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Recent Tasting Notes
Thank you Nicole! I’m not sure if I steeped these mostly gold, fuzzy twisties properly. I’ve had similar teas from YS like this one that I adored, but this one seemed to turn out a little light to my tastes. First up was a hint of tomato soup, but then it’s very light and sweet honey. Not much else in the way of flavor, even though the color of the cup looked like a milk chocolate brew, so it should have been like a medium strength black tea. I wish I could say more, but this one was too light! Only one serving left anyway.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 tsp // 12 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 min
I’ve suddenly lost the ability to describe the flavour of black teas, weird. This is a lovely golden bud tea, of which I was lucky to get a sample from Nicole. I put the whole 3g sample in my 100ml gaiwan. So far I’ve done two steepings, of 30 and 40 seconds. The wet leaves have a spicy, baked-good scent that is amazing, but unfortunately not really coming out in the tea liquor, which I suspect is because I’m not yet brewing it correctly. Ok, I just tried a longer, 60sec steep. The liquor is an amber/gold colour, like whiskey. The flavour is a bit earthy and sweet, like I expect from a dian hong, but there’s an acidity that I’m not thrilled with. Just tried another 30sec steep, and the flavour is smoother, but not as aromatic. Hmm, I’ll try a few more steeps but this tea and I don’t seem to be connecting today. Oh well, can’t win ’em all. :) Happy to have had a chance to try it, though!
I used up the whole sample of this tea that Ubacat sent me – about 2 tablespoons.
And boy, was it a great idea! I love the way this tea smells. It’s got a deeper scent than other buckwheat I’ve tried. This one smells like cocoa and honey, actually – like a Crunch chocolate bar, the kind of chocolate that has rice crisps inside it.
This extends to the brewed tea. A lovely golden liquor with notes of honey, puffed rice, and roasted seame seeds. This is pretty awesome! I’ll see if I can get a second steep out of it.
This is the only pu-erh I’ve had where I needed to rinse it out. That first steeping was pungent and overpowering. I was worried that just rinsing it out wouldn’t make much of a difference, but it did. The second steeping, first tasting, was delicious. I didn’t realize how much you would lose in the rinse, but all that is left is drinkable delicious tea. Every steeping there is a significant change in the intensity of flavor, but that initial taste stayed with me through every cup.
I was really nervous about this cold brew since I don’t rinse the leaves before steeping. To my disappointment, there is hardly any flavor in this tea. None of the flavors are there, its just brown water. There is a very slight aftertaste, but nothing distinct. Usually the cold brew brings out everything I love in a tea, but this one was just a disappointment.
Flavors: Astringent, Compost, Dark Wood
Brewed this one up this morning western style.
I smelled the dry leaves from the bag and they smelled really good & fresh but for the life of me I can’t seem to put into words how it smelled. Maybe a deep mossy green?
It’s got a slight sweetness with a dry finish. There’s a slight astringency which I don’t mind. I mostly prefer the smooth greens with no astringency but once in awhile it’s nice to have something different. In spite of how it smelled dry I didn’t get much of the dark green mossy taste to it.
Overall , there was nothing about this tea that stood out as amazing but it was still a good green tea.
Flavors: Astringent, Sweet
From the Sheng&Shou TTB2:
This tea was an interesting journey. It started out with medium body; rich with depth of flavor. Not much aroma. Not sure how to describe the flavor. By the third, steep it was still rich and smooth with different flavor: wood, tobacco, and a little straw. Still very nice. 4th (30s): Rich and sweet and fruity. good texture in the mouth. Bumped my rating up a couple of notches. 5th (40s): Still full: tobacco and wood. Never had much in the way of nose: the one drawback. 5th (60s): Woody and slightly bitter. no longer special.
I’m now at the 7th steep and there is a bit of tar entering the flavor. At its best this was a very enjoyable tea. It was always pleasant and I liked the different faces it showed me as I steeped it. I"m not giving a rating, partly because I have a hard time rating puerh and partly because it was very good at its best, but only average for several steeps.
Next up on the YS sample tour is another excellent young tea from Bang Dong village. The aroma of the dry leaf is uniquely toffee-like and reminds me of my favorite candy bar: Skor! The first steeps are floral with a caramel sweetness and a nice mouth-coating viscosity. A luxurious creaminess emerges around steep three or four along with a tip-of-the-tongue sweetness that persists through the 10 or so steeps.
This tea really performs best when pushed to 30 seconds or so; the creaminess and floral notes are allowed to shine while the bitterness is still kept at bay.
