921 Tasting Notes
It is a glorious day, nice and cool after the nasty amount of heat we had lately. I have my windows open and I can enjoy a session with some Shou, something I find less desirable when it is near 100 degrees outside, since I find Shou to be very warming. While sipping I am packing, trying to decide which pieces of tea gear are ‘essential’ and cannot be packed away til last minute…and it is really hard! Yes I am wrapping everything in old cloth (my dryer broke and ruined a bunch of my clothes, so hey, free packing material…though I have to buy new underwear now, ugh) and the boxes are RIGHT next to my desk and really easy to access, but I don’t like seeing such bare shelves.
So, onto some Shou! Today we are looking at 2010 Imperial Palace by Langhe Tea Company a well known tea company (from Yunnan of course) that is known for its mellow and clean taste. If the aroma is anything to go by, this one will live up to Langhe’s reputation, notes of sweet and mellow molasses, loam, pine wood, and a distinct cedar trunk finish with just the tiniest hint of leather. Honestly the aroma of this tea reminds me of being in a cabin deep in a pine forest, you keep your belongings in a trunk and your leather pouch for carrying whatever things you take on a forest adventure hangs nearby, it is very evocative and feels me with peace.
Into ye old elephant duanni the tea goes for a rinse and steep! The aroma of the wet leaves is very sweet, strong notes of pine sap and molasses with clean soil and wet wood. It is less forest floor and more just straight up forest. The liquid is creamy, sweet and rich, I am detecting notes of cocoa, molasses and a lovely finish of wet pine wood.
I decided that I wanted to share this with my friends, and luckily my elephant pot is big enough that we can all share several small cups. The first steep has a pleasantly thick mouth, coating the mouth with a full burst of flavor. Rich notes of cocoa and molasses with an accompaniment of wet pine wood and a clean cedar finish.
Onward to the second steep, the sharing of tea continues! Notes of forest loam (mostly pine forest and cedar leaves) wet wood, cocoa, and a touch of malt waft from the steamy little cups. The taste is strong and malty, intense coniferous wet wood notes blend with dark chocolate and a touch of loam. The finish is a clean cedar note that is rather invigorating.
Third steep, we are surprisingly tea drunk…my friends are total light weights, but there is no excuse for me, clearly this is an intense tea! The aroma is dark and malty, rich dark chocolate and a touch of loam, I feel a relaxing, sinking feeling when sniffing this tea, like I am melting into loam. The taste is heavy as well, thick and sweet, warm notes of wet wood and fir trees, loam and chocolate. Finishing notes of malt and cedar, this tea is kinda great! I love the cocoa notes, they blend really well with the loam and woody notes, Langhe Tea Company, you have some made Puer skills!
I think that Matcha Monday will not be a weekly thing, but a random thing, because it turns out that massive Matcha Showdown covered a LOT of the Matcha I planned on reviewing, so I will have to come up with some other ways of talking about Matcha. However there is at least one Matcha up my sleeve I have not blogged about yet!
Thanks to Tomoson, a new (to me anyway) site which supplies bloggers with cool stuff, in this case I got myself some Midori Spring Ceremonial (Emerald) Matcha, Emerald being the class of Matcha, which makes it in the middle, suitable for culinary projects and also for sipping as bowl of Matcha, a good beginners Matcha. I think after sipping Matcha in one form or another for almost 15 years I can safely say I am not a beginner, but it never hurts to try new things (that is kinda the whole point of this blog after all!)
I decided to use this Matcha first in a baking project. I admit I was astounded when I saw the amount of Matcha, I was expecting a small tin, but nope, it is a sizable amount! I love baking with Matcha, drinking it traditionally and whisking it has a wonderfully meditative feeling, but the inventive ways you can use it in food really get me the most excited. For my baking project I decided to make Matcha Coconut Macaroons, basically I took a standard Coconut Macaroon recipe (1 large bag coconut, 1 can condensed milk, a handful of rice flour) and tossed a bunch of the Emerald (a good description, very green!) Matcha into the coconut and rice flour mix and tossed it until the coconut was richly green. I then added the condensed milk and baked it at 350 for about 20 minutes (or until the tips of the coconut turned golden brown) the result was delicious! I definitely think this might be my new go-to Matcha for baking. It is sweet and green with a strong Matcha taste and no bitterness.
