165 Tasting Notes

I’m really enjoying this one today after emerging from a little cold where I couldn’t taste anything. I will say this for a cold: I can get drink and deplete my teas I don’t like very much and not have to actually taste them.

Tea Urchin teas seem to share a similar profile—fairly sweet and clean with a spring water freshness. James @teadb: maybe it would be interesting to do an investigative episode about the small pu-erh vendors like Crimson Lotus, EoT, pu-erh.sk, to discover whether their offerings share similar traits or characteristics regardless of terroir.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
Stephanie

I adore the 2012 version of this tea

Stephanie

And I don’t agree that Tea Urchin teas share a similar profile…which ones have you tried? :)

Doug F

A fair number. Lao Man E, Man Zhuan, Gao Shan Zhai, Wang Gong. Maybe it’s my insensitive taste buds, but I always get a similar vibe from the TU teas, not much apricot or other stone fruits, just a nice clean floral sweetness.

jschergen

That’s some silver lining right there re: sickness :).

I agree to some extent with Doug although many of them are different enough to keep it interesting (IMO). I think towards the tail end of the session a lot of their teas do tend to converge. 75% of what they press also seems to be Yiwu teas, which probably doesn’t help in the diversity category.

As far as that other idea.. I’m afraid for the time being I’m completely burned out of young sheng. I’ve had productions from all three vendors though.

Don’t think CLT has a house taste or w/e.
Pu-erh.sk definitely has some similarities across their teas. They seem to source 2-3 teas from a single area with about 3-4 areas total.
EoT I think has a good deal of variance. Even their Yunyun and Yunya from different years are different enough to be interesting.

Stephanie

Fair enough. I’ve heard folks say the same thing about YS shou…all similar towards the end. Interesting!

Doug F

Thanks for weighing in Stephanie and James!

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92

I have to agree with Big Daddy on this one—it was a true eyeopener for a person that never drinks white tea. Granted, I steeped it for a good four minutes with fairly hot water, but the result was a quite flavorful brew which reminded me of this incredible ice cream I had at a Persian restaurant in Boston that was flavored with rosewater.

I had always felt that white teas had negligible flavor but this is a tea I could see stocking and drinking in the afternoons. Quite delicious!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 5 g 12 OZ / 354 ML
Kristal

I don’t really go for white teas either. Maybe I should look into this one!

Doug F

It’s great but very expensive. I got it as part of sample box of Nilgiri teas.

Shae

I’m not a fan of white teas either for the same reason. The way you describe this one makes it sound really good though.

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Drinking Sheng reminds me that I must eliminate prejudices and assumptions and bring my awareness to the tea at hand. I’m at work, listening to music and answering emails—it would be easy to mindlessly brew and drink and expect the usual “young sheng flavors.”

Luckily I paused to focus on this tea, which provided some singular tastes. The leaves looked very clean and loosely compressed so I decided not to rinse. I was rewarded with a slightly sweet, slippery mineral water taste, that reminded me of the delicious iron-rich well water we had at my childhood home. Subsequent steeps maintained the mineral water base and featured a pronounced hickory nut and peanut flavor with building sweetness that was most prominent on the tip of the tongue.

This tea definitely has its own personality that separates it from the apricot/stone fruit or floral flavors of many raw pu-erhs.

Thank you, pu-erh.sk for the sample!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
JC

Nice! I’ve gone through the same. I feel like being busy at work has allowed me the time between sips to appreciate notes that take longer to develop. Some slow huigans are under-appreciated!

Doug F

I do almost all my pu-erh drinking at work. With two young boys at home, work is the most serene part of my life right now!

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95

I have to agree with Proust on this one. From the first sip it’s apparent that this is a delicious, smooth, raisin-sweet tea that carries an undertone of Assamica maltiness. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say this is one of the nicest Chinese black teas I’ve ever tasted and beautiful to look at and smell to boot. Thanks to Scott for making this available!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
E Alexander Gerster

This sounds like a wonderful tea! I have to put it on my wish list.

jschergen

Yiwu black tea? Interesting..

Doug F

inbetweenisode?

jschergen

Not a bad idea. Give y’all a break from the massive amounts of YQH.

Liquid Proust

:) Love this stuff!

JC

Damn, Now I want it. lol

Doug F

Only $8.50 for 50 grams.

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I’ve already reviewed this tea and noted its clean, sweet profile but I just figured out why I’m so enamored of this tea: the wu liang is as dissimilar from green tea as a sheng is likely to get, and not being a big fan of green teas, this is a great characteristic. Very consistent, no bitterness, sweet but with a little bit of fruity bite, this is more like an oolong than most shengs. An excellent tea to drink right now.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
JC

I’ve had this cake for a WHILE now and I haven’t tried it. But I’ve heard good things so far.

Doug F

Yeah, it’s not a “wow, this is the most amazing, complex sheng in the world” kind of tea, but it’s really nice to drink, very easy to brew and you can taste the purity of the leaves and the fact that they grew in such a remote, pristine environment.

JC

Yeah, Wu Lian is never flashy, but I’ve had really good examples of it. I’ll dig this one out this week. I did end up buying a 2015 Huang Shang cake from YS in his last discount. I hope there aren’t any other specials before the holidays, I need to buy presents before I’m Puerh tempted! lol

Doug F

I know. I just ordered a bunch of black tea and the green miracle from Scott’s US site with the 15% discount, but there are so many others I want.

