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Recent Tasting Notes
Made the mistake of brewing the entire 20g at once in my ceramic tea pot. I’m still not half through it and I’ve already had to keep the leaves in the fridge overnight. Luckily it’s a super accessible shou and my SO who doesn’t really drink tea, let alone puerh, has started to ask for a cup or two.
It’s one of those shous that brew up nice and super black. Nice sweet creamy flavor with a really subdued earthiness instead of that strong “dirt” taste that usually throws off people who I’ve shared puerh with. It would be nicer if the melons were half the size since breaking them apart seems to me to be more work than if there was just a small cake, but otherwise this was a lovely drinker. I only wished I had waited until colder weather to try this.
From the May 16 W2T club
One of the lessons I was probably supposed to take away from school but clearly did not was to do your reading ahead of time. As I did not, I sit here rather too late at night with this hong cha that just won’t quit tempting me to infuse again, when more caffeine is the last thing I need. Should have heeded the other tasting notes regarding this tea’s unusual durability.
It’s like that old cliche – you made your tea, now you can’t lie down because of it.
Flavor notes omitted since TwoDog spoiled the answers already. Quasi-related aside, though – I’ve had yams that tasted (and definitely smelled) less like yams than Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong spring 2
The last from Dark Matter 2016 series
Well, before I jump into the tea, as of Sunday, I’ve a BA in Education; however, I must now go through more classes to become a certified History/English teacher. I went the long route, but I’ll be done within two semesters.
Now, the tea….
I’ve been drinking plenty of this. I took 7g of the melon and used a 150ml Gawain for the tea. I must say that the past couple days have been enjoyable with this tea. I must say that the wood, wet earth, thick mouth-feel (creamy?), moss, and cocoa notes are pleasant. I told my wife that this was similar to a thick dark beer; quite malty. Anyway, I would say that it’s a “Winter” tea, since I usually go for White, Green, Raw pu, or Oolongs in the Summer months. However, this is a typical morning tea for me….And considering that the price is right, when I’m able to purchase a large quantity in the Fall, I will.
Overall, it’s a solid tea. I’d just prefer to drink it often in the colder months.
Flavors: Cocoa, Creamy, Earth, Malt, Moss
I boiled up a session with this tea for my daughter and her boyfriend this last weekend, 5g tea, 500ml water, boiling in a small pot. I try to keep the boil low so that too much water does not boil away.
This session I boiled the leaf for 10 minutes (the soup was not red enough for me after 5) and poured off 250ml which I replaced with fresh water and reboiled. I repeated this several times, increasing the boiling time like 15, 20, 25 min. Even after the 4th boiling this tea was still making fairly dark soup but we had to knock it off by that point and I was not ashamed to discard the leaves.
Flavors: Smooth, Spices, Wood
First I have to say that I am rather miffed that W2T doesn’t sell this one, because man is it good! I could see it becoming a daily drinker for me for sure, but alas, no dice. These pretty little leaves are made from the Cai Cha varietal, which is pretty popular in Wuyi, used to make Jin Jun Mei, Lapsang Souchong, and Tan Yang Gongfu, so it gets around. The aroma of the dry tea is nom…om nom nom. Strong notes of chocolate, and you know, the info sheet wasn’t lying when it said cumin, and that is pretty awesome. There is also a creamy undertone and a slightly tangy dried fruit note as well.
Brewing it up, the aroma of the tea is immensely rich, heavy notes of chocolate and molasses with notes of saffron and malt. The aroma and taste remind me of a cake I make on occasion using chocolate, saffron, cumin, and lots of molasses…this cake is stupidly rich, especially when you count the saffron vanilla glaze. Seriously the similarity between this tea and my cake concoction are uncanny, I never need to go on the hunt for cheap saffron again if I just keep drinking this tea. You can get many steeps out of these tea, it has decent longevity.
This one is made from a wild varietal native to Wuyi, and of the teas from this set I have looked at so far it sports the largest leaves. Big ol curly things that certainly look like something from Wuyi! The aroma is GOOD, I spent the entire time my kettle was zombie-ing its way to life sniffing the leaves, and I picked up notes of honey and cocoa, yams and toasted oats, and a distant floral note reminiscent of magnolias of all things. I think this is the first red tea I have had that has that note, which is awesome.
Awww, the floral notes vanished upon steeping, but that is ok, because the taste is still really good. I am not sure it is some sort of psychosomatic thing, but wild trees always seem to taste…well…wild, more like nature and less like food. True there are the notes of yams and cocoa, but there are note of pine wood, mineral, mountain air, and in later steeps the gardenia notes gently return. It is like walking in the mountains and drinking water from a spring…if somehow that water was already tea. This was a wonderful session that lasted many steeps, drinking it made me feel like I was in another place, even if the effect was all in my brain, it was nice regardless.
