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Recent Tasting Notes
Dry leaf is dense, but not tightly compressed. Leaf is typically shu -black, to dark brown. Dry leaf aroma is nonexistent. This tea seems to have been dry stored. Steamed aroma is sweet earth. Ditto for brewed aroma. Brews up a semi-transparent dull copper. Sort of surprising. Most shu is pitch black. I’m going to assume the brew color is due to the age of this shu.
First brew is slightly boring. It tastes like a typical, aged, mid quality shu. Which, in and of itself would be good. However, it tastes a bit too rounded for me. I think the ageing process took off any harshness, but it also took off the high notes. Flavors are as follows: A soft, slightly musty sweet earth. A hint of peach, maybe. Texturally, it’s very soft. The finish sees an increase in must. Cha qi is negligible. Second brew presents with a much darker liquor. It looks more like typical shu. Murky, dark brass. Beyond that, there’s very little development in this brew. Third brew is even darker. Murky black, with just a hint of brass. Taste remains one dimensional. The must is growing stronger, but it’s not enough to give this tea any real character.
The fourth brew does an about face. Liquor is much lighter. It’s still murky, but, color wise, it’s closer to the second brew. Taste is noticeably sweeter. The musty element is still present, but not as prevalent. There’s now a peach sweetness, that transitions into a more sweet earth profile on the finish. Fifth and sixth brew continue this trend. Seventh brew tastes stepped on. Far too watery. On the eighth brew, I added 20 seconds to the steep time. Even with that increased steep time, the strength of the tea did not improve. It’s officially steeped out. At least, with this method of brewing. I’m sure you could do some really long infusions to maybe get another few brews out of it.
One side note. This tea has a fair amount of body caffeine in it. I noticed my hands twitching a bit while typing out these notes. I’m hesitant to attribute this effect to cha qi. It doesn’t have the mental stimulation that I usually get from cha qi.
Flavors: Earth, Musty, Peach
This is probably the most clean sheng I’ve had so far in my journey. I shared this with a friend who is hit or miss with most puerh (he’s more of an avid black/green tea guy), but I kept chugging away as he moved on to something else.
What I like about this tea: It lasts a long while and keeps ‘progressing’ as it goes. Toward the beginning of the session, there is a slight bitterness, which dissipates after steep # 3 (I will note here that I usually brew at a lighter temp (195 F) with sheng puerh). This tea has a nice smooth, grassy, leathery, and floral note throughout; however, with each steep, one flavor trumps over the other. Strange, yes, but good. I’m really happy to have had the chance to 1. drink this; 2. finish the sample with a friend (for the most part).
This is a very nice shou with a lot of fermentation taste to it. It was however not of the extremely unpleasant type or the fishy type. There was very little bitterness and a sweet note gradually evolved until the twlfth steep had a distinct fruity character. Overall I am glad I bought this.
I steeped this twelve times in a 130ml teapot with 10.5g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, and 2 minutes. Judging by the color of the tea in the twelfth steep I would say there were at least three steeps left to this one.
Flavors: Earth, Fruity, Sweet
This is simple and reminiscent of oolong/green tea although it doesn’t seem wrongly processed. It subtly wants me to think its a dessert, and smelling the leaves, wet and dry, is super nice. The texture is super duper creamy, while not being active at all.
Fair and simple, worth a tin to throw in at 60 cents per grams.
While rummaging through my tea samples from swaps, I found this hidden gem at the bottom of the stash. I threw the remaining leaf (10g) into a 200 ml gaiwan, and made a go of it.
Flavor: I started this late in the evening/early morning before bed. The first notes were cinnamon, earth, & wet rocks. Today, as I kept brewing at longer times, I noticed more of the cinnamon/earth notes throughout. Definitely a smooth, easy tea. I’d recommend it, but it seems that it has all sold out.
