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Recent Tasting Notes
It’s rather hot here today, so sheng is called for and this was the sample that came first out of the tin. This is the last of the samples I bought from Yunnan Sourcing, so I can move on to my remaining Zhi Zheng and White2tea samples next.
This tea has not been heavily compressed and is easily pulled apart by hand. The leaves are large and have a lovely silvery furriness to them.
The dry leaf has a light hay and tropical garden aroma. It is heavy without being excessively floral. By way of contrast, the wet leaf smells more of grapes or something vegetal. The liquor surprises with its caramel and chocolate aroma.
The tea carries the chocolate notes through to the tasting and adds nuttiness and some grassy notes. There is a hint of bitterness that develops at the end of the tasting and into the aftertaste which adds a small amount of astringency that develops slowly while the tea pops on the tongue like space dust. The mouthfeel is rounded like a boiled sweet. There seems to be a lot going on with this tea and it becomes smoother with less bitterness developing as the steeps go on. I’m on my 8th steep now and am very happy with this one. I am glad that I have tried it, but I do have to query the price. I am not certain that it provides value for money, but perhaps the tea will age in interesting ways that justify that price tag.
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Hay, Nutty
After a disappointing session earlier today I picked this one out of the sample tin. I bought it some time back and have been very remiss in sampling it. Fortunately my current sheng binge is really getting me through the samples.
The dry leaf on this is gorgeous. It smells of warm horse and hay. That’s a homely and comforting smell that suggests a great brew ahead. The wet leaf transitions to a smoke and hay aroma, and the soup is orange. The first few steeps were smoky and sweet with raw carrot notes and a citrus sharpness that became a lovely bitterness. There was some astringency and the tea sparkled on the tongue. As I continued to steep and drink, it became smoother with less smoke, no bitterness and more sweetness. The astringency remained with a change towards a grape note by the end of the session. I steeped this over a dozen times and will return to it tomorrow, so I guess you could say its endurance is pretty good. This is more like what I want from a sheng and I am glad I had this one after this morning’s disappointment. It’s a great note to end the day on.
Flavors: Astringent, Carrot, Smoke, Sweet
There is something comforting about this tea, & it felt good to relax with it this afternoon.
I’m in the middle of 2 things from my to do list:
1 – start a batch of cultured green beans, loaded with garlic & dill. This is slow food at it’s finest, as it will take a month or so before they are ready to eat
2 – start a batch of cultured cucumbers, with pretty much the same flavor profile
I also need to braid a ton of garlic & hang it up in the basement to cure!
AND weed my garden…
AND And and….
Another Nicole (and possibly boychik) tea! This looks quite similar to the Yi Mei Ren I had earlier today, but the leaves are thinner. Same jet black spindly texture though. Spider legs! Their dry scent is very mild, I think it’s probably because the tea has been in a clear resealable bag for a while, so most of the scent is gone. Smells lightly of honey, malt, and raisin. I brewed for 3 minutes.
The aroma is very chocolaty, which I was not expecting! There’s also quite a bit of malt along with honey, molasses, and raisin notes. As soon as I taste this, I notice that it has that fennel seed-like spice note, and quite a bit of it. It’s interesting because the other two teas I’ve had with a similar flavor are both Yunnan, while this is a Fujian tea. I wonder why that is… Anyway, the flavor is very malty and deep with molasses adding a background richness, but not sweetness. This tea is definitely quite savory. I don’t get as much cocoa as I would expect from the aroma, but it’s there a little bit. I would describe it as roasted cacao nibs.
Definitely an interesting and enjoyable tea. I find myself wanting to go eat some spices until I find out exactly what that herbaceous spice note is!
Also, no one else mentioned the spice in their notes… But I found it extremely obvious. Is that weird or what?
Flavors: Cocoa, Fennel Seed, Malt, Molasses, Roasted
Kinda wasted my extra time this morning just doing stupid shit on Tumblr when really I wanted to be watching GOT; oh well. At least I got in a few cups of tea including this sample from 221Tea and her hubby Brian!
I’ve been wanting to try it for a while now but couldn’t while I was sick because I was really worried I’d miss out on the subtleties in it. But I feel totally clear and healthy today (it’s a miracle!) so bring it!
This is really nice; it’s gentle and really serene but still has some pretty distinct flavour notes to it. Specifically I picked up cream notes and sweet hay. The tea’s description says “Sweet Cinnamon Spice Aroma” but I really didn’t get that from it. Then again, I brewed it actually using Stacy’s recommended steeping parameters for Doke Silver Needle instead of in short 15 sec. or so infusions so maybe that was the difference. I still have one more cup left. I guess I can save that last cup to try out that way; I don’t typically want seven cups of one tea (and this is supposed to be good for like eight infusions), but maybe it’s worth trying it out just to see the difference in flavour.
