30 Tasting Notes

I was getting some cheap glass teapots from Yunnan Sourcing, and I couldn’t resist taking a couple of pu’er cakes as well, especially with the expensive shipping of them. I don’t now a lot about young pu’ers, and I chose to get three vintages of 8582. I have sampled a couple of older 8582’s, and I liked them, and these young cakes where cheap. So I bought this one made 2008, another from 2009 and a third being made 2010. A vintage comparison! Although Steepster doesn’t (yet?) support comparative notes, I’m gonna give some thoughts on the comparison on this single note.

FIrst, they all were clearly the same tea. The taste was about the same, difference was more on how the taste behaved.
‘10 first attacked me with a taste I believe most describe in English as astringent bitterness, but the initial nastiness made room for a liquiricelike sweetness quite common with young cakes. Although first shocking, the initial taste moved aroung quite smoothly, it’s roughness was quite round if one can say like that. Aftertaste was pleasant. I’d say potential, but I won’t probably be drinking this for a couple of years.

‘09 was most interesting one. First I thought this was slighlty more tamed version of ’10, but at some points it gave some weird tastes. It didn’t behave consistently. At some brews this was definantly the weakest one, but sometimes it really shined. I really don’t know why.

‘08 was my overall favourite. It’s taste was most harmonious, balanced. There was quite a bit of roughness, but this tea wasn’t as bipolar as the ‘10 and ’09. If these three cakes really form a valid timeline of aging, I’d say this is my vasual pu’er in a couple of years.

Now the interesting thing is, are the differences in taste due their ages, or are they resulting from different harvests? Their age differences are relatively large, the ‘08 being three times as old as the one from ’10. On the other hand, they are only a year from each other. That will probably clear out in a couple of years, as their relative age difference lessens. I’m excited in onberving the aging of these three.

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This tea teached me how to enjoy young shengs. I cannot describe this really much, as I have always before shunned away from this young stuff. This is good, sweet, spicy, thick. I’ve even been able to enjoy bitterness in this tea!

I got this from Gingko’s blog sale.

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My first thought when sipping this tea was “My god, this is the best tea I’ve tasted this spring!” After finishing the first cup, the rest of the tea in my chahai had turned undrinkable. So, kinda hard start.

Leaves are beautiful, wet and dry. I’ve been missing those tight, sharp needles! Aroma is dry, sweet. Leaves are dancing nicely in the pot ( I use small, gongfu-style glasspots)

Taste is complex, yet remarkably balanced. Sweetness, some sourness as well. Usually when tea tastes sour it tastes sour in a way I don’t like it, but this time it works for me. There is also the dry nut-like taste, which is tied to the sourness. Taste is quite wide. I am assuming I used too much leaves (I felt like using more than I usually do) and while that resulted in a great first sip, the taste quickly transformed, and got more bitterness.

I am not very experienced in yellow teas. There is something very similar in the body of this tea and Huo Shan Huang Ya I have, I’m assuming that’s the “yellow” taste. Tasting blind I would have assumed this was green.

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Jesse Örö

This tea was surprisingly strong. I have got this strong teahigh from only a couple of teas, know that I am again used to spring teas.

Nathaniel Gruber

Interesting review. Generally I wouldn’t associate bitterness with yellow tea. In your opinion do you think this was strictly the use of too much leaf material or is it missing something of quality? I’d be interested to know because the few yellow teas that I have tried are vegetal and sweet but I’ve never tried one that turned bitter.

Jesse Örö

For some reason I decided to use more leaves than usually, I used about 1,5 times the “normal leaf amount”. I don’t have a scale, but the amounts I am normally using are similar to those used by other I’ve made tea with.
Of course all teas change in the cup, and this one changed towards bitterness. It tasted like I had brewed it too long for that leaf amount. So, I think I overbrew this one at first, but that became “visible” only after a moment -maybe the tea settled down and got mixed up better, or maybe it just got changed by time.
You say you’ve never tried one that turned bitter? At all? I mean, as far as I know there aren’t many teas that can stand anything, there is always a way to make bad cup out of tea. Well, this year some of the best green teas have been almost invincible, practically impossible to go wrong.

Jesse Örö

I sincerely believe this tea is of high quality. It’s possible that something just happened – one can never “control” tea, maybe this was one of those occasions of tea acting weirdly on it’s own.

Nathaniel Gruber

Fair enough. You’re right, each time you make a tea it will taste different based upon a number of factors including the mood of the one making the tea.

I think I was more getting at the point that the majority of the really best Chinese teas are very difficult to over-brew. Depends on the kind of tea…a Sheng Pu’er is going to be touchier than an Oolong generally. Yellow tea, to me, has always been so pleasant and mild that I was a bit surprised to hear that it turned bitter on you.

Interesting stuff. I’d be fascinated to try this tea!

Jesse Örö

Well, I think I agree, it’s weird how it got bitter, usually this good tea doesn’t act like that.

Many of these higher end spring teas (green, white, yellow) seem to go really dry and sour in a negative way when overbrewn. I think there is something similar happening with wulongs sometimes, when using lots of leaves and a longer steeps. Taste goes “stuck”, there is simply too much of each flavour in the cup, and they start to supress each other.

