Yanxin's Reserve '04 Shu Nuggets

Tea type
Pu-erh Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by David Duckler
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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From Verdant Tea

This tea defies everything we know about pu’er nuggets. Through a special and meticulous fermentation process, these nuggets yield the cleanest and smoothest taste we have found in pu’er. Indeed, we would recommend this to anyone, even those who are hesitant to venture into the world of pu’er.

In early steepings there is a slight maltiness, combined with buttery thickness and vanilla notes that can only be described as angel food cake. This pastry-like quality continues to grow, and gains an intriguing complexity when light notes of elderberry and cinnamon come through.

In later steepings, the cinnamon notes continue to grow, becoming the dominant sweetness. A slight pine quality comes through with hints of spearmint. Throughout every steeping, the texture is perfectly smooth, and the sweetness always well balanced, and never overwhelming. A pu’er like this is difficult to describe since much of its appeal comes from the mouth-feel. This is one of the most comforting and exquisite mouth-feel sensations that we have found in shu pu’er.

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39 Tasting Notes

89
169 tasting notes

The description for this tea sounded incredibly enticing, so I could not resist. The people at Verdant are by far the best company at writing tea descriptions that make you swoon. I was surprised by just how strong the aromas of cinnamon and vanilla cream were in the tea as it brewed. I didn’t have to try hard to find these flavors, they really stuck out clearly. The earthiness of this tea is there, but it is very light and smooth and as I sip I get faint flavors of cinnamon and malt, and there is a tingling sensation on the finish. This is a very clean, smooth and delicious pu-erh. I’m so glad I was brave enough to try pu-erh so early on in my tea adventure, because I now know that it’s going to be a life-long love.

Spoonvonstup

“I’m so glad I was brave enough to try pu-erh so early on in my tea adventure”
The earlier you fall in love, the earlier you get to start your stash!

What a nice intro to pu’er. My first one was an itty bitty square I picked up on a whim in NY Chinatown.. it tasted rotten (literally) and I stayed away from all pu’er for a year, wondering if that was a taste I really wanted to acquire. :-p (luckily, I didn’t have to! just hurried on into nicer pu’er)

Bonnie

Hooray! You and my 11year old grandson jumped the hurdle! Lovin pu-erh’s!

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2361 tasting notes

Rinsed the leaves at 208F for 15 seconds, then a second brief rinse with slightly cooler water. Used about 7g of nuggets.

First infusion (205F/4min):
Smells a bit earthy. Tastes a bit like dirt. In spite of what I thought was over-steeping, I don’t think it suffered for that extra minute. In fact, I think it could stand to be stronger.

Second infusion (205F/3min):
Less dirt flavour, more sweetness? Still not getting any of the flavours that other people have.

Third infusion (205F/4min):
Again a bit less dirt flavour, a bit more sweetness.

Hmm, ok. This is my first straight pu’er (other than the one from my roommate), and I’m not sure what exactly I think. Wondering if I put enough tea in – my scale may have messed up a bit; it was a nugget plus a couple partials. Or maybe my rinse(s) weren’t done correctly. It wasn’t bad, but wasn’t particularly impressive either, in my opinion. Maybe pu’ers just aren’t for me? Either way, I’ve ordered the sampler from Verdant, as well as 1oz. of another one, so I will know soon if pu’er is my thing or not.

Reserving a rating until I’ve tried this one again.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Indigobloom

I find pu-erh can be amazing or terrible. If it has a tippy yunnan base, bleh! otherwise, I love it… Ahhh, I should have brought you a sample! DOH!!!!

Autumn Hearth

Short steeps I think are what bring for the sweet cakeyness. I did the quickest of rinses and steeped for less than 10 secs. Of course I have found that not everyone can appreciate short steeps. He thinks that anything I gongfu just tastes like brewed rocks, be it yabao, shu, oolong or green. I on the other hand find then to be sweet and mineral and in this case cakey, especially on the second and third steep. Shrug.

Ian

Are you brewing western? I did and I did two rinses at 15 seconds each and then brewed with 205 water for 3 minutes increasing each by 30 seconds. I have a 12 oz mug, if that helps. If you’re using a teaball for this one I would strongly suggest you find a different way. The nuggets have a lot of sediment in them and rinsing them is what breaks them up, but they can’t fully break and can remain clumped in the tight space of a teaball, which is probably what is preventing you from getting the cakey flavor. I would recommend brewing in another mug and then pouring the liquid into another cup via a strainer to drink. That will allow plenty of room for the leaves to unclump.

TeaBrat

I agree that your infusions might be too long. I would also try this in a gaiwan if you have it.

