder than I thought it would be. I’m kind of surprised at how much I like this tea. It’s really quite mellow. No astringency, lovely light sweet aftertaste. Not having had many (any?) DHP’s, I have no point of reference for this tea. Is there a light smokiness I’m detecting in later steeps? (I’m on #3 right now). Another reviewer said burnt sugar. Yes. I was thinking caramel, but not as sweet. So burnt sugar fits the bill. I’m not really overtaken by the roast on this one. I’ve had other wuyi oolongs that were much more in your face with the roast. Not so this one. Steep five is weak; tea is losing its oomph. Let six sit a bit longer and the tea liquor is dark but the flavor has definitely faded. Becoming more mineral/meh.
8 years aged DHP (~3g)
Oolong owl said the dry leaf aroma is “car tire.” Which is hilarious and spot on. Not pleasant at all. Wet leaf aroma is much nicer though. I don’t know, I’m not getting as much flavor out of this. Weird. Maybe it’s because I just ate? I probably should have waited a bit. I’ve had two steeps. I think I’ll put it aside for a bit and come back. Ok, I did come back about an hour later. Still not feeling it tbh. I mean, it’s ok, but just that. It’s the like the fresh with the flavor and intensity turned down from 9 to like, 4.
5 years aged DHP brick (~4g)
The brick itself has no discernible aroma, but the wet leaf smells fantastic. The burnt sugar aroma is very strong, very much like the fresh DHP actually but a bit more intense. The flavor is just so good, deep, rich, and roasty but sweet. My mouth is coated with a sweet mineral aftertaste. Mmmmm sweet rocks. I would buy this if I could; it is my favorite of the three. I will say the flavor drops off a bit for me after the first several steeps though.
One thing I have learned over the course of my tea journey, and specifically with these oolongs (including the Clover Patch, which I reviewed separately a few weeks ago) is that I am not one for subtlety when it comes to flavors. Most days I like a tea to announce its arrival with four-part harmonies and a horn section. I don’t know if my palate will become more “refined” in time, or if this is just the way I am. Anyway, I continue to completely enjoy the w2t club. Initially I thought it would just be something I’d do for a few months, now it’s already incorporated into 2016’s tea budget (which I’d already spent by July 2015, but whatever…)
Tea leaves: https://instagram.com/p/70W9e7GgMZ/?taken-by=curlygc
Clockwise from right: fresh (more defined, long, slender, beautiful. 8 Years aged: similar to fresh but more chopped up. Brick: chopped like shou. Chopped Shuey? (I’ll see myself out)
My wife is away on a business trip. It’s a Friday night, so while the cat is away, the mouse is going to play. And by play I mean sit on the sofa and drink tea all night. I am not on call, I did not bring work home, I have nowhere to go, no one to see, and I do not have to get up early tomorrow. It’s Introvert Tea Drinker’s Dream Friday.
I’m digging into a bag of “mystery ripe” from the White2Tea sale. Heaven and earth, it’s good. I will never know what this is and when it’s gone I will never have it again. I Accept this as I hover above my meditation cushion/sofa, full lotus, aglow with pu’eressence. I just made that word up. It’s like being scrumtrulescent with Pu. And I am. Ohmmmmmmmm
Today I am drinking some lovely tea labeled “mystery raw” that came in from the White2Tea sale. Before I even decided to drink this tea, I knew once again I was in for another tea lesson in attachment and suffering; If I end up loving this tea, no matter how much I love it I can never have anymore of it EVER after this small bit is gone. Now, if I were a more experienced pu drinker, I might be able to accurately guess what this is. I kind of think I might be in the ballpark. And because I have decided, a la Mary Catherine Gallagher, to express my feelings not with words (or a monologue or song), but rather through Memegenerator.net, here is what I’ve got so far:
So I think it’s an older sheng? You know why I’m saying that? Because it’s darker than 2015 shengs I’ve seen. Which may just go to prove just what my current level of understanding is when it comes to pu’er:
So, the flavor is sweet but also vaguely smokey, not bitter until the middle steeps, then it calms down again and there’s some camphor. It’s about 400 degrees in here but I think I can see my breath. My mouth is dryyyyyy. And yet, I’m also sweating. I think my whole head and my tongue is swollen. In a good way, like, a funky non-anaphalixis kind of way. But really, I can’t help but continue to ask…
My dad works at a tech company and when they have employees come in from Asian countries, they often bring gifts. One of the gifts was a tin on tea from this guy that has a small tea farm. From what my father said, it was a side hobby/project that the man had. My father isn’t a fan of tea, but graciously accepted the gift and passed it onto the biggest tea fanatic he knows. Lucky me! I can’t read any of the writing on the tin, so I don’t really know anything else about this tea.
It looks like a dragonwell, so I steeped it for two minutes at 175. It is very buttery, a little sweet and a very light grassy/hay taste. As the cup cools I get a little bit of a mineral like taste in the end of the sip, which could very well be my water source. This tea is so light and tasty!
