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Recent Tasting Notes
Delicious! Tastes like raspberries and cream, with a hint of dark chocolate. So smooth. Mmm! This is the first unflavored black tea that tastes like raspberries to me. Usually fruity black teas taste like cherry or stone fruits. It’s also extremely affordable. You probably could get about 20 servings out if it for the cost of one fancy drink at Starbucks! I didn’t really notice a tea drunk effect…maybe I need to use more leaf. I’ll try that next time!
Go this on my last order to try as Jinggu teas can be quite good.
I broke out 10 grams and went with the gaiwan to brew with. I gave it a quick rinse and let it sit a few minutes to open up. I saw a recent post someone else had reflected on their way of letting the tea breathe before brewing fully. It is said to akin to opening a bottle of wine to breathe before you pour it. I think it works for puerh as well.
The tea, it brew up nicely aromatic with a nice golden yellow hue to it. Very clear in the cup. It is semi-thick with some bitterness at first. Just a whisp of the smoke is left in this and not really noticeable till after the swallow. It gives some buttery, salty creamy notes and seems to be active and stimulating. The notes of wet hay and floral are in there as well.
An interesting one and not bad for the price it is offered at. The leaf material can be seen opening up after a few infusions. Nice size some displaying a leaf and a bud on a stem in there. Nice pungent and pretty tasty. A nice sweetness in here as well.
Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Floral, Smoke, Sweet
Certified organic + authentic ancient arbor leaves from Pasha Mountain means that my expectations for this tea are rather high. It does not disappoint. Attractive whole leaves make up the cake and it is full of silver needle-like tips. Sweet smell comes from the dry leaves but after the first rinse, the smell intensifies. Deep gold tea liquor which is beginning to reveal a light orange hue. The fragrance from the cup is lovely. The tea is mellow and smooth with a cooling sweet sensation after the 2nd cup. Definite tobacco notes revealed in the sip but this balances out the sweetness. Nice mouth and throat feel with good staying power – 10 steeps for me before I decided it was time to move on to another tea. Haiwan produced this 2006 Pasha as both a 200g and 400g cake. I have the smaller 200g cake but YS now lists only the 400g at the high price of $110 (reportedly $50 in late 2012). I purchased my 200g cake from Angelina’s Teas (located right here in North Carolina) at the very reasonable price of $32.
From the Sheng and Shou TTB.
This is good shou. Smooth, clean, with caramel and cocoa notes. I really liked it. If I hadn’t already found some other good shou, which I plan to buy, for half the price, I would consider getting this. As it is, the two other 357g cakes should keep me busy. ;)
From the Sheng and Shou TTB.
I picked a sample of this tea due to the unique addition of snow chrysanthemum. I’ve never tried snow chrysanthemum before and I liked the look of the cake with the little orange speckles.
It turns out, this is a nice, smooth, sweet ripe, with an odd taste. Kinda floral, kinda spicy, kinda like pickles as Sarsonator noted! I’m not a floral fan, but someone who is might like this. It has a good quality base. I guess I should have expected floral with it being studded with flowers and all. ;) Not bad, but not a flavor I’d seek out.
Thanks so much for the sample, boychik, and for introducing me to cheap, yet delicious shou! I was beginning to veer more towards sheng and away from shou, but you brought me back to the “dark side!” Ha!
This is excellent. Clean, super sweet, delicious! This is like a vanilla caramel shou. So yummy! Adding this to my order list. ;)
The cake itself fragrant. The fuzzy silvery buds are mostly intact, quite attractive, and can be easily picked off the cake. The tea has distinct notes of ripe Korean pear and honey. Later steeps reveal more interesting textures and subtle sweet/savory/nutty flavors. It’s very flowery and light with a velvety texture that may evolve with age.
The dry leaf is intact, attractive, and has a candy-like fragrance. The wet leaf is especially fragrant, reminding me of a wild orchid and sweet ripe plum (hence the name of the mountain where it’s from). The brew is pale bright yellow, pure in flavor, crisp, smooth buttery texture, very flowery, and sweet like candy-cane. I can walk away from this tea now and still taste it in my entire mouth and in my throat. Makes me wonder why people purchase expensive oolongs when you can get much more complexity and superior aftertaste from quality sheng like this one.
This is a very interesting selection from Yunnan Sourcing recommended by a few whose opinions I value. Reportedly a special production by the Mengku Tea Factory made with material from 400-500 year old trees. According to YS, the tea is 100% Ban Zhang Wild Ancient Arbor. The leaves of the cake appear to be clean, thick and stout. These leaves yield a dark gold tea liquor which is bright and clear. There is an enticing floral-fruity scent on top of a smooth woody base which is long lasting and powerful. The sip is full and complex yet strongly sweet. There is a pleasant bitterness but this quickly dissipates then a full, delicious, sweet taste dominates and remains in the mouth for quite some time. Dominant presence in the mouth – the tongue and mouth tingle after just a few small sips. The Qi comes forward after just one cup and builds over several infusions. I find this to be a very enjoyable tea.