Next I decided to try it whisked traditionally, the color is quite lovely, not the most vibrantly green ever, but certainly a good middle grade coloring, it is a little pale, like the underside of an oak leaf, but lacks any brown tones to the coloration. The aroma is nice and sweet, notes of hay, sticky rice, and fruitiness waft up, with a slight hint of seaweed at the finish.
Once whisked the aroma is primarily sweet rice and a touch of fresh cut grass, and I can say it whisked beautifully! The taste is a little dry and brisk, very robust and green, starts out like green vegetation and leafy vegetables, grass and kale, this fades to a touch of sweetness at the finish. I prefer this as a baking Matcha I think, it certainly lives up to exactly what it says on the tin, it is a good medium grade, and I like that, it doesn’t say that it will be the best ever cup of Matcha, it says it is excellent in baking and lattes, and you know what, it is!
Thank you Tomoson for supplying this Matcha!
You know what is really gratifying? Blowing a professional chef’s mind with my baking creations. I am pretty much in charge of baking stuff in the house, but since I have to eat gluten free, my stuff is always gluten free. Many years ago (what we with gluten problems call the Dark Times) it was nigh impossible to find decent breads and such (it was always weirdly textured or tasted really odd, and cost a small fortune) and baking was practically fancy alchemy left to the pros. Poor Fish had to spend a couple years living gluten free and has grown to hate it, so he understandably felt a great deal of trepidation when he found out my baking would lack the glory that is wheat. So far he has been really impressed by my creations, but what really took the cake was the dumplings in the soup the other night, I made them totally from scratch and they were some of the best I have ever had and he is still raging about it. I seem to have developed mad skills, who knew?
Sanne Tea sent me some more tea to review, yay! I am such a sucker for Taiwanese teas, and totally made a squee when I saw that one of the samples was Taiwan No. 18, you might know this glorious black tea as Sun Moon Lake Tea, Hong Yu, Red Jade, or Ruby Black…a tea of many names and many faces. I say many faces because this is one of the most unique aroma and flavor profiles I have run into in tea, and this is thanks to the strain of tea plant this tea is made from, a hybridization of wild mountain tea plants and Burma Assam tea plants, of course the terroir of region helps as well. The farmer of this particular tea roasted it on a lower temperature, meaning it takes longer to roast and there is a larger element of uncertainty. Well, as expected, I was floored by the aroma, I just love this stuff, blending strong notes of sassafras and menthol (but without the mint, it is weird, you need to sniff this one yourself to truly understand the menthol without mint) with an accompaniment of cocoa, malt, and sweet potatoes. It is very sweet and rich, probably sweeter than other versions of this tea I have sniffed.
Brewing the tea (I really want a special Yixing for this tea, it is so unique, I want to know how the clay would affect it) the leaves are very complex, there is just so much going on! Strong notes of sassafras and menthol with honey, dates, cocoa, malt, sweet potatoes, and even a touch of cinnamon and licorice at the finish. The liquid is very sweet with notes of sassafras, dates, and sweet potato, not so much on the menthol, but the sassafras is wonderful. If you ever get the chance to have a rootbeer with real sassafras in it, go for it!
Ok, I am sitting down, I know how Red Jade affects me, I get tea drunk from the first sip of this stuff! The cup comes to my lips, I sip…and omg that is delicious. There are a pile of exclamation points in my notes. The taste starts out with sweetness, notes of honey and dates as the first burst of flavor, this moves to sassafras and the cooling sensation of the menthol, really it is like the sensation and not the taste, it is very strange but so good. The finish is a blend of malt and cocoa with an aftertaste of dark (but not too dark, like 60%) chocolate that kinda curves up to sweet quite a while later.
