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Recent Tasting Notes
Prepared in my Jian Shui gaiwan. Filtered Santa Monica municipal water just off the boil then poured into a glass cha hai prior to going into the gaiwan. With Autumn approaching, I wanted to add a daily-drinking Dian Hong to my roster – I’m very happy with this selection.
The dry tea is redolent of sweet potato and hay with a hint of milk chocolate. The buds appear just a little dingy or bruised compared to the bright pure gold appearance they have in photos on YS’s website, though this may be a result of transport.
After a 10 second wash the wet leaves take on a “brisk” and faintly vegetal aroma in addition to the aforementioned sweetness. Their striking uniformity grows apparent as they become fully hydrated/saturated.
Eight steeps at 10, 15, 20, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120sec: Tawny liquor; musky with clay-baked yam aroma; complex malt, grassy sugarcane, a touch of sorghum; finishes faintly woodsy with a hint of chocolate or even burdock emerging at times. Medium-thick mouth-feel; no impression of tannins. The first steep had a special brilliance of flavor that proves fleeting and difficult to capture in words. Color shifts to more of a satin sheen gold,while the aroma, flavor, and body all dull somewhat by the sixth steep. The tea continues to be nourishing throughout the session. Caffeine is evident, but more energizing than speedy (sweating, racing pulse, etc.).
Refined yet rustic – making for a pleasurable experience; good value to boot.
This is a very interesting white tea.
I picked this one up because my son and I have been enjoying white tea together, and it was inexpensive and a bit unusual.
I was not let down. What I got was a very light colored tea, with a slightly sweet vegetal flavor.
This is a fermented purple, but no description of the fermentation process. It tastes to me a bit like Hei cha. Ive gongfu’d this a few different ways & I much prefer it with kid gloves, slight less heat & flash steeps, if I brew hotter & longer a malty taste comes out & it tastes more like a normal black tea & a bit mushed together.
The bag & leaf smell of a sweet/candy I cant place, really lovely aroma. The taste has a thickness like dense water, with the ever-present sour note of purple leaf there.
All the flavours & aromas are hard to place really! Id love a course where you smell every aroma, im not good at this part. It is plant-y like a sheng but has other flavour-colours going on.
I do really prefer my purples with a roast, from my experience with them. I think the char compliments the sour very nicely (zi hong pao for example – I havent tried the light roast version) But this is still nice. Its a bit like the sourness of plum but softer. cool stuff
Flavors: Plants, Pleasantly Sour, Plums
From the Pu’erh Plus TTB.
Brewed in a ceramic gaiwan. The tuocha weight totaled 5.4g. I was going to give it two 10-second rinses and a ten minute rest, but it opened up very quickly, so only one rinse was necessary. Steeping times: 2, 2, 4, 4, 8, 18, 30; 1.5 minutes, 4, 15.
The tuocha smells of cedar wood. Letting it rest in the pre-heated gaiwan brings out an aroma of pulled pork, which gradually changes into honey BBQ sauce, and then to chocolate. The wet leaf smells of tapioca and smoky pine wood.
The soup is deep reddish brown, full-bodied, and creamy. It’s somewhat cloudy at first and takes up to four infusions to finally clear. I may should have kept the tuocha better. Who knows how long it’s been sitting in the little plastic baggie (kept in an open cardboard box). The first two infusions taste funky, which begins to lessen at the third, when I also taste a hint of chocolate. The fourth infusion has that cream of mushroom flavor I haven’t tasted in shou in a while, but it is also sweet (not incongruously so). Fifth infusion and onward, there is flat cedar wood note, almost paper-like at the end.
This might be my tastes since I haven’t had a mini tuocha in more than a year. More likely, this might be a lesson on how I should keep shou mini tuos if I ever stock on any.
From the Puerh TTB # 5
The color of the liquor reminded me of honey; golden yellow, fun to look at.
The flavor of the tea reminded me of honeysuckle nectar. Sweet, floral, and honey notes throughout the brew. Very smooth and sweet. There was zero astringency or bitterness on the tongue.
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Sweet
Dry leaf – CHOCOLATE, NUT, FRUIT: dark chocolate and cocoa, with notes of roast peanut, orange peel, and dried apricot. In preheated vessel – rich fruit develops: dried apricot, peach, orange peel, peach jelly candy, some fruity oiliness
Smell – NUT, FRUIT: roast peanut, peach notes, hint of green leaf/twig bitterness
Taste – NUT, FLORAL, MINERAL, TART, PEACH: In the mouth, general oolong roasted nuttiness, vanilla and light floral scents come up from time to time; slight wet rock minerality and green leaf astringency; fruity tartness carries hints of strong peach flavor that is to develop. Aftertaste brings a wave of peach (fresh, peach jelly, peach jelly candies, even peaches and cream), that is balanced by a perfectly balanced mineral “bassline.”
