52 Tasting Notes

I missed this back when it emerged at $15 the brick. By the time I was looking at W2T the price had already escalated to a point where some cognoscenti were saying “not worth it,” and it kept getting pushed down the priority list. At the current price of $0.34/g there are other teas I’d rather buy. But when a TTB arrived with a 6g sample of this, it was the first thing I grabbed.

The sample consisted of a single chunk and about a gram of fine chop and fannings. I figured this was not too different from what you’d get breaking up the brick, as the material is itself pretty finely chopped and rather tightly compressed. I made it in a 90-ml clay pot with water at the 208F setting on my boiler. A flash rinse came out a deep greenish-gold: the initial steeps made a clear orange soup.

This is not a smooth easy-to-like tea. Some other tasters have likened it to Xiaguan, and it does have in common with that a strong terpene aroma. The first 6-8 steeps I made quickly as the small bits of leaf threatened overwhelming strength. Early steeps are punchy, with a strong feel and decent huigan. There is some astringency through the session, though I’d not call it a particularly drying tea. There is a good honey-like lengxiang in the first few steeps, though it’s not super-strong.

Looking at the notes previous tasters have written: what a collection of flavors people see here! I did not find it particularly smokey, possibly due to using clay. I do not find it particularly earthy, and detected no humid storage tastes.

Many tasters have found woody flavors in this tea, and “wet wood” is often noted. Here’s my contribution: I think that taste is well-aged cardboard box. I think this tea spent a lot of years packed in cardboard, picked up the scent, and transformed it into a woody “WTF is THAT” note over time.

I am not going to rate this tea, or give it the thumbs up/down. I’m glad I had an opportunity to try it, but I wouldn’t buy it at the current price. At $0.15/g it would be a great deal, at $0.20 a good one. But at basically $100/bing there are other teas in this age range I’d rather spend my money on. You might want to buy this tea if you want some 15-years-aged raw tea and aren’t prepared to shell out for a whole bing.

Brian

i found the sweetness to be of the carrot variety…

Yang-chu

冷香? Lengxiang?

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Dirt cheap tea that is better than what you might expect for the price.

I’ve consumed most of a cake of this stuff. It’s too astringent to make a slippery or oily mouthfeel, lengxiang is weak and fleeting, it’s not very sweet, and it doen’t have much longevity. I’ve given up on trying to push it past 8 steeps.

On the plus side, it makes a dark gold to orange soup, and has a definite matured puer flavor and aroma while it lasts. There are a few steeps after the leaves open and before it plays out that are pretty smooth and nice. You get some idea what older puer can taste like with this.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Had a sample of this from BTTC. The 10g sample was almost all in one lump, which flaked apart easily with the pick. The dry leaf is very dark, with some golden buds. Warm dry leaf has a generic mature sheng smell, sort of sweet and hay-like.

The leaf was well-separated and after a 5s rinse I got 5 increasingly dark 5s infusions before feeling a need to increase the time. The flavor is smooth and pleasant, slightly sweet but rather nondescript. Good thick mouthfeel, oily, up through about steep #7. There is practically no cold cup scent. I taste no hint or dirt or stone. I kept at it for 18 steeps, with the last one being 2min. The last 6 infusions probably should have been 2, going straight for the long steeps. I was getting a tea sweat around steep 10.

This tea has very clean dry storage with no trace of wetness I can detect, good longevity, and starts out with a strong feel. The flavor is on the boring side.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Yang-chu

I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve found that if you open their productions and let it sit for a day in ambient temps below 70, they really come alive.

Many of the Zhongcha productions strike me as being in the tradition of Chan/zen, so the qi becomes the centerpiece. A slow opening seems to unleash the qi within the leaves, something I’ve not noticed when just quaffing down when after opening.

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Old-school factory cake made of varying grades of chop (you won’t find any big fancy leaves or intact budsets) with little stemmy stuff. At some point the storage got damp enough to give it that wet stone smell that never steeps out. Not terribly strong tea, but smooth. Some sweetness from the first steep on. Whatever bitterness was present is aged out. Makes dark red soup for 10+ steeps, gradually trailing off into sweet colored water without ever passing through the harsh “used up” stage.

There’s not a lot of flavor beyond the wet stone and a sort of generic aged tea smoothness.

I have a little buyer’s remorse for having bought the whole cake of this, but not much. I like tea with a stronger feel, and suspect that the collector who sold this to BTTC decided that this one was only going downhill from where it is now.

Recommended, with the proviso that you can get past the damp basement smell.

Flavors: Wet Rocks

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Yang-chu

Cheese! I like so totally know what you’re talking about. What do you note about the qi of these earlier productions?

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Not drinking this today: Actually I finished off this tuo a couple of weeks ago. But I felt the need to add a parting shot. Because my previous notes might lead someone to pass this up, who might otherwise buy it.

