16 Tasting Notes

89

THANKS TO ANGEL FOR THIS SAMPLETHEY ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED

These are beautiful leaves and so aromatic. This tea is extremely satisfying even before the first sip. It may sound a bit geeky, but to watch these vibrant green leaves open up and release an undeniably beautiful aroma could be considered a transcendent experience.

The somewhat grassy dry aroma, when awakened, blossoms into a very green, asparagus-like aroma mixed with floral overtones. A very enticing lt. green liquor also emits a slight evergreen scent.

This lightly oxidized oolong possesses a delicate taste that is pleasing and noteworthy enough even to someone (me) who usually demands and enjoys the big, bold tastes of shu puer. The taste has the complexity most will enjoy. Green beany, asparagusy vegetal predominate, but there are a host of others which I am unable to concisely identify. Nonetheless, multiple flavors abound in this cup.
Obviously, this is a high quality tea,possessing attributes typical of many good Taiwan oolongs. This tea has a very clean, pleasant throat. A subtle throat belonging to a subtle tea. One shouldn’t expect more.

My only regret regarding this oolong is that I exhausted the leaves when I could have drunk more.

This is a very nice, complete oolong with no obvious flaws.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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92

This is a very pleasant puer!!! It seems I have been drinking almost exclusively puer lately. This is probably due to the fact that my dear wife’s stomach is acting up and Puer is the only tea she can drink. The Chinese attribute a lot of health benefits to Puer, and in a culture where, “food is medicine”, puer does seem like a very healthy drink. If even half of its attributed benefits are true, I should live be ~178.
Anyway, I’m rambling…onto the tea
Usually one can describe puer specifically, and tea generally in associative terms, i.e. leathery, nutty etc. This puer, however, is a little different. Both the aroma and the taste don’t necessarily have noteworthy associations. Rather, this tea is pure, clean, whole, complete. I’m really enjoying this! It is soooo smooth and crisp, not like tea at all.

I normally steep puer short, from 5-15 sec. After several short steeps (all enjoyable cups), I decided to let it steep for 90 secs to see what would happen. I was yet again rewarded with a smooth, subtle and wholesome cup.

I enthusiastically recommend this tea. Not because of its complex flavors, but because of its complex nature.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Bonnie

I agree that this one is hard to mess up. Very forgiving and easy to drink. A good pu-erh for people transitioning from coffee I think.

ashmanra

I love this one, too! Inspired by Bonnie I did one steep hot and cold steeped the leaves for an iced tea and it was magnificent!

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87

I’ve been away for a bit. However, if anyone cares, I am now a tandem reviewer. With great pleasure and endless frustration, my dear father-in-law is visiting for a few months and will be teaching me how to properly evaluate tea!! He is a fairly well recognized actor who starred in the highest grossing Malaysian movie to date. Nonetheless, he is a kind old man who has tolerated a white devil son-in-law, therefore I hold him in fairly high esteem. He has (of course) been drinking Chinese tea for his entire life (>7 decades). I’ll try to be a good student. Anyway, onto the tea!

I humbly express a huge “thank you” to Angel for the generous samples.

Sheng Ancient tree Puerh

Dry aroma: puerh, not remarkable
Wet aroma: sweet, honey, freshly cut cherry or maple…Pleasant and exciting

Yixing small pot…208F 30-45 sec after two washes (substantial discussions with Chinese grandfather as to the reason, but OK)

First steep: (I’m going to go narrative from here on because the flow, as the tea demand it). The pre-drink aroma was pleasant if unremarkable, but the first sip was oddly delicious and a bit scary. My mind thought, “strange brew”, but I must have more. This is definately Puerh, but Puerh with a funny, not unpleasant twist. I couldn’t put a finger on the curiosity….therefore I had to wake my wife to translate for Mr Lim (my FIL) He did a lot of gesturing and loud talking to express himself. Turns out, he was saying “cats should be grass” “Mao Xu Cao” which translates into Orthosiphonius (Chinese herb). He was quite excited at this point.

The second steep was for three. My wife joined us in the evaluation. This tea is getting stronger and smoother. The partakers are becoming happier. An interesting thing happened at this point. My esteemed Father-in-law began speaking about the goodness, tastiness of the bitterness. I hadn’t noticed much if any bitterness, except for a little bite at the end. What I might have thought as a detriment, my father knew as an attribute…. New way of thinking and tasting….
He is correct. He has experience. I could explain the taste in terms of barkyness or mossiness, but I will simply say that this tea has everything you might expect from a sheng puerh, but it has a significance that appeals to the novice and is noticed by the expert.

This is a tea that should be tasted because it has some uncommon attributes that are exceedingly pleasant.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

How lovely to have people at home to drink tea with and who know what to look for. I drink alone most of the time which isn’t best. I hope your FIL has a wonderful visit!

