106 Tasting Notes

Like Slumbering Dragon from CLT? My guess is that this is basically the same tea at 1/3 the price. Bitter gaogan yesheng from Kunlu Shan? Check. Medium light body with intense but smooth bitterness with notes of citrus peel and blueberries? Yep. Does it have the same spacy but energizing wi? OMG I have to be at work in a half hour. Do I intend to try to trade my remaining cakes of SlumberIng Dragon? …if anyone is still interested in that tea. Bottom line, if you like Slumbering Dragon buy this tea. 3 years ago when I was new to sheng I was smitten with it and bought a lot of it. Now I mainly drink it when I’m fighting a cold…

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I’ve had this tea for a while and rather neglected it. I was impressed enough by a sample that I bought a cake a couple years back. The fact that it’s semi aged Mengsong old arbor for $165 for 400g influenced my decision. It’s been over a year since I had this tea and I thought I’d check in on it’s progress. It also sounded like it would go well with my breakfast of chicken, gravy and eggs over duck fat potatoes. I know that some people shudder at the notion of pairing pu with food but I come from the beer world so get over it. Anyhow, the crock storage has been kind to this tea. When I last checked in it was what I would consider in the last phases of it’s awkward stage. It has now evolved into a powerhouse semi aged sheng. Thick and woody with notes of tobacco and earthy autumnal forest notes. I get 10 steeps pushing this tea and each had big long huigan. Bitterness is smooth and round. Beer comparison? Theakston Old Peculier or other Yorkshire old ale with treacle in it. As I drink this tea I scroll through the news and am saddened to learn that the King of rocknroll has just left us so I respond by firing up the stereo and putting on a record of all the Specialty era singles. The qi hits as Tutti Frutti comes on and I’m happily dancing around the living room picturing Richard jamming with Jimi and Willie Dixon in heaven. My muscles are relaxed and I’m quite content. The closest tea comparison I can think of is W2T 2005 Naka. While it has a tad more aged character and more drowsing qi, this tea retains more top notes and is slightly more energizing. In a way I rather prefer this tea and think it’ll only improve with age. Of course the same thing can be said of the Naka…but this tea is 40% the price.


I got 3 of these babies. I love it.


It’s definitely a nice one

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Yesterday I wrote and quickly deleted a note on the wrong tea, that tea being Da Qing Zhai, a Bangdong area tea which I’m sure is quite good as well. Scott says this is his favorite tea this year. This recommendation along with a 12% off sale combined with the fact that every 2019 Jinggu area tea I’ve tried has been excellent I opted to blind cake this. Glad I did. This is an awesome and unique tea. This stuff is oily thick, slightly sweet and tastes like dandelions, not the greens (although I’ve had several TGY with that note) but the flowers. If you’ve never steeped or fried dandelion flowers I highly recommend it. Sorta like chamomile but different. There is just enough bitterness to balance the sweetness. A spicy backdrop is notable in early steeps and a little woody mint emerges in later steeps but dandelion is the main flavor throughout. A great springtime tea but I’m not sure the flavor alone would have me digging into this tea regularly. It’s the natural feeling euphoric qi that won me over. Some sheng gets you hyper. Some is drowsing. Some is stoning. This stuff for me is liquid courage. It feels like a runners high. Alert yet relaxed and confident. The perfect thing to drink before a daunting day at work. I’ve drunk this on several occasions with similar effect. It’s whitewater season in Pennsylvania and I’ve found that this is also a great tea to drink before paddling. Being as smooth and floral (but not perfumey like a Jingmai thank God) I wonder how this tea will age. At the rate I’m attacking this bing I don’t think I need to worry…

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So with all the shipping nightmares from China I’ve been getting my fix from the YS US site. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this tea in relation to its potency, balance, complexity and bang for the buck so I decided to blind cake it during the 12% off sale. Glad I did. I’ve lately become a bit of a single origin snob and forgotten how satisfying a masterful blend can be . I don’t know if Xiao is a Taoist but she has achieved a perfect balance of yin and yang. Big evergreen notes balanced by stone fruit and honey. Bitter and sweet rotate around one another. Just enough astringency to let you know it’ll age well. Big qi that punches way above the price. It’s the stoned roadrunner feeling I get from Banzhang area teas. I have only one complaint about this tea but it’s only been in my storage 2 weeks so I’m hesitant to lodge it…I only got 6 steeps. A tea this good I want at least a dozen. Sometimes a little resting will fix this. I’ve found that hotbox storage can increase the number of steeps and bring life to tea in its awkward stage. I’m gonna rest it a month and see if it steeps longer. If not I may try the hotbox. Either way this tea is a hit.

