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Recent Tasting Notes
Gongfu from last weekend…
Really nice tea – I drank it in bed, and snacked on Niagara grapes in between the steeps. It was sort of that type of Gongfu session where you’re just deeply in the moment and not very aware of exactly what you’re tasting, more just how that tea makes you feel. That feeling, for me, was cozy and safe and maybe even a little nostalgic? I did make an instagram post for this tea but even there I didn’t capture a lot of the flavours the day I was drinking this tea – in fact here’s the general three statements I used to sum this one up:
- Deep earthy body
- Smoke and ash notes
I’d add in a bit of leather, thinking back on it as well.
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sXTLkjF8bI
Yes, a good one!
Not much to add to the other reviews here. It’s a good harmony of flavours and aromas, doesn’t have the potency of other shengs but it gives a well balanced, floral, fruity and medicinal tasting drink with hints of grass and wood. Cup melified instantly and is easy to drink, because is on the softer side.
The lingering aftertaste is quite long and it reminded me of albariño white wine.
Quite good value at $24. Moar! :)
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Grass, Spices
So I wasn’t going to write up anything about this one I was just going to drink it….Then I got tea buzz and I wrote a 5 stars review in my head….Now It’s gone and I don’t know what to say or think or feel…I think feel good tho lol.
This is one of the most Extreme Tea Drunk Buzzy feeling that I have had in a long time, maybe ever.
It reminds me of my earlier years of tea drinking, I stayed tea drunk often both accidentally and on purpose and I really enjoyed it, This time was an accident but I am still enjoying it.
Really tho the force is so strong with this one, it will hit you like a ton of bricks, at one point I wasnt sure about it myself, i was really like WTF!! there for a minute, Very Intense!!
I see you 2 still have this one in your cupboards here on the steepster, taste it, i need to know how it made you feel lol
Gonna go drink more and enjoy my bliss :)
Thank You MzPriss, I think you sent me this one a while back and I’ve been sitting on it.
This is a little unusual since I’m reviewing this tea in 2019, as an aged product, versus the other reviews here appearing in 2017. I really liked it. Quality was quite evident from the very thick feel, good balance, and overall clean character. It could’ve been a little sweeter, and vegetal range was a little heavy compared to other scope (green wood or just cured wood, or both), but moderate floral range, a pleasant level and type of mineral, and some dried fruit filled that in. This tea is amazing for value, increased from $20 to $24 in two years, for a 200 gram cake. I’m not sure if or when it will “go quiet” due to the teenage years theme but I suspect that moderate humidity storage isn’t rushing that process, so it has probably lost some youthful intensity and bitterness, and the smoke others mentioned, but it’s still quite vibrant and intense. This is the really long version of all that:
This past Thursday was International Tea Day! The first one, as recognized by the UN, in fact! I feel like over on instagram we were all celebrating in different ways & I guess for me that ended up meaning (unintentionally) trying new things with my tea session. AKA stabbing myself with a pu’erh pick for the first time. I was trying to break off a piece of this VERY tightly compressed hiecha brick and I just lost my grip and punctured into the dead center of my right hand about a centimeter deep…
Was it worth it for the heicha session though!? Yeah, I think so.
I guess, after about five years of drinking compressed tea, this sort of right of passage was bound to happen eventually. I wonder, now that the pick has tasted blood will it be out for more!?
Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CAd1hNiAHzB/ Of the tea, not my hand…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1gQvMF-tzU
Flavors: Camphor, petrichor, Wet Earth, Wet Wood
This one is weird because it’s from the sort of “limbo” period between when I was feeling really sick and when I was feeling a lot better (though still not 100%). It was a really nice session, and after nearly 48 hours of being stuck in bed, sore, and quite sleepless I found the routine of brewing Gong Fu quite calming and peaceful, and the tea made me feel very relaxed.