BanZhang King Ripe (ha ha…) as the label reads from White2tea moving sale. As you all know by now laobanzhang or LBZ is the greatest of all puerh. All other puerh bows in its presence, which is how it got to be known as the king of puerh. First you might notice that this tea has no age, that’s cause LBZ trees are magical and can travel back and forth through time at will. No one knows exactly how old the tea is when being picked. This tea could be from a tree that doesn’t yet exist and has traveled back in time. Another possibility is that Paul, the owner of White2tea, a well known time lord and used his puerh powered tardis station to capture this mystical tea in some unknown dimension. Now that we all know a little more about LBZ its on to the tasting.
Before removing the wrapper one must make sure to put on welding goggles or very dark sunglasses to protect the eyes since the tea itself shines like the sun. Carefully removing the wrapper I pick up the cake and it fills me with powerful energy, it feels like electricity coursing through my veins. In fact I happened to be holding a light bulb in my other hand and it would light up whenever I was touching the LBZ. The tea seemed to know I was in the mood for a 10 gram session, a good sized chunk removed itself from the rest of the cake, floated in the air till it settled in my gaiwan and proceeded to separate itself into it’s individual leaves. LBZ doesn’t smell of anything in the traditional sense. Wisdom, enlightenment and intelligence are what my brain registers as I hover over my gaiwan and sniff.
I grab my kettle, pour some hot water over the tea, drain my gaiwan directly into my cup and stare into what looks like the infinite. Grabbing my cup I bring it slowly to my lips for the first sip of his majesty….Reality melts from around me, replaced by something that can not be described in any words I know. The effect is like loading the universe into a cannon, aiming at my brain and firing. Kubrick probably drank this right before writing the end of 2001. All sense of time and self are gone. I am a being of pure energy travelling the cosmos. Eventually I come to on the floor wearing nothing but my goggles, having a full grown beard and still holding my cup. The clock reads a minute later and the date is the same. Time for myself has obviously passed at a much different rate than the world around me….
Having now tried the King of all puerh I can see why it’s so sought after. It’s an experience like no other but not one to be taken lightly. I suggest all who wish to try it read this carefully and be prepared.
Having a 2014 Ma Hei mini tuo from I think the Tea Horse Family production.
I received this from a friend and I am still waiting on some more info on it.
I let this one open up overnight after rinsing it twice.
Impressions, I worked the tuo open and saw some decent leaf in there.
Brewing it, light yellow color. Brew itself, it starts a little soft like a Yiwu and then it kicks like a Lao Man E. Not bitter but the bit of mouth numbing effect to it.
Cooled it gives a touch more bitter but not enough to turn anyone off for such a young sheng.
Mixed up a cold brew blend of Pink Passionfruit and Ruby Red and it’s actually really good! I was concerned for a moment when I realized I’d totally forgot about it (it steeped for about 60 hours vs. the 24 I was aiming for :/ ) but it didn’t turn syrupy and it’s just got a nice, not too tart, grapefruit flavour. If you’ve got these lying around (though I know Pink Passionfruit was discontinued, so it seems unlikely), give it a go.
Mixed together some of DAVID’s Kashmiri Chai and Chocolate Chili Chai this morning (50:50). Was a little hesitant as I was afraid of how the chili would mix, but it’s so good. Really brings out chocolate and marzipan (I still don’t understand why I get marzipan from the Kashmiri Chai, but I do every time) with subtle spice notes in the background. Would recommend.
Decided to follow the advice of a fellow steepsterite and mixed up a 50-50 mix of Salted Caramel and Peanut Butter Cup, and it was a fantastic idea! The blend was very heavy on the salted caramel tastes (which I’m glad had a decent amount of salt; I feared it wouldn’t be noticeable) with a light peanut/chocolate taste in the background. The two teas mix nicely. I’ll certainly finish off the last tsp. of my sample of Peanut Butter Cup like this.
Today was Happy Tea Mail Day !
I received a care package from Grill. Samples of 2 sheng. One is a mystery.
I love mystery teas.
Dry leaves are gorgeous, long, golden tips ,silvery and dark. Smelled a little like FF Darjeeling, somewhat floral and hay.
5g 75ml gaiwan 200F
rinse/ pause/ short steeps, almost flash
The brew is bright yellow with slight orange tint. Wet leaves smell a little smoky but it didnt translate into taste. its smooth, pleasantly bitter, and somewhat astringent (that didnt bother me at all)
By the 4th steep i was tea drunk and had a dumb smile on my face. I felt the energy concentrated on my eyes, i tried to open them wide haha . Also my face feels numb on a cheeks and around the mouth.
I have a feeling this tea has long legs and i will continue it tomorrow. For now, i need to make a dinner.
Thank you so much Grill for sharing this sheng with me. its excellent tea and quite an experience.
PS He promised me to tell what tea it is after i finish my sessions ;)