Yunnan Sourcing

Recent Tasting Notes

I’m starting to think that I need to start using two numbers to rate pu-erh tea. The first would be the flavor rating that I use for all other teas, and the second would be the psycho-active rating, or cha qi.

This tea is a great example. I don’t really like the taste, which is still pretty bitter at the 6th steep. However, halfway through this 6th cup (first cup this morning) I have this relaxing “buzz” going on that is probably what people talk about as “tea drunk”. I’m not going to provide a rating on steepster (or seriously propose a two-point system) but my internal rating system for pu-erh become based upon a combination of flavor with qi, but it would be better to use two numbers. This is not the only tea that I enjoyed for qi but didn’t care for in flavor. Of course, a few special teas have both.

So, on to this tea: It starts with a grassy flavor, which is my preference in a green-style tea, but with a little more veggie than I like to see. Very soon into a sip, a very powerful bitterness starts to build and it dominates the taste to the point where very little else is noticeable. I steeped at 185, which I would think would produce less bitterness than at boiling, or my ususal black tea temperature of 200. I’ll try at 175 degrees next time just to see if that makes a difference.

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

I like a tea with good qi.

Dr Jim

It was just what I needed this morning.


I prefer to do flush steeps at 200F. It will be less bitter. Also have you noticed any sweetness after bitterness ?

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I’m sitting here with an ice pack on my hand, wishing I could drink more tea.
My surgery is scheduled for 4:00 this afternoon. No food or beverages after 7am, so I got up extra early to have breakfast & tea, & plenty of water.

My first tea of the day was a gongfu session with this one, which is gentle & sweet, a real pleasure to drink.


May your surgeon have a steady hand and a brilliant mind, and if they are a tea drinker all the better.

Terri HarpLady

I agree!


+1 on that! May everything go well and quickly, and may your healing be fast and pain free!


Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

Terri HarpLady

Thanks you guys! Im already starting to get hungry, & really wish I could drink a big glass of water!

carol who

The waiting is tough. I hope the surgery and recovery goes well. How long will it be until you can play your harp again?

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Fantastic tea. Deep red color, clear, thick. Smells boozy, dried fruit and wood aroma. For some reason reminded me Port wine
The price is great: $12 for 357g is excellent every day choice. As I’m drinking it has some drying qualities but nothing major.
6 g 100 ml gaiwan 212F
Rinse/pause/5/5/7/10/15sec etc

Thank you tea friend for helping me discover amazing and affordable teas.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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I am enjoying this buckwheat tea. It’s roasty toasty buckwheat that’s got a nice sweetness too. A wonderful cup of non-caffeinated tea for late afternoon. It does kind of give you that warm cosy feeling on a cool day.

Flavors: Roasted, Toasty

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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So quick note!
This one is delicious also! Tastes strongly of sweet potatoes. Lovely tea.
Can’t write too much more since I’m super exhausted. But going to enjoy the rest of this sample.
Thanks, Boychik! :D


Glad you liked it :-)


Thanks again! :D

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A really lovely ripe pu-erh. Nothing is out of place, the flavors are deep and clean, and the impression for me is of a cake that was well made from good materials. Very pleasant tea.

Flavors: Chocolate, Earth

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 7 OZ / 220 ML

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I took some of this from the Lewis & Clark tea box before it went on its way. I love the other gold tea I tried from MzPriss’ Unflavored tea box so much that I HAD to buy some (the Imperial Mojiang Spring 2014). There you go tea companies: a sale from a traveling tea box.

The leaves here are somewhat curly but also somewhat sickle shaped. I definitely did NOT steep this the right way somehow, as there was a plastic-like scent. I’ll have to work with it. I took a few teaspoons out of the tea box as there was SO MUCH there! The steeped tea actually has a muddied gray color. The flavor at the top of the mug is like tomato soup, then there is some sweet potato. There is a lot of starchiness. Maybe that somehow reminds me and other tea drinkers of sweet potato on its own? Or the starchiness is the sweet potato flavor? The second steep tasted exactly the same, so I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. But it seems like this cup should be so much better than how I steeped it.
Steep #1 // 2 tsps.// 9 min after boiling // 3 min steep
Steep #2 // 8 min after boiling // 2 1/2 min

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Dry the little black needles smell almost like a green tea (They don’t look quite like the picture. They are very tiny and very black.). I’d say a Bi Luo Chun but with a hint of molasses scent to it. I brewed Gong Fu. 195F -15 sec and added 15 sec to the second. For the third I kept it at 30 sec because the 2nd cup seemed a bit strong to me.

