387 Tasting Notes
An interesting tea for sure. I picked up a sample of this and some of W2T’s other really high end stuff to see how it was. I’m really not sure how I feel about this one. It definitely wasn’t a flavor powerhouse, but as he has said, flavor isn’t necessarily what Paul is going for on some of his teas. This one has a reputation of being a bit of a face-melter, and while I didn’t quite have that experience, I definitely picked up on some qi from it.
The dry leaf had a greenish and pungent smell to it – there may have been some florals in there, but it really just smelled powerful to me. It didn’t change much after a rinse. It mostly just smelled “shengy” to me.
I found the flavor to be simple but pleasant. Certainly some bitterness involved, but not enough to chase me away. Grassy at times, but mostly a buttery vegetal flavor in the first half of the session. The flavor started moving in a sweeter, fruity direction around 8 or 9 steeps in, most notably in the finish. By the time I was squeezing the last bits of life out of it, the flavor was slightly syrupy and a bit fruity.
The texture of the liquid was incredibly thick and sat heavily in my stomach. In the first session I did with this tea, I didn’t feel the qi starting to build until I was about four or five steeps in, and it sort of just flowed through me in a relaxing way. Not too face-melty, but nice feeling. The second session was more notable and…weird I guess. Starting very early on in the session, it was distracting me from whatever I was trying to do at the time. I kept hearing music in my head, but not any songs which I knew…strange hip hop beats or something. I don’t usually listen to that kind of music or anything. Maybe it was the Kendrick Lamar song which this tea is named after (which I have never heard). I pretty much couldn’t get anything done as I drank the tea this second time around.
I like this one, and it had a weird qi effect to it. That said, it hasn’t inspired me to buy a full cake of it for the price it goes for. I have enough left to do one more little session with it, so I’ll probably try that with 200F water like Oolong Owl did on her blog review. Glad to experience this one. That second session was sorta surreal.
Flavors: Bitter, Butter, Fruity, Grass, Sweet, Vegetal
Dry leaf on this one smelled roasty, caramel, earthy. After the first steep, it was roasty and very bready. That scent foreshadowed the flavor of this tea, which remained roasty and very bready – almost doughy in flavor + mouthfeel, if that makes any sense. No off-flavors or sourness either, which is always a plus in these often-scary little TGY packets. I liked it a decent amount, but not enough to want to buy any more of it.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Roasted
I got a sample of this tea a little while ago and just finished it off. Based on when I ordered it, I believe it to be the Winter 2016 crop. The leaves are vibrant and green, and the aroma from them is floral and buttery, with just a bit of a savory character to them.
The tea starts off with mostly vegetal flavors, kind of kale-ish with a buttery texture. The finish is more fruity or floral, and the tea has a mouthwatering sweetness. It is very easy to drink.
As the session went on, I found it getting more juicy and/or crisp, and the finish became more buttery. The tea went on and on and on, easily 16 steeps, maybe up to 20. It seemed like no matter how many times I steeped in in the last half of the session, it just kept on giving a nice and pleasant creamy flavor. Not as flavorful as earlier infusions, but very drinkable and tasty.
This is an awesome green TW oolong. I will definitely be ordering some when I make my next order from BTTC (hopefully soon!).
Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Floral, Kale, Sweet, Vegetal
Didn’t realize this was an iron-pressed cake when I bought a sample of it. Those normally annoy me greatly, but this one wasn’t too bad. It took some work to chip a piece off the sample and then get that piece to break up in my gaiwan, but nowhere near as much as some of these other highly compressed cakes I’ve tried. The aroma after my rinsing didn’t please me too greatly – a bit leathery and acrid with a bit of a camphor-y aroma. Not damp or musty though.
The first steep was a little unpleasant – leathery, cloudy liquor, but there was some pleasant woodiness underneath which gave me hope for the rest of the session. The leaves also look a lot better than most highly compressed tea I’ve seen. Not too great of quality, but not absolutely lawn-mowered.
The rest of the session got better for sure. Mostly woody sweet notes, with maybe a bit of a floral touch in the early part. The texture was milky, but did not really fill my mouth, and the flavor did not linger a long time. I didn’t pick up any qi off of this one either.
Seems to be simple, decent tasting aged sheng. Not a lot going on though, so no chance that this would be a full-cake purchase for me.
Flavors: Leather, Sweet, Wood
Finished off my sample of this one western style. I didn’t take much of any detailed notes, just what I remember. The first cup was nice and rich, a bit of chocolate, malt, and honey. From this cup alone, I was convinced that Western Style was better for this tea than gongfu, but the rest of the session made me less sure. The tea dropped off a cliff both flavor and intensity-wise after that first steep. It was still good, but more of just a light honey sweetness like when I was brewing it gongfu. Even when I accidentally let the third steep go for nearly 30 minutes!
Seems to be a black tea on the lighter side of things. Easy sipping.
Flavors: Chocolate, Honey, Malt, Sweet
Just tried this one for the first time last night – I brewed it up gongfu. Pretty nice looking leaf. It smelled chocolatey and a bit malty when I sniffed the dry leaf. The flavor simple. Just got some honey sweetness and a bit of sweet malt. Pleasant though. No astringency or off-flavors or anything. I’m going to try to brew the second half of my sample Western-style and see if it yields anything more interesting for me.