Ah, good old ‘Lapsang Souchong’ as it is more commonly known in this part of the world, though this is a far distant from the usually coarse and smoky tea that gets brewed in a big ol’ pot on a cold day, this is refined and not at all smoky. This is also super fresh, it and the next tea were both processed a few weeks ago. The aroma of the leaves is yammy and yummy, notes of sweet potatoes and peanuts blend with a piney resinous note, like this tea was stored in a pine barrel.
Tasting the tea, it has a slight tannic quality at the start, not bitterness, just more dry than super smooth, it goes well with the malt, yam, and pine wood quality, giving this tea more briskness than the previous one. In the later steeps it gets sweeter, the pine notes become more like sap and the starchy yam notes definitely turn into straight up brown sugar sweet potatoes. This tea has some serious longevity, I was able to sit with it through many many steeps.
5 grams to ~90 ml with ~200 F water, +/- 5 degrees. A darker yellow gold liquor than the Spring and Autumn from the basics set, it appears to be slightly cloudier as well. Initial aroma smelled of honey sweet grass, although the taste had only a touch of sweet to it. The first steep was thin, almost, with a lingering sweet note I enjoyed.
Second steep may have been for too long as it definitely hit a bit hard with the bitter tobacco taste and astringency. Third steep was overwhelming tobacco, bitter, and astringency—my best succinct description of the taste of the later steeps is if you took tobacco, stuffed it into an old shoe for a day, lit the shoe on fire, waited a minute to rescue the contents and then were to brew the results into a flavor. I tried a couple more steeps just to see where this went from here, the answer was not very far. With short-ish steeps, the tobacco bitter becomes tolerable, but still a predominant note. A little more hay and light, but nothing I particularly enjoyed.
The aftertaste was a nice, smooth pu erh savory taste. So far, I’d say I preferred it over the Spring 2015, which I had a hard time noticing much else besides the raw/sour bitter and the tart astringency. The Autumn had some of that raw edge still as well, but definitely more mellow with some sweeter characteristics and grass hay tastes becoming stronger, although still not something I’d want to drink for pleasure. The Huangpian was less of an immediately enjoyable flavor to the others even, but is something heavier, with more depth and flavors that I am more curious about to see what the magic of time does to it.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Grass, Honey, Smoke, Tobacco
Amazing bitter dark, dark chocolate aroma. Taste does NOT taste like chocolate whatsoever, really, despite the aroma, :(. It has strong malt base, color is not as dark as I would have expected from the smell. Definite earthy bitterness (almost musty in the same way very dark chocolate starts to taste like musty dirt), but it doesn’t really increase across steeps and is very manageable, the taste was kind of similar in profile to mild/moderate strength coffee in a lot of ways in my opinion. Didn’t really get much cumin or cinnamon until the fifth steep (started catching a tingle of cinnamon or something on the tongue at that point). Held up a lot better to resteeping than the other two I tried so far.
I think what I’m starting to learn from this month’s White2Tea club is I don’t really like black/red tea very much, heh.
Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Malt, Musty
Second, back to back with Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong Spring 1 for comparison (shout out White2Tea club, :P!). Much more tempered, lighter malt aroma compared to the Spring1, hints of wood and mineral. A pretty, but confusing shade of red orange or orange red, it is less cloudy than the Spring1 as well.
Much smoother in taste than the Spring1 with a shockingly sweet back of the throat taste comparatively. Still malty, but more rich chocolate in tone with a mineral fullness (not getting any pine, really though, despite the description…), much more enjoyable than the Spring1. More noticeable astringency due to the taste, but not really that much overall. Slight hint of bitterness to the aftertaste, becoming stronger with increasing steeps again.
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Mineral, Sugar, Wood
Rich aroma with strong chocolate tones. Beautifully bright red orange color with a hint of opacity. Leaf is black and long, a little twisted. Flavorwise, strong and rich with a malty base and a hint of pine at the back. Earthy vegetal taste (yam?), surprisingly bitter and raw aftertaste to the back of the throat that gets stronger in later steeps, perhaps due to it being processed only about 3 weeks ago (kind of starts approaching the taste of dirt and 100% dark chocolate, honestly). Overall, quite bracing. Not a lot of astringency, but what’s there lingers in the wake of the bitterness with a bit of a cool tingle.
Lazy, so I’m putting my notes for Spring 2 here too:
Spring 2 was definitely the better of the two. The leaves were floral in aroma over the standard malt, which is a trend I’m starting to notice with some of the higher quality blacks. The liquor was a more orange, less red color than many black teas. Still had quite a bit of a raw, sour potato quality that the Spring 1 had, although less intense (I’m guessing this is due to how new these teas are at a few weeks, as it also exudes a rather exuberant energy despite/because of this). This may be more due to my having more practice at brewing blacks, though, at this point then the teas themselves…
Anyway, the yam flavor is definitely stronger and more prominent on this one. It stands out and perseveres throughout the steeps, although the malty, earthy cocoa-ish profile is here as well and most prominent in the beginning, giving way to that really distinct earthy sweet tuber-ish taste after a couple of steeps.