Upon trying this tea the day after it arrived, I noticed the smokiness overwhelmed all of its other nuances. I decided to return to it in a week or so. I find the flavor of teas change in a positive way after being broken into. After brewing it again 2 weeks later I realized I was right. This time the smoke was in the background and the savory, piney, honey-like, camphor, mineral, deep forest flavors showed themselves more prominently. The leaf aroma reminded me of other quality shengs I’ve tried. This tea definitely has a rustic quality that adds to its charm. I imagine it will only improve with age as the smokiness gives way to its true nature.
Very easy to separate into a nice pile of unbroken leaf. Primarily whole long, healthy-looking leaves mixed with only a few pieces and stems. Pleasant aroma from the dry leaf. The wet leaves smell sweet – honey-like but a complex and full aroma. Clear, deep gold tea liquor. The scent of the liquor is surprisingly light – leather and tobacco with sweet and floral notes mixed in. Crisp, bright and clean flavor in the sip. Lighter at first but it intensifies in later infusions. A quiet sweetness with a complimentary spiciness. Full and powerful mouthfeel. Good texture throughout the first 5-6 infusions and then it fades. A pleasant bitterness builds which eventually becomes mouth drying. Nice aftertaste but it does not linger too long. Good Cha Qi and the tea left me with a welcomed calm energy. I only picked up a sample from YS because these cakes have been sold out for a long time. Even if the cake was still available, I doubt that I would purchase it for the tea lacks the complexity and durability I would expect of material from the Banzhang area.
I’ve had this ripe puerh cake sitting around for a while, so I figured I should get around to reviewing it before I finish it off. I purchased this puerh cake at Tea Trekker in Northampton, Massachusetts during my marathon seven hour drive from Syracuse, New York to Portland, Maine. I had just ordered three or four new cakes online, but I couldn’t pass up a well-reviewed, cheap shou. I was also kind of wrapped up in the novel experience of being able to buy puerh tea in a physical tea shop instead of just on the internet. I later found the same cake for a lot cheaper on Yunnan Sourcing, so perhaps the whole buying tea in a store thing is a bit overrated.
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This cake is from Yong Pin Hao Yi Wu Tea Factory, which I had never heard of before purchasing this cake. As you could probably guess, the factory is located in Yi Wu, Mengla County, Xishuangbanna Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China (phew!).
Xishuangbanna is all the way in the south of Yunnan Province, right up against the border with Laos and Myanmar/Burma. Yi Wu is in the northeastern part of Xishuangbanna.
I couldn’t find much interesting information about Yong Pin Hao online, but I did discover that Yong Pin Hao has been producing puerh tea since the early 2000’s, a relative newcomer to the Yunnan puerh scene. The cake is comprised of 2008 leaves, and was pressed in 2009.
I used about nine grams of leaves for this review. This puerh cake was lightly compressed and very easy to break into pieces. Like most shou puerhs, the leaves are predominately dark brown or black. Some of the leaves have some really neat golden hairs.
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The smell is a bit odd here. It’s not that this puerh smells bad, it’s just completely devoid of any aroma whatsoever. At least there is no yucky fishy/funky/bad puerh smell.
The back of the cake seemed to have a lot more of the gold colored leaves.
I broke out my shou puerh Yixing pot from Yingge, Taiwan for this session. I decided to be a bit minimalist and go without the tea table for this review. I was locked out of my dorm room, so I was left with nothing but my lovely tea towel from Yunnan Sourcing. Check out the Ancient Tea Horse Road design!
I started off with a ten second rinse to open up the leaves, and then moved to quick ten second steeps.
The first steep was a nice light brown with a red tint. The most noticeable aspect of this tea is the very light fermentation. This does not taste like most generic “budget” puerhs since it is much lighter in color and flavor. The camphor notes are also very strong and in your face, which I really enjoyed. Oddly enough, I’m not entirely sure what camphor is or why it is a common flavor note in puerh teas, but I have tasted enough puerhs that I can recognize it. The camphor flavor is really hard to describe, just like the muscatel note in Darjeeling teas.
The second steep tasted similar, but was a bit darker since the leaves opened up a bit more.