Another very satisfying raw pu-erh which deserves a place in my decidedly lo-fi storage area—a kitchen cabinet that my wife grudgingly sacrificed to my addiction.
Pretty solid. Gains a stronger wood flavor with the large amount of leaf i used(10g), about halfway through i begin to detect subtle hints of stone fruits and a pleasant coffee-like aftertaste. the wet leaf aroma is reminiscent of earthy fallen logs. it does have some old-book type flavor in the beginning but that was short lived about 3-4 steeps in. all in all pretty tasty.
Flavors: Coffee, Maple Syrup, Stonefruits, Wet Earth, Wet Wood
Decent! If let sit for longer infusion times, gains a deep flowery flavor with a charcoal like smokey flavor. after a few more sessions at higher temps i begin to identify the smokey flavor as cedar. i also begin to detect a faint citrus flavor. personally i found it most enjoyable in a large pitcher infuser or teapot western style brewed aggressively with high temps and high amount of leaf. Its definitely worth a try.
Flavors: Cedar, Citrus, Flowers, Smoke
I drank this twice, actually, but this morning it was a sipdown. Thanks to Ubacat for sharing!
I first drank this a few weeks ago after I finished reading Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear – because it contains a dragon that lives in a lake, and they actually call the location in question “Lung Ching”. Hooray for second-world fantasy series that aren’t set in Europe!
I finished it off today because I finally published my review of the Eternal Sky series, of which Steles of the Sky is the conclusion. Review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2015/08/book-review-the-eternal-sky-trilogy-by-elizabeth-bear/
The tea itself is pleasant and nutty, and produced a really pale liquor despite oversteeping. No astringency, which was nice. However, dragonwell teas don’t really ring my bell – I just figured it would be the perfect tea to commemorate this book/series.
Scott Wilson is spot-on with his description of this high-elevation tea, which coats the mouth with a pleasant lubricating sweetness and remains balanced and free from bitterness and astringency through many steepings. Prominent mineral, hay, and soy notes linger in the throat. I feel joyful, calm and focused after drinking this tea; any caffeine effects are sublimated in favor of positive energy.
This is a very fresh tasting and delightful tea that is an absolute pleasure to drink right now and a bargain to boot! If I had any kind of influence I would fear that broadcasting its under-the-radar excellence may cause a run on this sheng, but as it is, I urge anyone interested in a daily drinker to give it a try.
Thanks again, Nicole! I thought this one was very similar looking to Mandala’s Morning Sun, possibly even the same harvest so I wanted to try this one soon after the other to compare. I think it is the same tea. This one did a little lighter than the Mandala BUT that could be a matter of using slightly less leaves this time (or some other parameter being off.) But this one results in three solid steeps that never get that oversteeped oaky leaf flavor. It’s such a complex deep tea though! I do get the barbeque notes at the top of the first steep that someone else mentioned, because at first it’s a little smoky and spicy/peppery. Malty, honey deep amber liquid follow for the remainders of that cup and the other steeps. I wish I had a tea like this in stock! I really wish I didn’t like quite so many varieties of tea.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 tsps. // 10 min after boiling // 2 min
Steep #2 // 6 min a.b. // 2 min
Steep #3 // just boiled // 5 min steep
A pleasant ripe, similar to the 2014 V93 in earlier steeps, with a raw walnut astringency. Later steeps brought more of a traditional wet wood and general roasted nuttiness (think roasted almonds or pecans…less walnuts). Brewed with a heavy leaf to water ratio the tea delivers a pleasant thick viscosity and dark liquor. There is some mouth action with slight numbing in my cheeks, too weak to describe as cooling. For a ripe this new I am content with the available experience; would much rather this over any new V93 any day. At almost $28.60 for 357g this ripe tis but a steal with potential to become a plunder if one chooses to play that aging game.
8g, 60ml gaiwan, 8 steeps.
Acquired sample from a friend!
Flavors: Walnut, Wet Wood
I bought a couple of bings of this three or four years ago and have been carefully curating them so that they could age properly (or I just forgot they were at the back of the box of tea and drank other stuff). I’ve drunk it occasionally since then but singularly failed to write any tasting notes on it. So, in the spirit of procrastinating over writing up the conference I went to, here, finally is my tasting note on the 2008 Feng Shan Yi Hao. Ta da!!