It was interesting and more pleasant to drink than Spring 1 with a lighter taste overall and better balance of flavors, I can see why it’s higher quality. I’ll have to try the Spring 1 again tomorrow just to make sure this is a fair assessment, though, haha.
Flavors: Chocolate, Earth, Malt, Pine, Potato
White2Tea mentions in their description that this is a great entry point for beginner ripe drinkers however it should also be stated that it’s pretty happening for us non beginners as well. This is the shu you want when it’s time to sit back and relax with a good sized pot and plenty of time on your hands maybe even a friend or two.
10g of dark chunk, 180ml zini, boiling temperature, one rinse which fell into my mouth and down my throat by accident, strange how those things happen. 10, 10, 15, 20…and up increments for endless amounts of creamy, earthy sweet, little medicinal tang, ripe infused comfort. Pretty gorgeous looking hues of molasses too. I keep saying I’m more of a sheng guy but these lovely little shu chunks keep crossing my puerh path. If they keep tasting this good and making me happy I can live with that.
Note: Another Dark Matter 2016 selection.
Let me preface this by saying that I am a bit of a Pu stuffed tangerine, mandarin crazy man. Liu Bao stuffed too for that matter. I’ve also been a bit of a citrus nut in general especially oranges. However that being said after reading so many tastings regarding this tea I was a bit curious about what my own experience would be. In the end it was one of my most enjoyable Dark Matter 2016 sessions.
The heavy citrus added a really nice tone to the tea, perhaps taking a forefront to the leaf itself but that’s easily fixed by changing the 8/1 ratio recommended by White2Tea. The color of the liquor was between dark brown sugar and light brown sugar depending on infusion number. There was a creaminess to it too giving it a beautiful sheen as well as mouthfeel. Just over 7g of leaf with less than a gram of peel in a 150ml jingdezhen at 212F; no rinse and over a dozen steeps. I will use more leaf or a smaller pot next time around as I really would like to taste this even heavier. I also look forward to not only what this could become with some age but also to the Black Star I purchased too.
PS. This packs some seriously good after feels…
The session: https://instagram.com/p/BE7b_lnBUvR/
The citrus collection:
I don’t have much to add to the notes that are already here except for the fact that no one has mentioned stonefruit, which seems quite obvious to me. I get about 8-10 good steeps with these brewing parameters and start adding more time toward the end to stretch it a bit further. Love this tea every time I drink it.
Flavors: Floral, Mineral, Roasted, Stonefruits
I was curious about this tea, for I have varied experiences with Jincha. The dry leaf is heavily dark with brilliant gold spotting. I take in an unusual fungal with fish under-toned scent. This aroma kinda reminded of freshwater lakes. I also note strong ripe fruit scent in the background. I warmed up my gaiwan and prepared for brewing. The scent deepens to a very distinct “oaty” with dense wet wood scent. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The taste begins dry along with a good bite. The dryness comes from prominent leather toes and wood tastes. A mild sweetness lulls the throat in the aftertaste. This tea is fairly decent with a lot of transitioning flavors. The brew becomes a lot more smooth with some light sweetness that follows the dryness. The tea is still cloudy and will be needing more time to situate itself. The aftertaste becomes nice and long and sweet. This is a very typical and clique Mengahi Shou, and it would make for a pretty solid daily drinker. The qi is warming and percolating in the head and back of my neck. I like this.
Flavors: Drying, Earth, Fishy, Leather, Oats, Sweet, Wood
Had this with 4g and boiling water in my 60mL gaiwan. I was worried it’d be pretty bitter, but I hardly found it to be so at all, probably in part due to the fact I kept steep time low for the first 4-5.
Early steeps had a powerful, woody, kind of nutty taste with a bit of a bitter finish. As the session went on, the bitter finish turned into a mostly sweet taste, but the tea did have a decent mouth-drying effect. Flavors remained mostly the same throughout the session, so not particularly interesting, but was not at all unpleasant.
Flavors: Bitter, Nutty, Smoke, Wood
Got one of these as part of Dark Matter 2016! Seems to brew better with a pretty high amount of tea. Got better results with 5.5g than with 4g in my 60mL gaiwan, but I still have to try something more in the middle of those numbers.
For the 5.5g session, I tasted a lot of wetness in the early steeps, which went away, at least on the front of the sip, around steep 4 or so. After that I got a few creamy, sweet, woody steeps with a kind of wet mossy aftertaste. Around steep 8, the aftertaste started getting a bit too funky/weird for me so I called it. I seem to be finding myself less a fan of ripe puerh lately, but I did enjoy this session at least to some degree.
