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Wet aroma opens with a toasted earthy sweetness and, because of the purely dry storage, is not at all musty. The aroma is not bright but subdued and cellared. There is an interesting dichotomy present throughout the cupping of this tea and that is the interplay between a cooling menthol/eucalyptus quality and a more wild and rugged tanned animal skin quality.

The liquor has a silky texture and the cooling aspect floats to the top of the palate as somewhat of a vapour. Anchoring the flavors is that subtle yet heavy primitive leather taste and a tree bark dryness left on the tongue. The hui gan is surprisingly profound and delicious reminiscent of a sweet and earthy Yunnan red.

Stiffer brews do nothing to ruin the profile of this tea and instead push each quality into greater pronunciation. It’s that versatility and durability that impress me most. Also the returning sweetness becomes fuller as one progresses through the cups.

So in the search for the best aged sheng on a budget I’m left with a couple of contenders, this being one. Actually, in all fairness, I’m left with 1a and 1b because the other one is a wet stored puer. The differences are not of quality but of characteristic.

And how cute is that butterfly :-)

Nathaniel Gruber

It’s so difficult to find decent Sheng pu’er in this country, so I appreciate your review of this tea. Though I haven’t tried this particular brick, by the way you’re describing it I know what you’re talking about especially when you said:

“liquor has a silky texture and the cooling aspect floats to the top of the palate as somewhat of a vapour”

We were trying an old Shou pu’er from 1998 today in which my description was almost exactly word for word. I will have to look in to getting a sample of this one.

Let me know if you have some Sheng’s that you know of that are especially nice because I’d love to try some more really high end stuff. Likewise, I have some great stuff as well if you’re interested.

cultureflip

Hey, thanks for commenting . . . get to know Gingko of LifeInTeacup.com. She’s really cool about providing samples of her stuff to enthusiasts and I’ve bought a fair amount from her. As far as good sheng (or anything, for that matter) goes, some of the best I’ve had has come from TheMandarinsTeaRoom.com. His tea is too expensive for everyday drinking on my budget though. I do like the 1990s Small Yellow Label from EssenceOfTea.com for the money. Their 1996 Menghai “Orange in Orange” is very good though more pricey.

The best young sheng I’ve had is a sample Gingko gave me of some 2010 Si Shui (Flowing Water) by Yi Ru Chang. I don’t think she even has it up in her shop but it’s worth inquiring about.

I poked around your store earlier today and it looks like you have selected some interesting offerings. I’m partial to aged sheng myself but that’s probably because I just haven’t had much really good young sheng or shou. The better shou I’ve had does carry that nice menthol quality but here’s just so much mediocre/bad stuff out there that it keeps me from investing too much into exploring.

Nathaniel Gruber

Thanks! I will definitely need to get in contact with her.

I understand wanting to find worthwhile teas on a budget. Our founder, David Duckler, is a Chinese language scholar who began his travels in China as a professor and an author over 3 years ago. Because of this, he did not come in to tea with the mentality of buying or selling it but rather, was able to meet some really incredibly people that shared their best tea with him (stuff that is not going to be shared with 99% of American tea companies). Knowing the language has helped us tremendously as well and he has been able to bring in some absolutely breathtaking stuff.

I agree with you that I always liked older Sheng’s, simply because most of the younger stuff was overwhelmingly smokey and astringent. I will say that our Sheng’s are far and away the best that I’ve tried in this country. I would rather drink our 2006 vintage over anybody else’s 1996 almost always. The leaf quality and care of these bricks goes so far beyond what was available previously.

Thought I’d let you know. I’m going to go ahead and buy some samples of the teas that you had mentioned as well as talk to Gingko as you suggested. I hope that we can continue the conversation throughout the weeks and months ahead as we both continue in the discovery of tea.

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Nathaniel Gruber

It’s so difficult to find decent Sheng pu’er in this country, so I appreciate your review of this tea. Though I haven’t tried this particular brick, by the way you’re describing it I know what you’re talking about especially when you said:

“liquor has a silky texture and the cooling aspect floats to the top of the palate as somewhat of a vapour”

We were trying an old Shou pu’er from 1998 today in which my description was almost exactly word for word. I will have to look in to getting a sample of this one.

Let me know if you have some Sheng’s that you know of that are especially nice because I’d love to try some more really high end stuff. Likewise, I have some great stuff as well if you’re interested.

cultureflip

Hey, thanks for commenting . . . get to know Gingko of LifeInTeacup.com. She’s really cool about providing samples of her stuff to enthusiasts and I’ve bought a fair amount from her. As far as good sheng (or anything, for that matter) goes, some of the best I’ve had has come from TheMandarinsTeaRoom.com. His tea is too expensive for everyday drinking on my budget though. I do like the 1990s Small Yellow Label from EssenceOfTea.com for the money. Their 1996 Menghai “Orange in Orange” is very good though more pricey.

The best young sheng I’ve had is a sample Gingko gave me of some 2010 Si Shui (Flowing Water) by Yi Ru Chang. I don’t think she even has it up in her shop but it’s worth inquiring about.

I poked around your store earlier today and it looks like you have selected some interesting offerings. I’m partial to aged sheng myself but that’s probably because I just haven’t had much really good young sheng or shou. The better shou I’ve had does carry that nice menthol quality but here’s just so much mediocre/bad stuff out there that it keeps me from investing too much into exploring.

Nathaniel Gruber

Thanks! I will definitely need to get in contact with her.

I understand wanting to find worthwhile teas on a budget. Our founder, David Duckler, is a Chinese language scholar who began his travels in China as a professor and an author over 3 years ago. Because of this, he did not come in to tea with the mentality of buying or selling it but rather, was able to meet some really incredibly people that shared their best tea with him (stuff that is not going to be shared with 99% of American tea companies). Knowing the language has helped us tremendously as well and he has been able to bring in some absolutely breathtaking stuff.

I agree with you that I always liked older Sheng’s, simply because most of the younger stuff was overwhelmingly smokey and astringent. I will say that our Sheng’s are far and away the best that I’ve tried in this country. I would rather drink our 2006 vintage over anybody else’s 1996 almost always. The leaf quality and care of these bricks goes so far beyond what was available previously.

Thought I’d let you know. I’m going to go ahead and buy some samples of the teas that you had mentioned as well as talk to Gingko as you suggested. I hope that we can continue the conversation throughout the weeks and months ahead as we both continue in the discovery of tea.

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