40 Tasting Notes
1st impressions: Smells of Mushrooms, Sugarcane, Camphor, Menthol. This cake reminds me of my first real puer experience of the budget Mengku cake that Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co used to sell. Not sure on where these leaves are from, but you can tell they had some age on them before pressing. Sweet up front, bitter on the back of the tongue, nice texture. Comfortable with just enough complexity without demanding a lot of attention.
Drink down: Cooling on the throat, some as yet unidentified fruit in the aftertaste. Maybe a citrus, but not with any sourness. Maybe a Neroli thing? Its name is apt, as it would make an excellent rainy day tea. It is also a really nice tea to intro raw puer on. Nothing outstanding in any direction, well rounded. Despite it reminding me of a supposed Mengku cake, this tea has a lot of Yiwu feel to it. But with a bit more bite than I’m used to in Yiwus.
This looks to be plantation material that is a bit chopped up. Not terribly so, but noticeable. A fair blend of material for tippy buds to stem.
I’ve about killed my stock of this. I bought two cakes when this came out as I thought it would be an excellent way to connect with people remotely. Sent samples to friends and drank it while talking via Zoom. It didn’t work out great. None of my friends are puer drinkers and had no frame of reference for a good brew. The result was that I stashed this away and sent people some oolongs. My plan was to pull the Umbrella out for in person gatherings, but I ended up hooked on it. It has been a few months since I had it and realized I never reviewed it.
Flavors: Camphor, Citrus, Floral, Menthol, Mushrooms, Sugarcane, Wood
Finally broke into my first cake of this. After getting the 3 previous years’ Snoozefests, I went in for 2 cakes in 2020. My experience with these has always been positive. Notes of Strawberry and Orchid being the two that have stood out the most to me. We’ll see how this one does after hiding in my storage for 11 months.
1st impression: Aroma of tropical fruit, apricot, and strawberry. A dark minerally sweet back drop. Some floral/herbal notes in there as well. A little drywall in there as well. Taste is notably middle of the tongue bitter. Some sweetness, some fruit and floral. Compared to 2019: This has a darker aroma and is overall more vegetal and a lot more bitter. That may also be the difference of an extra year in storage. Right now the fruit on this is leaning more stonefruit than strawberry. And the orchid profile from the 2019 is coming out a lot more creamy on this one. These are all slight differences; they are still very much the same teas except this have a hard acrid bitterness that hadn’t been in previous years versions.
Bitterness. This is the first snoozefest I’ve tried where I’ve thought this could use a few more years. Long lingering bitterness. Cooling sensation at the back of the throat. Floral, fruity, and dark. Drying.
After the first 2 steeps I’m really regretting starting this on an empty stomach. This is not the same gentle crowd-pleaser of the previous years. It is settling into a more vegetal and mineral taste with some cooling and lingering bitterness.
Head rush. Some pressure on my forehead and cheeks.
Drink down: The bitterness did begin to fade about half way through. The texture is decently thick veering toward creamy, but it is hard to tell with the way this tea makes my mouth feel dry. A good caffeine head rush. Decently complex. Pleasant. More powerful than I expected from the w2t $15 sheng special.
This’ll be the young sheng I’ll drink on occasionally over the next year. The 2nd cake and anything left over at the end of the year will go in the pumidor to age a while.
Later review: Something must have been up with my water. I’ve got a new kettle and water filter system. The bitterness pretty much disappeared. This is now delightful. Soapy orchid & stonefruit.
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Fruity, Orchid, Vegetal
1st impressions: As I’ve come to expect fom Moychay shu, there area a high number of stems mixed in with relatively cheap material. Smell – Nuo Mi Xiang (sticky rice herb); Taste – Bakery, nutty, woody, not sweet. They claim it doesn’t have Nuo Mi Xiang added to it, but there are obvious notes of it and a fair number of leaves that are not camellia sinensis.
Drink down: Decent texture, think enough to notice. Not terribly sweet, which is a nice change for shu. I am not opposed to sticky rice herb in shu. I don’t always want that profile, but it is enjoyable occasionally. I find it works better to go lighter on the leaf and I wish I had done that now. It is a bit overpowering.
Final thoughts: Dark, thick, rich. Cheap at ~$18 for 357mg (2021). If you dig the sticky rice herb thing and don’t mind the less complex shu it is paired with, this is a great buy. As for me, I don’t like the profile enough to merit keeping a cake around, but am happy with the chunk I’ll keep in storage.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Earth, Graham Cracker, Nutmeg, Nutty, Rice
Final Anhua heicha sample from Moychay. I’ve not had all of them, but all the ones that interested me. This looks like an inoculated heicha rather than natural jin hua formation.
1st impressions: The tea smells of tart berries with a woody background. The raspberry ketone note takes the lead on flavor. There is a synthetic like character to it (but this compound does occur naturally). The is also some apple skin like things happening in the background. There is also an off putting green bitterness in the background.
Drink down: The more I drink this the more I think of the skin of red delicious apples. That pithy, dry herbal, fruitiness. Brews up pretty dark. Nothing of note for the texture. A little mouth drying. No real body feeling. Not very energizing.
Pretty meh. Apple peels. The more you brew it, the more that sums the tea up.