This is a yummy malty tea. I’m picking up molasses sweet taste in it and also cocoa notes (which was more pronounced in the first two infusions). There’s something about this black tea that reminds me of a green- again I think of Bi Luo Chun. Perhaps it’s something in the aroma of it brewed. It works for me anyway since I love greens. This black tea is an excellent tea!

Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Molasses

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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It’s a cool , damp, & drizzly day, & it seemed like shu would be the perfect fit, & it is, although it I’d though it through I probably would have gone with sichuan caravan, or maybe some chai, but this is a really nice rich cup of sweet earth.

This has been a rough week for me. I broke a finger on wednesday & am having surgery to repair it on monday. There will be no harp playing for 4 – 6 weeks! I’ve been able to set up replacement harpists for the weddings I was supposed to do tomorrow & next saturday, but the other 3 performances had to be cancelled, because I’m the only jazz harpist around.
Financial losses for the next 10 days alone is abut $1000. I haven’t done the math for november yet, in part because I’m hoping for a miraculous healing, LOL.
Denial runs deep!
I’ve been through the 5 stages of grief several times in the last few days: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, & acceptance.
Life goes on.


That’s got to be the worst! So sorry! Hope it heals quickly!!!


Hurting for you! (The damp weather probably doesn’t help the hurty part either.) Will be praying for speedy healing!


Oh no! Terri, I am so sorry to hear it. Praying for a quick healing and that you won’t even feel that financial because something good will just take of it.

Terri HarpLady

Thanks ladies.


Oh no, that’s too bad! Best wishes that you heal quickly and that everything works out.


I hope you heal quickly! Sorry for your misfortune.


Ouch, so sorry! Feel better soon


Oh dear. That’s rotten for you. :( I hope you heal quickly and won’t have to dig too deeply into your savings.


Terry , I’m so sorry and I hope you will recover quickly.


wishing you a very quick healing Terri. So sorry to read this.

Terri HarpLady

Savings? LOL, what savings? :)
I’m just a musician who makes enough money to not qualify for medicaid, but not quite enough to qualify for any of the Affordable Health Care incentives. So no insurance, but usually no need to see the dr either. I haven’t seen one in years, until this week. Anyway, I pd my surgeon up front $1200, which was a greatly reduced rate, & will be billed by the hospital after the fact.I’ve been told I’ll probably get some kind of a scholarship for at least part of the fees. I have an affirmation that has served me well over the years, “All of my needs, dreams, & desires are abundantly fulfilled.”
The Harp class teaching job wasn’t something I really wanted to go back to, but when they offered it, I did, because I learned a long time ago that the Universe knows what I need & provides it. So whatever I need will come from wherever it is right now :)
Maybe people will order a bunch of my xmas CDs to give for gifts, or start downloading my other CDs from itunes, or whatever. I know I’ll be ok! And as Sil will confirm, I have lots of tea to drink (& I didn’t even show her my crazy secret hoarded stash), so I’m definitely covered there!
And gratefully, I have all of you, sending good vibes my way!
Thanks everyone!


I want to see the secret stash……I will trade pictures of mine for some of yours.

Terri HarpLady

LOL, a photo tour?

Tea Sipper

I hope you heal quickly!

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I love wild teas of Dehong. i tried Light Roast, regular roast, Feng Qing Ye Sheng Hong Cha Wild Tree Purple Black tea Yunnan Sourcing offerings. i tried 2005 Wild Tree brick of Dehong (wet storage noticed, and i loved it).
This puerh has some notes not found in other sheng. its sweet,nutty, herbal, smooth and delicious. Not bitter. Soup is bright yellow . it was a pleasure to drink for 2 days.

I got this sample from Mandala along with others because YS US site currently carry only sample size. they sold out on bricks. But Mandala still has them. I have to have this tea. its a must in my cupboard!

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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OMG this tea is so good. Chocolate & sweet. Smooth not bitter or astringent. Yum! Been brewing this gongfu this morning and on my 3rd tiny cup. I would put this on my list to reorder but I have plenty for now. What more can I say? Big slurp Mmmmmmm

Flavors: Chocolate, Sweet

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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Rinsed leaves smell fantastic. Deep creamy Vanilla orchid aroma, and a hint of ‘cookies and cream’ of all things.
Taste is vegetal-orchid.
Nice dark large leaves take a while to expand.