So, this is the famous ya shi.
What a great session. First of all, PEACH! This thing screams peach. Not at first, but, once that first hui gan comes rolling around… It’s strong, it’s rich, it has depth – all kinds of various peach flavors come from the throat and coat your mouth.
This is so delightful (not a word I use often!) and so distracting, in a way, that it took me a while to appreciate the in-mouth flavors. At first, I kind of wrote them off as a little subdued, a little (just a little) lacking in complexity. However, after pausing and taking my time with it, I began enjoying these flavors as well. In the mouth, the experience is drier, with an intriguing development of pleasant tannins and minerality subdued by a familiar roasted nuttiness and oolonginess. There is a fruity tartness, too, that hints at the waves of peach that are about to arrive.
So, A+ on providing an interesting and rewarding tea session that got my Saturday off to a great start.
A few parting notes – One, this guy has some staying power. After 6 (maybe 7) steeps, the flavors get a little woodier, not in a bad way, but you can tell you have tapped out the initial flavors of the leaf. Nonetheless, the peach flavors continue as strong as ever, to the point where I felt a little guilty ending the session. Probably could do something with the spent leaves and have some awesome iced tea or something.
Two, I don’t really note qi. I don’t seek after it, and most teas generally make me feel about the same. This tea, however, has some power. On one particular day that started at 5:15 am, I had two rounds of tea – some raw pu’erh about 9 years old in the morning, and this stuff in the early afternoon. The oolong won. Way more power – totally tea drunk.
In fact, currently tea drunk. Post too long. Must end. Get some of this – you won’t be disappointed.
I would agree with Allan there is a chocolate, malty & fruit note. Perhaps I should try with a touch of sugar (gasp!) as sometimes the malt & chocolate is too much for me with red tea, its isnt my favourite profile.
Either way, this is a really good one. So nice & fresh smelling, soft leaf & a really good cup – The taste reminds me of maltesers or when milk chocolate goes a bit dry & goes whiter in colour.
I really need a red tea lover to come into my life at this point, ive got quite a collection needs drinking :)
Flavors: Chocolate, Fruity, Malt, Milk
Maybe my palate still needs developing, but I didn’t like this as much as others have said, and certainly not as much as the YS 2012 Yong De Blue.
For the price it’s a good daily drinking Ripe. I quite like fermentation flavour, which is there, but not fishy. It’s certainly earthy with forest floor notes, and some sweetness comes through more after steep 4. For me it weakened after steep 5 with only 7.5g leaf in a 100ml Gaiwan, but was better with 9g. Maybe it doesn’t need 2 rinses.
I can see why some people rave about this tea. I think “pure” is an excellent descriptor. Personally i’d rather have the sweetness of the YS 2015 Wu Liang or the oiliness and fruit flavours of 2014 Gua Feng Zhai for the price, but it’s still excellent.
Initially it starts quite light, with mild sweetness and astringency in nice balance. A honeyed floral sweetness is noticeable by steep 3, and also the astringency builds without being overpowering. It is both VERY refreshing, but also with a thick mouthfeel and long, sappy aftertaste, with some umami. The parallel lines of sweetness and astringency continue towards the 8th steep, with some vegetal notes too. I felt it needed big brews after than to keep the flavour profile going, but it did.
8g 2 rinses 10min rest, steeps 10 , 10, 15, 10, 15, 20, 25, 40, 60, 180
Flavors: Floral, Honey
This was my first full Sheng Cake, and i’m really pleased with it. Massive sweetness with little astringency has made it a hit with my Puerh uninitiated friends too.
2 washes, then steeped (sec) 5,5,10,10,10,15,15,20,20,25 (still going!)
There is a mild and pleasant initial astringency, and some herbal notes (sage). Over the steeps the Huigan and also a savoury vegetal note (green beans) build. It feels kind of creamy when cooling down. By about steep 6 the stone fruit hits, crystallising into a familiar apricot by steep 7. I agree a slight aniseed note.