Flavors: Honey, Malt, Sweet
I got a sample of this tea months ago in a reddit swap. Yellow tea is not something I have encountered a lot of – the only other one I’ve tried came from Teavana. This tea was pretty nice, but I had trouble describing the flavors I was tasting. The dry leaf had a slightly salty and sweet aroma, reminding me of pretzels and raisins, oddly enough. After they took a bath, they smelled buttery, grassy, and almost smoky for some reason.
The flavor started off light with some grassy notes and a sweet finish. The finishing sweetness intensified as the session went on, while the front of the sip became more of a dry grassy/straw flavor. I could not put my tongue on what exactly the sweetness reminded me of. Some things I wrote down included fruity, candy, cotton candy, and spiced cake (that was only on the last couple). I’m not sure what I would really compare it to, but it was a pretty strong sweetness. The texture was thicker than most green teas I drink, but didn’t really approach the viscosity some puerhs give to the brew.
One that I enjoyed drinking and am glad to have tried, but not anything which I need to buy more of. It also hasn’t really convinced me to go seeking out other yellow teas.
Flavors: Dry Grass, Fruity, Straw, Sweet
This tea tasted alright for the first few steeps. It was roasty, a bit chocolatey, and sweet. Sometimes it got a little bit sour, though that could have been because I put the whole 8g in my 100mL gaiwan. Halfway through the session there was a bit of a nutty flavor which developed as well. The tea started to die after around 6 or 7 steeps. I didn’t find it particularly interesting or fantastic tasting. It was alright, but there’s much better Da Hong Pao to be had.
Flavors: Nutty, Roasted, Sweet
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Flavors: Nutty, Roasted, Sweet
I was fortunate enough to get a sample of this tea (along with its “white wrapper” counterpart) in a swap with a kind and generous new teafriend. From the minimal amount of research I have done, it seems this is a coveted cake which has received a lot of positive press in the online puerh community, and is thus now sold out of many sources and goes for pretty incredibly high prices otherwise. I brewed this tea up at 1g/15mL, as I normally do with sheng. The dry leaves had a nutty (walnut) note to the aroma, with some light sweetness. After a rinse, the aroma was sweeter, but notes of leather and wood also emerged.
The first steep had a slight leathery note and was a little bit sharp or rough in the front of the sip. The finish was woody sweet, with what I thought was a hint of dark fruitiness – this huigan was long-lasting. I took my time between sips, as the flavor lingered for minutes at a time in my mouth. I started to feel a little bit of rising energy in my chest as I let the huigan play out after this steep. The texture was already pleasantly thick.
Any sharpnesss was gone for me in the next steep. It was sweet and woody, though a touch drying. Huigan was woody sweet and again lingered long after swallowing. I started to really feel the qi at this point – my arms felt simultaneously heavy and light.
The next steep was instantly mouthwatering, very sweet, and I was sure this time that there was a bit of fruitiness to the aftertaste. Not the bright, apricot fruitiness more common in young sheng, but a dark and deep fruity note that danced over my tongue and in my mouth. This steep was incredibly warming and started to make my mouth feel tingly and numb. The qi also moved its way up to my forehead, where I felt it sitting there.
The fourth steep had more of a dry woodiness with a sweet woody, nutty, and fruity character to the still powerful and lingering huigan. It reminded me slightly of the oakiness you get on the finish of oak-aged spirits or wine.
By the fifth steep, I was starting to feel a bit slower and fuzzy, less coordinated. I had to focus to not spill my tea all over the place. The flavors were much the same as the last steep, and they continued this way through around the twelfth steep. The qi continued to build for this whole period. It was a little bit difficult to carry on the conversations I was having with teafriends on Slack, and when I got up to use the restroom at one point, I remember feeling rather light and almost floaty.
Around the thirteenth steep, the flavor started to taper off. I squeezed out another five or six steeps, which still had good woody sweetness to them. As the flavor waned, so did the qi – I felt mostly normal by the end of the session, so it didn’t mess me up past when I was finished or anything like that.
This was an excellent session, probably the most pleasant and strong feeling qi of any sheng I’ve tried to this point, and the flavor was excellent as well. That said, it isn’t good enough to warrant the price of a full cake – I don’t really think there is any tea I would consider paying $1000+ (or $600 or whatever) for. If I was in a much different financial situation, then I would absolutely consider going for a cake(s) of this! I would definitely recommend people who are into sheng attempt to track down at least a sample of this tea.
Going into the session knowing what I did about this tea makes me wonder how much my mental state affected the session. If I went into sessions with other teas knowing that others (whose opinions I value) consider the tea to be a “face-melter” or to be known for strong qi, would I have similar experiences with them? How much of my opinion is colored by preconceptions going into a session? To be honest, at this point in my tea-journey, I’m certain that my experience is colored very much by my preconceptions. It makes me think I shouldn’t read up on teas before I try them, but of course how would I narrow down my options if I didn’t? Sampling every tea sold myself is obviously not feasible. This paragraph is kind of rambling, but I guess it’s just something I wondered about after having such an enjoyable session with this tea. Then again, whether enjoyment comes from your own experiences alone or your preconceptions (or both of course), it’s still enjoyment, right?
Flavors: Fruity, Leather, Nutty, Sweet, Walnut, Wood