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Recent Tasting Notes
I’ve been wanting to try quality Wuliang sheng for a while and my samples just arrived last week.
I noticed my experience with this tea is quite different from previous reviews. I pick up barely any bitterness until the 5th steep. Dry leaf has a sweet, candy-like aroma and wet leaf has that musky, orchid-like, deep forest fragrance. The first few steeps have notes of sweet peach, honey, and tannin. It’s very smooth and leaves a pleasantly sweet finish lasting more than a few minutes. Following steeps are similar to the first one except gradually reveal subtle tobacco and woodsy notes. Prominent honey and ripe peach notes, with increasingly more tannin, minerals, and cedar wood in the 5th and 6th steeps. Astringency is minimal and the flavors continue to please past the 7th steep.
Honestly, I find this tea to be less interesting than those from the Lincang, Baoshan, and Dehong regions. I’m just not into very sweet teas. The 2014 Qing Mei Shan is just as sweet, but has a much more impressive aftertaste that I got me considering to put some money down. Also, despite its name, this one also doesn’t have that wild tea tree element YS’s other teas have, but it’s very enjoyable to drink now.
Dry – Honey, bittersweet notes of green stems or unripe tomato, hay, faint peach.
Wet – Thick, Honey, the fruity spectrum of cocoa, reduced orchard fruits (apples/pears… kinda), bitter green notes.
Liquor – Dull gold to Orange Gold.
Initial steeps Are bittersweet and have a somewhat savory base with apparent thickness. There are some warmed up white fruits/orchard fruit notes (poached pear?) and a darker-richer note that slightly resembles cocoa notes, there’s a pungency to it, but it feels hidden.
Mid steeps Steeps 3+ The leaves open up and the previous notes are still there, but feels more robust body that also has astringency developing. The initial notes are still bittersweet with a hint of something savory and moving on to sweeter and more complex notes, it sort of reminds me of some ManZhuan notes, that weird but very pleasant ’green’+ cocoa note. It is a mix of a green bitter note and the thicker richer bittersweet from cocoa.
Final Steeps It balances a bit more after a few more steeps, the body is still very good by the 6th steep, but you can tell it is thinning and developing a bit more astringency. Then at steeps 7-8th there’s a ‘collapse’ where the tea seems to only offer mostly bitterness and astringency.
Very good tea, this is definitely age well, it has good taste now, but it has that something that holds a bit of a promise, is not the astringency or the bitterness is a good balance between the two. I’ll rest it a bit more and re-try it in a few months to see in anything changes. No score now, but will update it as soon as I retry it.
Flavors: Bitter, Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Fruity, Green
Thanks so much to boychik for this sample!
So, 10 years old, huh? Interesting! I love my new Jian Shui pot, so all 8g went into the pot. It brews up a nice orange color and smells like dried fruit, like those dried fruit bars from Trader Joe’s my mom used to get…it’s like a more natural kind of fruit roll-up. Turns out, it tastes like them too! Like dried apricot and berries! Yum! A couple steeps in I also noticed some floral and tobacco notes. This is very nice, and mid to low range on the price-scale. I think this one is going on the wishlist.
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)