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Recent Tasting Notes
Tea with a Shapeshifter
Laying hands on TwoDog’s Privates
At the beginning of the session, I was worried. The W2T site notes that “There is some humidity that still shows up in early steeps…”, which is not unlike observing that the day after hitting the iceberg, the Titanic was somewhat damp. Granted, this could be related to my history of insufficient rinsing, which is being chronicled here with some regularity.
Thankfully, it only took a couple of steeps for these flavors to integrate into the proceedings instead of dominating them. Once this had occured, I found myself enjoying cup after cup of delicious brew. They just kept piling up, like clowns out of a clown car, well past the point where I lost track of the number. The relaxation afforded me by the complex yet reassuringly familiar sensations of this tea had me well past caring about things like steep number, duration, or water temperature, but the leaves carried on undeterred.
The flavor profile is a tricky one to describe, bringing so many different enjoyable notes for brief periods and changing them often. Also unhelpful for this section was Steepster going down right when I tried to write this up, leaving me with only the memories that lasted until morning to work with.
Another vastly enjoyable session from W2T provided you don’t fear the wetter storages. I think it was let back up to breathe before it drowned, but YMMV.
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Flavors: Dark Wood, Floral, Honey, Vanilla
I found this to be as good as the hype, however i didn’t find this Pu sweet much so not sure where the sugar comes in, but it’s velvet in the mouth, medium thick teasoup and no off putting anything. a solid every day pu with woody malty cocoa mocha and strong black tea notes, at least for me.
A late afternoon/early evening tea session.
Sweet apricot nectar with some simple white sugar and buttercream notes, bitterness only on steep one, smooth for the rest. Spectrum of color goes from chardonnay to golden orange to burnt orange. Creamy mouthfeel. Takes multiple infusions quite well.
9g ball of awesomeness, 220ml Ben Shan Lv Ni, 200F, 30s rinse, 2m steam bath, 30s first infusion, 15s second and counting up in small 5-10s increments from there with multiple infusions still left for later.
The ball o’ love:
Pretty much every other review is spot on. A solid, semi aged sheng that’s got a good amount of smokiness to it. I personally can’t stand tightly compressed cakes just for the sake of getting off enough for a session without breaking a sweat or stabbing myself, and this brick is nearly as compressed as an actual brick. I know this would have likely aged differently given a different level of compression, but I would give a higher ranking right this second for convenience sake if it was a little less compressed.
I really enjoy this cake, so much so that I have been plowing through it much faster than I planned when I saw it in the White2Tea club. Like 2dog wrote in that month’s club description, following this cake as it settled down from pressing and lost a lot of water content has been informative.
This cake has a lot of the positive aspects I enjoyed so much in the 2015 Smooch. The two of them being my favorite Lincang material I’ve tried by far. A very thick mouth feel and sharp flavor. I’ve found the main difference between this and Smooch is that Pin is a bit less astringent and bitter, however that may just be from the lower leaf:water ratio I usually use with this compared to the full ball steeped at once. I may come back to this review and add more specific flavors I get out of the cake after a full year of settling down.
Got this one out of the pu’ box.
At first I thought it was the yellow tea pu’erh stuff that I drank almost a year ago: https://www.instagram.com/p/3AIuZMRYBb/
Has a very distinctive mushroom like taste with some more funk going on. Brews pretty light and isn’t so harsh. Has a tian jian vibe to it, like that sour’ish sheng taste.
Not really my thing because I believe…. I believe, my taste in sheng always has to have some sweetness I can identify. While this is a great leaf, easy to brew and consistent, it just isn’t for me.
Getting ready to brew up a sample of this that I took from the Beginners Puerh TTB while I wait for some tree trimmers to come take down about 6 dead Jack pines I have in the back yard among a grove of other Jack and Red pines. My wife and I just bought this property a little over half a year ago and these trees have been dead since we bought the place so it is time for them to come down.
I have a nice chunk of it and it does look a bit like a clump of dirt, as someone had previously described it. I gave it a ten second rinse and the wet leaves smell like wood and petrichor.