DaisyChubb

oo yeah, are you using the teaball? Why not try just leaving a nugget in the bottom of a mug, and pouring/straining into another cup. Might be kind of messy, but honestly it’ll be worth it for the taste.

Kittenna

Thanks for the suggestions everyone! I can’t imagine that 10 seconds would have any flavour at all though; I’m really questioning my accurate measurement of the tea. But, I do have enough to try multiple things!

I feel like I should explain something – I do actually have two infusing baskets (one from DavidsTea and another that essentially acts as a cup holding the water and leaves with a strainer in the bottom that opens up to let the tea flow through when I push a button. Bad description. Anyways, I try to use the latter for straight teas, or sometimes the former, but am now avoiding the teaball for anything but flavoured teas (or Banana Oolong, but that’s a special circumstance). So this one was essentially brewed in-mug :) However , I am now wondering if I should have broken up the nuggets before infusion – they are still very much in nuggety form in the basket. And that’s after a total of 11 minutes of infusing, plus the two rinses.

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73
124 tasting notes

I’m brewing this western style so I can enjoy it while video editing without being too distracted. Woohoo multitasking!
I didn’t get much scent from the leaves, but the brewed tea has a definite fishy odor. I’ve learned not to judge tea too much on the scent though.
The flavor was actually pretty minimal. On my second steeping I went a little long but didn’t really see an improvement.
I don’t know about this tea. It’s another tea that I’ve tried recently that has been just mediocre. But I haven;t found a perfect pu-erh for a long time.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

I’m one of those people who will do the vendor recommended steeping for a couple steeps and then do my own thing if the flavor is too weak for my taste. I love a strong SHU! Sometimes these nuggets take more than one rinse initially, and can be very HARD! I’ve begun breaking the very hard ones a little right up front when dry (saw a video with a Chinese Master doing it). Maybe you are a heavy brew lover too, no telling? Maybe puerh isn’t your thing…it’s ok too.

BlueKittyMeow

Thanks for the recommendation – I think you’re right and I do prefer some of my teas stronger. I know there is a method to breaking it up, I should have watched a video first. A couple rinses helped a bit but I can see this as a place where tools could come in helpful.

Bonnie

Your fingers are good if it’s not too hard or a screwdriver (some people reading this might cringe…too bad…the shape is similar to the puer tool I have).

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57
537 tasting notes

The first thing I noticed with this tea was the strong scent of fish after the water was added. I am still hopeful that this tea won’t taste fishy.. but the scent is enough to scare me a little bit.

Hmmm. This cup has earthy & hay flavors that fade into something a bit sweet. Sadly, this tastes a lot like fish to me and I really dislike fish. I can see how this might be a yummy tea, but I can’t continue to drink it as the fish notes are all I can taste/smell. I’m disappointed that I can’t taste any of the cake/pastry notes. Well, I’m happy that I sampled this tea before buying a bunch more.

Kittenna

I think I had the same impression as you about this one. Didn’t get why everyone loved it so much. Did you rinse it before drinking it? (I think I did, and it didn’t make a difference.)

QueenOfTarts

I rinsed it twice! I guess this one just isn’t for us…

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74
93 tasting notes

As I look over my entries on Steepster I’m noticing a lacking of Shu Cha notes that really is not representative of how much of it I drink. I gave it some thought and realized that it’s sort of taken a hit from the fact that much of the Hei Cha I drink is in accompaniment to food. I love eating all kinds of different food but I can’t handle particularly oily or fatty foods. Turkey bacon has too much grease for me and even a little butter on bread makes my belly churn – imagine how the Chinese cuisine I love makes me feel or if I were to try eating a cream sauce or French cuisine. Hei Cha really does help settle my stomach to the point where I can actually enjoy even fried food and the taste goes really well together. So much so that I tend to go and prepare food once I start drinking it (though I force myself not to if it’s a well aged Sheng Cha).

I’ve had a hard time brewing this tea for evaluation for this same reason. It’s really nice and sumptuous and simply having one cup really makes me want to have some food to go alongside it and some kinds of food leave me reaching to brew it. This time I held off until I’d had at least enough of the fifth infusion for evaluation before making some Hong Kong pan-fried noodles to accompany it… Broccoli Beef with Cha Xiao Bao and Shumai went perfectly with it the first time I made it.

I left just enough to brew in the sample Geoffrey sent me from the first time I brewed it. This time I used a slightly lighter concentration at 8g in my 220mL Zi Ni Shi Piao for large leaf and compressed Shu Puer. In retrospect, I really ought to have used a full 2min infusion from the get-go after the initial rinse but it was still very pleasant with the shorter brews.