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88
drank Pu-erh loose by Zen Tea
16 tasting notes

This plain foil sample pack arrived from Zen tea labeled simply Puerh Loose leaf. There was no notation of what vintage or what farm or factory crafted this tea. I’m getting skeptical at this point. However, I have tried and liked very much both of the other teas I have tried from Zen Tea. Therefore, I proceeded with a cautious optimism.

After depositing the sample into my small puer Yixing and giving it a rinse, I was greeted by a very robust, peaty aroma. Very strong tobacco and leather notes were being emitted from this first steep. I prepared myself for a very assertive brew.

In an effort to minimize the possibility of even an unpleasant swallow, I usually, at first, keep the steeps short. Even with a short steep, I received a inky, thick first cup. So far we have a very robust aroma coupled with a dark, thick consistency… First sip… It depends on which part of my tongue!!! There were too many different and varied flavors swimming around in my mouth. Some I could probably assign a flavor, but most not. None however were bad. Moreover, they were all as harmonious as the Vienna Boys Choir!!!!

All the flavors layer on top of each other seemlessly. Following steepings did not disappoint either. The flavor has moderated a bit, while not becoming more complex, but still very pleasant. This puer also has great endurance. I will not be able to outlast these leaves.

Perhaps I’m losing part of my logical faculties, or perhaps something otherworldly, BUT…. I can clearly taste the aroma of Iveron or Svir after each sip. These are both types of incense used at my church (Russian Orthodox), but I don’t have any at home nor have any unwashed clothes around that may carry the scent. I don’t know, but it is very pleasant, if not a bit strange.

Again, I want to thank Zen tea for the sample. It made for a very enjoyable drinking session. I’m very pleased with this unidentified puer!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Bonnie

Oh my! I understand how the incense plays in. Take a look at my blog www.teaandincense.com the picture is my censor with some frankincense burning in it that I set up on my bed. What you can’t see to the right on the wall is my icon shelf.

ashmanra

I get you! I had a tea from Bonnie once (Hi, Bonnie!) that reminded me of incense! She had sent me some of the incense as well as tea, but the incense had NOT tainted the tea at all, it was just the flavor and aroma of the tea!

Bonnie

Hi Ash!

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93

I’ve been drinking a lot of Puer lately. Truth be told, they sometimes run together or are remarkable for the wrong reasons. Much to my relief and happiness, today I’ve found a puer that is a standout because of its high quality.

I thought I might have had a wrong ratio at first. The first couple steeps lacked that typical puer “bite” that I have come to expect. I fiddled around with the amount of leaf in my small Yixing until I was sure I had to be on the max amount. Even then the brew was as smooth and mellow as any puer. Only when I left it sit in the pot an unthinkable amount of time was I able to find any trace of bitterness.

The first few steeps produced a very flavorful tea with a significant tingle and very pleasant throat. I was left with impressions of marinated grape leaves smoked over a campfire. The smell of that same campfire deep in a misty forest early in the morning is coming out of my little cup right now.

I’ve been drinking this pot for more than 4 hrs now. The taste has evolved immensely from when I began. What began as direct, slightly wild, and smoky has become a very, very pleasant mellow sweetness. I started drinking this with a nice European chocolate laced with cayenne, which worked nicely, but switched to lightly salted almonds and pistachios now. Both of these combinations really made this puer “pop” or maybe the other way around.

I think Verdant has a stellar line-up in their stable of tea. Although this puer probably isn’t at the top of their list of stars, it surely deserves significant recognition for quality, in my opinion.
Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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85

I purchased this cake because of the price, shape and name. Obviously this was named in honor of Panchen Lama Norbu not Nyima, otherwise, the PRC would never let it see the light of day on western shores. I digress and don’t want to cause any political arguments here.

Anyway, I can’t say how pleasantly surprised I was with the quality of this Puer. I wrestled with the mushroom shape trying to break a modest piece off. I got a little bit bigger piece than I wanted, but gave it a go.

Because I had more cake than necessary, it was important to keep the steeps as short as possible. This worked wonderfully. Over many, many, many steeps, I was rewarded with a rich, full-bodied tea. This tea produced an impressive depth of flavor; typical puer flavors of earth, leather and finally pleasant salted mushrooms. Nothing spectacular as far as flavor or aroma, just solid, hearty and healthy flavors. As stated earlier, I kept the steeps very short,therefore I never encountered a harsh or bitter note.

Overall, this puer exemplifies only positive qualities: price point, flavor, aroma, and endurance.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
TeaBrat

sounds good!

Bonnie

Num! don’t bring it around Amy or I! It…be gone’d!

