207 Tasting Notes
Today, I’m finding a better mint quality, nicer clarity, and enjoyable bitterness coming out of this Mu Ye Chun 002 with longer initial steeps.
While the 001 was crisp, light, and tippy, the 002 is minty, rich, and more durable. I find it more to my liking. The session today was improved by brewing more to my palate, yielding a slightly stronger brew that showed off this tea’s savory fresh green vegetable character. Some of the season’s first Asparagus was around, either in the tea or planted by my anticipating mind. This tea also has a much more satisfying energy to it, with a really heavy, calming buzz, that feels like the hands of a masseuse on my forehead – peaceful and relaxing.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=416
Honestly, I am not sure if I have ever had a puerh that has claimed to be mostly tippy material, as this does. I am sure, however, that it has an impact on flavor and texture. Yesterday, this tea was plain, simple, a bit shallow, but solid and reasonable. Today, it comes across as slippery, mineral heavy, and metallic. It carries a green tea-like dryness and brightness to it, lacking thick, syrupy stickiness.
Aroma and flavor are middling, green, and lightly floral. The finish has poor grip. Unexciting would be one way to frame this tea. Another might be to say that it would be a good intro puerh for Chinese green tea devotees. I think I’m more of a big leaf man, myself. Regardless, I am excited to compare it to the Mu Ye Chun 002, which supposedly has a larger leaf composition. I’ll visit it later this week, coming to the tea table for two sessions, on two different days, with two different natures.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=412
Here, I find a tea unlike much of the smaller producer tea I have been drinking of late. As evidenced by the photo of steeped leaves above, there is variability in production that leaves this tea a little simple. I appreciate its firm bitter grip, it’s opening sweetness, and pungent sun-dried character. However, I find it too heavy on the stemmy greenness familiar to plantation tea, oligosaccharides, and distant oxidized black or white tea notes. There is certainly not much wrong with this tea, I am just searching for a beckoning depth, and it’s not there.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=408
Finally finishing off my precious last bits of this sample. I liked this cake, and it’s still available on Yunnan Sourcing, but it has recently exceeded my price point.
I like this tea for it’s straw and mushroom, it’s balance of sweet and bitter, and both it’s challenge and easy of brewing. It’s one of those teas that can be seen very differently, dependent entirely on the lens you’re viewing it through on a particular day.
Under the cold, wet early clouds and rain of this March morning, it has those pungent grassy and umami flavors, all wrapped up with tongue-coating texture. I will miss this one.
Hacking away at the last dusty core bits of this sample, I’m expecting something different than all of the large leaf, boutique cakes I’ve been drinking lately. Sure, I’ve had this tea before and found it good, but what does factory tea from LBZ taste like?
With a little more murkiness in the soup, I’m reminded that small bits give a terser bitterness and more of that straw-like mushroom quality. It’s good, juicy and chewy. While it lacks the delicate high florals of larger-leafed tea, the sweetness and bitterness are fuller. It’s different than what I’ve been enjoying, and I appreciate that.
While the ’97 Menghai 8582 was heavy on the flavors imposed by the place of storage to the point that I felt they departed from the realm of natural tea flavors, this tea really holds onto the essence of earth and decay. With more natural humus-like, decaying leaf matter and old pine needle flavors, I found this more attuned to my palate. The nuanced and gentle mushroom, moss, and tree bark characters of young sheng puerh have aged gracefully and have descended the flavor profile of this tea from the tree tops into the sub-leaf-litter level, highlighting the natural warm embrace of a forest floor. Some of the basement notes are there in the form of talc, medicine, and ointment, but they’re not overbearing to the point of disgust.
What I struggled with in this tea, in the first three or four steeps, was its texture. Leaving me with a sensation that greasy, damp lotion had been smeared across my tongue, I found the palate initially murky, slightly sour, and hard to get past. I did not drink much of the first three steeps. Fortunately, this clamminess departed and revealed a thick, sweetness that made it intensely pleasurable to drink from the fifth steep on.
