108 Tasting Notes

This is the first Shui Xian Wuyi I’ve had. I thought I would do this right by grabbing a sample that is claimed to be sourced from Jiulongke, a small patch of tea gardens within the Zheng Yan scenic area. I’m still learning about Wuyi teas, but I have had true cliff Wuyi oolong before and this one seems to share some their characteristics.

These are large black, intact leaves that are highly floral after the rinse. I can’t recall any Wuyi with such a strong floral aroma. The first few infusions are thiiiiiiiiiick, smooth, and powerful. Very nice qi and strong mouthfeel that forces me to recline as I slowly sip. All the typical Shui Xian notes of prominent umami-like florals, cannabis, roasted barley, and sweet minerals (reminiscent of MSG) that cover the entire mouth almost like toothpaste. This sweet mineral note and strong mouthfeel linger for a some time after drinking.

This one goes strong until steep 8 or so. While it’s already enjoyable now, waiting at least a year or more for the flavors and textures to develop would pay this tea the respect it deserves and heighten the drinking experience. I could see this resulting in a richer tea liquid with some sweeter fruit notes.

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drank 2016 Poundcake by White2Tea
108 tasting notes

The poundcake is the young pop star of pu’er in the West for obvious reasons. I’m not one to embrace trends, but I’ve been curious what all the hype was about. This is my second session with this tea. The attractive long dried leaves have a sweet sugary/grassy scent which is enhaced with a spash of ripened passion and mango aromas after the first rinse. What’s not to like?

Steeps are consistently vibrant and active in the mouth with some throat action going on there too. This one has a nice buzzing qi that grabs my attention. Typically expert processing here: mercifully light compression respecting leaf integrity; pure and clean tea liquor and taste; and no burnt specks to be found. Tropical fruits, sweet florals, and milky oolong continue into later steeps with just a hint of astringency.

There’s a metallic finish (all too prolific in W2T’s shengs) at the roof and back of my mouth that takes points off in my book. This can be overcome with more dynamic flavor characteristics, which isn’t the case here considering the softer profile and lack of edge of this tea.

I can see why this would be attractive to beginners with a decent tea budget, but having tried at least 5 of W2T’s Yiwu-like shengs, I find myself unwilling to put up the cash for this xiao bing. Instead, I chose to pay $15 more for their 357 g 2009 Yiwu Gushu Bing, I suspect shared very similar characteristics in its youth.

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This one deserves another review. Sampling this one that had undergone mrmopar’s storage motivated me to order an entire cake to air out in my pumi for a few years. My other cakes have responded well to my plastic container storage, so I figure why not.

Upon smelling the wrapper, I knew I wouldn’t have to wait at all. Perhaps having had over 2 full years to acclimate in Malaysia has resolved the issues I had with the storage smell of EoT’s sheng cakes. There’s nothing off putting here. Instead, the undesirable prune-like smells are replaced by soft cedar and dried fig notes in the aroma.

The tea vibrates in the mouth, leaving behind pleasurable and pronounced cooling and tingling sensations that spread in the mouth and throat, which lasts far into the later steeps. This is my favorite characteristic of this tea, and EoT believes this is enhanced by Malaysian storage. I don’t feel the qi on this tea as intensely as others do, but I do feel its clarifying and uplifting effects. It’s a young tea, but it already exhibits mid-aged notes of complex woods (cedar, sandalwood, oak), green apples, dried figs, cloves, and leather.

I’m happy to be able to finally enjoy this tea as it is.

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Pretty good stuff. It has taken me to the next level of dancong scrumptiousness. These beautiful and delicate laves are smaller than I expected. After the first rinse, my nose is met with a complex and intoxicating aroma of ripened cherries, muscat grape skins, orchids, nutmeg, and juniper berries, among other tasty notes.

There’s a lot of mouth activity going on and a definitive structure to the tea. It’s pure and has a velvety texture. During the initial 3 or so steeps, I’m getting prominent muscat grape with perhaps a few orchids thrown in there. It leaves a floral sweetness and slightly numbing sensation on the tongue as it lingers.

