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Recent Tasting Notes
These buds and I have had a rocky relationship. I first got them about a month ago, after reading some rave-y reviews here on Steepster. I plopped a good amount into my gaiwan and started brewing, only to be greeted with…sourness. These things were so unbelievably sour, like someone had squeezed an unripe lemon into my tea. I tossed them after a few steeps.
Over the past couple weeks I’ve brewed them up a few times, and have learned to use less leaf and colder water. I’ve got the brewing parameters right, but still don’t love these things. They’re sort of sweet up-front, but with this lingering, drying sourness that I can’t seem to shake no matter how low the temp/how fast I steep. It’s the kind of sourness that sits at the back of your throat and coats your tongue…ugh.
As for the rest of the taste, they’re a little sweet and have a sort of malty flavor to them. I’m not getting the hay or usual white tea flavors with these—they’re their own thing.
Anyway, while they’re very much not to my taste, other people seem to like them! Just brace yourself for a mouth-puckering experience.
I bought mine from ebay rather than Yunnan Sourcing. Supposed to be 2008, but I have doubts.
Strange. I got some of this in a travelling tea box a few months ago and really liked it. Anxious to find more, I bought this from ebay because shipping was included. I had one cup and really enjoyed it. Rated 82, which is what I gave the TTB sample.
Next in the saga is the 2015 mandarin tea that was included in Liquid Proust’s Dark Matter group buy. When I tried it a few days ago, it had a very strong fishy smell and taste; I hated it. I tried this again today largely to renew my pleasant memories and guess what? Big fishy smell.
So, what is going on here? Am I somewhat predisposed to taste fish after the previous tea? Was it there before but I missed it? Is some of the tea fishy and some not? I’ve had this sample for about a month, but took the wrapper off a few weeks ago when I had it for the first time. This isn’t as fishy as the W2T mandarin, but the fish is definitely there. Bottom line is that I’m confused and disappointed. I used to really like this tea as a daily drinker in the evening, but now I’m afraid to try it. Worst is that I bought an 8-pack so have a lot. Also, I gave one to a friend at work to introduce him to puerh, and I’m thinking it probably wasn’t a very good introduction.
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Flavors: Meat, Pepper, Peppermint, Spices, Spinach
Not sure how to describe this one, its interesting and changes for steep to steep, kinda simple but complex too. Some mineral notes, Slight smokey notes, I get notes of bell pepper and umami, almost a savory tea to me, thick like a broth. kinda spicy, kinda floral at times.
Pretty good tea.
Flavors: Bell Pepper, Floral, Mineral, Smoke, Umami
Very fresh, subtle taste. Has that light, savoury, slightly chestnutty, fresh spring vegetal flavour similar to Bi Luo Chun but less intense (perhaps because this is fresher? I’ve never tasted a fresh harvest of Bi Luo Chun).
The leaves are cute little snow pea pods that float on the water (unfortunately they don’t point downwards in my little 80ml gaiwan like I’ve heard they should). A couple of brown stalk tops in there but overall very high-quality whole leaves.
I could infuse it 4 times at 175 – 177˚F before the leaves lost their flavour.
Rating: 82, only because I prefer the taste of sweeter and buttery teas
Flavors: Chestnut, Vegetable Broth, Vegetal
This was my first tea from the 2016 Dark Matter.
This tea was pretty okay. I really enjoyed it in the later steeps but the first few steeps were almost uncomfortably floral and in your face. Much akin to brewing a Michael’s craft store. I enjoy floral notes, but not as the prominent flavor. As far as oolongs go, I think I enjoy the more creamy and savory ones. It lasted my usual 10 steeps before I decided to call it quits.
I would definitely recommend this to someone who enjoys intensely floral flavors.
Flavors: Floral, Mineral, Roasted
Ru Yao dragon teapot gongfucha.
Dry leaf: musty
Wet leaf: like wine. (New to me)
Light steep: I taste/smell;
Little to no
-> earth, autumn leaves, fermentation taste. Medium sweetness.
Medium steep: I taste/smell;
Slight—-> earth, autumn leaves. Little to no fermentation taste. Medium sweetness.
Heavy steep: I taste/smell; light
Earth, fermentation, camphor, autumn leaves. Strong sweetness
All in all, this is is one of the best teas I have ever tried. I rate this tea a 100 because of the taste and aromas. Just lovely! I plan on ordering a cake or two someday! This is now my third most favourite shou! Love at first tea session.
Many thanks to R.F Hill for this amazing tea sample!
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Camphor, Earth, Sweet
I got some Lapsang Souchong a couple of months ago and tried it once and couldn’t finish my cup. I assumed it was because I just didn’t like smoke flavored teas, but this tea has proven me wrong.
