36 Tasting Notes
Forgot I had this sample sitting around. Bought a bunch of Liu Bao samples a while back and got to figuring that they all tasted like someone boiled some rotten twigs and leaves and made you lick it off a moldy basement floor…not my bag. So when I found this unopened sample I was curious I was intrigued but leery…Turns out that this tea actually reminds me of a good shou. It does have the decayed wood taste but also notes of marzipan and strangely Dr Pepper. Not sure I’d drink this daily but it is nice.
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There used to be a Fujian black tea called Emperors Red that I used to get from a company called Special Teas that was tragically the victim of a hostile takeover by Teavana several years ago. This tea had a lovely Benzdorp cocoa and biscuit malt note. When Special Teas was cannibalized I could not find another to compare. I’ve had multiple golden, black and red monkeys as well as Keemun teas. A few had some similar notes but none came close to the elusive Emperors Red. Then I found this tea. It not only has everything I loved about the Emperors Red. It one ups it with floral notes that resemble the smell of the wild, invasive multiflora roses that grow in Pennsylvania and bloom in a June. This tea is not highly complex. It is cocoa, biscuit malt and a hint of multiflora rose. Special Teas Emperors Red had quite the following so if you are reading this and missed this tea . Try this stuff.
The most expensive shou I’ve tasted but is it the best? Did Hai Lang make it? Did he make it with gushu LBZ material? Did it remind me of Westvleteren 12, the elusive spicy, earthy chocolate Belgian Trappist ale that many critics call the best beer in the world? Did it steep over 20 times evolving each steep and leave me feeling as though I’d consumed something illegal? Did I answer my first question with a series of other questions?
So I’m new to rock oolongs and high quality oolongs in general (have had a few taiguanyins in the past but never got big into them) having spent the last 2 decades drinking black tea and getting hooked on sheng a year ago. When I first sampled this tea, it reminded me of tree ears and smoked pine cones boiled in bong water…and not in an unpleasant manner either, just unusual. I figured it’d be a great match to a Chinese stir fry that incorporated wild mushrooms, sesame oil, and Sichuan peppercorns. I made such a meal today and paired this cha with it and I was correct. It seems that a few months have softened the roastiness and astringency of this tea. I’m left with a brothy oily umami filled cup with vegetal notes similar to braised mustard greens. Don’t think rock oolongs will become a daily drinker but on stir fry shrimp and mushroom night I know what to reach for…
If I blindly tasted this shou I would have thought it was a 30yr sheng. It seems to be accepted that shou is a shortcut for producing something that tastes sorta like a well aged sheng but rather misses the mark yet if it’s good shou is its own thing. When I first tasted a sample of this I was instantly reminded of a 1985 tuo of gushu sheng made of Nanuo and Banzhang material I was lucky enough to procure . The elegantly woody, tobaccoish autumn forest notes were all there. The only thing it lacked was the sink into your chair and grin at the floor for the next 4 hours qi of the tuo. The qi I got from this was the calm but energetic qi I expect from a Jingmai. Bottom line…to my palate this stuff tastes not like a shou but a well aged sheng. If these folks could figure how replicate the qi of a 30yr sheng they could retire quite comfortably… as for now, they got the taste nailed.
Got a 12g sample of this and figured that 11 years old it’d be safe to drink the whole sample on an empty stomach…WRONG! I got a small amount of stoner qi but a ton of caffeine which makes me nauseous. I feel like I drank a quart of gas station coffee… There is a nice bitterness and menthol/tobacco character. I’m reminded of a menghai factory tea. Ok but for the $ there are far better teas of a similar age…
Next to the single tree lbz maocha from clt this may be my favorite sheng of 2017. Super complex. This tea is the only sheng I’ve had that has a bit of the pea soup aroma I only get from Japanese sencha. There’s lots of menthol and evergreen, tobacco and earthiness. Big uplifting qi. What more could one ask for?
Man this guy gets some amazing gushu! The Rareness is remarkable with its jasmine and almond notes with stellar qi and was the best young sheng I’ve had until I tried this Rareness 3. I could spend an hour listing all the herbal, wild floral , evergreen camphor and citrus peel notes I get. I could talk about how there is a lingering sweetness that clings to the throat for hours reminiscent of mango sticky rice. I could wax poetic about how this stuff made my whole kitchen smell like the Olympic rain forest in Washington. I could explain that during the 4th steep my face went entirely numb and I was grinning like Jimmy Carter and by the 10th steep I was so tea drunk I could have listened to Fleetwood Mac without my eyes bugging out my hair standing on end and breaking out into a rash which is usually the case. Yes, I could go on about this tea for hours but no words could do it justice. Best to try for yourself. One thing though. It is touchy. Brew to light and it’s thin and you miss a lot. Pushed too hard it gets bitter quickly. Brewed slightly hot for a little longer than micro steeps seemed to work best for me…