Second steeping, the aroma is a sweet blend of honey, cocoa, sweet potatoes and of course the iconic (to me) sassafras notes. The taste is a bit more brisk this steep, with notes of woodiness, sweet potato and malt taking up the forefront, this pretty quickly switches to sassafras and menthol at the middle, the menthol lingering into the aftertaste with an accompaniment of honey and dates at the finish. This was a steep to wake up the mouth, similar to eating a mouthful of ginger without the burn.
Third steeping, like the previous one, notes of honey and cocoa blend with sassafras, though no sweet potato this time, but there was a bit of malt. This steep is a bit more mellow, more similar to the first steep, it lacks the briskness of the second but makes up for it in sweetness. Starting out with honey and dates, with a bit of chocolate, this moves to a burst of sassafras and finally finishing out with I swear it tastes just like candied yams! Another fine example of a tea that is a work of art, the more I drink of Red Jade (or whatever name you know it by) the more I love it and crave it.
Fish and I just made the best Chicken Soup! We decided to combine our different styles of soup and specialties, he sauteed the chicken and onion garlic blend, and cooked the beans, I was in charge of the root veggies (the store was out of ruttabagas, and sadly we ran out of carrots) the broth, spice blend, and the surprise. I call it a surprise because at the last minute I wanted dumplings (not dumplings really, but dumplin’s) but have never made them gluten free, so I winged it and they turned out awesome! Not to toot my own horn, but I seem to be really getting the hang of baking gluten free and adapting recipes, there is a lot of trial and error, but the ratio of edible to utterly gross baking creations is mostly edible. Man, this soup is good, I am on my third bowl!
It is Wednesday (I think, my sleep schedule has gotten weird, I ended up staying up 24 hours again and sleeping for a couple hours…hmmm) which means it is a What-Cha day! Making my way through my notebook and the adventure of trying to taste all their teas brings us to Yunnan Silver Needle White Tea. Good old Dian Yin Zhen, like Fujian silver needles, but with a distinctly Yunnan quality and smokiness. The aroma is not really sweet, it is a savory tea with notes of smoke, tomato leaves, lettuce, sauteed bok choy, and a touch of fresh tomato as well. At the finish there is a tiny touch of smoked peaches that adds a hint of sweetness, but only a hint.
I decided to do a psuedo-western bowl steeping kinda thing for this tea, brewing it in my green gaiwan for a long time (7 minutes if you are curious) because I kinda love the way silver needle really shows off with longer steeps. The aroma of the leaves is very savory, bok choy and tomato, smoke and mineral, cedar and a touch of peach at the finish. The liquid is lightly smoked peach (think a grilled peach) with a touch of tomato leaves and lettuce and a tiny finish of distant floral.
The tea is very smooth and smoky, it starts out with sauteed bok choy and hay with a touch of tomato leaf. This moves on to delicate cedar notes that start off mild and build to a sharp cooling sensation that feels like it goes all the way to the tips of my fingers, gotta love that distinct Yunnan cooling sensation. The finish is mild peach and honey sweetness that mixes with the cooling cedar for a very refreshing end.
I went for a second much longer steep, the aroma is much sweeter, less smoke and more peach. The taste can be summed up the same way, but with an extra boom of cedar and now camphor for a peachy resinous cooling tea with a slight smokiness to it. The finish is delicate honey and distant flowers. Yunnan silver needle is a unique tea, if you were expecting the more familiar taste profile of a Fujian silver needle, you will be a bit shocked, but pleasantly so, especially if you are a fan of Sheng Puerhs and Yabao.
Hair dye can be very very messy, I had forgotten that little fact. I have become very proficient in dying my hair blue and not making a giant mess, heck I barely ever need to clean the sink after I am done. I must be off tonight (well duh, I am still a bit tired after a 37 hour bought of insomnia, but whatever, hair dye!) because I got it EVERYWHERE. I dropped the bottle and kept spilling it, which sucked! I ended up having to bleach the sink and floor, and scrub my skin…which is double suck because the dye I use has aloe and I have to be REALLY careful not to get it on my skin. Hmph. So I sit and let my dye set, a perfect time to blog!