Nathaniel Gruber

Yeah, I could imagine what you mean. I have had some pretty negative experiences with using too much leaf.


I love Meng Ding Huang Ya! I had this tea in 2008 from TeaSpring. So fresh, nutty and delicious! I only wish I had bought more. I’ve only had one other tea from TeaSpring and it too was very fresh and delicious. I’ll have to order from TS again. :))

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If I’m going to casually drink some tea, I usually walk to my shelf, reach out for something else, and then quite often in the end I pick up this tea.

First I thought that this tea is a mere curiosity, it tasted so weird. It has light, spring-like sweetness, but also there is a weird taste which I am unable to name. I’ve found variations of that taste on Mengding Ganlu, and Amazing Green Tea’s Huang Shan Maofeng, but not this “weird”.

A sign of the quality of this tea is its ability to withstand temperature, I’ve been brewing this with water ranging from 70°C to boiled water, without a note of over-brewing. Also I have been steeping this for 5 minutes, waiting for leaves to sink. That works well, as well as five-second “washes” with hot water.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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This is the cheapest Sheng-pu’er I’ve seen anywhere. Tuocha itself had a stingy, sweet aroma remindin me of mint. Leaves look quite good, pu’er looks like what it should be. Leaves are quite large, and for most part whole. It tastes like it smells, sweet, slightly stingy mint. Piece of tuocha broke up almost immediately when I added water, so I was quite careful with this tea. With a short steep this tea was quite enjoyable, a bit boring but much more than I was expecting for. I tried to steep a little longer, but bitterness scared me away quickly, I didn’t take more than three brewings. I should try to drink this again, and get over my disgust for bitterness, I feel there might be more in this cake than I initially thought.

I bought ten of these for a particular reason, I am planning to experiment with aging. I’m gonna hide one of these in a really humid cottage, one in somewhere dry, one in a normal shelf… Maybe I put one in a spiceshelf for a year.
Then, after 5-10 years I’ll have a pu’ertasting, and the effects of aging can be tested (?). Of course, this isn’t a high quality sheng, but I didn’t dare to sacrifice anything good for this.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Nathaniel Gruber

Sounds like a fun experiment. Yeah, it would be too bad to ruin some really high end Sheng with improper aging.

Jesse Örö

Yeah. Aging is a difficult subject.
Almost all other aspects of tea can be easily experimented, like brewing time, zisha types… But aging!

Nathaniel Gruber

Very intriguing! You’ve inspired me to find some affordable Sheng and tamper with the aging parameters.

Asaf Mazar

Its been 2 years. have you snuck a tasting in to check up these cakes?

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Ahhhh, now this is fresh quality green tea.
I won’t be writing a long note now, I got a packet of teas from AGT today, and I drank them all today without concentrating really much in the analysis.

Vegetal, grassy, sweet, complex. Taste is quite archetypical chinese green, in a really good way. This will probably be my “default” green tea this spring, the one I’ll be drinking regularly.

Qi is especially strong, even for a quality green. Or maybe I just haven’t drank anything this fresh and good for a long time.

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Jesse Örö

Okay, today I dared to follow the brewing instructions, and I used hot water. I will use hot water in the future.

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I haven’t really enjoyed darjeelings for the last couple of years. I have always participated in First Flush -tastings whenever possible, I felt that DJs are supposed to be tasted every spring. It was my duty, but not a particular pleasure.

I haven’t tasted anything from Teesta Valley specifically, so I am comparing this to my general memories of Darjeeling FF2010.

Dry leaves were especially green, I recall last year’s leaves were darker. This is also reflected in taste, this tea was really light. Taste sort of flows through me, it is hard to get hold of anything but a sweet, somewhat floral aftertaste. I find this taste seducing, teasing, but pleasant. Maybe this year I enjoy Darjeelings!
Aftertaste hit pretty quickly, and it is sort of honeylike, floral berrythingy.
There aren’t any elements I commonly associate with black teas, and that I like. It may be my light brewing, I used few leaves in a low temperature. I tried later with more leaves and hotter water, and I think the tea lost its balance with higher temperature.
Overall a really nice tea to have.

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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drank Xu Fu Long Ya by TeaSpring
30 tasting notes

Spring 2011 harvest!

Gentle, sweet, harmonious, vegetal. Had a nice tingly mouthfeel. Tea brings forth associations of rivers and streams of water in a rainforest. Moving, restless water.

Different parameters gave varying results, this tea can be good in many ways. I think that temperature should be under 80° C but the steeping time can vary. I first drank it with small amount of leaves, steeping time ~1minute, and the result was smooth, interesting, quite clearly green tea. I noticed an interesting tate, which reminds me of Korean green teas, and I tried to emphasise it with larger amount of leaves. On the edge of being oversteeped, this tea was quite interesting, strong in mouthfeel and less vegetal.

170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Tea enthusiastic, and a one of founders of Uutos, Finnish company providing tea-consultation and organizing events. We tend to drink up our winnings.

Haven’t been posting much lately, been drinking teas mostly not found on internet stores and not bothering to log them. My tea drinking has also been shifting away from analytical tasting, and more towards feeling and experiencing, so I’m writing less notes. I do recognize both sides of tea drinking important for me, and I believe I will start logging more frequently again, maybe with spring teas.


Helsinki, Finland



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