Flavors: Apricot, Green Beans, Sage
2016 Da Qing Gu Shu Raw – 5.59g in 200mL at 208C with a 10s rinse, 10 minute rest.
The smell of the dry leaves is unbelievable! Fruity and thick, like molasses and over ripe apricots. I couldn’t stop gushing over it so I let my wife smell it and her face lit up! Wet, the leaves take on a vegetal note and the fruity aroma takes on a deeper tone, but still smells amazing. Can’t wait to start in on this one!
1/10s: Very light, sweet and vegetal. Not really tasting in of the fruitiness smelled in the leaves.
2/10s: Stronger, nice crisp finish. Vegetal note has decreased and the sweetness is a bit more mellow.
3/15s: May be feeling the first whispers of cha qi. The cup is quite vegetal, but good. Tiny bit of bitterness that fades into lingering sweetness on the tongue.
4/15s: Sweetness is back with an interesting, tingling mouthfeel. Have a nice tea buzz going now.
5/20s: Sweet & vegetal. Tea buzz still building.
6/30s: Bit of a break due to work. Sweet, vegetal with something that comes across as a little tangy or tart to me.
7/45s: Same as the previous. Wish I could describe this mouthfeel/taste/sensation I’m getting. It’s like tasting something tangy, but that doesn’t quite capture it. Also, cha qi says ‘Hi!’ :)
8/60s: Heh, getting some of those fruit notes now. Quite lovely this cup. _ Pretty gentle cha qi.
9/75s: Next morning – Same as previous with more sweetness. Setting aside my constant hunt for cha qi, in these later steepings the taste of this tea is really pleasant.
10/90s: Can’t pin down a particular fruit, but this comes across as very fruity now. Still able detect that gentle buzz and alertness from the cha qi.
Interesting tea. This isn’t the first time that I’ve smelled tea leaves and got a completely different taste than what was suggested by the aroma, but the aroma of the leaves is heavenly.
2014 Autumn Bing Dao Raw – ??g in 500mL at 212C
I didn’t have my morning tea before heading to the Dharma Hall for meditation so I decided to put a few leaves in to a 0.5L thermos and bring along a single teacup to sip during the Dharma talk. I was worried that’d maybe I’d put too much leaf and the tea would prove bitter and/or astringent. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Sooooooo effing good! Every last cup! Just enough astringency to make each cup crisps. Sweet and fruity, sort of persimmon like in that the sweetness wasn’t over powering yet had a honey/date like finish, and ever sip you’re just glowing like, sip “Oh that’s good”, sip “Oh so good”, sip “mmmm good”… It’s a 15-20 minute drive to the dharma hall so I have to experiment with this one a bit. Really wish I’d weighed the leaves before hand to know the ratio. I think what’s so amazing is that the treasures that you find and enjoy in the early steeps and in the later steeps are all there in a single cup! Creamy, sweet astringency, fruitiness and just a enough of a hint of bitterness to add delicious complexity. I love that you can fall in love with tea all over again on any given day. This was awesome!
2014 Autumn Bing Dao Raw – 9.13g in 200mL at 208C with a 10s rinse, 10 minute rest.
Reading reviews from other pu’erh drinkers I think I may be using too little leaf in my pot, so I’m going to try adding a bit and shortening the first few steeps.
Dry leaves smell amazing! Aroma of prunes, tobacco and nectarines. Wet, the aroma of the leaves take on a much more vegetal aroma until they cool down and the aroma is once again of tobacco and prunes.
I took a few sips of the rinse…oooohhh boy! I think I may have found a winner! :D
1/5s: Creamy! Sweet with a slightly tingling mouth feel.
2/7s: Same as previous with a bit more astringency. Not overwhelming but noticable. Anyone else notice that astringency and bitterness is much more detectable when the tea cools?
4/7s: With more leaf in my pot I have to pour faster. A little astringent, a little sweet with a creamy mouth feel. Definitely feeling some energizing cha qi.
5/5s: With this much leaf I pretty much have to pour immediately. The upside is that the mouth feel of the tea has an amazing creamy quality. Tiny bit of astringency that turns into a very long lingering sweetness on the tongue. The cha qi is pretty powerful. I haven’t eaten today so that may be making the effects more pronounced.
9/7s: Starting session again this morning. Very consistent taste. Stuffing my little pot like this probably means that I can get 20+ steepings easily.
10/7s: Tiny bit of astringency that turns into a very long lingering sweetness on the tongue. The cha qi is pretty powerful.
Got busy with work so didn’t get to record notes, but this was a very enjoyable tea.
Brewed in my porcelain Jingdezhen gaiwan. Los Angeles municipal water is just off the boil throughout.