I’m still very new to Liubao/Heicha in general and I’m dipping my toes into this new area of tea fairly slowly – but this seemed a lot different than the few other kinds of heicha that I’ve tried before. It’s very tightly compressed into a brick shape but steeping it broke apart so quickly (after like infusion two!) in the little glass Gong Fu teapot I was using and basically was this highly broken up sort of CTC looking grade of leaf. I’m glad I did choose to use a teapot with a strainer in it, because this leaf was pretty fine! I don’t generally use a strainer as part of my Gong Fu set up, so I imagine with a gaiwan this would have really gotten into my Cha Hai and cup…
You can see how fine the leaf was in the final image/video…
Still pretty earthy, but also surprisingly sweet and fruity. I don’t 100% trust my taste buds from this session though because the finishing note for nearly every steep was reminding me heavily of sweet blackberry leaf and Fuzzy Peach candies; which is certainly strange. Probably better to retaste this when I feel completely fine…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDZkdkPHQ00
(Good music for calm, slow evenings – and when you’re feeling sick and kind of hazy…)
Early evening session – was feeling something earthy and dank as fuck so this is what I pulled out! It’s been a while since I had some Liubao, and this really hit the spot. I got seven infusions before this was too weak to be satisfying, it started off aggressively thick and then steadily decline. So camphorous, with rich notes of wet & decaying wood, forest undergrowth, soaked potting soil, black currant, and molasses notes. It’s a little bit bitter, and thick as mud but I’m loving it!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anlspQCQswo
So, this is my very first Liubao tea – it’s an area of tea that I’ve been curious about for a while but it wasn’t until I got a bit of gentle peer pressure from HeichaHoliday on instagram that I actually seriously considered buying some to try out. So I did eventually place a Chawangshop order – I’ll be honest I wasn’t super discriminate in what teas I nabbed; biggest consideration was just price. I’m not really looking to immediately dip into high end Liubao here – I just want to ‘dip my toes in’ so to speak and see if it’s something that I find even remotely tasty before I invest serious time or money into learning more about it and tasting more expensive samples…
Cracking open the bag of this one, it smells really interesting. It’s definitely not bad, but it’s sort of different than what I was expecting. At the same time, I don’t really know what I expected either!? It’s very wet/dank smelling though and a little earthy. The nicest and most direct comparison that I can think of is to say that the smell reminds me of the aroma of pond water!? However, pond water in a good way. Like, the way that makes you feel ‘connected’ with nature – not repulsed by it.
So, for my session I used 5g of Liubao in a 70ml Gaiwan with a ten second or so rinse. From there, I did six infusions in total. My overall experience was very positive, and right off the bat I definitely enjoyed the flavour of the tea. It’s a little hard to describe what it tasted like because there were definitely foreign to me elements, but the most distinguishable flavour notes were wet wood and wet earth, tree bark, petrichor, cocoa, and stonefruit. Just, a very wet/dank overall profile but in a sweet and satisfying way. Those stonefruit elements were more so undertones after steeps one and two; nothing wildly distinct. Just good, mellow generic stonefruit sweetness. Pretty smooth overall; certainly not bitter or astringent.
Biggest surprise was actually how quickly the flavour seemed to fade/dull. I stopped after six infusions not because I wasn’t enjoying the taste of the tea but because I found it was getting really weak/bland and I didn’t feel like I was getting much out of the infusions anymore. Really positive first tasting though, and definitely gives me this feeling of promise and excitement towards trying out the other three that I picked out from Chawang Shop!
This one has some backbone to it for sure. Scent off the wet leaves clued me in that it would be decently bitter. Sure enough, got a good dose of vegetal bitterness, especially in the early steeps – I kind of thought it was a one trick pony until around steep 3 or 4, the huigan kicked in. It isn’t a big fruity huigan like some of the other ones I’ve had from Chawang – this was a more creamy sweetness, a bit nutty maybe. I really liked how it slowly made itself known. When/if I get around to making a Chawang order, I’ll almost certainly get a cake of this to toss in the pumidor.
This came as a free sample with my Chawangshop order. The dry ball smells pungent and green, making me prepare for a bitter tea. When I brew it however, it is not as powerful as I expected. It tastes of mineral and green wood with a bit of coriander and a sugarcane sweetness. Bitterness is low-moderate, astringency is quite low. Pretty good tea, one of the better dragon balls I’ve had.
Flavors: Coriander, Green Wood, Mineral, Sugarcane
The dry leaf smells smooth and roasty. Brews a medium orange. Initial steeps taste predominantly of roast with a bit of tobacco and leather and a light sweetness. There is a bit of a rubber-like note that fades over time. With the third steep I start to get a good mineral note. I was hoping this tea would get better as I go, but it pretty much stays the same.
Flavors: Leather, Mineral, Roasted, Tobacco
Wow, these leaves are huge. Big, unrolled leaves that aren’t even 100% oxidized, lending this tea a really wild and unpolished first impression. Cool. Dry leaves are very aromatic, as is the brew. Full and complex aroma that is flowery and fruity, in the spectrum between roses and sweet potatoes. It is the type of black tea that is on the high, aromatic side, drinking more like for example a Dan Cong oolong than like most other black teas, since it doesn’t really have that full and malty body I associate with most black teas.
Flavors: Flowers, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
Nice puerh. It is soft and honeyish and the brew is nicely thick. Well-rounded with not a lot of ‘younger’ stuff going on. I feel I personally would like it to have more of the ‘aged’ pu-erh aromas for complexity and body. Maybe it needs a few more years? Or perhaps this puerh is just more on the high and flowery side.
Right now I like it best when brewed pretty strong. Then it exhibits a very interesting and challenging bitterness and astringency, which builds up within every sip just almost to the point of becoming too much, only to suddenly develop into a nice sweetness after that. Interestingly, most of the flavor comes of this tea comes after swallowing.
Flavors: Flowers, Honey
Tea Swap Sample/Sipdown
What started out as a normal Wednesday evening of gaming and tea became just that, but with an added burst of energy after drinking this Liubao. I forgot how much energy comes from the leaf…
Anyway, this is has a nice pine/smoky note throughout the session. That’s the best way to describe it, really. It’s quite powerful and definitely packs a punch.