I’ll definitely miss this sample, but I’m happy to have tried it while I could. :)
Starts out earthy, grassy, and slightly bitter (not unpleasantly), grows sweeter with subsequent steepings and the vegetal and almost minty top notes really come out. Clean, crisp and delicious! One of my first forays into raw puerh and I love it!
Flavors: Bitter, Cream, Earth, Hay, Mint, Sweet, Vegetal
It’s been a couple of months since I drank this, and I almost forgot how much I like it. It’s the perfect amount of sweetness with a pronounced grassiness that I really like. Smooth creamy texture early on, with a bit of astringency in later steeps. Nice amount of qi too that I feel from the neck up. I accidentally brewed this grandpa style in a travel mug once and it became bitter to the point of undrinkable. Lesson learned. Today I brewed about 5-6 g of this in 250ml several times throughout the day in my Grosche gravity steeper.
Flavors: Hay, Honey, Sweet, warm grass
Finally getting around to reviewing a sample of this tea which was graciously included with my last order from Crimson Lotus! I’m not particularly experienced with shou but interested to see how this one tasted. Unfortunately this cake is now sold out, but I hope this sample will make for a good learning experience.
The wet leaf smells earthy (of course) with a hint of maybe a spice note in there. The first steep is a light brownish red. It has a clear note to it that I like to think of as petrichor, but overall this first steep is quite light and not too distinctive. The second steep is a much darker red, thicker and more viscous, but still quite clear in taste. I generally find shou a little tough to figure out—since the tea is often so mellow, nothing particularly jumps out at me while drinking.
The third steep becomes dark black-red and feels a little bit more viscous. The flavor itself hasn’t felt like it’s grown on me too much. As far as my untrained tongue can detect, this is shou, and unfortunately I can’t really pick too much else up. Maybe if anyone has tips for what to look out for :)
This shou starts dark – lots of rain on hot pavement, earth, dirt, and hot crust, but also plenty of sweetness. I get around 10 infusions, and the last infusions are quite sweet and creamy. There is no bitterness, weird young shou funk, or dryness. A few more years would likely smooth this one out even more.
I found it best leafed hard, 1g 10ml.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/2015-thats-no-moon-shou-puer-crimson-lotus-tea/
May the 4th be with you
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Flavors: Asparagus, Astringent, Creamy, Spices, Sweet Potatoes, Sweet, warm grass, Vegetal
I brewed this in my gravity steeper (which is so great for work sessions). I started with a 30 second rinse, then added 200ml of boiling water slowly directly onto the ball. It opened up beautifully after a longer initial steep of about 45 seconds. The lovely heady sweetness is what struck me first when I smelled the wet leaves and tasted the smooth liquor. Like ripe peaches and dried figs and cherries. Delicious. The taste became more bitter and astringent in later steepings, but still enjoyable.
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Honeysuckle, Sweet
Update 4/8/2017: I followed my own advice and decreased first five steeps each to 3 seconds. That helped a lot and the tea was much more approachable. This session went a dozen steeps, and although the later steeps were obviously weaker in flavors, they had a delicious creamy texture that made it worth it to keep steeping.
My first sheng ever. Before this for puerh I had only tried a couple shu, and one of them was a realy bad marine backwater fest. So, I had no idea what to expect with this sheng.
I read of people talking about all these flavors and fruits in sheng, and I was skeptical that I would pick them out. So, the highlight of this sheng experience was how readily the apricot stood out for me, upfront and as a wonderful lingering aftertaste.
A second session made me realize that the apricot is actually for me closer to a dried fruit from the Andes in Peru called aguaymanto (Peruvian ground cherry, dried). There is a tartness. Also discerned a floral character, jasmine, and maybe honey.
But, I also learned with this tea that I was over-steeping it. With 5 grams/75 ml and initial steep of 20s/10s/7s….I was mistakingly trying to extract a more intense fruit flavor that way, but I instead was confronted with a smoky bitter burnt and too-astringent experience.
So I backed off, increased the leaf:water ratio and less time steeping, that mellowed things out. My bad, but I learned.