Today I am looking at Best Zest from Tea Leaf Co, I knew from the moment I opened the bag and sniffed the tea…this is a tea that needs cold steeping. A blend of Lemongrass, Ginger, and Tulsi, it smells so refreshing, and with it being so hot lately (I miss my cool rainy weather) I wanted that refreshing citrus cold…preferably in a dainty crystal glass. The aroma is super awesome, strong herbal and green notes of Tulsi, it is like basil but not, it has that slightly green and sharp notes of basil without the actual basil smell. Also sweet and green notes of lemongrass (so weird that I love that stuff now) and a hint of ginger heat and spice. It smells like a summer day to me!
I want you all to know that Tao is vigorously pawing at the window, it is her way of telling me she wants it open, but Tao is unaware that it is still really hot out and I am not losing any of my precious AC. So, I am sure this tea would be fantastic hot, but I clearly made the best choice ever, because when it is hot sometimes you really just want a cool thing to sip before bed, and a cold steeped herbal is awesome. The Tulsi notes are what come in the strongest with this slightly peppery herbal greenness, with just that hint of basiliness (new word, yay!) and a tiny bit of anise like taste. This moves on to a very refreshing burst of lemongrass which is like a sweet blend of lemon and a touch of hay, just think mild lemonade with a grassy sweetness. Lastly is the ginger which adds an internal warmth to the back of the throat and stomach and prevented my stomach from having a freakout like it does sometimes with cold stuff, so yay for the powers of warming chi! I am going to have to get a LOT more of this tea, it is great as a last cup on a sweltering night, flavorful while being mild, cooling while also being warming.
Yesterday was my best friend and housemate’s birthday! We partied hard, there was Matcha, gifts, cake, bar food, and fighting (because birthday battles are a must) a great success! Well except for me passing out on the bathroom floor towards the end of the festivities, meaning I missed out on the annual Sailor Moon marathon and bonfire. I didn’t even pass out because of something related to the partying, just my body getting used to me adjusting the dosage on my meds like my doctor advised. Good news is my fatigue is lessening, but there are other weird things my body is doing, it is the same as when I have started or upped the dosage in the past and once it evens out I should feel great, but the path to that even plateau is a rocky one. Luckily Fish was not at all sad that I had to tap out and spend the rest of the evening twitching on the bathroom floor!
So, I wanted to spend this Sunday reviewing a book, but I have gotten no reading done, sadly I lack the head for it, so instead I shall showcase a piece of tea gear you will probably recognize, trYeh’s Gaiwan, specifically their green one. It gets a bit complicated, trYeh is a wholesale company, so if you want it you have to get it from one of its distributors like Mighty Leaf (though they only have the brown) Amazon or just have your Sissy pick you up one at a local shop (One Good Woman in Camp Hill, PA) and then totally surprise you with it as a gift instead of letting you pay for it as planned!
As with all pieces of tea gear, there are pros and cons. This is technically an easy gaiwan, a more modern style that is supposed to be easier for people new to gaiwan use to use, or people who have arthritis or are elderly, basically it is an ergonomic gaiwan. Sometimes this style has little nob-like handles, built in filters, or come with a cup as a travel set, they are versatile and at times amazingly beautiful little tools. I wanted one because it looks kinda like a houhin, and I want a houhin but they tend to be expensive! So, in typical me fashion I took a thing and decided to use it for a different purpose, but it also works really well for pretty much all teas, in fact no surprise, it works better for larger leafed teas than the tiny slender Japanese greens like I was hoping. Oh well.
Actually that brings me to my only complaint, the holes on the filter are pretty massive, I really wish they were smaller, and not just because I wanted this for Japanese teas. I frequently find that I get leaf bits in my cup, and while I really don’t mind, I just feel the filtered lid is unnecessary if it is not going to properly work then why have it at all? But that is just a minor gripe, for people who always use a filter while pouring it probably won’t mater.