Tasted good my way though.
Description also says “very lubricating mouthfeel” which seemed really weird to me, but after drinking it I totally get what they meant. It is weird, but very accurate.
Flavors: Cream, Hay, Honeysuckle
This sample is from Nicole. I’m still working on your box, I promise! :P The leaves are very dark and spindly, a look that I associate with Taiwanese blacks. The leaves themselves are very large, and there are a lot of broken pieces too, which I can see being unavoidable with a tea this fragile. There are also some stems included. The dry scent is all honey and pastry with some dried fruits. I steeped for 2 minutes, but I think I could’ve gone for 3.
The brewed tea smells very dark and malty, with cocoa and sweet raisin notes. Very different from the dry leaf! The taste is not super heavy, most likely because of the shorter steep. It is definitely malty, and there’s a nice dark grain note that isn’t quite like bread. There’s something roasty and toasty about it. I definitely get a bit of bittersweet cocoa, and there’s a lovely rich molasses flavor combined with slightly sweet dark dried fruits (cherries, raisins). I definitely taste an herbaceous spice note, and it reminds me of fennel seed. I notice as this tea cools, I get less of the fruitiness and more of the spice.
A very lovely tea! It reminds me in some ways of Full Steam by Hugo, mostly because of that savory spice. I think next time I’ll try 3 minutes and see how it changes.
Flavors: Cocoa, Dried Fruit, Fennel Seed, Grain, Malt, Molasses, Roasted
I bought a sample of this from Yunnansourcing some time back and have been trying to work through my backlog of samples this past week or so. I was quite excited to try an 11 year old sheng. The dry leaf promised much with its hot hay aroma. It smelt good and promised a robust and pleasing experience. Sadly the liquor failed to deliver. It has a nice bitterness at the back of the mouth and in the throat and is quite smooth, but in the end it left me feeling that something was missing. There is a slight smokiness, perhaps a hint of grape, a soupçon of sweetness but really not much more. Perhaps someone with a subtler tongue could plumb the depths of this tea but I found it rather shallow and my feet remained firmly on the bottom of the pool while my head and body remained above water. It is bland and underwhelming, and failed to enthrall me. If I wished to damn it with faint praise, I would describe it as nice. That is all it is.
Flavors: Bitter, Smoke
Yunnan black, how i missed you!
I tried this tea with less leaf and long infusion as per rumor. The result was malty, somewhat sweet but less honeynotes and a hint of wet leaf and the slightest hint of astringancy during the aftertaste.
Body is full and thick, feels somewhat oily. This setting works well for a single infusion. Taste reminds me a bit of black bi lou chun.
Another aesthetically pleasing tea from Yunnan Sourcing, this Jasmine Silver Needles White Tea smells and tastes just like fresh jasmine—and well it should! The dried needles are very lightweight and shimmery pale greenish yellow in color. Upon infusion they become more smooth and green and look a bit like stalagmites and stalactites, as some point up from the bottom of the glass pot, while others float at the top pointing down.
A truly beautiful infusion: visually, gustatorially, and olfactorily!
The “Spring Snail Shell” dried tea from Yunnan Sourcing is some of the most beautiful I’ve seen. The shape really is snail-shell-like, and the colors range from white to dark green with stunning silken yellow shimmers interspersed. Each piece looks like a tiny sculpture!
With infusion, these tiny snail shells bloom into full leaf sets. This tea is picked as two leaves and a bud. The volume must have quadrupled by the second infusion, with the leaves now large and a striking yellowish green hue. Even if the tea weren’t so tasty, it would be worth infusing just to witness the metamorphosis!
But the tea is tasty, so I have two reasons. I just read the fascinating chapter on Bi Lo Chun in The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea, where I learned that this tea is quite rare, as it is produced only on a small island, Dongting on the Tai Hu (Tai Lake). It’s a very special tea in that it is harvested only once in early spring, before the Qing Ming festival.
One caveat offered by Michael Harney is that this tea goes stale easily. I guess that means that I’d better make this my first green of the day (GOD) more often!
To me the flavor is more subtle and less vegetal than Mao Feng or just about any other China green. The texture is smooth and silken. I have no idea how to describe the scent. Does it smell like roasted endive? What a great comparison (by Michael Harney), but perhaps not that helpful, since for many people it’s bound to be a clear case of obscurum per obscurius!
I like this! Thanks to Stephanie for the sample. I am trying to get through some samples today since another TTB is due to come tomorrow.
I under leafed the first cup. The big wiry ones are hard to measure, so I eyeballed it (despite having a scale right there). It was pretty light. So for the resteep I added the rest and it’s all yummy yammy goodness.