The tea sample seems somewhat brittle so I don’t make any real attempt to chip away at the nearly 10 gram chunk for fear of it disintegrating.
A brief rest follows a 15 second wash.
1st – 10th steeps (15 seconds): Coffee brown to chocolate colored liquid; earthy and vaguely spicy aroma; hints of cocoa and oats on the palate; medium-dry finish – smooth, clean, with hints of loam.
Here followed a nearly 24 hour rest…
11th – 12th steeps (20 seconds): Identical to the first 10…
…and after another 24 hour rest…
13th – 18th steeps (20 seconds, then increasing by 10 seconds/steep): slightly lighter in color and flavor than the previous cups, but only just.
…and finally on day 4 of this session:
19th – 21st steeps (2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes): milder, slightly nutty, possibly a little sweeter.
A very unassuming tea, but remarkably consistent – like the other shous I’ve sampled thus far, it enhances and is enhanced by a meal (in tonight’s case, “fish fragrant” eggplant and chrysanthemum greens with ginger and oyster sauce served with good quality Japanese brown rice).
I appreciate sheng with depth, power, and kuwei, or pleasant bitterness. I might as well admit that I am a total sucker for descriptions/tales of teas that come from remote mountains—especially if they’re accompanied by photos. Scott knows this well. I had high expectations for this tea, and oh man did it deliver.
The dried leaves in my sample are mid-sized spindly tendrils that smell of sweet grass and wild flowers. Wet leaves are of a candied, high floral aroma. Steeps 1 to 6 start out soft and candy-like, then quickly turn towards a dandelion greens-type of bitterness quickly replaced by high sweet floral and raw honey notes. After steep 2 the tea soup becomes thick and heavy with with the sweet (floral), bitter (dandelion greens), and savory mingling together.
Those flavors are accompanied by a delightful, saliva-inducing, very strong mouthfeel that quickly fills the mouth and throat and lingers for a long time after drinking. It’s as euphoric as it is tranquil. The energy is out of this world. It sets in my entire body together, together with the mouthfeel, and I am transported back to that remote, high altitude forest whence these leaves came. At this point, I don’t care where they came from because this is powerful stuff.
Edit: I recommend very short 5 sec steeps until 6. As the bitterness increases with each steep so does the huigan and mouth feel. The empty cup and cha hai are covered in an intense tropical orchid fragrance. I can see this tea becoming more textured and impactful in the coming years.
Appearance: twisted reddish-brown whole leaves when dry with very few stems or non-tea parts. When brewed, the leaves appear to be about half oxidized. Aroma: astringent, spicy up front, with fruity and nutty notes. Mouthfeel: middle of the road. Taste: 1st steeping: Considerable astringency, followed by a distinctly lychee-like flavor, with some cinnamon and black pepper mild spice, as well as nutty and woody notes. There’s some of the longer-lasting mild bitterness, but not it’s more at the front of the mouth than the back of the throat like a high mountain greener oolong would have. 2nd steeping: similar, but more of a honey flavor, and the astringency and spice notes are considerably reduced. This trend continues with increased steepings. Overall, I like the first steeping very much, but the following steepings lack some complexity.
Flavors: Astringent, Black Pepper, Honey, Lychee, Wet Wood
All this talk of LBZ made me want to try one of my samples ive been saving for a rainy day, so I broke this one out. Also because ive got two sleepeze tablets (diphenhydramine hydrochloride) and one should knock me out at a decent time I thought, what the hell, lets go.
Quick rinse, first couple of steeps & I can smell the leaf from across the room. Prunes, smoke, camphor & just the right amount of dankness. A bit murky
Taste is soft but powerful, deep & sweet aromas from the liquor. I love these rounded shengs. Nice toungue numbing already, sweet taste, its vegetal but I cant work out what. Like deep pastel shades of dark brown green mixed with sparkly sweet overtones. It was balanced nicely, I liked the thickness as well. Everything just ‘right’.
And the bitterness is just slowly creeping in. I was expecting a more bitter tea but it took a while for the raw to show itself, and even then it wasn’t as strong as I thought it would be. At about steep 10 I was just leaving the gaiwan to do its thing. It never went off the scale, I found it to be quite forgiving in that respect.
All in all a nice session. I liked the first 5 steeps the best, the sweet prune & dank camphor was nice. Hefty price tag though!
Also this was the last of my sample, not quite sure how much but could have done with a bit more leaf to fully appreciate the flavour.
Flavors: Camphor, Stonefruits, Sweet, Vegetal