Flavors: Apple Skins
2018 material/2020 pressing of supposedly Menghai material. (I say supposedly because, well… I wasn’t there)
1st impressions: Wet leaves at start smell of bakery notes and a bit of fruitiness. A fair bit of cedar woodiness (pencil shavings). After a rinse, the first brew is still kinda cloudy, but looks like it’ll clear up. Bright and sweet on the tip of the tongue with some good bitterness coming in on the back of the tongue. The cherry wood and background bitterness are the primary notes of the first run.
Drink down: The bitterness turned into a nice dark chocolate note. Overall the flavor it good for a dark choc/cherry wood type shu, but I wish it was filled out a bit more. Some nice spice notes are present in the middle steeps. The leaves are pretty chopped/broken up. There is some blending going on with different levels of fermentation and leaf size.
Final thoughts: At $22 for 357mg, this would make an excellent daily drinker. I may buy a cake to break up and mix with some chenpi I’m aging. The texture is decently oily. It brews out for an average number of times for shu (longer than most Moychay teas I’ve had). It is missing some of the creaminess or fully woodiness that I’d like, but its ok. Sweet up front with some bitterness.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cedar, Cherry Wood, Dark Chocolate, Earth
Got a big chunk in an LP Hookup when ordering some of the bourbon barrel shu.
1st thoughts: Not puer. It feels like a heavily browned roasted yellow tea that has that gaba sourness. Not really sure what the processing here is, but it is very far from what you find in yunnan. I get peanuts, roasted corn, cheap cocoa powder, hong cha. Some bitterness and astringency right from the start and the slightly sour aftertaste people talk about with gaba teas.
Drinking it down: The leaves are fully brown a la black tea, but not quite as dark. The liquid itself is the color of a middle aged (5-7 year) old sheng. On the golden side of orange. The peanut note is really the primary flavor going on here with that slight acrid bitter/astringent coming second. I’ve got the burps by the 4th cup. 5th steep I’ve got some tomato umami coming in. Some huigan kicking up on the 6th. As it steeps out it becomes more and more like a black tea.
I’m not usually sensitive to “qi”. It may just be that I’m on day 2 of a fast, but this thing hit me pretty hard around the 4th/5th cup. Warmth in my stomach, slightly floaty sensation, a strong desire to nap.
This tea is not puer. It is interesting. I’m not big into the sour notes in my tea. I’ve certainly had nothing like this before. Don’t anticipate having anything like this in the future either.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Malt, Peanut, Rhubarb, Roasted
Grabbed a sample without looking at its description. No idea what I’m getting into here.
1st impression: Aroma is on the earthy/bakery side of ripe. Some vanilla and roots. Something sharp in the background. It brews really light to start. First thing I get is an earth medicinal root character. Think unsweetened root beer, but with forest floor. Kinda weak on the brew. going to have to push it more.
Drinking thoughts: Pushing it gives it a hint of bitterness and leather. No big changes. Very little in the way of flavor on this one. The texture is at least ok. I bit oily. There are FuZhuan levels of stems in this cake. No discernable body effects.
Negatives: Bland, weird sharp metallic note in the background, very meh. Positives: Inoffensive, oily/lubricating texture.
I’ve had this sample in my pumidor for 2 weeks, which has been enough to shrug off the jet lag for other samples. Going to stash this one away for a few more weeks and see if anything change.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Earth
I’ve been lucky enough to get a cake of this each year it has been available. In 2019 I got my cake and stashed it for a year after my experience with the 2017 & 2018. While it is fun and interesting in the first year, its second year is fantastic.
Aroma: Peach, Strawberry, Vanilla, Orchid, Sugar Cane, Wood
Taste: slight bitterness, slight sweetness, woody (but a dry wood), orchid/vanilla, strawberry/floral. A bit of honey comes in as it steeps out.
Astringency will come out if pushed. Texture is thick and creamy. And it has plenty of caffeine. Can’t really talk much on the qi because I’m not overly sensitive to it, but this tea always yields a positive experience. Easy comfortable drinking with fair amount of complexity.
I bought 2 cakes of the 2020 and will crack that one open around Thanksgiving. The other I’m going to stash away deep in my storage for the future. If there is a 2021, I’ll be buying it again.
Flavors: Honey, Orchid, Peach, Strawberry, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Wood
1st impressions: Still pretty cloudy after 2 rinses. Smells like shu, vanilla, earth, wood, slight fruit. Taste: first thing I noticed was bitterness. Was not expecting that. Some vanilla and wood, but mainly the bitterness. Really unusual for shu in my experience. At least not with out it being advertised as a major selling point. I dig it.
Thoughts while drinking: Definitely a blend of both lighter and darker fermentation and from tippy buds to broad leaf and stems. Thin texture for shu, but that has been my experience with all bitter shus. The cloudiness clears out a bit after the third steep, but it also starts to lose power. It keeps that woody aroma with the infamous pencil shavings (virginia cedar) aroma developing as it brews out. The bitterness settles down a bit by the 4/5th steep (I stacked them) but remains the main appeal for me.
Overall, a nice cheap option for bitter shus. Not pure Lao Man E bitter bitter, but that same kind of bitter. The cedar notes really take over in the later half and the vanilla never really comes through in the taste. I dig this one. I hope the bitterness doesn’t fade too much with age as I’ll be buying a cake of this to throw in in storage.
Flavors: Bitter, Cedar, Earth, Mineral, Wet Wood