I don’t have any fancy gaiwans or anything so I just steeped this tea Western for like a minute with nearly-boiling water and it’s really nice. I think maybe a slightly shorter steep at first would have been helpful for tasting the underlying notes, but oh well, live and learn. So the main flavors that I’m catching are the “roasted” smoke flavor and the “post-fermented” hei cha flavor. There’s also a bit of sweetness in the back of the mouth, which is interesting, and it has a very friendly aftertaste. We’ll see how future steeps go, but for now I’m all in favor of this tea!
This review is for the Spring 2015 harvest. Love the insane aroma of these leaves, so malty and sweet, with a fruity-caramel-sweetness of candied haw fruit (the kind they sell candy-coated on skewers in China). Dry leaf is delicate thin rolled threads, unfurls to full leaves when wet. Brewed in my 75ml gaiwan.
1st infusion: (20s, 206˚F)
Probably 10 – 15s would have been better. Coppery orange liquor, delicious sweet caramel corn aroma, tasted bitter from overbrewing.
2nd infusion: (20s, 208˚F)
Fragrance still delicious, but still tastes bitter. Maybe needs to be brewed at 195˚F.
3rd infusion: (20s, 195˚F)
Much better, bitterness is gone. This tea is meant to be brewed around 195.
I tested brewing this tea at 205˚F, 200˚F, 195˚F, and 190˚F.
- 205˚F was nigh-undrinkable and the sweetness was lost
- 200˚F was still burnt, bitter, not sweet and the second infusion was super astringent
- 195˚F was gorgeous, aromatic, not as sweet-tasting as I expected but not as burnt or bitter as the previous 2
- 190˚F has less fragrance, duller aroma that isn’t sweet.
Verdict: The sweet spot is probably around 193-194˚F.
Flavors: Caramel, Kettle Corn, Malt
Full post here, but text below: https://cuckoossong.wordpress.com/2016/04/14/2015-autumn-ge-deng-yunnan-sourcing/
With my most recent order, I decided to sample the most expensive cake in Scott’s most recent autumn line just to see what the fuss is about… I plan to sample through the majority of his 2015 autumn teas eventually and post them up here, hopefully this will be a good benchmark.
When I warm up the dry leaves they smell intensely pungent and sweet, with a typical Yiwu straw aroma. I resolve to just drink the rinse, which is a very pure pale yellow. And it’s good. Nuanced, complex, and actually already plenty thick, there is subtly interwoven sweetness and bitterness that one expects from high quality Yiwu teas. The rinsed leaf smell is also of note; there is a very specific meaty aroma that I can’t quite place my finger on, perhaps in the realm of saucisson, weirdly enough.
The first real steeping reflects a very elegant and proper Yiwu tea, with balance and poise, no one element really clamoring for my attention, but still with plenty of moving parts in play. The bitterness really lingers though, which is no complaint. Minutes after this cup, my mouth still tastes of wildflowers and honey. The second infusion is yellow and DENSE, bordering on gold. Very pungent soup, and the bitterness has picked up also. Tasting notes for this infusion are as follows: Wild honey, orchids, sweet grass, a little cream.
I continue to be surprised that an autumn tea can be so rich. Most I drink are either watery or lacking this kind of thickness and vigor. I suppose the $88 price tag on a 250g cake isn’t for nothing… I wouldn’t say this tea is life changing or anything, but it’s certainly worthy of some mad respect. The price tag just makes this difficult for me, because $88 is already the upper end of what I’d usually spend on a full size cake. Of course price is subjective and only has meaning in the context to ones own pu budget, and I certainly wouldn’t call this cake a waste, so I resolve to forget about price and continue drinking.
Now in the middle steepings, this tea is smooth and creamy, having settled a bit from the rowdiness of the second and third cups brewed from these leaves. I’m not really sure what else to say about this tea right now… I think fans of Yiwu will love it, and even then there’s something in here for everyone, whether its sweetness, bitterness, complexity or the thick, textured mouth feeling the tea leaves in its wake. Perhaps one strike against it is that there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of huigan (lingering throaty sweetness). In fact, it’s the bitterness that lingers more than the sweetness, which again is not necessarily bad, just something interesting to note.
The later steeps are silky smooth, quintessentially inoffensive Yiwu tea with tender grassy and floral notes. Not a bad place to end up, in the scheme of things… Very nice tea overall, no critical flaws and a lot going for it. Again, the price tag means I won’t be springing for it, unless I ran into some unexpected cash, and even then there are a couple other big ticket items on Yunnan Sourcing I’d purchase first. But especially for fans of Yiwu tea in particular, I think this is still a solid buy.
