1812 Tasting Notes
Based on the lack of information I have about this pu’erh (I convinced the shopkeeper to try and get more information from the distributor), I really have very little idea where to begin. Gaiwan brewing, starting with a rinse and then 30 second steeps. The wet leaves are dark, with almost a reddish tinge to the leaves. They had the same earthy scent that reminded me of good pu’erh, but with a darkness to it, almost a mustiness.
The first cup looks a bit murky, which worries me, as good pu’erh is supposed to be bright. However, it does have a nice redness to the liquor, which is a good sign. The first sip and the second and the rest of the first cup all taste dry and sour. This is not a good sign for this tea.
I steep the tea again. The colour and aroma have not much changed. The flavour is better, not as sour, still a bit dry. But now it seems that I’m losing a lot of the good parts of the flavour.
I finish off the second steeping and decide I’m going to stop for now and try this tea again later. Maybe it would be better gong fu.
I could not get much if any information about this tea. Based on the look of the leaves and the flavour, it appears to be a Formosa oolong.
This tea does not stand up well. It took far longer than it should have to actually steep to an acceptable strength level. Each successive steep got weaker and weaker, and far too fast for my liking. For the cost of this tea (something like $5 an ounce), this tea was not worth buying again.
EDIT: Fail for me, I must have been totally out of it when I wrote this review. It’s obviously not a Formosa oolong, but a Se Chung oolong from China.
This pu’erh has become quite the disappointment, I’m afraid. It simply won’t stand up to gaiwan brewing.
Just for fun:
Does this tea smell like dirt? Yes, this tea smells like dirt. But such is a quality beloved of pu’erh. This sheng, or raw, or uncooked (whichever term you wish to use, each variety of pu’erh is a many-named tea) has a clean and clear aroma.
For this tasting, I use a small seasoned yixing pot, filled approximately a third with leaf. The leaves are rinsed and the first steeping is prepared, letting the leaves steep for about 30 seconds. The first taste conveys the earthy flavour well, along with a few vegetal notes. The liquor is light and smells “wet” with a bit of spiciness to it. The aftertaste seems cool and sits lightly in the mouth.
The second steep, of about 20 seconds, is darker in colour. The flavour is not as intense but is far more robust, flowing strongly through the mouth, giving one the full flavour experience. It almost seems as though there is a hint of minty-ness in the aftertaste for this tea. A bit like peppermint, it seems, like a touch of cool spice. One notices that this steeping remains a bit rough around the edges
30 seconds after again immersing the leaves in water, the third steep appears, as dark in colour as the second, and much the same flavour and aroma profile.
Another 30 seconds. The fourth steep maintains the same deep brown, but not quite dark brown, colouration. The flavours, though, are lighter. I cannot escape the strange cool mint-like aftertaste, which is something that barely comes through in the aroma.
Over the next few steepings, various flavours show themselves more dominantly than others. Vegetal flavours, spicy notes, and the complete earthiness all put their best foot forward as the tea continues to evolve.
The seven-years aging has been kind to this tea. If you are looking for a decent pu’erh for regular drinking, this 2003 Qing Yun Hao will surely fit the bill. I rate it a 75/100 on my personal enjoyment scale.
Because of the delicacy of this oolong, I decided to brew this in a gaiwan with short infusions. First, while I heated the water, I took a look and smell of the dry leaf. Opening the pouch, I bring it to my nose and inhale deeply. The scent is sweet and heavy. Complex, because the heaviness and “darkness” in it seem to be along a different track than the sweetness, which seems to spiral through the tea, never settling in one place. The leaves look dark, twisted, and almost fragile. I rinse the leaves and prepare to begin.
The first steeping is for 30 seconds, and produces a deep and sweet smelling liquor that entrances the nose. The flavour mimics the scent, with a floral profile and a dark flavour reminiscent of a Formosa oolong. A sweet aftertaste sits on the tongue and coats the inside of the mouth. Immensely potent describes this steeping well.
I eagerly steep the leaves again. This steeping is much more subdued. The various elements are well-pronounced. This tea is very delicious and is quite the joy to drink.
By the third steeping, the aroma has become lighter and more vegetal, while maintaining its sweetness. The sweetness of flavour, mingling with the newly developed vegetal flavours, bursts in the mouth quite pleasantly.
The fourth steeping seems to have leveled out the flavour profile. It tastes much like the third steeping. I resteep the leaves again and decide that I am not going to get any more transformations from this delectable tea.
I will continue to steep these leaves until they give out, but this has so far been an excellent experience.
I give this tea an 85/100 on my personal enjoyment scale.