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Recent Tasting Notes
I don’t know whether this is a shu or a sheng. Is this what sheng becomes after 17 years of aging? It’s not as potent and fishy as most of the shu I drink. It seems slightly smokey, but not nearly as smokey as the young sheng I’ve had.
The flavor is subtle and a little grassy, but I enjoy it.
This is the first tea I’m sampling from the White2Tea TOMC.
The dry mini bricks are very very dark & fudgey looking, with an aromatic wood/camphor & earth aroma. There are 2 10G squares, so I decided to go with 2 different steeping methods. For the first try I used 10G in my regular mug, giving it a quick rinse & then 15 sec steeps, increasing time as needed.
The early steeps were a light shroom broth, & a sweet bready after taste.
This built over time to a rich & very dark cup, very smooth, reminding me the feeling of unsweetened cocoa powder, with a taste of dried black figs, & blackstrap molasses.
It was very rich!
So I started this yesterday, drinking several cups. Today I gave the leaf a rinse & am enjoying it some more. I started on it when I got home at 3:00 & I think I’m on my 3rd cup. It’s still very dark, damp wood, tobacco, light camphor, & this last cup was kind of like cream of wheat with agave, & a little bit of a light shroomy broth.
The 2nd mini brick will be gongfu steepings in my yixing, sometime. I might have to pick up some more of these in the future.
Thank you SO much Marzipan for this sample!
This is such a nice shou! Only my 2nd tea ever from White2Tea. This is the first shou I’ve had with pronounced camphor notes that I’ve actually enjoyed. It is quite balanced with the earthiness, sweetness, and dark fruity notes. A perfect tea for a cold and snowy day :)
Overall its just really has a really nice pleasant earthy taste exactly what I would expect from a shu, also very smooth and easy to drink. Seems very consistent tasting for each of the brews and liquor is a nice clear brown color. Not really much else to mention but when I think of shu pu’erh the taste of tea would be the ideal taste I would think of.
Flavors: Earth, Paper, Sweet, Wet Rocks
The sticky rice description is incredibly accurate. If the whole sipping a hot liquid thing didn’t give it away, I’d probably think I was eating lightly sweetened sticky rice.
On a side note, I think I’m coming down with something. My sinuses were really bothering me earlier today and I could barely pick out specific flavour notes between the two shus I had today. Bleh.
No rating because I think I’ve given up on doing numerical ratings at this point, since recalibrating previous reviews is a pain.
Mr. White2tea is an amazing guy. Very patient, writes well, knows his stuff. If you don’t know him online yet, you should.
He saw a post that I made where I expressed my strange and unexplainable sort of fear of puerh. And since then he has been helping me get past it. A lot of what has helped is that he has assured me that what I feel is normal and I can get past it.
I told him that I think pu is like red wine. Like, at one point I decided I wanted to learn to like wine, and I started with the really sweet ones, like Malvasia (which is a red for people who don’t like reds). By now I like any type of red, even the really oaky and bold ones. But it took a while of sipping and appreciating.
That’s where I think this pu thing is heading. Last week I had a session with this tea and I enjoyed it. Now, I don’t think it tastes like any other tea. It’s its own THING. It tastes like it tastes. And I speculate that is what trips people up – they expect it to taste familiar and when it doesn’t, they just stop. But I’m willing to keep going. I ended up drinking two infusions of this tea while at work one day, and then saved it and took the next four infusions in a modified gong fu, all in one mug. There was no magical qi and nothing life changing, but I enjoyed it, so I consider it a success. I only used about 40% of the tuocha so I’m going to pass the rest of it to Stephanie so she can try it, and move on to the next pu in the flight.
Every journey starts with a single step, right?
Received one of these small ripe pu squares as a sample with a recent order. These squares should be up soon at white2tea.com, and I’ve already ordered a double on this. I don’t think the tea contains any chocolate, they just look like little candies because of the shapes, squares and little hearts ranging from 4 grams to 8 grams apiece. An order consists of a bunch of varied sizes.
I jumped on an order of these after giving the one sample a try, because I think this is a bit of benchmark history for puerh, a time when ripe puerh still contained some wild arbor or wild tea leaf. Camphor and a cooling finish indicates the trees grew near wild camphor bushes. The little bricks are dry-stored which will be good news for people who hate traditional storage. I can smell a bit of old paper smell, probably from paper wrappings or box storage, but I expect this to air out of the tea eventually.
Soup is brown and crystal clear. White2tea selections have been notable for me with clarity, I just haven’t yet had a murky tea from them. No chocolate flavor, but a nice smooth shu in a size I can take with me on travels and when I don’t feel like picking apart a cake. I plan to share a few of these with friends.
Got some photos of my little bricks and the brew on my blog at http://deathbytea.blogspot.com.