Minor gripe aside, I really love this thing. The mottled green colors are very pleasing, especially with darker teas which are really complemented by the coloring of the gaiwan. I especially love using it for large leaf black teas or occasional Shou sessions. The lighter color teas are perfectly acceptable in this gaiwan as well, but you won’t really see the color of the liquid until it is poured into a cup. So, it is safe to say, this gaiwan has a welcome place in my collection!
There is a problem in Ramble’s Nether. Do you all remember Ramble? The crazy mountain (back when extreme hills were kinda rare) seed on the 360 that was my first seed? Oh the many deaths I had, well, until I realized I could switch over to playing creative and then the wild building frenzy happened. I have had other creative seeds but none of them have brought me as much joy as that one, recently I went back to it, when the update that brought jungles happened a year or so ago all the biomes got screwy and I in turn got very frustrated at how things looked…but I am getting off track. The Nether! I am currently building there and I have an inundation of Blazes! I have destroyed all the spawners but they just keep coming, since I am in creative they just kinda hover around, but oh man do they get in the way! Clearly they are trying to take over!!
Yes, Minecraft has been hardcore in my mind as of late…blame the recent update and my xbox being fixed, but there is always the ever present tea on my mind as well, and as much as this blog is tea and geekery, it is primarily tea, so let’s get to it! Today we are looking at Baozhong Oolong from Oollo Tea, from the mountainous regions of Wenshan in Pinglin, Taiwan, Baozhong (or Pouchong as it is also frequently called) is the greenest of the green oolongs. Long and twisted like a Yancha, but vibrantly green, this tea is frequently only oxidized up to 12%, so yeah, super green. The aroma of the leaves is a blend of very floral and green notes. Starting with sweet notes of lily, orchid, lilac, and hyacinth, these floral notes transition to green vegetation, a touch of sage, and a bit of broken fresh leaves. The green notes are not the notes of vegetables, but of spring growth, this tea smells like springtime!
The tea wished to be brewed in my Baozhong teapot, because lots of teas request the joys of a yixing pot (really this is why I have so many, I swear.) The aroma of the now doused leaves is very sweet, with almost creamy floral notes of hyacinth, orchid, and that delightfully slightly spicy floral note of Asiatic Lily. There is also a bit of fresh growth and crushed vegetation, like walking off the path in a garden. The liquid is sweet and light, dancing notes of Asiatic Lily and hyacinth, with a hint of lilac at the finish, it is ethereal.
The first steep has a great mouthfeel, very creamy and smooth. The taste starts out with a sweet and light blend of flower nectar and as soon as it hits the midtaste WOW explosion of flowers! It is a veritable bouquet of orchids, peony, lilies, hyacinth, lilac…someone made springtime in my mouth and I am totally ok with that. Reminds me so much of visiting the local gardens during the spring bloom, so heady and sweet.
On we go to the second steep! The aroma is still very sweet and floral, but also quite light with Asiatic lilies and hyacinth, the subtle spicy notes I find very appealing. This steep is more green, the floral notes are still pretty intense and sweet, but there is also a fresh green note of vegetation and a touch of leafy vegetable. Like kale but without the bitter taste associated with kale and a touch of Boston butter lettuce at the finish.
Third steeping time, the aroma is so intensely floral! Not only is there Asiatic lily, there is also hyacinth and orchid, it is super heady and sweet. The taste is exactly like the aroma, a massive explosion of heady spring flowers in my mouth with honey sweetness and a touch of sweet cream at the finish. There was an utter lack of green this time around, just intense floral sweetness.
I forgot how much of a time consuming giant pain building an under-ocean building is on the Xbox 360. Oh what I would give for a pile of sponges! Really though, the PC has it so much better when it comes to building beneath the waves, they even come with pre-built undersea temples…but we are getting an ancient Greece mash-up pack, so for once the Xbox feels superior. I wonder what on earth they will make the Ghasts into, see Ben and I spent a goodly amount of time trying to come up with an ancient world (not just Greece) mythical texture pack, and that one stumped us. Excitement abounds!