Dry Fragrance was fishy. Very similar to uncooked catfish fillet. Leather, leaf litter, cassia, musty wood and the general smell of a pond filled with duckweed and algae that’s dried up were obvious smells when placed in the warmed pot. As it cooled a bit, the predominant fragrance was old graham cracker with a light hint of camphor or menthol.

Wet Leaf Aroma was much more simple – buttered biscuits that are slightly burned on the edges and wet cinnamon stick (again, cassia not true cinnamon).

Liquor Aroma is very light from infusion to infusion and very consistent. Kinda musty like the smell of sweat and a faint herbaceous wood character like dried willow.

Fresh water was added to the kettle after the fourth infusion – temp increases before and after that are from reheating of the same water. This pot takes 15 seconds to pour, so tack that on for total contact time.

1) 1min at 97C
Light intensity, crisp, and sweet. Full body but light overall character and that crisp and sweet primary impression makes it hard to think of this as more than a moderate-bodied tea. Light rear-of-mouth astringency is more obvious in finish and when aspirated. Overall very mouthwatering. Deep red-brown coloration and clear but the color is saturated to the point that I can’t see the bottom of a narrow cup with only 100mL in it. Just a little bit in a small cup leaves the infusion darkish orange, similar in appearance to some Dian Hong. Primary flavor is Grape Nuts or barley. As it cools to a temperature where I can actually drink rather than sip or slurp it takes on a nutty flavor leaving the overall flavor experience very, very similar to black “Forbidden Rice” in both the base and aftertaste.

2) 1min at 90C
Sweeter – Honey on wheat toast. Very mouthwatering – even more than the first infusion. Barley and Forbidden Rice are dominant. Less astringency leaves only a hint of drying towards the rear of the mouth. Extremely refreshing as it cools to barely warm. Makes me think of drinking Mugicha.

3) 1min at 98C
Lighter intensity and body and with slightly less saturated color as well. Little more astringency than second infusion but less than the first. More delicate character reveals some star jasmine and honeysuckle florals that were obscured in first two. As it cools it takes on a distinct taste like that of water that’s passed through peat… Unfortunately I know this taste well from container gardening with carnivorous plants. But yeah, very peaty.

4) 2min at 95C
Color back to the saturation of first two infusions but light flavor like the third just a little greater in presence and somewhat more crisp. Light astringency comes out more as it cools while light driftwood flavor comes out and soy character pops up in the nose.

5) 2min at 96C
Richer body but more piquant in the back of the mouth (closer to the throat now). Bit of leather, sweat, and fried tofu with soy and hoisin sauce in the nose. However, sweetness similar to last infusion mitigates any potentially negative impression from the gamy qualities. Light menthol note and mouthfeel permeates, especially as it cools, and a longer lingering crispness leaves this the most pleasant infusion up to now and the largest deviation in character. At this point I succumb to the notion of making some food to go with it so the following infusions are tasted without having a clean palate.

6) 2min at 98C
Lighter in a sort of flatter way – acidity either not as great as previous infusions or is impeded by residual oil from food. Aftertaste very similar to Dian Hong Long Zhu. Flavor is like the fourth infusion as it cools though with a slight added body so flavor somewhat different (I’d set aside small amounts of all previous infusions while drinking to compare cool). There’s a marked pinching sensation near the base of the throat near the epiglottis but astringency has left the tongue region. Most of the flavor is only really discernible as it cools a bit. Once lukewarm it is very similar to a toasted plain bagel.

7) 2min at 93C
Ever so slightly lighter intensity than the sixth infusion but still good body compared to the first four infusions. Two characters start really coming out that I sort of feel are present in earlier infusions but I hadn’t either placed or separated out from base flavor: Oleander and light pure Maple syrup. Star jasmine noticeable again and bread-like character more like a multigrain bread.

The tea was clean overall but a tad more astringency than I’d prefer from a Shu. Very smooth with lower end of Full Body when taken as a draught, but crisp and lively when either slurped or taken in a small cup. Even after the fifth infusion the nuggets were still compressed and “clunking” in my pot, just starting to break up. Still chunks mostly compressed after the seventh infusion so it’s a waste to stop here but I’m waterlogged now… Will revisit the tea in a few hours but I’m not likely to add anything tasting-note wise except a note as to when the nuggets finally break apart since the character in this is sort of just varying intensities of the same flavor set. I remember the first round I did still left some compression after thirteen infusions… I think this tea may be better off to brew in a little 60mL gaiwan (which I’m iffy on with puerh – I prefer enough volume for the leaves to settle and temp to be maintained in brewing) or shared with a bunch of people so it can fully open up. I’m interested in that opening up in this one, in particular, as the infusions up to now feel very much like adjusting the volume on the same song.

