56 Tasting Notes

I drank a session of this over the past weekend. I’d had some broken off the cake and airing out for a week or 10 days. This is a loosely compressed cake, at least around the edge I was nibbling at. I easily got 15g or so of leaf just by poking at it with a pick. It’s large pieces of leaf, few whole ones, with rather a lot of sticks or stems. The color of the leaf is brown of roasted coffee bean to almost black. The dry leaf has a faint aroma of incense, which strengthens some as it is warmed in a heated gaiwan.

The loose, large-leaf material is easily soaked with a 10-second rinse: a wide pour leaves almost nothing caught in the filter. Noting the absence of choppy stuff I determine to start with longish steeps and hit it like 20s, 15s, 15s, 15s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 25s,…45s, 60s, 75s… 120s. I think it went 16-17 infusions before it was played out. Had I not hammered so hard on it early I’m sure it would be good for 20.

The incense aroma of the dry leaf survived the rinse and made it into the first few infusions. These also had a strong sweet mouthfeel which grew increasingly bitter and astringent, with early development of the characteristic woody medicinal profile of mature raw tea. After the first 5-6 cups there is a thick, strong, sweet dry-cup aroma, I’m sitting there huffing it between steeps. By the 8th steep or so I’m thinking that there is still considerable greenness here that could develop over future years, but I bought this as a daily drinker so that’s probably not going to happen to this cake.

By about the 10th steep the dominant note is a bright tangy tart taste with mouth-drying astringency. This stays in following steeps gradually fading until it reaches the faintly-sweet-colored-water stage.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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I see that I drank up a 100g packet of this tea without remarking on it. It is a fine grade of daily drinker at the price. The leaf grade is not fancy enough to use for gongfu and maybe it’s not strong enough anyway. But it is a good tea for making with a basket infuser. Cocoa dominates the aroma and it has nice mouthfeel and smooth somewhat sweet taste. A very nice economical red tea.

Flavors: Cocoa

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Didn’t drink it today: I used up the last session of my sample maybe a month ago. Decent strong aged tea with humid taste throughout, no camphor taste for me.

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This is really rather weak tea. I did a session with almost 9g and started steeping for 30s. I did get a liter of tea out of it, and it does taste of puer with some age, but it’s not very strong.

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Didn’t actually drink this today, or at any time in the last week or two. I finished this one off and noticed I’d only written about it once.

While I don’t regret buying it, I do think it is a questionable buy at the price. If I want more tea like this I will buy it from an Aliexpress or Taobao vendor who can sell a 5-tuo sleeve at closer to $0.10/g than the nearly $0.30 asked for this one. I found the latter worthwhile once, to see how this specific sort of tea comes out after a particular style of storage.

There is a lot of dust and fannings in these tuos. I took to making the first 3-4 steeps as short as I could manage, usually about 5 s. These are a lot less rough than Kunming-stored similar tea, but they still would be better with more age.

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Another one I’ve been drinking daily/near daily.

The good: it is cheap, better leaf grade than Xiaguan, old enough to make a solid orange soup, cheap, and free of obvious defects or any humid taste.

The bad: it is cheap, tea from 2008, huangpian, maybe autumn tea. Hell, maybe this was made from the last stripping of leaf from a stressed tree at the height of the bubble. It seems kind of weak.

But it is cheap, and fairly decent for 8 or so steeps if you give it some time. It has the starting-to-get-aged taste, some bitterness, a little smoke, some sweet. There is a little clinging aftertaste that reminds me of bergamot.

There are ways to get decent tea with some age like this at a cheaper price but maybe not after you factor in the risk of buying garbage.

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I’ve been drinking this one every day. It’s good enough for that, having a sort of generic young sheng flavor of sugar cane with floral scent. It might be on the bitter side for beginning beginners. I find it good for around 8-10 steeps, which is actually a good thing in that I don’t have to feel guilty for not devoting my whole attention to it over 15-20.

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