If you can imagine the typical shou puerh taste, but just lightened up a bit, then you have the general idea of how the tea tastes. This tea has a really nice thirst-quenching, “juicy” quality to it. Perhaps this is a result of the lighter fermentation. The mouthfeel is very smooth and thick, almost coffee-like, even with shorter steeping times.
This puerh is definitely more nuanced and subtle that most budget level shou puerhs out there.
The finished leaves were pretty generic, nothing too interesting. The leaves were quite varied, with some full sized leaves and some leaves that were tiny and broken up. Judging by the leaf appearance, this is not a super high quality puerh, but it certainly gets the job done when I am craving a ripe puerh.
This tea might not wow you with its complexity, but it is a solid “daily drinker” shou puerh. It is definitely a step above most of the $20-$30 shous I have tried. One reviewer on Yunnan Sourcing describes this tea as “the standard of affordable quality shu.” I would definitely agree with that statement. I’m not sure if I would buy this tea again, but I’m certainly happy that I purchased it.
I found the notable light fermentation of this tea to be quite pleasant and unique, and it certainly fulfills the shou puerh craving that I often get late at night. For some reason, ripe puerhs don’t seem to affect my sleep as much as other teas, even though they do contain a sizable amount of caffeine.
After looking through my reviews so far, I have also noticed that I seem to be much more picky with my sheng puerh tastes. Budget sheng puerhs can often be quite terrible, but cheaper shou puerhs seem to be more consistent across the board. Perhaps by shou puerh palate is not as refined. Luckily I have plenty more puerh cakes to work with!
~“I am in no way interested in immortality, but only in the taste of tea.” ― Lu T’ung (Chinese tea poet)
Guess what? I quit my job at the school yesterday! YEAH! I was really trying to hold out for the last 6 weeks of the school year, but yesterday I realized I was done. The constant disrespect & lack of interest from the students, the stress of all the noise, lack of sleep…It finally got to me, so I calmly packed my stuff up at the end of the day (I’ve already been packing things up, so there wasn’t much left anyway), and resigned. I’m so happy to be home, returning to my pajama lifestyle of students, gigs, gardening, food, & tea! Now I’ll have time to really enjoy my tea drinking & reviewing again too!
And here’s a tea I haven’t reviewed!
I have a ton of this in my cupboard, both from my own purchase of some, & from Sil sending me a baggy full. I guess I’m just going to have to say that although I adore most of the black teas from YS, this is probably among my least favorites, which is why I haven’t reviewed it before now. I just haven’t found the best way to steep it. I’ve tried several, & today I’m trying it gongfu: 5G + 4oz tiny teapot X 15/30/45/60 sec etc
The resulting tea is tart & tangy, kind of like under ripe apricot. There are also bready notes & herbaceous notes, & although it’s drinkable, it’s not really something that appeals to me this morning. I also have tea from Da Hu Sai Village 2013 that has been processed as a Sheng Puer, & I have a feeling that is a much better use of these leaves, although I haven’t tried that one yet. I think the tangy qualities will translate wonderfully.
Anyway, I’m going to keep trying this black version in a variety of ways, starting with turning the rest of what Sil sent me into a cold brew. Hopefully one day this week I’ll also try the Sheng to compare them :)
Addendum: SO it turns out that this makes an excellent cold brewed ice tea! Just thought you guys would like to know!
This isn’t like any tea I’ve ever tried. The brick is so dense it requires a chisel. For sure, this is not typical cultivated tea. The previous tasting note called this thing “Wild Child”. I don’t think I could’ve come up with a better name. I’m picking up deep forest flavors (something I love in sheng pu’er): pungent herbs, vegetal sweetness, pine, camphor, smoke, and pleasant tobacco notes (there is such a thing). I don’t detect any bitterness since I’m doing 5 second steeps. That said, DO NOT over brew this one. This one is full-bodied, interestingly textured, has a long aftertaste and strong cha qi, moving from the mouth down towards the gut and through the rest of the body after each sip. Given it’s potency and complexity, I’d say it would age nicely.
Still pretty new to Pu-erh.
I really enjoyed this tea. Gungfu style in a 80ml Gaiwan. Sweet boxed yellow cake aroma. Cornbread. Purple color liquor. Smooth and easy to put down many cups. I think I’m getting the feel for age on a Pu-erh with this one.
Flavors: Cake, Caramel, Smooth, Sweet
Just starting in the world of Pu-ehr so I don’t have the best vocabulary yet. This one is enjoyable overall.
Scent of wet wood from liquor. Aroma of sweet candy from lid. Cacao, smokey flavor, yet very smooth and not bitter at all. Sweet actually.
Brewed in my glass flask as close to Gung Fu style as I can get. Quick steeps.
Flavors: Cacao, Chocolate, Smoke