The dry leaf has that gorgeous aroma of warm horse that I like so much. It is a mix of silver and brown small leaves. There is some chopping but there are also whole leaves in the mix. The liquor is dark orange with a lightly floral aroma. It tastes smooth with a silky mouth feel. There is some astringency and a vegetal note. Sweetness develops in the aftertaste which is of an acceptable duration, but there is also a slightly bitter edge to it. This is not a bad tea at all. In fact, it is quite pleasant, especially when the price is considered, but it will not replace the 2005 Tibetan Flame as my everyday puerh, unless it grows significantly in the next few years.
Flavors: Floral, Vegetal
Thanks for a sample of this one Nicole! I expected a light fruity brew, and that is what I got. The first steep from these completely black twisty leaves is delicious – the main (and really the only) note is of a fruit – probably plums. So tasty I expected the Steepster rating to be higher! I must have steeped it perfectly. The second steep wasn’t as magical — it just didn’t have the burst of plums like the first cup. This is a light amber brew and a lighter black tea in general. I wouldn’t mind stocking up on a tea like this one, as I don’t really have any black teas like this around. I’d definitely think about it if the second cup would stick the landing!
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 tsp // 10 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 5 min a.b. // 2 min
This is a rich tasting sweet ripe puerh. There was almost no earthy flavor left at all. This tea may have been only lightly fermented because it has nearly fully cleared. In fact the only tea I have drank with less fermentation flavor is the 2008 Song of Chi Tse. I added a very small amount of sugar to this tea and was rewarded with an intense dates flavor. I think the flavor was there underneath but just needed some sugar to bring it out. Perhaps plums would be just as accurate a description. In any case this tea is so good I am tempted to buy another bing if it is still available the next time Yunnan Sourcing runs a sale.
I steeped this tea eight times in a 120ml gaiwan with 9g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec. If I didn’t want to stop to make something iced I’d say I could have gotten another four or five steeps out of this at least.
Flavors: Dates, Sweet
Another result of sharing a subscription box with Ubacat.
The leaves of this tea are dark green-brown curled nuggets with a thick, vegetal scent that, in addition to the smoke/rubber note I mentioned above, smells somewhat roasted. In fact, it reminds me rather of an oolong than a green tea. Interesting.
I steeped 1.5 tsp of dry leaf in a 12oz mug with 85°C water for 2 minutes. The resulting brew was a pale orange-yellow and smelled similarly to the dry leaf — roasty, somewhat vegetal, but still smoky.
The taste was similar. However, I think this tea is better if you don’t think of it as a really green tea, but as a sort of lightly roasted oolong. Full review at http://booksandtea.ca/2015/08/tea-reviews-yunnan-sourcing-july-2015-jade-tea-box/
Ubacat and I are sharing a YS monthly box now, and I’m really happy!
The dry leaf of this tea was long, spindly and dark brown, like little twigs or spider legs, and had a lovely autumnal, roasty smell like corn or barley. Unlike the other two teas in the July 2015 box, I decided to steep it multiple times in a gaiwan rather than do a single western-style steep. I did a 5-second rinse with 90°C water, then 5 steeps of increasing length, starting at 15 seconds and ending at 30 seconds.
The tea from the first steep was amber like beer and had a thick, soupy mouthfeel with a grassy aftertaste. I think I also smelled some orchid in the cup. The aftertaste was sharp, slightly bitter, and had a fresh greenness at its heart, like the inner flesh of a plant’s stem.
But what were steeps 2-5 like? Check out the full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2015/08/tea-reviews-yunnan-sourcing-july-2015-jade-tea-box/
Flavors: Green Wood, Molasses, Orchid, Roasted Barley
What a nice middle aged tea. Thanks to Brenden for putting a sample of this into the TTB. It brews a deep amber color, with fairly thick body. The storage has been dry. It is not terribly complex, I’d say it is nice and basic. Early steeps have some smoke, which eventually clears. There is little bitterness or astringency, which is part of why the flavor is simple and straightforward. Later steeps are more on the fruity side. I got plenty of infusions out of it.
Refreshingly different! I am drinking it grandpa style and really enjoying how long it lingers on my palate :)
I haven’t had yabao in over a year. I do enjoy it from time to time. It makes me curious to try an aged version.
Thanks for the swap LuckyMe!
I have both the 2013 and the 2014 versions of this tea, both picked in spring. I haven’t compared them, I guess I should, but they are both awesome anyway.
This isn’t the smokey kind of zheng Shan xiao zhong. It’s awesomely bold and chocolatey, thick mouthed, and very reminiscent of Laoshan Black (Verdant) only without the bean taste. Delicious, and my first tea of the day. I went with 2 tsp + Mug X 3/5