Flavors: Caramel, Paper, Tea, Wet Rocks, Wet Wood
Received this sheng puer tea as a sample with a recent purchase, but I don’t see it on the white2tea site at the moment. Perhaps it will be offered soon. Quite lucky to get a 10g sample of something older like this.
Loose compression of tea leaves, huang pian and sticks. Brewed up the full 10 grams in Yixing gongfu pot. Traditional wet storage, but not heavy, rinsed off with two rinses. Tea soup brewed up that lovely dark brown color we all want to see in our aged sheng. Got quite a bitter brew still, this tea has a lot of aging potential left, nowhere near flat nor tired. Very cooling on the finish, and I know that I’m tasting some of that old tree stuff that is hard to find nowadays. Two cups and surprisingly I got a heavy dose of caffeine, all too often aged sheng has nothing left of the caffeine and I start to yawn afterward but this baby had me up doing laundry and looking for lunch. Just those two cups and I can save the leaves for later. Dunno how many brews to go, but will find out!
More trouble I got up to and photos at http://deathbytea.blogspot.com
Flavors: Camphor, Caramel, Wet Earth, Wet Rocks
Tonight I want to get myself positively tea drunk, and what better way to do this than to brew a big, fat 12 gram chunk of this amazing tea, courtesy of Paul from white2tea.
Unfortunately this is now long out of stock, but I was very fortunate to get a full cake of this last year. This was actually my first purchase from Paul, and ended up being the best young sheng puerhs I have had the pleasure of drinking. I really should have bought another cake…last year this cost just over $300 which sounds like a lot, however look at some of the prices of young, raw sheng today. Lao Ban Zhang has become ridiculously expensive. Anyway, enough talk, let’s get onto the tea.
If I had to describe this tea in two words this would be it: RAW POWER
I used my 130 ml yixing with this and as I mentioned earlier decided to use a big 12 gram chunk, which nearly ends up filling my whole yixing. The leaves are simply beautiful to look at, long and elegant. The dry leaves smell sweet, but there is something lurking there in the background that you can smell and sense: RAW POWER
After one very quick rinse I smell the wet leaves…already my mouth begins to salivate at the potent aroma the leaves eject. My first proper steep is literally 5 seconds. I can already see that the liquid is starting to become nice and thick. I draw a deep breath and take my first sip. Already the energy begins to enter my system. On first steep I get a a lovely sweet/savoury taste, and can sense that Lao Ban Zhang bitterness lurking there in the background like a fallen angel. It lurks but not for long. Vibrancy on my tongue begins to develop…not a tingling sensation but a numbing sensation. The RAW POWER is starting to take over.
Second steep at 10 seconds. The brew is starting to get even thicker and I can see by the change of the liquid that this is going to be a strong steep. I take another sip…my god…there is that powerful bitterness that I love so much. The QI is starting to become very pronounced, I can feel my heart starting to beat faster, sweat is beginning to develop on my forehead, and my whole body feels uplifted and positive.
Third steep, there is that powerful bitterness again, followed by some floral? notes hidden away behind the bitter textures. This stuff is simply amazing. My mouth starts to feel dry which accentuates the variety of different tastes and textures. On my fourth steep the bitterness is still there but now I am getting more sweetness in the mouth and at the back of the throat. By now my body is becoming really relaxed, and I begin to melt into my sofa. I take a break…wow what an experience.
This young puerh is quite simply the very best that I have ever had the good fortune of tasting. Not only is it the best, it is by far the most powerful from a QI perspective. It’s RAW POWER may be too much for some people, but if this is the sort of experience you enjoy from your sheng puerh I cannot think of a better example. It is robust, heavy, rich, thick, powerful and cannot be tamed.
Many thanks to Paul from white2tea for introducing me to this beast, and also for your honest, no frills service.
2002 Little Yellow Mark
5s – Excellent – Full of flavour. Complex: Concentrated green, thick peppery-smokiness, herbal, no strong bitterness.
8s – Smooth but with the peppery smokiness it’s interesting and textured. It has a wholesome flavour.
12s – The concentrated flavour lingers on after swallowing.
20s – Floral sweetness sits on top of the concentrated green base – wow. The treble sweetness is an octave higher than the bass darker notes.
25s – It makes the mouth water and this contrasts with the sweetness of the tea – very good. The tea has astringency, bitterness, sweetness, smokiness, floral notes over a dark green herby base. It combines to something great: it sings in harmony.
Well dadgummit! OF COURSE I like $150 a cake tea. There is astringency and a not unpleasant bitterness in the first few steeps, but it mellows into sweetness. There is very little smoke and around steeps 5-6 it becomes very charming. Still a little astringency, but a sweet smoothness as well.