If this tea is supposedly somewhere been wet and dry storage, than I guess I’m more of a dry storage fan. This flavor profile was much more to my liking, and I’ve learned that the first few steeps of a tea such as this are not as meaningful as the middle steeps. This was a bit of lore I found early on in my readings on puerh and something that I did not experience with young sheng puerh, but is something that makes sense in light of an aged tea such as this.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=392
To me, the flavors depart from the realm of agriculture and nature. The flavors no longer taste like tea to me, they taste like the basement in which the tea was stored. Full of talc, basement, salt peter, attic, wet cardboard, old paper, medicine, and grandmothers, I feel as though these flavors lead me on one of my father’s genealogy expeditions or a trip into an historic copper mine shaft than through a sub-tropical forest or a farm of any kind. I do appreciate the woody, ginseng-like herbal qualities, but always end up vacillating between an appreciation of those flavors and a distaste for the damp, musty ones heralding a basement storage. I think I was a little too far gone to really focus on the flavors when I had the 1985 Menghai 8582 with Tim at The Mandarin’s Tea Room, but have a pouch of 1980s Menghai 79092 Loose Ripe which perplexes me in the same way for its super-heavy talc, grandmother, medicine and basement flavors.
Everyone has their own palate, suited to certain flavors and textures. Obviously, with aged sheng puerh being very popular, there are quite a few people for whom the flavor profile of this type of stored tea matches their palate. However, I think I am more attracted to the young, fresh, and fruit-like earth tones of teas such as young sheng puerh, certain oolongs, whites and dark green japanese teas. All that said, I’m still excited to try the other two examples in this tasting to see what variations in storage condition can elicit from the tea.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=387
Revisiting this tea this morning, after a long period of having a brutal head cold and having been on the road before that, it’s my first session back at the tea table in over a week. It’s also the first time I’ve had this tea since tasting the other three 2009 Yunnan Sourcing cake samples I have. This one is far and away the winner for me. I can’t get over how fragrantly and wonderfully the aroma and flavors come across. I still think the body is a little lacking in comparison to the Ban Zhang Chun Qing, but the fresh, fruity, floral characters of this tea are unparalleled in my experience. Grateful to have ordered a whole cake from JAS eTea.
Opening the pouch and selecting five grams, a gentle sandalwood and citrus stem aroma rise. The first scent off the rinsed leaf is briny, green, and pushes towards delicate paler fruits: plum, apricot, pear, and pineapple. The first two steeps are rather light, but by the third, the excellent quality of this tea has revealed itself, mouthfeel. A silky, glossy, smooth coating texture runs over the tongue, holds in the back of the mouth, and then swells and steams a while longer. A slight ethereal hint of spearmint or wintergreen alights on the roof of the mouth. Lacking that raucous, dry parching sensation that both the Bu Lang and the You Le had, I revel in the delightful heaviness of this tea.
The flavors are solid and delightful in fresh, ripe, light fruit, but for me, this tea takes it home with a thick, coating, almost syrupy rich soup. The texture shows itself as a warm pleasing, gentle, and calm grip of theanine settles over me. I could linger on this sensation, the delicate flavor and the rich texture of this tea until all time has been lost.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=344
Giving little dry leaf aroma, this tea unfurls slowly and begins in an incredibly mild manner. I stuck with a safe five grams, but again found myself wondering if I should crank up the leaf volume for what proved to be a very subtle tea. By the fifth or sixth steeps, when this tea finally began to push out its full essence, what came through was heavy on the bean-based oligosaccharides, fresh wood chips (think balsam, birch, and hemlock), and high floral herbs a la lavender-scented cotton, laundry detergent, and foxglove. All very enjoyable, but reserved and distant. An underlying strong wet moss and earthen floor pushed up from beneath.
Most notable for me in both this tea and the Bu Lang was the intense parching nature of the finish. That cottony, dry wood, sand, and hot moisture-less air experience has been a new kind of exit in puerh for me. It’s not the most pleasant, as it rasps at the throat and leaves me thirsty, not quenched. In a way, it also lets the classically enjoyable lingering and swelling finish evaporate more quickly.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=336