207 Tasting Notes

18

This tea is just downright perplexing to me. I’m having trouble gathering my thoughts about it. The dry leaf, rinse, and first steep aromas are all quiet, sullen, and distant, pushing through a hint of spice, mushroom, and moss. Flavor? Flavor? I’m looking for it. I’m searching.

In the next gaiwan over, I’ve got the session of Wu Liang from yesterday. I give it a brief reinvigorating rinse to bring it back up to temperature and then pull off a minute-long 12th steep. I felt embarrassed for the Bu Lang cake when I put my nose to the cup of Wu Liang and then loudly slurped a big sip; it was still loaded with flavor, texture, bitterness and aroma.

Moving back to the tea at hand, crickets are chirping. As it opens, it releases a distinct and surprising, wet, moldy basement on me. Aside from some slight date sugar and mulling spice character, I have little positive to say about this tea. It ends parching in an odd cottony sensation. This tea gave me a weird, bad headache.

Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=329

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91

Easily the most outstanding character of this particular cake is the dry leaf and cupped aroma. It has a strong red currant and fresh cherry tomato scent. Incredibly “red” and vegetable-like. Not in a starchy way, but somewhere between green plant stems and fruit. Much as many garden-fresh tomatoes would smell like if heated just slightly. In the flavor, this translates to a lightly sweet herbal and delicate floral character, with marked pungency. Perhaps the Lan Xiang (orchid aroma) the producers are referring to?

From the forward flavor notes on, this tea is a little flatter. There is detectable astringency towards the finish, but it’s missing a certain bitterness balance and lingering swell. Longer steeps develop a curt, punchy upfront bitterness that’s somewhat unpleasant. Considering this sample employed fantastically large leaves, I may begin to sense that teas with mostly large leaves are able to put off fantastic aromas and front flavors, but lack a certain roundedness in the finish. This tea has endurance for its youth however, as it crosses the ten steep mark without much noticeable loss in depth.

Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=323

Thomas Smith

Ooh, I’ve got a sample of this lying around – this reminds me I have yet to give it a try.

deftea

I think the line of puerhs that YS is producing under its own name is really interesting. Many of them are so-called “wild arbor” (which I think usually means some really old trees that had been sort of forgotten and are now being cultivated) or highly circumscribed areas like the one described here. Either way, you end up with distinctive tastes that can be unpredictable but also very particular and rewarding. Like the difference between single malt scotch and blended whiskey. (Sorry for the vulgar analogy.)
I think the tomato note is right on. (I’m using that!) As for the orchid, my sense is that “orchid” is just a superlative, a kind of plus mark.
Thanks for the note!

the_skua

michaelh, I think you’re right about the orchid as being a superlative. And I think the analogy between single malt and blended scotches are apt, especially when looking at single mountain cakes like this.

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92

Have had a session of this going off and on as I work today, as it was one of my “spare sample” teas that was easy to get brewing, gave me a great life, and delivers long set of flavorful steeps. Wet cotton, fresh bread, green maple stems, and candied apricot. As one of the older samples in my stash, I also enjoy the time-softened edge this tea gives off.

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99

Smeared all over the outside of this cake are long, graceful, slender, twisted curls of the tea tree, each anointed with a beautiful haze of fine white fuzz. The rinse breathes an intense, browned-caramel toffee sensation from the leaves; surprising, but enjoyable. The first steeps are nothing but pure butter, with all that delectable light, fruity Yiwu essence coming in a silky, smooth vehicle. The soup a bright, even yellow, the tea hardly oxidizes as it sits in the cup.

As amazing the leaves, the aroma, and the flavor, oh, to live for that finish, that aftertaste, that graceful departure from the tongue. Cooling and minty above, lingering, herbal and dry below. Rounded, complex, soft, elegant, tight and easily remembered. Using only a scant five grams of large unbroken leaves in a 120 mL gaiwan, the overall bitterness is much reduced, but still pleasingly balanced. This kind of bingcha is exactly why I drink puerh.

Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=318

deftea

I’m beginning to think that terroir is the key to sheng. More than processing, which is pretty standard and minimal, no? I mean, I haven’t had a Yi Wu that wasn’t complex and demanding, yet never harsh. Woo hoo Yi Wu! (Sorry)

Shinobi_cha

According to this company/website, you are exactly right — terroir is much more important than processing: http://hojotea.com/article_e/puerh_e.htm

Gingko (manager of Life in Teacup)

I agree terroir is more important than processing, as long as people don’t mess up with processing, which is much easier than processing of many other teas. By the way the primary manufacturer is Guan Zi Zai, whose owner is related to owner of Yong Pin Hao, which has the “secondary authorship” on the product.

the_skua

Gingko, are you saying that puerh processing is easier than other teas, or easier to mess up?

Gingko (manager of Life in Teacup)

I mean processing of puerh is easier. In some cases when it’s messed up, it’s not because people don’t know what they are doing. Instead, they messed purposely for profitable reasons, such as very light hand rolling to make the leaves prettier and roasting with a machine under high temperature.

Shinobi_cha

I am definitely no expert, but it seems like terroir would be the main factor for any kind of tea in determining weather it is high quality or not. Certainly processing is important, but if the tea bushes are bad in the first place, it doesn’t matter how you process them, you still will have bad tea. Right?

the_skua

I think that’s the gist of it. Processing is certainly an artisanal process, but one that strives to not screw up the leaf, but to preserve its truest essence in whatever form is desired, as best as possible.

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74
drank Yunnan Black Gold by JAS eTea
207 tasting notes

A solid black tea, the dry leaves have a bit of musky Yunnan funk to them that doesn’t carry through to the flavor. First two steeps are brisk, floral, and light on the malt characters. A bit of biscuit and some conifer. I really like the nice small, even buds used in this tea, I think they lend it an extra sweetness. Enjoyable, but not dazzling.

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92

Used 2.5 grams in my ~100mL gaiwan with boiling water at 2m,4m,6m,10m. This tea opens with awesome aroma, texture, and flavor complexity. Big malt and biscuit nose, nice tight pine and light smoke flavors, and a silky, tongue-coating texture. Refined, complex and enjoyable from front to back. Also, this tea is a real trooper, giving me four reasonable steeps!

Preparation
Boiling

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50

Batch 903. This tea confounds me. It must be intended for aging, except that I know there are a few crazy folk who do enjoy it young and bristly. I’m not put off by the loud barking bitterness and intensity, but instead find the flavor of the tea less than desirable. It has a lightly rotten raisin kind of scent, a bit pungent and raw. I can see it being called straw and mushroom, but it doesn’t really carry the elegance or quality that those terms elicit for me. Will certainly be game for trying this tea in 10-20 years. Finally, the qi is a bit fast and unsettling, like an unstable vibration.

Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=310

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92

I entirely under-appreciated this tea on my first go with it a while back. Every time I revisit one of these teas, I realize how inexperienced I was when I started cracking into samples over a year ago. Today, under wonderful snowed-in conditions, it breathes hearthy mushroom flavors up front, finishes with a long draw of cool mint. With a satisfying texture, bright yellow color, and an absolutely delightful theanine buzz, it’s hard for me to say anything bad about this tea. The only downfall might be that it’s fading a touch earlier than I expected.

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86

A year after, my perception of this tea has shift much, as I have gained considerably experience since the trip I took to Fang last January. I went through a period of brewing this tea badly, under poor conditions and not being deliberate or considerate about the process. Now, at home, with time, this tea again breathes many of the flavors I originally appreciate it for. Currants, gingseng, buckwheat honey, cranberries, and chervil. I also know now that it’s not quite as good as I once thought it to be, but that it’s still a respectable roasted oolong, although perhaps, not at its going price.

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95

Sad to see this tea go, I am grateful to be embraced by its intense warm energy one last time. Soft, soothing, warm and buzzing. This is a fine puerh in my book. Rich, balanced, and with a multicolor display of flavor and nuance. Today, I’m riffing on an intense tropical vanilla scent. It’s juicy, but finishes with a clean, herbal bite that makes it satisfying, quenching, and demanding of another sip. Worthy of the price, I just wish it weren’t so.

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Bio

Exploring the world of fine Chinese and Japanese teas, my favorites include: sheng pu’er, moderately roasted oolongs, gyokuro, shincha, and high quality, artisanal whites and greens. I don’t subscribe to any particular style of brewing, but incorporate elements from traditional techniques to brew the best tea possible. I also seek to share the joy that tea brings me with others, but am really rather introverted.

Location

Peace Dale, Rhode Island

Website

http://tea.theskua.com

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