Flavors: Creamy, Honey, Orchid, Sweet, warm grass
Bought this with my last Yunnan Sourcing order. This is an interesting tea. It has a note that I seem to get in all the Liu Bao teas I try. This one is basically new so I don’t think it’s a storage note. The best way I can think to describe it is as bamboo. It is almost wet storage taste but not quite. This one had it for the first few steeps I noticed. I don’t know if their is a better description for it. I may put some of this in a yixing container and see if it improves. I only gave this six steeps as much because of the caffeine as the bamboo taste. There is a slightly negative taste I have pretty much gotten from every Liu Bao tea I have tried. I am guessing that this bamboo taste is the equivalent to the fermentation taste in ripe puerh. I don’t remember how much of this the 2002 liu bao I drank recently had.
Once you get past this taste it is a fairly decent tea in general. I have yet to be really impressed by hei cha in general. Although I did like the tian jian I drank recently. For me they just don’t taste as good as puerh, whether ripe or raw.
I steeped this six times in a 120ml gaiwan with 7g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, and 20 sec. If I wanted to continue I could get a lot more out of these leaves and the next time I try it will have to give it a proper amount of steepings.
This is the sample came thru AllanK – thanks so much for sharing!
i was very excited to try it. The leaf material is good, long twisted leaves. Dry they smell of Fujian teas, that unforgettable rye bread, caraway seed, touch of chocolate .
6g/80ml Yixing pot 205F
rinse/short steeps 3/5/5/7/7/10sec etc
The soup is thick yellow color and very aromatic.
the tea is complex, changing with every steep. I’d say its a cross of Jin Jan Mei and medium roasted Yancha. some mineral notes emerged. some florals but not strong.
If you lower the temp you may avoid this and spicyness too i believe but i will stick with off boil. Long lingering aftertaste. Yum, very enjoyable,very interesting.
Im so glad i was able to try it. Thanks Allan ;)
And thank you YS for sourcing it
I just got home from work and was going to review some tea from yesterday while I drank this, but I’m on the third steep and this is all I have to say:
Imagine you are about to eat mac n’ cheese but someone forgot the cheese.
That’s this tea. It’s so… bleh, and something serious is missing. Just no depth and my entire bottom mouth feels like nothing was there…
This is a tasty ripe puerh with a little bit of fermentation flavor left, not too much. Noticeable in the first two or three steeps and that’s about it. There were also some notes early on of wet storage and spice. These were not real strong. It evolved into a nice ripe puerh with a sweet taste. Didn’t really notice the notes of chocolate that everyone seems to look for in a ripe. I think those notes are associated with the fermentation taste for the most part. Overall this was an excellent ripe puerh that I would in theory buy again. I probably actually won’t buy it again because I have way too much ripe as it is but in theory it is good enough.
I steeped this 12 times in a 150ml gaiwan with 12.4g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, and 2 min.
Flavors: Earth, Spicy, Sweet, Wet Wood
Got 25g of this since I loved the 2013 sample I bought so much and I wanted to see what it would be like with some age. I’m a little under the weather so take this with a grain of salt, but I just didn’t like this nearly as much as the 2013. Flavor profile was similar, with some earthiness and that deep fruity sweetness lingering. It just was way more muted and less interesting than the 2013—fewer flavor notes I could pick up and less thick and satisfying. I also felt the mouth-watering effects were far less on this cake than the 2013. Still definitely good, and it’s lasting till 8 steeps with dark brews, but as it stands now I’d choose the 2013 over the 2011.
Tried this again with cooler water and shorter steeps, and it was much better. Still sort of bitter on the tail but I can appreciate the taste without having my mouth totally dry out.
I still don’t love this tea, but I think that’s because I’m not as big a fan of black teas as I used to be. It’s got some good notes—malty and sweet for sure—but it’s just not very interesting taste-wise. It doesn’t have the fruity notes I really like, or much chocolate. Just a pretty good daily-drinking tea.
Brewing up this tea has been sort of a comedy of errors for me. I was super excited to get some in my last YS shipment (I’d split 50g with a friend), and decided to brew up a big thermos of it for work in the morning. I did what I call “speed gong-fu,” which is essentially a normal gong fu session minus the drinking part—I just dumped everything into a thermos. I sealed the lid and looked forward to some delicious sugar-roasted tea in the morning.
I was so wrong.
So yeah, the way I brewed this tea made it unbelievably bitter, like bagged black tea that’s been in the cup all day. I could take a few sips of it here and there and got some nice sweet potato-y notes, but otherwise it was awful. I poured it on my little dorm plant, in the end.
This afternoon my friend decided to make a big mug of it western-style, which I also tried. Much less disgusting than before, but it still had an unpleasant (read: not chocolatey) bitterness on the end, and just tasted sort of…weird. Maybe because of the sugar I expected it to be super mild, but it’s got a very strong taste, with some definite sour and bitter notes. It’s also strangely salty-tasting—last night when I did my little tea session my whole room ended up smelling sort of briny…which is strange.
Anyway, not loving this at the moment, but I’m planning to do a more definitive session today or tomorrow and see how it goes!