After the 5th or so steep, sandalwood and sweet mineral notes take the stage while the florals and muscat linger the background. By now, the tea has filled my mouth with sweetness as well as tingling and drying sensations. With my typical leaf-to-water ratio, I’d say I can get at least 8 tasty steeps. Nice qi in this one too!

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BigDaddy graciously had my wife and I join him for this session. This was a real treat. The dried leaves smell like velvety dark chocolate. True artistry went into the processing of these leaves. Wet leaves have a thick aroma of stewed peaches, milk chocolate, and roasted walnuts. It brewed a clear orange tea soup with a thick, velvety texture. I was impressed the aroma was carried over into the tea soup.

The initial steeps are highly floral and fruity with hints of maple, vanilla bean, and chocolate in the background. These background notes moved to the front, competing with the ripe peach, apricot, and floral notes for my attention. I could smell the fragrance while the tea sat in my mouth. Syrup-like viscosity continued with each steep without showing signs of waning until the 9th steep. This is something to set some time aside for and really savor.

mrmopar

Lucky you!

BigDaddy

Door is always open

mrmopar

I think we are due a tea meeting one day for sure!

tanluwils

BigDaddy has a good stash. Next time I’ll bring some good sheng.

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drank 2016 Teadontlie by White 2 Tea
108 tasting notes

I was excited to try this one and it has met my expectations. It’s a nice blend of medium sized leaves of varying shades of silver, charcoal, and brown. There’s some large leaves thrown in there too. The dried leaves have a sweet grassy scent. Wet leaves have a more sweet floral and nutty aroma. The tea soup for the first steeps have a deep golden hue and are very clear.

Great qi develops from the initial steeps. This is a throaty tea. Sweet floral notes and nectar-like textures cover the tongue. This combined with tingling mouth activity moves quickly down the throat. I can feel a warm energy in my solar plexus after the 3rd steep. Ferociously floral and tropical fruit notes continue for many many steeps.

There’s medium viscosity here, but good depth, longevity, a lot of qi, and serious huigan. It lingers nicely on the tongue and throat for at least 20 mins after drinking. Sure, this one is good now, but it’ll be by far more enjoyable after 1 year of calming down.

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I dismissed this one a bit quickly after sampling it upon arrival where I got mostly wood notes and hints of what it may have once been. After letting it hang in the pumi for a month or two… I get it now.

The rinse is already a thick soup with a vibrancy that extends to the back of the throat. Lovely mouthfeel from the start.

I may have gotten the center of the cake, as the leaves are taking more than a few steeps to come apart which may have preserved these spring-like and high floral notes. Aromas reflect what’s in the cup. Spring meadows upon meadows of wild flowers and interesting complex wood notes all competing for my attention.

The first few steeps are highly floral(honeysuckle and other northern flowers) with a crisp, vegetal complexity that reminds me of dried radish greens and dried herbs. Nice complex sweet apple wood base. Depth is evident early on. Vibrancy and qi spread throughout the mouth and go down the throat into the solar plexus. Yep, I’m all plugged into this tea. This sensation is also something I picked up in the ’16 Han Gu Di, but the experience is more intense with the Da Si—probably the result of 3 years of settling into itself.

From steep 6 to 9 there’s still more to discover, as the compressed portions have yet to fully expand. It’s got a consistently thick body, but increased levels of qi and a complex sweetness (brown sugar, orchid nectar, and pungent honey) that lingers on the sides of the tongue as webs of crystalized sugar and moves straight towards the back of the throat. I’m relishing this huigan which compliments the waves of qi pulsating from my head as it floats to the ceiling.

These kinds of steeps keep on going past 10, 11, and 12. This is a nice one that all sheng pu heads should try. It’s far from my budget, but I would be most grateful if any magnanimous individuals would like to donate a sample. :)

Note: I moved the tea leaves from the gaiwan to the nixing teapot after steep 6. I suspect this is what brought out more those complex sweet notes and enhanced the mouthfeel. This is one of those mind-clarifying shengs.

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Another unique and enjoyable tianjian from YS. The dried leaves are smallish and have a nice black cherry aroma and slight hint of pine wood charcoal. The tea soup is incredibly clear with a light yellow hue.