TheTeaFairy

Steelhead, you’re right, it is wiser not to mix tea and politics, as tea is all about peace :-) Nice review…

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86

I can’t say whether I favor Oolong over Puerh. A good oolong is hard to beat. Of course, unlike Puerh, oolong spans a wide range of flavor profiles. Personally, I prefer highly oxidized, heavily roasted oolongs. Because of my own preferences, most of my favorites come out of Fujian, and not Taiwan. Most tea experts find Taiwan high mountain teas superior because of their floral bouquet and complex, light flavor. I don’t doubt that they are correct, and maybe my palate will one day evolve to expert status. However, right now, I like this.

Opening this bountiful sample from Zen Tea, the aroma was warm and roasty. The tea is dark; fully oxidized. After a quick wash, the brilliant aroma of Fall in the north comes to mind. Leaves, spices, apple cider, a fire in the fireplace.
The taste is just as pleasant as the aroma. There are a lot of flavors in this tea, and all of them are welcome. This tea possesses high notes mostly of spice, maybe nutmeg or hints of cinnamon. There is a sweetness in the taste, especially after the roastiness subsides. The sweetness is that of corn or tomatoes not sugar or flowers. I think this tea is loaded with umami-like flavors, both overt and subtle. This makes me want to drink more. The more times I steep, the roasted qualities fade and the sweeter aspects prevail. This tea has very nice body, depth and a clean finish.

I like oxidized oolongs in general, and I very much like this specific TieGuanYin from Zen Tea.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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81

A handful of these little guys showed up in the mailbox today. They are cute little flat disks. I told my little boy (5YO) that they were candy. His excitement was short-lived.
Anyway, I tossed one into my Yixing pot,and gave it a quick wash. The dry tuocha aroma was unremarkable. With the addition of hot water, the tea comes to life. I was surprised to see the cake break apart so quickly, but this doesn’t seem to affect its endurance. I’m on number 6 or 7 steep, and this tea is showing no signs of waning.

The aroma of the wet leaves is fairly typical puerhy. Leather, wet soil, barky are my first impressions…all favorable and not overwhelming. There is a hint of ….hmmm… maybe soapiness, in a nice way. A slightly refreshing aromatic ending. Maybe they say this is the date, but its kinda soapy for me.

As for the taste, this one is smooth. In my opinion, this relatively thick, deep mahogany colored liquor is one of the smoothest and mellowest I’ve tasted. This attribute is the high point for this tea. What it has in smoothness, it lacks in depth of flavor. From steep to steep, there is a certain monotony in this tea. An expert would refer to this as “lack of rhythm”. With an undoubtedly pleasant taste, I am not too disappointed. I just would like to be able to decipher an evolution of flavors. This tea leaves me with a reasonably clean finish, but without that certain numbing pleasantness we can see in really good Puerhs.
The positive: clean, pleasant flavor, good endurance, nice aroma.
The negative: lack of rhythm.

Overall a nice tea and well worth drinking. Also the quality/price ratio is very high.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Thomas Edward(Toad)

I like these little guys too :)

Bonnie

These are very nice beginner puerh’s or for the times when you just want a tummy soother. Sometimes I don’t want to fuss or I want to drink a puerh like a cup of coffee used to be on the run. A simple tuocha is great for that.

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85

Another seriously good tea from Verdant. Everything I try from them exceeds my expectations!!

Genmaicha has for years had its own place in our cabinet. The ubiquitous purple and yellow box is a stable on our shopping list. Genmaicha is as common in our house as Sriracha or oyster sauce. It is a comfortable, dependable friend.

Sometimes our dependable friends surprise us. This Verdant GMC is an energized version of my humble friend.

Having a beautiful appearance and a familiar GMC aroma, I really wasn’t expecting an exceedingly memorable experience. Genmaicha is genmaicha, right? Wrong!!

The look is familiar as is the color of the liquor. Even the taste is familiar, but it is a familiar taste raise by a factor or 3 or 4 in intensity and quality. It truly is like the difference between those single serving ice cream cups you hand out to the kids at a birthday party and a super premium Haagen Daz. This is Genmaicha as I’ve never known it.

This tea is warm and wholesome. It has a very nice nuttiness and has an undeniable sweet, clean throat. I thought I was mistaken at first, but the lingering sweet ending is consistent and very pleasing. This is a completely clean brew.

From beginning to end this is a superior product. As long as I can afford it, this will be my new everyday Genmaicha.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 15 sec
Rellybob

So excited to try this!

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Bio

My foray into Asian culture in general and tea specifically began about two decades ago upon meeting my future wife early in our university years. I call it my Sino-ification, but generally it took more than a decade to become an honorary Chinese at least in the eyes of my family. I am still casually referred to as “white devil”, “barbarian” and “big nose”. However, I am indebted to my Chinese in-laws and asian friends for instilling in me, among other things,a great respect and love of tea culture, and all of its nuances.

Over the years, we have had the great fortune to travel throughout Asia, particularly in Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, and of course in Malaysia. Along the way always eating the local fare and drinking tea.

I am so glad to finally be connected to this site to further my knowledge and appreciation of tea.

Location

Lexington, KY / KL Malaysia

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