I am fond of the teas from Big Snow Mountain (Da Xue Shan in Lincang) and have picked up a few different cakes over the past six months. My interest actually developed through the Mengku side of the mountain but this particular cake is made using Yong De leaf – dark almost black leaf with just a few brown buds mixed in. Very light and clear tea soup with an enticing aroma – a light flowery aroma. The mouth-feel is strong and fills and stimulates the mouth long after it has been drunk. The taste is very welcoming – smooth, a little green tea like, only the lightest touch of bitterness, just on the edge of sweetness, a nice lingering aftertaste. Bottom line: the tea offers a very nice fragrance with a smooth sip and solid Qi. This one is a keeper for sure and I’ve just ordered a cake since YS has a 15% off sale today.
Today’s first GOD (green of the day) was Yunnan Sourcing Premium Mao Feng. The liquor was peachy green. I noticed that the infused leaves look a lot like yellow tea leaves—lighter greenish yellow in color. They smell more like Mao Feng, however, logically enough. The taste is classic Mao Feng—not over cooked but lightly steamed vegetables. Looking forward to the second infusion…
I’m in a better mood now, just like that. I would like to credit this tea, at least in part, for my mood elevation. I have known for awhile that Raw puerh teas seem to improve my outlook & clarify my thinking, & so there you have it!
Just for the record, I didn’t give this tea the usual gongfu treatment. Instead I put a TB in my Traveler Zita cup, added hot water, & carried it with me last night, getting refills wherever I could. Admittedly, the first cup or 2 was rather potent, but it revved me up nicely for the gig! So just now I gave to leaves a hot rinse to refresh them, & I’m drinking from them again. A little tart & tangy at first, but by now I’m drinking a light plum drink with a sweet taste & a very smooth body. I’m looking forward to a gongfu session, which I’m sure will yield a much better review as well.
This sample came from the lovely and generous Nicole (I’m actually over halfway through the box I think, huzzah!). The leaves are like beautiful Goldilocks curls! They’re large and ringlet-y with just a little bit of dark among the gold. Gorgeous! The dry scent is very mild, but lovely. It’s all sweet hay and honey. There’s a tad bit of malt but it’s very light. So excited for this one! I steeped (excitedly) for 3 minutes at 200 degrees.
So the brewed aroma is much more powerful! There’s a lot of malt and breadiness. I kind of hovered over this one like a little bee while waiting for it to cool enough. So I noticed that when it was freshly brewed and still steaming, there was a lovely honey scent and a tart fruitiness reminiscent of dried cherries. As it cooled further, it transformed into a darker molasses and raisin aroma. Loved them both!
At first sip, I noticed an unusual autumn leaf flavor. It was definitely a lighter version of this taste than I have previously experienced, and it was quite lovely. Sort of a nice mellow roasty note! Then this gave way to lovely creamy and smooth malt, which made me picture biting into a nice fluffy, soft loaf of bread. Mmm! There was definitely also a touch of honey that just accented the bread flavor perfectly. I wouldn’t have complained if there had been more honey, but it’s amazing as-is. Would absolutely buy and drink this! :D
Just as an afterthought, I noticed after I had already brewed this that the recommended temperature is about 185-195 degrees. But I didn’t experience any negative effects from brewing it at a higher temperature. So my question is, is there any reason for me to lower the temperature? Will the flavor be drastically different? Thanks guys. :)
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Creamy, Honey, Malt, Smooth
This was the generous sample I received with my Yunnan Sourcing order.
I think this would appeal to those looking for a nice, robust malty tea.It has malt and tart fruit ( longan, currants) in abundance, but these are supported by dark honey, spice ( cinnamon and a sweet, citrusy, spicy floral), cocoa, salted butter, and alfalfa. It has a really nice balance between the tart, sweet, bitter, and creamy notes. It has a good dose of caffeine.
The tea itself has nice resilient ( they hold up to multiple steeps) leaves, that are a long deep black brown with around 25% gold tips. They have a fresh, floral, hay like tone when dry.
This tea would make a good every day tea for those who prefer a malty tart tea!
Also from Nicole (and I suspect originally from boychik). I figured since I tried the “regular” version of this, I might as well try the imperial grade next so I could compare! These leaves look like miniature versions of the others, but they have less golden color, which I found weird. The dry scent is very mild as well, maybe with a touch more honey? I used the same brewing parameters.
I get the same dark bread and molasses aroma, but with maybe a touch more earthiness and a more toasted scent. The taste is very roasty, which is amazing! Like a slice of dark wheat toast with a little bit of roasted unsweetened nut butter along with the molasses. And I love that so much about this tea! I also get a hint of raisiny goodness. The earth note is still there, but it seems more mellow and refined, I couldn’t compare it to smoke anymore. And I think I catch a hint of floral in the aftertaste? Couldn’t tell you what kind of flower it is, though.