Today is a bit of a preview review for MeiMei Fine Teas, a soon to be shop I discovered on Instagram and facebook, they were awesome enough to send me some teas to sample, so I decided to start off with their Meng Ding Yellow Bud (or Mend Ding Huang Ya) a really beautiful Yellow Tea from Sichuan, China. These are beautiful little buds, almost looking like they are fresh from the tea plant, doubly so when they are steeping, and for a fun fact, have been on my to-try list for a while, so happy dance! The aroma of the leaves is gentle and green, light notes of green beans and asparagus, a hint of sweetpeas and bamboo leaves. With these green notes is a hint of toast and grain, buckwheat, chestnut and wheatberries blend really well with the green notes.
I decided to brew this in a tall glass to really showcase the leaves, and what a glorious plan that was! Steeping was so pretty! The aroma of tea is almost entirely all green, notes of green beans, cooked bellpeppers, artichokes, asparagus, and sweetpeas blend with a hint of chestnut and delicate floral undertones. It is a vegetal smorgasbord and a bit mouthwatering, I do love me some vegetal teas, I find them so refreshing, especially this time of year.
So sipping, unlike with a gaiwan or teapot, I do not remove the leaves, basically this is similar to bowl steeping but with a glass. I occasionally need to blow the leaves floating on the surface away, strain with my teeth, or just eat a few because tea is tasty. The first ‘steeping’ for lack of a better way of putting it is green and smooth, initial notes of honey sesame sweetness give way to artichoke and asparagus. The longer the leaves steep the more notes of green beans and sweetpeas pop out, with a tiny bit of pepper at the finish, and a lingering aftertaste of flowers.
Refill time! I like this tea because it does not seem to really get bitter, I can lounge and slowly sip while not getting a face full of overbrewed, so big win there. The second sipping session with this tea is both more sweet and more green than the first. Starting with slightly nutty honey sweetness and a delicate hint of distant floral, then it moves to green beans and artichokes and just a hint of asparagus. I got several refills out of this tea, in fact I am currently lounging with a cup, have been sipping it while playing Minecraft, several hours later and it is still delicious. I have a sneaking suspicion that when MeiMei Fine Teas opens I might have to get a stash of this tea to permanently have on hand!
Oh what a gloriously lazy day it is today, very cool and rainy, perfect for lounging in comfy clothes and reading. Or playing Minecraft. Or painting…one of these things I plan on doing this evening, possibly all three. So far my day has been filled with sleeping in (because with a day like this it is practically mandatory) and a combination of baking and cleaning the kitchen, hooray for productivity.
Today is the last of the What-Cha teas from my butterfly notebook, from here on out it is the Japanese block print notebook and the silver snake notebook…and whatever others I fill up in the future. Specifically the tea is Fujian Narcissus ‘Shui Xian’ Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea, one of my favorite of the Yancha or Rock Teas from Wuyi, the first one I ever tried is not surprisingly the one with the biggest place in my heart. The aroma of the curly leaves is a gentle char, with an accompaniment of richness! Strong notes of chocolate, cooked plums and cherries, cooked cream (not quite as sweet as creme brulee, but in that same vein) and a finish of loam. Over all of these notes is the char notes, it hangs over it like a foggy morning after a bonfire in autumn. Very comfy and nostalgic smelling.
Into the Yancha pot the tea goes for its awaited steeping, and well, it is almost too good for words! Sometimes Yancha just blows my mind and instead of perceiving aroma notes I just get explosions of color in my mind and melt into a state of bliss in my chair. I will try my best to give a description and not just a pile of maniacal giggles though! Notes of char, raw honey, cocoa, autumn leaves, and wet slate waft up out of my teapot, it is like a fuzzy warm robe for my nose (and this is not even a Da Hong Pao…that pun was painful, I am sorry y’all.) The liquid is creamy rich sweetness, raw honey and plums with chocolate and bonfire. Think both charcoal and burning leaf pile, it is lovely!