Really enjoyed that dried fruit enduring aftertaste.
Flavors: Apricot, Dried Fruit, Floral, Jasmine, Smoke
My second sheng. Highlights for me: apricot appearing in second steep and lingered 10, 15 minutes, longer? (However, I notice other reviews do not mention apricot, so I would at least reconsider things next time). Aroma of horse stable first few steeps. But, already steep 4 was a casual affair for my amateur palate. It was a good experience, part of the educational sample package, but I prefer the other sheng in that package: 2005 “Top of the Clouds,” and I hope to find others, too. I learned that astringency adds dimension and I can open myself to appreciating it along with the flavors.
Aroma: wet hay, horse stable, sweet grass.
Taste: no smokiness, some astringency but not overpowering. Green tea, aftertaste of dried fruit, apricot? Smacking tongue. Pineapple?
Aroma: Even more horse stable.
Taste: gripping astringency, fruit moves forward, enjoyable. Enter apricot. Last 5, 10 minutes or more.
Steep 3 and beyond: gradually fades, steep 4 is already what I call a more casual drinking experience since I am not yet able to distinguish a lot at this point. Maxed out at steep 8 (8 grams/120 ml, one rinse).
Flavors: Apricot, Barnyard, Hay, Sweet, warm grass
I really enjoy the aroma: exquisite deep mushroom, rotting wood, mineral, humid moss. With each steep I put my hand over my cup and then took in the aroma, the highlight of this tea, along with its grounding qi.
Also the texture at its best: oily, almost syrupy, smooths out into velvet.
Flavors transform from:
1. Initial smoky and burnt, strong edge
2. Wet moss and leaves
3. Musty and moldy leather boots in the Amazon jungle: “hongeado” in Spanish.
Very calming, grounding, contemplative, steady.
Didn’t see this as an everyday tea. A tea to get excited about drinking on a cold autumn day, rainy, cloudy, thinking deep thoughts, reflecting, reading poetry, musing.
Flattened out at 7 steeps and maxed out at 10 steeps (using 5 grams in 75 ml).
Flavors: Burnt, Decayed wood, Mineral, Mushrooms, Musty, Rainforest, Smoke, Wet Moss, Wet Wood
Update 4/8/2107: I have had a second session and realized that my notes (further below) were shaped by something I had recently read about shu pu’erh: that the earthy and musty flavors indicate a bad tea and even unhealthy because they indicate improper fermentation, growth of wrong kind of bacteria, and even toxins due to that. I read that on hojotea.com, and here is an extract:
“Ripe Pu-erh tea is made by fermentation of mold. A good manaement of fermentation is essential to get an ideal flavor of ripe Pu-erh tea. In fact, a number of customers told us that they did not enjoy Pu-erh tea at all due to its unpleasant flavor. Most of them tend to associate Pu-erh flavor as moldy, earthy, vintage (smells like old furniture); some even commented that Pu-erh smells like stinky feet. In fact, these typical flavors of Pu-erh tea indicate that the fermentation was not properly carried out. The Pu-erh tea that was well-made during fermentation gives a pleasant scent like sun-dried Chinese dates. The flavor is sweet and mildly fruity. It gives a mellow mouth-feel and its delicate fruity flavor sublimes in the mouth.”
I had read previously that, yes, marine/dried squid ink flavors indicate poor fermentation, but the above website (hojotea) is also taking issue with traits that many people like in some shu pu’erh: earth, musty, and Steepster has a list of many similar adjectives. So, as I drank this “Old Warrior” shu, I noted a strong earth taste, my mind remembered the article, thought of improper fermentation, wrong bacteria, toxins, etc, and I concluded that I should not be drinking this tea. I am very new to tasting any kinds of tea, so I would be interested in hearing what the experts have to say.
My original review:
Overall not so enjoyable. I wanted to like it, but in the third steep (after two initial rinses), I found myself not even wanting to continue drinking it. What happened?