Flavors: Orchid, Vegetal

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 60 OZ / 1774 ML

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brewed probably 5-6 grams in Gawain.
It was much better this time.
During first several infusions leaves have a nice aged aroma of wet earth and raisins, with a faint hint of camphorous complex aged puerh aroma and much much less storage smell than before.

First few brews did have a bit of of that eukalyptus/camphor that boychich mentioned.
The tea is thick, almost coffee like, which is nice though its also somewhat muddy/murky.

From the three recently sampled aged shengs, this would take second place, after the yong ping hao. Both have some notable qualities, but I would rather pay more for a sheng with stronger, more obvious flavor and aroma, and with notable enhancement of well being and state of mind.

This morning I transferred the samples to small mugs with puer-paper & rubber band seals at the top. Will see how they fare in a couple of weeks or months.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

Glad it was better this time. it’s sold out anyway. I do really like 2008 version.

Asaf Mazar

Seems like both 2005 and 2008 are out of stock now. there is 2012 for $35.

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Dry leaf smells dusty and musty, a bit like mold spores actually. Since its from a reputable site I am not worried about sampling it.

I rinsed twice. All the infusions are dominated by a strong storage flavor. The brew itself is a bit sweet, faintly aged-fruity and lacking vitality.

Well, 3 out of 3 semi-aged sheng samples that I ordered are all rather disappointing to be honest. I see good review here so perhaps I am doing something wrong. Again, lets see what happens after they breathe for a few months.

Flavors: Musty

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 90 OZ / 2661 ML

it was first wet stored for me but i liked it. maybe because i live in a very humid climate. Couple days ago i tried 2008 wild tree Ye Sheng cha. nothing like this one. bright yellow soup, not bitter at all. sweet. highly recommended. available fr Mandala Tea

Charles Thomas Draper

I always enjoy your honest reviews.

Asaf Mazar

Thanks Charles. Its challenging to be accurate when rating a tea, especially aged puer. So many factors seem to influence the experience. This is why I have put aside numeric ratings for now. Perhaps its best to assign a score to a tea only after about 4-5 sessions with it.

Asaf Mazar

boychick, I am hoping to get some of that menthol that you mentioned. Its one of my favorites qualities in puer. Fortunately you left precise notes.I will try again using the same parameters.


I agree on lettung the tea “breathe” also. Since shipping can be slow and it is sealed most of the time I allow it to "acclimate’ to my environment.

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After rinse there is a somewhat pleasant aged aroma. there are some hints of rubber in there.
I found some decent aged notes in some of the brews, though by and large, its not something that I feel like drinking much of, and has this cooked artichoke water somewhat bitter flavor that is not too exiting. Maybe its my (filtered) tap water, who knows.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

Nah, sounds about right. I was hoping for a bit more sweetness out of this one when I tried it. Try giving it a good rinse and letting it rest for a longer time. I did this a followed by brewing with water at 200-205 and ti was a bit better. Not great though. Cheers!

Asaf Mazar

JC, Its always fin to compare notes. I will try it with a longer rinse and rest.

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Dry leaf aroma has fruity tangy notes. After rinse the aroma is not that pleasant, perhaps a bit like aged rubber but not quite. The tea itself has a dulled-out aged barely fruity taste with some storage notes. Not much vitality in this one.
Perhaps it needs to acclimate for a few months.

After my experience with the ‘ancient spirit’ cake from YS, which seemed dull wen I first received it and is now an excellent tea, I can’t really judge a tea from an initial tasting right out of the sample bag.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 80 OZ / 2365 ML

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Brewed in my roasted oolong $15 yixing pot from jk tea shop.
Coworkers loved it. they said it might even be their favorite so far.
It lasted for a good number of infusions.

5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This one helped me calm down and recover the lao ban zhang puer. It has a warm, calming nature that seems to be typical of da hong pao.
Nice clear broth with good flavor. Well rounded with no smoke, dry mouth, or roughness of any kind. Again very pleasant on the body and mind. I could drink this often. There is a bright crystalline quality to the brew.
Flavor is hard to describe…almost peachy.
I used a gaiwan. Will try yi xing pot next time it seems to add depth and texture for roasted oolongs.