I have a little catch at the back of my throat and a very, very nice chi buzz. A fabulous all over body hum that is making me very, very happy. Happy to the point I may have to figure out how to afford this. Maybe split a cake Sarsy? I’m Smokey Robinson happy: y’all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KI_0tQdEA5k
Holy moley, I may just go lay down and enjoy this. Happy Sheng. Of Happiness!
I just had a shou epiphany.
A rinse and rest is not enough to stop shou from tasting like I licked the pots at the plant nursery. I did a 10 second rinse, then a rest. Then I tried to brew 10 and 15. That earthy flavor is front and center and I can’t get to the flavors BEHIND it.
Dumped those. Then I brewed another 10 second. Dumped that. THEN I brewed a 10 and 15. NOW there is some actual flavor beyond just something dirty. It’s very sweet and mild. I mean, it’s still a LITTLE dirty. But now there are other flavors, like caramel and dark candies.
I have a long weekend and I’m going to spend at least some of it re-brewing shous I kind of liked, along with those that I didn’t even post b/c I just couldn’t stand them.
I may actually start to like shou. And it’s about damn time!
Maaaaaan. I wish I had $150 just laying around to buy a whole cake of this tea. It’s very good!
I was hoping I wouldn’t like it b/c of the price, but that didn’t work out for me. The aromas and flavors here are very different from many pu’s I’ve tried, which is intriguing. I love the smoked apricots I get in most shengs, but this goes beyond that. And it’s SMOOOOOOOTH, like buttah!
It’s sweet, with no real bitterness, just mellow yumz and lovely soothing feelings. It’s definitely a happy tea. Of happiness.
The only sad part is that I only have enough tea for one more date!
Feeling a bit under the weather today for reasons unrelated to tea, but I’ve had Giant Steps planned for today for weeks now. And I wanted to taste it no matter what. It just meant I used only 5 grams instead of my usual 8-10 g, and reduced the amount of tea liquor to tasting quantity. Two rinses on the boil, then did about 8 quick steeps using a gaiwan and about 70 ml water.
Soup came out yellow and lemony tasting, no bitterness in quick steeping. Got a good dry mouth afterward, but I can’t fairly rate astringency due to taking hydrochlorothiazide, amongst other meds, which is designed to remove water from the body, aka water pill. Thus I have artificially dry mouth anyway. I note a nice astringency in a puerh, but rating it on a scale would be unfair to a tea (T).
This will be the only time I will drink my Giant Steps cake, as I plan to save it for my son. A more humorous take on that plan, plus photos, are in my tea blog
As promised better late than never. I tasted this a couple of days ago after a long work day and was unable to give it the credit for it.
I went 10 grams 10oz. my preferred method, gong fu.
I gave a wash for about 5 seconds and went with it. It has good leaf size in whatI put in the gaiwan. It is somewhat darker than a newly pressed cake. It carries a nice hit of bitter and a sweetness combined. It is a bit floral tossed in there as well. Fantastic in the bit of punch it brings to the table. Six steepings later and it is still very nice. A bit stronger than the repave cake but nicely along the lines with some of the “aged” taste to it. This will give the tongue tingle and state of relaxation that slowly creeps up on you.
Very nice and solid tea.
A touch of astringency that fades quickly.
Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Sweet
Drank two cups of this brewed 3 grams in a barrel-style zhu-ni for 125 ml cup. Boiling and just under. Fell asleep and dreamed about the tea.
One of the downsides of spending time doing theatre is a lifetime of performance anxiety dreams. Just about to go on stage, and I don’t know what play I am in. I don’t know my lines, I can’t find my script and am buck naked in front of the audience.
This time, however, I brewed this tea is a small vintage brown clay pot I actually bought in real life. From Origin Tea’s remaining stock. Debated between using it for highly aged oolong or very old sheng. I decided to use it with old sheng in real life though. Is this a sign, do you suppose? Should I have used it with oolong like I did in this dream? In a really nice adjoining condo with two cats.
Then I’m on stage at the end of the play for bows, in costume actually. I thanked the audience for attending this wonderful Shakespearean performance and that I would be returning to America after this, our last show. But first, drinks for the cast on me. Audience stares, bows for all, a few claps, off we went. Then the cast reminded me we were gonna do one more show again that night. Oops, inappropriate speech. Then we walked through the mall as I fully intended to get a drink anyway, and isn’t that a really nice t-shirt with belt buckles across the chest? And the store has a gourmet chocolate section with pink wrapped chocolates and I’m asking about a big chocolate covered caramel I can’t seem to find while staring at massively huge chocolate bunnies.
Woke up to dry mouth. But I finished the play!! Okay, one last show still and I don’t know the name of the play or my lines, but I wasn’t nekkid and got through bows! And it was Shakespeare, on an English stage, no less (aka A Cold Day In Hell Before That Ever Happens).