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Decent semi aged old school factory sheng for the price. Reminds me of a German rauchbier, an Oktoberfest beer made with malt that’s dried over a beechwood fire.
Smoke, malt and old wood. Not getting the fruit notes others mention. Got 9 steeps that were pretty consistent. A bit of chest tightening and energetic qi typical of Menghai teas but nothing to shout about. Would be a good breakfast tea to pair with smoked sausage. For a factory tea of this age/price I prefer the Changtai offerings as they tend to offer more complexity and heavier qi but this one is good and solid.

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I’m mostly a sheng drinker but occasionally get a craving for white tea. I’ve bought a small bag of this each year since 2017 and still have some left in each bag. I reach for this tea when I want a bright May afternoon in a cup. As others have noted there are notes of dill and honeydew. I also get a whiff of cardamom. I typically gongfu this but see that others cold brew it. Will have to try that.

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I’m developing a real fondness for Jinggu area teas. While I’m primarily an Yiwu fanatic the prices of the good old arbor stuff (especially the heady border area teas) has gotten astronomical. The terrace and young tree teas offer a somewhat diluted version of teas from the area but it’s not the same. I’m learning that I can get very high quality old arbor Jinggu teas for a similar price as little tree GFZ and get much more enjoyment from it. This tea is a case in point. Thick, oily, notes of citrus peel, basil and surprisingly pleasant popsicle stick notes evolve through a dozen or so steeps. There’s a nice cooling effect that I expect with a good northern tea and mouthwatering effect that continues long after the tea is gone. The qi is really substantial especially for a tea in this price range. It concentrates mainly in the head and shoulders with a little chest tightening. It’s a calm and happy energy that relaxes the mind and makes the body want to move. Perhaps I’ll grandpa a bit of this at my next show.

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The description says it’s between Yishanmo and WanGong but has a bit more in common with Yishanmo. Sort of accurate, however I got more WanGong notes than I expected. The tea definitely has the thick, sweet herbal notes of Yishanmo but has a WanGong attitude. Big evergreen foresty notes although not as in your face as say a Tongqinghe. The qi although milder than a gushu WanGong still is quite potent and stoning. I got a dozen good steeps out of this before a kill steep in the Cha hai and found it’s evolution to be linear, that is it didn’t start sweet and herbal then turn potent and foresty. Both of these components evolved together and finished with a nice woody oily character. Good WanGong tea runs close to $2-3 a gram these days and may not be sweet enough for some Yiwu fans. At $.80some a gram this tea is a great compromise. For me I’m not a big Yishanmo, Walong or Manzhuan drinker as I like more umph. This tea nicely fills the gap.

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Nice Yiwu for the buck. Having assaulting my tastebuds and zapping my brain with border area gushu for several months this tea being young tree sat on the back burner. I did 8 steeps and found it has decent body, slight oiliness , sweet, grassy and floral notes similar to the Gaoshan maocha I’ve been drinking. At $.11g I was not expecting any other qi than a slight caffeine kick. Surprisingly I have a slight tingle in the forehead, tightening of the chest and relaxed shoulders. Not a big attitude adjustment but nice. If you want stereotypical Yiwu character on a budget this tea is a good choice. It doesn’t have the thickness or qi of ancient trees but all the flavors are there and it produces a nice headringer. I personally prefer more intense border area for Yiwu but prices of Banna teas in general are astronomical so if I were looking for nice fruity oily teas with big qi on a budget I’d opt to pay a bit more and go with ancient arbor tea from Jinggu or Wuliang which although doesn’t have the typical Yiwu character performs on par with many Yiwu teas that are much more costly.

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I’ve been a huge fan of all manner of black tea since the early 90s particularly second flush Darjeeling, Fujian, Yunnan and Assam teas but last winter fell headfirst into the sheng world and the rest is history…


Central Pennsylvania

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