Flavors: Mineral, Peach, Roasted, Sweet

3 g 80 OZ / 2365 ML

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This is obviously top quality leaf. Very impressive.
Dry tea is fragrant. moderately compressed. After rinse, a satisfyingly strong, very pleasant and elegant tangy-fruity floral aroma emerges. The elegance of the aroma is a common denominator of quality old tree material, from my limited experience.
Sweet, thick tea liquid with penetrating aroma and lots of vitality in the mouthfeel. Very satisfying. This one really hits the spot and leaves little to be wanted.
Little bitterness/astringency for a young sheng. Poweful qi. Strong caffeine kick and psychoactive effect. Pleasant at first, then a bit unsettling.
Now I understand what all the ban zhang hype is about.
Compared to other old tree premium shengsthat i’ve tried of the same vintage, this one might have the strongest flavor and aroma, second only perhpas to a sample I once received of a $300 cake from royalpuer.
Its qi reminds me of the 2011 nano mountain old tree tasting set from jk tea shop, though the flavor is much better.
The refined flavor and aroma is similar to the top quality teas you get from essence of tea.
$10 for 25 grams is a decent deal.
If you like raw powerful shengs, give this a try.
I probably wont reorder this because I like the calming effects and warmer nature of old sheng, though I might buy a newer (cheaper) vintage of this tea and age it for 12 years or so.

Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Sweet, Tangy

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 80 OZ / 2365 ML

Fascinating review, might sample this one myself after reading about your experience. Though I prefer the older stuff too.


I wish Yunnan’s China site was working better. Every time I get on it to look at things it “locks” the page up.


I wish that would happen to me, the checkout page works all too well.


I can’t seem to get it right. I go to it and it is in Russian and Google translates it but when looking at the info for the tea, instant lockup. I really have a few things I want but the lock up issue really bugs me..

Asaf Mazar

I get some russian in some parts of the site as well. Try using a different browser/clearing your cache. disable browser add-ons perhpas.

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This time I brewed it in a gaiwan using long steep times, at night in a relaxed setting.
It does have a classic complex aged puer flavor, though you have to pay fairly close attention to notice it.
The aroma of the rinsed leaves had a deep, rich and fairly pleasant but not amazing aged aroma during the first 2-3 steeps.
This tea is much more aged tasting than just about any post- 2000 sheng that I have tried. There is a sense that the leaf material itself is of high quality, and that it was somehow dulled down and muted, overly mellowed during storage. That is just my uneducated guess.
There were some mild cooling sensations primarily in the throat, and some coating on the tongue as well.

Compared to more expensive late 90’s shengs that I have tried , this one has no significant storage smell, and while its flavor is perhaps equally interesting and complex, its faint and a bit hidden underneath a mild primary flavor somewhat akin to composted wet wood.

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

I think I have the 2002 but I haven’t tried it yet.

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Yunnan sourcing order finally arrived. No free sample this time, though there were a few grams of an awesome looking shiny tightly rolled green tea just loose at the bottom of the cardboard box that I rinsed and brewed. It was nice and fresh.
Back to the yong pin hao…
I brewed it in a yixing pot fresh out of the sample packet with no acclimation time in a porous container. It might taste different once it acclimates and breathes a bit.

The dark leaves, once rinsed smell aged and a bit rancid. They look great: very shiny, mostly intact, and substantial.

brew is very mellow, perhaps too mellow. no bitterness or stringency, and not much flavor or aroma either. Sweet, a bit piney and almost aged-fruity, but again- not much flavor.
Not much caffeine (this i like) or qi sensations either.
After drinking many cups I could almost feel a cooling sensation at the back of my throat for a minute.

Stay tuned in a couple of weeks once try this one again in a gaiwan after it has revitalized from the month it spent sealed during shipping.

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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i think i prefer the other variation on this theme from this morning. this one is less…just “less” the cup isn’t as strong and to me it’s lacking in the flavour that the other cup was. It’s still a nice cup, and i’m glad terri shared it with me but overall, i’d reach for the other YS tea before this one :)

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terriharplady my dearest tea sisiter, let me have a bit of this when i was at her house exploring her teas haha. I have to say that this is a really delicious tea from YS. It actually hit the spot a little better than LB this morning, but don’t tell LB that! I brewed this one western for ease and was left with a really delicious, slightly sweet but malty cup of tea. i didn’t get much astringency in the cup, which was nice. I’ll have to try the other teal of this variety that i picked up from terri as well and see how it compares.

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