This one starts out like a black tea and gradually evolves into a sheng pu’er in later steeps without astringency or bitterness. It’s a bit more subtle in flavor than the other tianjians I’ve had. I picked up some fruity black tea, black cherry, stinging nettles, and pine resin. No noticeable smoky flavors here. This one has a nice granite/limestone mineral base that lasts throughout the session. The mouthfeel and textures are excellent here and get better with each steep, making it comparable to a nicer sheng pu’er. Good energy and longevity in these leaves too. I got over 10 full-flavored steeps and lost count.

I’ve noticed how tianjians evolve quite rapidly in almost every aspect, which is part of their charm. I’m glad I purchased 2 bags.

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I’m proud to say this is the oldest tea I’ve had. And I quite like it. Dried leaves are crinkled black strips and smell like an old book. It’s a well condensed tea. I threw in the gaiwan just under 5 g and it expanded rapidly as the steeps went on. Wet leaves maintain the old book aroma and are accompanied by leather, sweet wood, peat, and a hint of ripe plum. I’m very happy I didn’t detect any prune-like aromas or flavors that have turned me off to many a mid-aged sheng.

The tea soup is a gorgeous crimson hue with high clarity—liquified garnet. It’s yields a nicely thick, dense, and creamy cup. It’s not complex, but very soothing. Between the leather, wet wood, peat, sweet butter, and camphor there is good depth. As someone inexperienced with aged sheng, I would say it’s an acquired flavor as some may be turned off by the wet wood. I find it quite comforting and not dissimilar to aged liu bao. Highly recommended for anyone looking to try something with good age.

JC

sounds like a nice tea. Those wood notes are only unpleasant when paired with that weird prune note lol. I feel like when combined, it attacks the back of my throat rather than being a pleasant throaty sensation.

tanluwils

Well put, JC. That prune note has me running in the other direction. Fortunately,
I’ve had no such experience from any of finepuer’s aged teas.

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drank 2011 Bu Lang by Teanami
108 tasting notes

This guy arrived courtesy of Mrmopar. The dried leaves were mostly broken up with some tea dust. The tea soup, while started out a cloudy orange due to tea dust, was quite clear with an attractive golden hue after the 4th steep. This made it initially challenging to assess the tea’s qualities, as it made steeps 1 to 4 quite intense.

I’m in the market for intense teas and this was powerful and bitter, in a rough-and-tumble but refreshing sort of way. The huigan is good here and lasts for quite some time. Body is light to medium. After steep 4, I found the rest of the tea quite balanced—comforting sweet wood notes with hints of honey accompanied by that bitter Bulang base.

This one goes for many steeps. I found steeps 5 through 7 the most enjoyable. This one is like a complex IPA with Bulang steroids. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the tea is how clear-headed and awake I was for many hours after the session was over. I’m forced to drink teas with heavy somatic affects, such as Mangfei or Yong De’s Da Xue Shan, less often than I would like, but this one isn’t the case. It could easily be incorporated into my weekday morning routine. I did, however, find this one quite citric, perhaps a little too much for my tastes.

mrmopar

It has a little kick to it.

mrmopar

Remind me in 2 years to send you some more. I want to see how the storage is coming along.

tanluwils

The clarity of the tea soup and the sweet wood are really nice. If only the tea dust hadn’t brought out the unpleasant astringency. I can see how another year in your storage could increase sweetness in later steeps.

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Bio

From childhood memories of mom serving chrysanthemum and ginseng tea to complimentary shu pu’er with every dim sum meal to substituting coffee with sencha to get me through college, tea has always brought my system back in balance. During my studies in China, I took the plunge into the rabbit hole of Chinese tea culture.

Preferences:
young sheng pu’er
aged sheng pu’er
green tea
roasted oolongs
heicha
shu pu’er

==

Personal brewing methods:

1) Use good water – filtered then boiled with maifanshi (麦饭石)。

2) Leaf to water ratios (depends on the tea)
- pu’er: 5 g for 100 ml
- green tea: 3 g for 150 ml
- oolong: 5 g for 100 ml
- white tea: 5 g for 100 ml
- heicha: 5 g for 100 ml, or boil brick teas over stovetop

Location

Washington, DC

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