First steep at 15 seconds brews up dark for a first steep. Hazelnut brown, perhaps. First sip and yup. This is going to be good, you guys. A smooth earthy sweetness coats the mouth and throat. It is very light and subtle this steep but it is there, promising of more to come. Makes the eyebrows perk up on the first few sips.
2nd steep at 20 seconds and 3rd steep at 25 seconds. Both are smooth with a light woody/earthy profile.
4th steep at 30 sec and there is a little more punch to this one, in a pleasant way. A bit stronger, more rounded and full.
Going into the 5th steep and the Tree service people arrived. I continued to drink this session, lost track of steeps and time for each. But what I can say, as I’m still sipping on brews of this is that it is a very forgiving tea for when you are distracted. I am able to not pay this tea too much mind before getting it into my mouth and it is still pleasant. That is a fairly good compliment, I believe.
Flavors: petrichor, Wood
From the Beginner’s Pu’erh TTB.
Had a gongfu session, brewed in ceramic gaiwan (120ml, but I tried to eye the water level). One 5 second rinse. 3 min rest. Another 5 sec rinse (was the first steeping but the soup ended up tasting too light). Steeping times: 15, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 75, 70; 2 min, 2.5, 4, 6, 10.
The dry leaf smells firstly of tobacco, then of apricot. I let the leaf sit in the heated bowl for a moment and it brought out the apricot note. Wet leaf also smells of apricot. Very fruity aroma, even the soup aroma is strong.
The soup is pale yellow and full-bodied. Overall, this sheng is sweet and bitter simultaneously. It never shakes of the bitterness, which is always underneath, but the apricot sweetness increases in the beginning of the session and levels off to a consistency in the middle. The texture starts to show at itself early on – thick and smooth, a little oily? – and remains so. Menthol makes an appearance at infusion 5 and stays until the end. Sometimes it overpowers the apricot, sometimes it sticks to the roof the the mouth or back of the throat. The apricot/menthol aftertaste is long-lasting.
As for qi: Starting with infusion 3, the soup feels like it’s charged with energy. Like it’s almost buzzing. At the penultimate infusion, the energy mellows. I drank the first 9 cups on an empty stomach (I was waiting for brunch to be prepared). My digestive system felt fine. I did feel tea tipsy!
I do agree a cake or tong would be worth every penny.
This is a nice tea of good value. I was able to pick it up from White 2 Tea 2-3 years ago for less than $75. Acted on a tip from Hobbes and purchased without trying a sample (not an uncommon practice for me on puer with solid recommendations from experienced drinkers back then when tea was a bit cheaper). I am very happy that I took a chance on this sheng for it has matured nicely in my humidity monitored tea cabinet for over two year now. Early spring big-leaf material, clear and bright orange tea soup, honey-like scent, nice mouth activity — definitely a smooth and easy drinker.
First, I must apologize to Paul of W2T, Hobbes, anyone with the misfortune to read this, Paul Simon, and Art Garfunkel.
Hello darkness my old friend
I’ve come to drink of you again
Within my gaiwan I am peeping
Your liquor darkens as you’re steeping
And the flavors, that my palate can’t explain
still remain within the leaves of White Whale
Attention on the cup alone
Enjoy the tea, put down the phone
Within the shadow cast be my desk lamp
admire the color wrought by storage damp
Then my brain’s focused
as the brew shows me the light
my mind’s set right
drinking the leaf of White Whale
And in the morning light I saw
it go for twelve steeps, maybe more
I was tea drunk, so I failed counting
Too tea drunk for detailed tasting
Quite tea drunk, Two Dog
you’ve outdone yourself again
so much praise penned
about the leaves of White Whale
“Fools,” said Hobbes, “you do not know -
it’s so [email protected] good your mind will blow!
Read my words that I might teach you
Buy these bricks, I do beseech you!”
And this fellow’s words, I weighed and I believed
and ordered these, my tasty leaves of White Whale
All the laggards grew dismayed
a higher price must now be paid
But Paul gave us all a fair warning
and the new cost befits its performing
And the heart says
“The path to true joy
is covered in fine puer leaf
Begin with leaves of White Whale
Note: I do not personally know any of the people mentioned in the above, and Hobbes never endorsed buying tea without sampling first.