Flavors: Creamy, Sweet, Wet Moss, Wet Wood
I found the best results using 3g in a 60mL gaiwan with 200 degree water. With too much leaf/too hot of water, the initial steeps were an almost unpleasant bitter sourness. This tea did still yield some bitterness even when brewed like this, though the finish was a sweet vegetal or grassy flavor which did possess a slight sour note. Later steeps were more vegetal sweetness than anything else.
Flavors: Grass, Hay, Sour, Sweet, Vegetal
So I was talking to Andrew on Facebook about the Dark Matter and he tells me to “Beware of the Fish Ball”
I won’t lie I kinda got excited and I was like which one is that(I hadn’t read the reviews yet) he says it’s This Red Star so I was like Hells Yeah! I’m bout to try that shit! So I read the reviews and all and everybody says it’s fishy and such and that made me want to try it even more. I know that “Fishy” in a tea is NOT something you want I even heard it was bad storage bad process and lots of other things that makes one “Fishy” I’m not sure myself but i know that it’s not something most people want or get excited over.
Well if you know me from Steepster or on Facebook and have talked to me or followed my reviews here for the past few years then You already know that I AM WEIRD and I like weird tasting things, So I never really much mined a Fishy Puerh.
Anyways I read all the reviews on here for this one and was like Yeah! I can drink this and was looking forward to it and I THOUGHT I was prepared for it and for the most part I was, I WAS totally prepared for a nasty FishyPu But I wasn’t prepared for a “Tea Drunk” effect lol.
I’m Pretty BUZZED at the moment and not sure if its a good thing or a bad thing, I also probably drank too much of this one.
First the Aroma, Pretty nice aroma when dry but OMG bad really bad like Oranges and Spice mixed with Shrimp extremely fishy when wet, the fishy smell just got worse and worse.
Now the Taste, I couldn’t really taste much of the orange peel at first and the fishy was not too bad in the flavor as it was in the aroma, not at all offensive to me(I enjoyed it), After a few steeps I got some mushroomy flavors in there and some spicy and fruity notes from the orange peel, the fishy taste seem to get stronger and stronger with each steep but still not too bad to me,to be kinda fishy it still tasted rather clean to me actually. Tho still fishy in taste I think a lot of that may come from the aroma playing a part on the taste buds perhaps because the aroma is SUPER fishy and funky, the tea is actually tasty and had a good Qi to me and gave me a really nice buzz. It was very strange and different but I enjoyed it a lot, I think it just needs some air or to be aged a bit. Reminds me of back when I first started drinking Puerh, I had lots of fishy ones at first lol.
And the Buzz, Damn the buzz was really good, I quite sure I drank way too much of this one because I enjoyed it so much, I could feel the energy from it within the first 3 steeps, it made feel all warm and fuzzy inside and even made me sweat a bit, It reminded me of some of my very first Tea Highs(I miss those). After a while I turn my head and get the tracer kinda effect, yeah! :) It’s kinda like smoking a doobie and kinda like something I never felt before, I enjoyed it.
I actually enjoyed this one a good bit, tho I’m not going to give it a rating until i air it out a bit because I’m quite sure it will be better next time(If I don’t drink it all up already). I know I drank too much of this one too, Partly because it was tasty and Partly because it made me feel good, I loves the tea high.
Flavors: Fishy, Fruity, Mushrooms, Spices
Okay this is actually kind of amusing. I tried this tea from my group-buy stash today and I was like “Well, the orange flavor is fun but what the heck is THAT?” so I went and read other people’s reviews and discovered that the weird flavor is called “fishy” and now I’m back to tasting the tea and going “yeah, I can see why you would call it that.” I guess now I know what a “fishy” flavor in tea tastes like, which may be useful for warning people away if I ever come across it again. Really disappointed though because fish and orange aren’t the best flavor combination lol. Although, what with the number of recipes that call for lemon on fish, you’d think they’d have a good chance of tasting okay together (oranges are basically like sweeter lemons right?) but no. I’d really hate to just throw this tea out though, now that I’ve steeped it, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do.
I tried this today because of other people reporting it fishy and undrinkable.
For the record my mandarin pu came not thru Dark Matter group buy but thru W2T club or Black friday, i dont recall exactly. i just know i have it since November-December 2015.
Took 10g for 140ml Jian Shui pot. double rinse (i usually do once,but because of “fishy” reports i decided to rinse it twice)
212F and short steeps
This pu has fermentation flavor as any young shou does. i couldnt find anything fishy or off putting. around 3rd-4th steep it became spicy. i believe its mandarin peel. it wasnt unpleasant, peppery-cinnamon y spice. creamy, some minty cool notes,not strong. I think its Bulang shou but i might be wrong.
This tea is perfectly drinkable if you drink young shou.
my only guess it might be different batch.