First steeping! Does this tea hold up to its powerful happy smell? You betcha! The mouthfeel is smooth and thick, bordering on soupy, the taste starts off with char and grilled plums and peaches, this moves on to a burst of dark chocolate and loam, the finish is wet slate and a touch of distant floral that lingers in the aftertaste.
Second steeping. Oh, I got lost in this tea, my notes are all sideways and there is no third steeping note, just the word yum. Real helpful me! The aroma is so rich and sweet, plums and chocolate, loam and fire, with a finish of honey and distant flowers. The mouthfeel is a little sharper with this steep, and the taste is delicious! Grilled plums and char, a touch of peaches and dried cherries as well, then moving to dark chocolate and pecans, with a finish of loam and slate. This tea had a lot of stuff going on, unlike most Shui Xian I have had, this one is lighter on the char and with more fruity and cocoa notes, I feel like I could taste the tea over the char! It is one of the best examples of Shui Xian I have had.
Today I learned that cooking a meal with two professional chefs in the house is a real adventure. In proper housemate fashion we are taking turns cooking dinner, I am not a cook, you have probably all figured out by now that my forte is baking. Specifically baking sweets of the gluten free variety, when the chefs leave the kitchen to me. But oh when I try to cook a meal the chefs hovered and helped and eventually took over. I do not mind because I am an awful cook, learning is great, but being reminded how terrible I am at cooking is humbling. At least I know I can provide everyone with mounds of baked yummies! Also I am pretty sure everyone’s goal now is to fatten me up…and where did that giant cauldron come from?
Back to Hong Kong we go thanks to Man Cha Teas! Their Puer Tea is a fantastic compressed cube of good fortune, my photo does not do it justice, but it is compressed with the Fu character, which translates to good fortune. I find the name of this tea a bit refreshing, it is just Puer Tea, I know from its appearance that it is Shou and from the website that it is from Yunnan, not knowing the factory and such means no expectations, which is like a fun adventure! The aroma of the little cube is a typical Shou, very earthy, with notes of wet loam, peat, old wet leather, and wet oak wood. The oak wood notes give it a bit of sharpness similar to a woody black tea. A tannic quality that leans more towards malty heaviness than brightness.
Brewing the tea in my standard elephant Duan Ni Yixing teapot, the aroma of the wet (and not so much cubed anymore) is sweet and earthy, like really sweet, lots of molasses and caramelized sugar with a hint of maple syrup too. There is a bit of loam and soil at the finish making it not all sweetness, but I am really impressed by the sweetness of this tea. The liquid is is loamy and sweet, with molasses and soil, also a hint of pepper and nutmeg, my first spicy puerh, fun!
The first steep has a crazy thick moutheel, soupy and almost syrupy like pine sap. The taste is very earthy, like a full mouth of loam, clean soil, and a nice burst of peat. The earthiness transitions to sweet molasses and leather and a fun finish of pepper. Surprisingly this puerh was cooling rather than the more familiar warming sensation I am used to with Shou.
Onward to the second steep! The aroma is earthy with notes of wet loam, forest floor after a summer rain (specifically a pine forest) and again a touch of pepper. The tasting starts with the thick moutheel again, it coats the mouth it its thickness while not being cloying. The taste itself is similar to the first steep, but the sweetness is more mellow and the earthiness more pronounced. The leather and pepper notes at the finish are there as well, in fact this tea kinda reminds me of sinking into a comfy leather chair, it has a comfortable, homey feel to it.
The third steep continues with the earthy aroma, reminiscent of forest floors and summer rain, with the now familiar touch of pepper. This steep is earthy and mellow, I find myself very relaxed by it and I keep dozing off in my chair, which sadly is not leather to evoke the leather taste notes in the tea. The finish has lost its pepper finish and replaced with gentle wood.