Admittedly, this was only the fourth shu I have ever tasted (so what follows is my amateur tasting). My first one was a $10 cake from a Chinatown grocery store: marine and musty. My third was a 2007 “Huang Zhi,” and especially the intense mushroomy aroma and oily texture blew me away. The present shu, however, although it had some mushroomy aroma that I liked (and wood aroma that I didn’t like so much) actually turned me off by the third steep due to an overpowering earth taste. Not the interesting earthy taste I can appreciate, but rather just more like dirt, if that makes any sense. Long wet earth/dirt aftertaste in second steep. Then, the third steep suddenly bottomed out with an odd tatse, much weaker body. In the 4th steep, the earth taste was gone already, but there was nothing notable I could discern, and it became a casual drinking cup rather than something to study and inspire. By the 7th and 8th steeps it had mellowed and smoothed out, the earthiness receded and was replaced by mustiness and wet cavern. Did not get to 10 steeps.
There are positive traits: that mushroomy aroma at first, some mineral taste, a noticeable thickness, fullness, and somewhat creamy. And especially, it had a grounding effect and left me in contemplation and calm, steady focussed work. That was great.
Flavors: Earth, Musty, Wet Earth, Wet Rocks, Wet Wood
Very much enjoyed this tea and would buy more. I am new to tea tasting and to puerh, and this is my fifth shu. My first one was from a grocery store in Chinatown, $10 for a cake. I had no idea. That one, even after rinsing , it had some marine flavors, then settled into mustiness. I thought I liked that mustiness. But since then I have sought out better shus. I shudder to think of that first cake now.
This 2012 Buland Gushu is the best shu in my limited experience. So clean, mellow. This is not a forest floor, earthy, wet leaves, or wet cavern, musty cathedral shou. Not at all.
This shu is cocao (powder) foregrounded, with a slight grip of bitterness that dark chocolate lovers appreciate. The cocao persists over the steepings. Mocha.
Eventually a fruity character opens up. I discerned prunes but then decided it was more like dates (Middle Eastern). Vanilla extract or amaretto. Maybe caramel. Pound cake. A sweet aftertaste on the palate, and after swirling around, a creaminess that seems even buttery on the tongue going down.
Hints of all of this continue even into later steepings, so this shu did not completely flatten out and collapse into one dimensionality even into the 10th steep, although of course it was much thinner.
The aroma also was nice: marshmallow? Amaretto? Sweet almond. Maybe some moss, but again, this is not a wet forest shu.
I drank this late at night, and it did keep me up and made me quite alert, unlike a couple other shus that have quickly immersed me into contemplation.
[Update: second session>into steep 5 and man this stuff has caffeine, I gotta slow this session down].
[Udate2: gradually kept steeping, but seriously feeling the caffeine, too much, going to my head and behind my eyes. Next time I will reduce to 5 grams and steep maybe every half hour. Unfortunately, due to this buzz rush, I won’t be able to have this as my all-day companion, and so I may eventually lower the rating to the low 90s. The effect on my body is a pretty important consideration for me.]
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Caramel, Cocoa, Creamy, Dates, Mocha, Vanilla
I really appreciate the longevity of this tea! Just 5g took me from morning to afternoon (around 8 steeps at 200ml each). It’s so smooth, tasty and buttery, without any bitterness at all in any of the steeps. This is the first Sheng I ever tried with some age behind it, and would likely reach for this over a ripe puerh (though I tend to favor young shengs and oolongs overall).
Very nice sessionable tea.
Flavors: Apricot, Smooth, Stonefruits
Drinking up a sample of this today. The wet leaf has a wonderful sour plum or apricot smell.
The first steep comes out quite light, though the body is already coming forward quite strongly. This is quite a “mid-centered” tea, with a forward body and a hint of maybe spiciness to it. Overall it’s quite low in bitterness and has a long lasting aftertaste of mellow sweetness. Definitely an enjoyable tea for me, though I find it lacks any particular high notes and mostly hangs around in mid to low notes.