There was a little bitterness in this brew, especially when taking multiple sips in quick succession. So next time I make this I might try a lower water temperature and/or a 2m30s steep. Very good though!
Flavors: Brown Toast, Earth, Floral, Malt, Molasses, Raisins, Roasted nuts
This sample came from Nicole. :) I thought I would try this one since I haven’t tried many Fujian varieties and I would like more experience with them and knowing their “typical” flavors. This one’s leaves remind me of a smaller version of a tippy Yunnan. They’re kind of randomly twisty, half golden and half dark. Their smell is quite mild; I can detect malt and cocoa notes with some honey sweetness. I let it steep for 3 minutes, seems pretty standard for western style.
The aroma is all dark things: brown bread, molasses, raisins, and bitter cocoa. And the taste is quite similar. I definitely get some toasted dark wheat bread with molasses over the top. There’s also a little earthiness that could border on a mild smokiness. The overall texture is very thick and it coats the mouth, further forwarding the molasses note. Overall, a very rich and tasty tea. I see definite similarities to Yunnan with this one, which I didn’t experience as much with Whispering Pines’s Fujian Black. It’s fun to compare! :)
Flavors: Brown Toast, Earth, Malt, Molasses, Smoke
This is a great value tea for ripe pu erh lovers. Nothing terribly special, but a good tea for daily drinking. It has a sweet slightly nutty, mildly earthy flavor that is pleasing. You will not be blown away by this tea but for $15 (as of posting) for a 357g cake, I think you’ll be quite pleased.
This bi luo chun is tightly rolled with about 50% of the visible leaf being silver green downy buds and the other visible portions being a spruce grey green. Once exhausted and unrolled the leaves, the buds and the attached stem are visible and seem to be of good quality.
This is a nice tea with the brightness and sweetness of an early spring tea combined with the nuttiness and density you often get in this tea type.
I steeped 1 TSP of leaf in a 150 ml Gaiwan and using my regular progression of 45 s + 15… I made 6 steeps of this tea.
This tea like the Yunnan white bi luo chun I had ( also from boychik, thanks by the way!), had nice spicy gardenia like floral notes, which in this case were tempered by a lemony note. It also had deepening over time chestnut and plum notes, snap pea, spinach, alfalfa, cream and orange rind. It was slightly astringent while brewed in the low to mid 80’s but had a nice thick and creamy density.
Altogether a really nice tea and a good change from the lighter and very sweet greens I tend to drink most often!
My first tea from Yunnan Sourcing! Thanks go to Nicole for sending me samples of several of their teas. I chose this one to try first because the leaves are so beautiful, like soft golden pine needles. They’re fuzzy and completely gold in color. The smell is all honey, with just a little malt and sweet fruit. I did a 3 minute steep.
The aroma is full of honey as well, with that same malt and a sweet fruitiness that I would describe as golden raisin. But interestingly, the first thing I taste when sipping this is fresh, bright cucumber. Cucumber? In a black tea? But there it is. Alongside malt and a light honeyed fruitiness. I just kept sipping to make sure I wasn’t crazy, and then I asked my boyfriend who agreed that he tasted cucumber. Success! As I let it cool further, the cucumber transformed slightly into honeydew melon, similar but sweeter. The aftertaste is surprisingly floral with a touch of stonefruit.
This is definitely a different flavor profile than any other Yunnan teas I’ve tried so far, and I enjoyed it. Honeydew is one of my favorite flavors and even though it’s odd for a black tea, I thought it worked really well to lighten this tea and add freshness. Definitely recommended!
Flavors: Cucumber, Floral, Honey, Honeydew, Malt
When I place an order from YS, I’ve sort of fallen into the habit of picking out a few puerh to sample. There is a sidebar on the right hand side of their page that lists their new featured products, and this was on that list awhile back, so I got a sample.
I started drinking it yesterday, ran through several steepings & then today after breakfast I gave it a rinse to refresh it & have been drinking it ever since. The dry aroma has that well aged hayloft aroma, but also the promise of a meadow of sweet clover. It really smells good! It’s a very ‘clean’ tasting tea, with a decent energy to it, & although I enjoyed it, it sort of seems a little generic to me.
(Don’t shoot me, I know nothing, Jon Snow!)
Maybe it’s just that the greenness is aged out of it, so although it has a hint of citrus & doesn’t taste bad in any way (obviously, since I have been drinking it on an off for about 24 hours now), there is also nothing that stands out about it, for me. I didn’t find any changes in the flavor profile, for instance.
Of course, what do I know? :)