Flavors: Pine, Smoke
Flavors: Nutty, Raisins, Sweet
This is a fairly nice tea with a bittersweet start. There were some notes of mushroom and woodsy notes in the first few steeps. This slowly turned sweeter, with a bit of a fruity tang by the eighth steep. Not bad at all when you consider the price, $28 for three 250g mushroom tuos. I did not notice too much in the way of fermentation flavor to this one although that is not to say it has cleared.
I brewed this eight times in a 160ml Jian Shui teapot with 13g leaf. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, and 20 sec.
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Earth, Mushrooms, Sweet
This is excellent tea considering the price of $12. It had little bitterness even in the first steep with a sort of muted sweetness, just a very light sweet note without a bitter background note. There was some fermentation taste but I didn’t notice it all that much. A few steeps in a note that I would describe as dry grapes emerged that only lasted about two or three steeps. Then it was back to a muted sweetness. This tea was quite the find for the price. While certainly not as good as a $100 shou brick from someone like Hai Lang Hao it was incredible considering the price. This is one I would definitely buy again if I run out of it.
I steeped this tea eight times in a 207ml Taiwan Clay Teapot with 17.5g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, and 20 seconds. Going to go back and steep it a few more times for some photos.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet, White Grapes
Another TTB sample I believe – just got 4 grams of this one, enough to do a sesh with my 60mL gaiwan. I was pleasantly surprised by this one – I expected these Laotian border teas to be a little bit rougher, but this one didn’t have much of anything unpleasant going on.
There was a relatively unfamiliar and slightly unusual herbal note in the first couple steeps – I can’t describe it any more certainly than that. The rest of the session was pretty pleasant – creamy texture with a good amount of bitterness as one might expect in young sheng. Again, didn’t really take notes or anything, just remembered that it was better than I thought it might’ve been going in, but that it didn’t strike me as anything too special.
This is a relatively nice tea from Chawangshop. It was not terribly expensive but as I recall not dirt cheap either. It was fairly bittersweet at the start with a fair amount of fermentation flavor. Both the bitter note and the fermentation took four or five steeps to steep out, leaving a fairly nice, semi sweet ripe puerh. I tried the same ratio of leaf to water that worked so well for the LBZ ripe tea from the other day, 1g to 10ml. It was too much tea for this one. This one would have been better with at least a 1g to 15ml ratio. Still there was a good taste to this by the eighth steep. I think if I took this to twelve steeps it would develop a fruity character, or if I had used less leaf probably by the eighth steep.
I steeped this eight times in a 160ml Yixing teapot with 16g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 7 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, and 10 sec.
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Earth, Sweet
I brewed this last night (10g/200 ml) after work. I’ve not been able to sleep anymore, so I have started working out and drinking a variety of sheng (which helps me relax) to slow my mind down.
At first, it was a bit bitter, but from my experiences with Naka, that’s how it goes with most of them…After a few steeps in, the bitterness vanished and there was a nice smooth ‘sheng’ (leathery) note….However, I hadn’t realized that the tea was taking hold of me, and allowing my mind/body soar in the state of relaxation/sleepiness. Upon drinking more and stopping momentarily to allow the kettle to boil back to the temperature needed, I was asleep.
So, in conclusion….this is pretty good stuff.
I have been trying to get to my remaining Chawang samples the past couple weeks, and this was the next in line. I was surprised by how nice this was, especially after the Bada Laoyu was a good deal smokier than I would prefer. The dry leaves had a sweet apricot aroma with a bit of something light and vegetal behind em. After a rinse, the fruity note came out strongly, along with a bit of a sourness and a light floral aspect.
The flavor was really nice as well – apricot and a bit of buttery vegetal flavor. The finish was floral – I couldn’t tell you what flower it really was, but the first thing that came to mind for me was orange blossoms. During a couple early steeps, I picked up a quick licorice note on the very front of the sip. As the session went on, some astringency built up, but not all that much. As I increased steep times, the brightness of the apricot fruitiness faded some, into a deeper/more syrupy flavor and mouthfeel. I didn’t really pick up much energy off this one or anything. Nonetheless, quite tasty, easy to drink, and complex enough to make for an engaging session.
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Fruity, Licorice, Sweet, Thick
This is probably my favorite from Chawang’s Puerh line so far. Thick and creamy texture to the liquid. The flavors start off rather soft and sweet in the early steeps, but as the session goes, it picks up some astringency and bitterness – never overwhelming, but certainly noticeable. Fruity flavors and aromas are present in most steeps – sometimes tropical in nature. The tea also showed a good amount of energy, mostly in the early steeps.
This one is quite good – I might actually end up picking up a cake or two of it. Based on how it tastes now combined with the few aged Manzhuans I’ve tasted, I think this would do pretty well with some age.
Flavors: Creamy, Fruity, Thick, Tropical