Comforting and clean, for sure. I pretty much agree with the whole synopsis Verdant writes about this except for the lack of astringency. Perhaps keeping the steep temp to 90ish C or even as low as high 80’s and pushing the steep time longer would benefit it in that regard, but I’m always reluctant to drop below 90C for a ripened tea. This is very tasty and approachable either way. Not nearly as impressive as the Xinyang, though.

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

You are far braver than I. No way do I eat until later steepings! I’d lose concentration. When a Pu’er is very familiar, that could possibly be a compromise since I cook with Pu’er from time to time.

Azzrian

What an excellent and informative review! I am learning much from you.

TeaBrat

Greasy foods give me problems too, esp. anything deep fried, I cannot handle it! Your tasting notes are very detailed, great job!

Thomas Smith

I also can’t really give a tea the focus it deserves while eating, but that’s why I don’t have many hei cha postings here. More importantly, I don’t like the idea of reviewing something when my palate is compromised by the smell of food or residue impacting mouthfeel. I don’t worry as much about taste since the vast majority of taste impression is in the acids and typically simple, but olfactory fatigue or overriding flavor elements with the smell from cooking or food isn’t conducive to conducting a tasting.

Kashyap

well done..love the disection of flavors and the honesty of discriptions..very nice

Bonnie

I wash my hands in the first Pu’er rinse as an assurance that raising the cup to my
nose /mouth there won’t be scent contamination. (No make-up, food, soaps) . Eating comes later when I’m full! But I recommend trying the whole steeping (I’ve had toast get me started to prevent getting sick!) .

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98
300 tasting notes

Dear gods this is delicious. So glad this is my introduction to shu pu’erh, because really this is heavenly. I have don’t know if I would have made the angel cake connection but its definitely there in the second steep and stronger in the third. It’s so light and sweet and vanilla-like and leaves the tongue with a cloud on it. Yep, heavenly.

The husband however continues to disappoint. I handed him a cup of this third infusion and though it’s totally darker than the clear yabao, after sipping it he says “This is the same as the last one you gave me”. Though he added it was more mineral. I asked if it was unpalatable to him and said “Not unpalatable, undesirable”. Further grounds for divorce.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
TeaBrat

lol – sounds like my house! :)

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76
240 tasting notes

Thank you to Bonnie for this sample.

Not a lot to say here really. It’s good. Drink it. Oh, ok, a bit more detail. Well, I’m on the tenth steep now and it is still great. The taste is a bit of vanilla and cinnamon with a cakey feel to it and there was some earthiness in the early steepings. It is developing well and I am enjoying it a lot.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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89
240 tasting notes

It’s taking me a while to get to like this tea.. but I’m finding its growing on me slowly but surely. I’ve been steeping these nuggets for about a week now and they’ve only just broken apart today. Crazy business!
One rinse was done for these nuggets. First steeps brought a nice unsweetened angel food cake taste with vanilla and definite white starchy spongy cake taste (though again, unsweetened so it throws you off a bit)
Mid steeps introduce a nice maple syrup caramel aspect which is delightful and surprising… it accompanies the angel food cake. Definitely my favourite steepings.
Later steeps (current) bring about more of the angel food cake flavour, with the maple, and a nice silky mouthfeel.

I’ve probably done about 25+ steeps on these leaves and they’re still giving. Definitely was a delicious investment..
Boiling filtered water, short steeps initially (10s)… midsteeps were approximately 20-30s, late steeps 1-2 minutes

Preparation
Boiling
Terri HarpLady

I love Yanxins, it is so tasty. I also love Sichuan Caravan, with Yanxin’s in it!

Lynne-tea

I definitely got a sample of the Sichuan Caravan! I need to test it out though… I wanted to become familiar with the tastes of the Yanxin first before I occluded the taste of the tea with flavours. I can’t wait to try it though =)

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86
122 tasting notes

Sipdown. :(

I’m going to miss this one.

Terri HarpLady

I’m hoarding a small supply of this one myself :)

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276 tasting notes

Oh wow. This isn’t bad. I was afraid of all the descriptions of Pu’er as being fishy, and indeed, the one from Whole Foods that I’d picked up was fishy. This isn’t fishy at all.

This is a sample from an order of samples I made from Verdant. I haven’t liked any of the other samples much so far, so I’d been putting off trying the two pu’er samples.

I’m not sure how to describe this, other than to say I do like it. I brewed it in a gaiwan, and poured into a small cup, added nothing, and sipped. After about 3 sips, I can say that I do like it, though it’s probably not something I’d drink on an everyday basis.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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