After I finished my oolong session this morning, I knew I needed to open up one of the reserved sheng samples I have. Being that it was nice outside, I wanted one with no smoke and little to no age on it. The selection was down to about 12 things so I kind of just grabbed this one at random, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which is quite odd but I learned something interesting" The word ‘fecked’ means stolen. I hope one day I can tell a girl she fecked my heart because that’ll be witty :)
At first I looked at the leaf and there was a mixture of dark and light colors to it. Also to note, there were no silver hairs or white leaf within the piece. The first brew came out much lighter than I thought it might. I was expecting something strong, like ‘THIS IS MY LAST THOUGHT, YOU GONNA REMEMBER IT’ but it was nothing like that. Interestingly enough this tea wasn’t that complex and I nailed it down pretty quickly which to me says that this tea exemplifies in one area: clarity.
At first I thought there were notes of sugarcane, but then I quickly realized it was more of the sweet notes you get from a pickled vegetable. The theme for this was asparagus for me. Bang Dong has always been a zucchini tasting sheng and now that I am tasting something like it I am able to say that this has more of that texture taste that asparagus has; with a little more of a distinct sticky taste. Now this liquid is lip smacking which you’ll hear said about sheng that has some syrup likeness to it; which this has. While some may say it’s like honey, for me it’s like syrupy with the main difference of being a runnier sweetness rather than a honey which is thicker and for me sticks around longer.
Now the taste was great, very light which agreed with me 100%. Still taste quite new without that bitterness coming through as the leaf opens and settles. This leaf doesn’t open for a few steeps and was a little unique. At first I thought it was smaller and then I noticed as it opened up it almost looked like some wet dancong leaf. Some of the veins were twice the size of others which looked funny next each other.
My first session with this tea last about 90 minutes and then I went and ate some jalapenos and drank some Irish cream soda to reset my taste buds. Came back to the tea later on to see if it was the same. The sweetness was as I thought because it wasn’t near sugar, but clearly had some sweetness you find in a pickled mango (which I dislike); but no sour notes. Liquid still brewed out pretty clear. The sharpness was faded when I came back and it was dying out as I could tell which sucked, but I was at around 22 steeps by time I realized I didn’t have long before I said goodbye. I probably ended at 26 steeps, but this was meant for the clarity and taste for me rather than the longevity so I was quite pleased with it.
Price. Yes, that’s a thing as many have remarked on.
Tea coma in progress, tasting notes/update later…
The chunks o’ love:
The session o’ love:
Update: This is very much what you’d expect in a young sheng in the fact it’s all about tobacco, leather and semi sweet apricot nectar that gets sweeter and more about the nectar and even a bit floral as it goes on. That being said what does set it apart is the way it hits you after a few infusions. This is the epitome of good feeling Puer. I’d be interested in how it would develop in the years to come but given I only bought a 25g sample size of this one I doubt it will last that long.
10.2g of gorgeous looking chunk in a 220ml Ben Shan Lv Ni with a quick wake up at 190F, then a few 10-30s infusions at 200F and climbing from there. This is already at steep number six and I see at least five or six more before it wanes.
Over a dozen infusions later:
I got this as a 10g sample.
For the tea soup, at first, I didn’t like the beginning flavor of smoky tobacco. And there was a slight sourness that was not disturbing and made mouth-watering. However, the smoky tobacco and sourness faded very quickly (maybe like its name). Then, sweetness strongly appeared and lingered for a long time.
Flavors: Mushrooms, Pleasantly Sour, Sugar, Tobacco
The first time I drank this, maybe two weeks after recieving it, I was completely unimpressed. Drinking this today it’s a totally different tea. Classic yiwu profile at a fraction of the price, the mouth characteristics, cooling, and huigan are all what I expect from yiwu tea. I couldn’t recommend this enough at its price point. I think this is a tasty tea now and will be a tasty tea for the next decade or two.
Flavors: Floral, Green Apple, Honey, Menthol, Oak wood, Pleasantly Sour, Spices, Vanilla