The tea is astringent and still needs time to age, rolled leaf like Tieguanyin, very dark charcoal roast, long steeping, floral in the mouth and long brewing.
Yeah, I write some strange stuff but this actually happened, and it is the first time I’ve dreamt about a tea I am drinking. I need more sessions with this to mess with leaf amount and steep times, had to brew it for a minute or so but it keeps giving. Well-spent cash on 50 grams of this. High score because I finished the show.
Flavors: Chocolate, Floral, Roasted
I purchased 25 grams of this, which for a cake is in the average price range for White2Tea of around $98. Because of the humid storage, and the age on it, I know the tea will be long brewing (lots of steeps) and a little goes a long way. 4 grams in my new 70 ml brown Yixing from Origin Tea. Gonna use this pot specifically for these really aged long soaker puerhs. Proceeded with my 15 sec steeps on forward mostly on a boil and then a little cooler 195-200.
Humid storage flavor and smell evident throughout, but eventually this integrates well into the tea producing a strong aged cigar tobacco smell and taste. A touch of camphor early in the first steep. No smoke in this despite the heavy tobacco smell. Even my strainer smells like cigars with just a few tiny bits of tea in it. Still a good astringency here and mildly bitter, the astringency is pleasant though. Fills the mouth and then turns into tongue buzzing, just like cigar smoke does, most noticeable in the first 5 steeps.
Pleasant qi, warming and relaxing, scalp buzzing around my ears but not highly caffeinated. I won’t need to follow this up with a shou. A drink straight out of the gentleman’ club, not a talker, think John Houseman in a leather chair in “Scrooged,” looking up from a newspaper.
This tea is incredibly clean, and red amber. Still got some years to go to mellow out completely. Almost a shame it got pulled out of the Guangdong humid storage, even 3 more years on this would be amazing.
Flavors: Camphor, Musty, Tobacco
Oh boy, this is yummy! Huge roasted leaves, the roast is strong when I opened the pouch. It is definitely not machine roasted, at least not entirely if at all, because it doesn’t have that fake roasted taste I so despise in roasted oolong. I can taste a charcoal here.
The photo on White2Tea shows a yellow soup, but mine is reddish brown. But I brewed it in a zhu ni clay tea pot I use for oolong, maybe the pot added color. Deep spiced fruit, sort of like spiced red apples and nuts. The weather has been cool here so this is a pleasant cup. Or cups, if you will. Got a good six steeps out of 5 grams in 100 ml before the flavor started to fade. Giving it a little rest, might steep it once or twice more before I head off to bed.
Flavors: Apple, Roasted, Spices
Got this as a sample with my recent white2tea order and was so excited to find it in my parcel, it had piqued my interest in the website. I mean, who wouldn’t want to taste cakes specially ordered, to be created for a rich collector? This is my chance to taste vault tea, one wonders what happened to the poor guy. Did he need the money and decide to sell, or is he pushing up daisies and didn’t really get to taste his made-to-order? Either scenario could be me, soon enough, at my age. Another good reason to taste this is because I am finally trying an example of the type of tea leaves a person should look for when selecting to age, for this is a powerful tea leaf.
7 grams in the Yixing with 90 ml water, all of this is loose, and still dark green. Got a small 3 grams of intact cake so I decided to brew the loose and save the 3 g for a light session. One rinse. Tea liquor shows this one has aged! Nicely amber, juicy and thick. First three steeps are bitter and incredibly astringent, which indicates the amazing strength of this leaf. This is not one of those sheng teas which are smooth early on. Yep it is turning, all right, but this has got a good ways to go.
Fifth steep and the bitterness is wearing down somewhat to floral and wood, but still astringent, very dry tongue yet. My throat is nice and comfortable, however. Sixth steep and I need to brew longer than the 10 seconds I’ve been using so far. Tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth now. Not heavily smoked, just a touch of smoke in this tea.
This tea begs to be awakened and put up wet. A couple years of more humid storage would kick start this one and it will age into a tea that will likely put me on the floor. So much potential here! What this seems to be is about as close as I will ever get to a guaranteed stunning age-er. In fact I will bet that this will be amazing if treated with the respect it deserves. Kept very dry, this won’t budge. But it is ready to turn all that power into flavor.
Of course the price is already higher than most people would want to pay at $149.50. What this price buys, however, is a quality of leaf that westerners can’t get outside China or even inside China for that matter. The price buys a guaranteed successful aging project in a rather short term, if watched carefully. I am not going to rate this because it is like rating a girl on the strength of her womanhood. Okay, I need to pry my tongue off the roof of my mouth now and pray the phone doesn’t ring and nobody needs me to talk anytime soon.
Flavors: Astringent, Flowers, Wood