This tea is marketed as a “daily drinker” and I did drink it most days, most of the time I was drinking it. What this does is to reveal flaws, particularly since I generally drink more than 1 tea/day (and when one of those teas is something as inexpensive as this one, I have a tendency to follow it with something that will up the average price).

The first session I had with this, I was really pretty favorably impressed. It does have some matured character (though it really is still pretty green). It has some nice floral notes, was strong enough to open the pores, and is free of strong smoke or bad bitterness or really any other glaring defects.

The last session was one I drank after discovering a chunk I’d forgotten about, hiding in a cupboard. I hadn’t tasted it in several weeks. And do you know, it was actually pretty decent. Fans of jasmine teas might be surprised to find that tea can taste like this all by itself.

I’ve been drinking mostly older teas than this in recent months. This one has enough age to have some matured traits, as I said, while still being rather on the green side. If there really is an “awkward age” for puer, this one still might be in that stage. I’m toying with the idea of getting another one to hold onto for a few years, in spite of how I have a policy of buying things I can drink now. I think this one will be rather better when it’s 10-12 years old, especially if it’s kept someplace hot and humid.

I doubt this will ever be one where people rave about how thick and sweet it is, or how it has a monster qi, but you know, it is not too bad. If you are curious about aged raw puer, don’t like the idea of 25g samples or are leery of forking over $70 for an entry-level matured cake, this one is for you. Just don’t drink it every day for too long.

Flavors: Astringent, Jasmine, Smoke, Sugarcane, Wood

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I tasted this one a couple of times shortly after we got it, just to check on the mold issue. Mine had a faint humid odor when it arrived, which has since pretty much cleared up. Today I broke off a bigger chunk and brewed up a strong batch.

I think this is my new fave. Starts with a smell of old books and a hint of roasted asparagus and a smooth smooth taste, and just goes on and on. After the umpteenth steep the lid scent gets a little humid, and the old books turn out to have been a bit wet. There’s an astringent mouth-coating effect that turns into floral perfume that lasts and lasts.

I can’t steep this one out today, though I started it at 10 AM and now it’s almost 4:30.

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I almost finished this packet and never wrote about it. I got a 50g sample of this about 4-5 months ago, and it’s about gone, so this must be the 8th or so session I’ve had with it.

This tea smells and tastes powerfully of dirt, or maybe wet stone. Seriously, drinking this has deeply warped my tastes, so that I no longer consider heavy humid storage to be a deal-breaker defect.

The leaf is dark brown nondescript lumps and bits strongly reminiscent of shu.

I used 5.5 g of leaf with a “standard gaiwan” and near-boiling water. 1 rinse of ~10 sec followed by short infusions, a couple each of 5, 10, 15s. The rinse smells of dirt, the gaiwan lid of wet stone. The taste changes from dirt to wet rocks over the first few infusions, and there is a slight mouth coating that becomes a little fruity. By about the 5th or so steep it’s getting pretty astringent, and soon the dark soup begins to lighten up some. There is some definite pore-opening perspiration-inducing power with this tea. Even at the 10th or 12th steep, each cup raises a fresh sweat. Eventually it becomes light-copper, stone-tasting, slightly sweet astringent water, after maybe 14-15 steeps.

I don’t think this tea has the staying power of some older raw puer, but on the other hand I have not tried brewing 8g of it at once. This tea is probably worth trying just as an example of 20-year-aged tea, but might be too humid for some. I’m interested in finding an example of the type that has drier storage, I think.

Flavors: Dirt, Fruity, Wet Rocks

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Matu

The only aged heicha I have had some very humid storage taste to it as well. I’m airing it out right now.

aardvarkcheeselog

It will do a job darkening up the craquelure in your ruyao ware. I don’t think it ever airs out, really.

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Finishing off another sample here. I’m not sure why I have this tea… I bought the sample along with a number of samples of oldish Yiwu from YS, but don’t remember deciding to buy it.

There is a lot of bitter in this tea. Beyond that there is still some green feeling in later steeps that leaves me thinking that it could stand to wait some more time before drinking, but maybe that’s puple buds that will never smooth out. There is strength too though, and something interesting about how the astringent mouth feel in later steeps turns into fruit fragrance on the tongue.

I won’t be buying this again, because I’m looking for more smoothness, and also I think the price is high for what it is, but reasonable people could differ about that.

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Made up one of these in the std gaiwan. Around 13 steeps and it went dead. This is a nice, floral-smelling thing, pretty leaf grade, low bitterness, nice mouthfeel at first. I steep these like in Crimson Lotus’s instructional video for Planet Jingmai: a 30-sec “rinse” while mashing the ball with the lid, a 5-min rest in the closed gaiwan, and another 30-sec-and-smush which this time I’m calling a steep because I drank it. After the 2nd 5-minute steaming the ball was completely unravelled.

Flavors: Flowers

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