JC

I started putting things on my cart and then I looked in horror, partly because the amount I had accumulated and partly because I knew I needed to start taking a few things off it. lol

Doug F

That’s what I do. Build up and shave off.

Ginkosan

Damn Scott’s Hongcha is what’s up.

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drank BaDa 2013 by pu-erh.sk
165 tasting notes

I’m having a tough time getting a handle on this tea. I’ve had it three times but it’s proving a bit mercurial.

It has a rye bread smell in the dry leaves, which are fairly small and olive green when infused. The first couple of steeps have hints of corn and almonds and caused my mouth to pleasantly pucker. It’s not a thick tea but it creates a kind of swelling in the tongue along with significant salivation.

Steep three witnessed the emergence of a sweeter, stone fruit profile, but also hints of gasoline and substantial bitterness, especially if you push the steep times. And while I wouldn’t characterize the qi as ass-kicking, it’s definitely noticeable—and long-lasting. It’s a good tea to drink at work because it focuses and animates rather than intoxicates.

A hard nut to crack, this one.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

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drank Wan Gong 2014 Spring by Tea Urchin
165 tasting notes

My experience with this tea represents a cautionary tale not to judge a raw pu-erh on one session or even the first couple of steeps in a session. One’s relationship with a sheng is a story that unfolds over time, with turning points, climaxes, different moods and tones.

When I first tried this tea I thought it was pleasant, a bit mild for my tastes perhaps, but clean and friendly. And that impression continued into the first two steeps of the latest session. But then something happened on the third steep that caused me to adjust my estimation of the Wan Gong. All of a sudden it became a little sweeter, thicker and duskier, with a juiciness you get from eating a red grapefruit.

It could be that I first tried this in the midst of drinking stronger teas and it got lost in the cacophony of those noisier teas. Anyway, this is a really well-processed, calming tea with beautiful leaves that has some surprises in store when you find its sweet spot.

It has taught me to soldier on with All the Light We Cannot See, a book that is a bit precious for my tastes but hopefully will hit some other notes and prove worthy of its considerable reputation.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
mrmopar

I wasn’t too impressed by this one at first. Time to do another brew I see.

jschergen

This sums it up well for me too. I’ve had some very good sessions with this and a few others where it’s good, sweet, but less exciting.

JC

This is what I started doing about a year and a half ago (partly the reason I’m so bad at uploading notes now). I do at least three sessions with a tea before deciding how I feel about it. I’ve had teas blow me away the first time, to only feel somewhat bland later, then I’ve had some that never caught my attention but now turned into daily drinkers. This was the case with a cheaper jingmai that w2t had, mid aged very mellow. Now I’m trying to find it again and I can’t.

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drank GuShu LinChang '15 by pu-erh.sk
165 tasting notes

I’m really loving the oily mouth feel of these 2015 gu shu teas from pu-erh.sk. I think rustic is a good description of the LinChang. There’s no discernible floral or fruity flavors; instead, the broth is dominated by evergreen and smoke, reminiscent of a lapsang suchong. It leaves a little bit of brightness at the corners of the mouth but it’s mainly an earthy tea and, unlike the HuaZhu Liangzi, it calms and soothes.

So if you need a break from the ubiquitous sweet and fruity shengs and your predilection veers toward the more chthonic, give this one a try.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
jschergen

Thanks for the note. I have a sample of that sitting around. It smells super smoky.. Have been airing it out for the past month.

Doug F

Maybe I have a high tolerance for smoke, but I felt there was less smoke in the liquor than in the smell of the dry leaf.

jschergen

Quite possible. I haven’t tried it.

I did have the Xiaoshu Lincang which was like drinking an American BBQ. Probably an OK tea underneath it, but was too much for me.

boychik

Ha, Xiaoshu Lincang is my fav. Incredible thick mouthfeel. It is smoky but oily and sweet not smoky bitter.

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95

It’s nice to take a break from my raw pu-erh obsession to remind myself that there are other teas I love besides sheng (and Yunnan black teas). Yesterday, I had a cup of the intoxicating shincha kunpu from Den’s tea and today I spent some time with my first love: Darjeeling! This first flush is beguiling, with initial flavors of honey and tangerine that cede to a heady floral perfume. I know first flushes can be a little challenging to steep but this one has no astringency or unpleasant bitterness.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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Whoa! Within seconds of tasting the first steep, my and my coworker’s heads were already buzzing and the tea was quickly blooming in our mouths with a heavy, lubricating, candy-corn sweetness. Flash steeps kept the bitterness at bay and allowed the sweet citrus taste to emerge. There was very little drop-off in flavor or body after 7 steeps, at which point I had to step away to eat before being fully possessed by this tea.

My first selection from pu-erh.sk is a strong and delicious winner!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 130 OZ / 3844 ML

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Bio

I love tea and living in a place that is cold or cool nine months of the year, tea is a constant source of warmth and education. I always drink tea straight and rarely drink flavored teas or Tisanes, except for the occasional Rooibos. I’m a proud father of two young boys, an avid skier, motorcyclist, reader, and runner. I have a doctorate in English (dissertation on Emily Dickinson.)

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Maine

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