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Recent Tasting Notes
I received an amazing surprise package in the mail today. I have the best tea friends. It’s a cute celadon set. I love celadon. So of course I need to make dark shou to start the crackles. This is good – sweet – what it should be.
So yeah – tonight is all about hockey (OMG what a crazy game, with a heart break ending….), greasy Chinese takeout, shou, and thinking about what amazing tea friends I have.
I really need to be drinking more pu’erh. I really like shou and I’m not sure why I don’t drink it more often. Maybe it’s because I think it’s difficult – break a chunk off the cake, boiling water, rinse, rest, rinse, short steeps, taste, repeat. Way too much work for tea when I just want to sit in front of the TV and watch the hockey game.
So…… umm yeah. I did a couple of steeps, tasted it, then did a bunch of steeps and dumped them all together into a huge mug. Yeah that’s not how you are suppose to do it, but whatever – I don’t want a serious session, I just want to drink tea.
This isn’t a dark and I would have expected. It’s shou, it’s what I was expecting, but just not as deep as I thought it would be. Dunno, I like it.
This is my – I’m pretending to be drinking this gongfu style – photo. (I did steep it all in this pot and increased the time as if I was doing gongfu, but then just dumped it into a mug rather than drinking it steep by steep)
Bought this recently from Streetshop88. It is a very nice ripe but a very different ripe from the average. The flavor of the sticky rice is very strong. So strong I could not taste the fermentation of this tea. I do not know if this is made with the sticky rice herb or real sticky rice. It does not say on the website but the herb is more common. It had an extremely sweet flavor to it with no bitterness at all. This is a good tea but very different. This is one I recommend trying. He sells this in single 100g cakes or tongs of five cakes. I bought the tong. I am not sure if a sample below a 100g cake is available. I really enjoyed this tea.
I steeped this ten times in a 160ml Solid Silver Teapot with 14.1g 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, and 1 minute. I suspect if I wanted to continue I would get another four or five steeps out of this.
Flavors: Rice, Sweet
This is a very nice ripe with a fair amount of fermentation flavor to it. Those who can’t stand fermentation flavor should avoid it. That flavor was just a bit unpleasant but not fishy. It was bittersweet at the start with some notes of dark chocolate in there. By about steep six both the fermentation and the bitterness were gone leaving a nice sweet ripe puerh. It is hard to say if the note of chocolate was gone too. Seems to be some note of that in the tenth steep but I am not really sure. This tea was overall very good although I would not call it spectacular. Definitely worth the price of a 100g cake at less than $10.
I steeped this ten times in a 160ml solid silver teapot with 14.3g 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, and 1 minute.
Flavors: Bitter, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Sweet
This was a very nice semi aged ripe from Streetshop88 on EBay. It was quite good. It had just a little bit of fermentation flavor left in the first steep or two. It was sweet with little bitterness from the start. It had a very thick mouthfeel to it. It would be what you would probably call rich and creamy. It just got sweeter as the steeps went on. This is one I would consider getting another cake of. It was that good. It was not quite what I would call spectacular but only a step down from that. I definitely recommend a sample of this one. I really enjoyed my tea session with this.
I steeped this twelve times in a 150ml gaiwan with 10.3g leaves 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. Could of gotten a few more steeps out of it but want to move on to something else.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet
Bought this about a year ago and am just getting around to drinking it. The good news is my storage seems sufficient for ripe teas. I did not notice any signs of too dry storage in this tea. no sour notes etc. This tea had a lot of fermentation flavor left. It was slightly unpleasant in the first couple of steeps. I could even taste the fermentation in the tenth steep which is quite unusual. It had some notes that I would describe as bittersweet chocolate. Later on a sweeter note did develop. I have to give this tea a relatively high rating. It was pretty good but I would not say phenomenal.
I steeped this tea twelve times in a 150ml gaiwan with 12.5g 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 min. The tea liquid was still quite dark at twelve steeps. I’m sure I could get another four or five steeps out of this one.
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Earth, Sweet
Got this in the mail a few days ago. And unlike last time, they are no longer putting tape directly on tea cakes. They seem to have learned their lesson. This is good because they have been one of my favorite EBay shops for a while now. As to this tea. it was really quite good. It had a moderate amount of fermentation taste to it. That flavor was not of the unpleasant sort and certainly not fishy. It had partially cleared in the five years since it was produced. I wasn’t really paying too much attention to the specific notes but I would say there were probably some notes of chocolate in there. You could even argue that it developed a fruity taste in later steeps once the fermentation was complete history. Overall I have to rate this one quite high. Good fermentation taste, little bitterness and sweet notes. This is exactly what I look for in a five year old ripe in general. At least for a dry stored tea. There were really no unpleasant notes to this tea. Unfortunately, I think they are sold out. But who knows they might restock on this tea. It was very good over the twelve steeps I gave it.
I steeped this tea twelve times in a 150ml teapot with 12.4g 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 min. The tea was really about played out at twelve steeps but I might have gotten another two steeps with longer steep times.
Flavors: Chocolate, Earth, Fruity, Sweet
From Puerh TTB #4
I was surprised how much I liked this tea since I’m usually not a big fan of shou. I didn’t really do a session. Just threw some in a pot while I watched TV. It tasted more like a mature sheng than a young shou. No fermentation flavor; color is more brown than red. Rich leafy flavors.
Well, I’ve got a few tasting notes to get through that have built up; it was kind of a busy week for me…
I wrote my exams for Tea 106 and got 98% on the written one. Though I will have to wait for the presentations to see how I did and those two. I’m feeling pretty good about it though! And last night was my boyfriend Kyle’s 19th birthday, so I planned his party for him and then we took him out to the bar. It was a really lovely night, and selfishly I’m kind of glad that he’s finally legal drinking age so he can accompany us to the bar regularly and I can spend more time with him.
I drank this tea with my roommate Cathryn while we were cleaning house and getting drinks and what not ready for people to come over: I think the sample was from VariaTEA? Thank you to whoever provided it, though!
One thing about drinking tea with my roommates/non tea drinking people is that I find more often than not I’m just enjoying the experience of sharing tea with someone who otherwise wouldn’t be drinking it, so I’m not paying very close attention to the flavour I’m actually experiencing. Personally, I think that’s more than acceptable as a trade off: as much as I love good tea and exploring the nuances of the flavour of good tea there’s something to be said for the experience of taking tea too.
We drank this Gong Fu though; I did a quick rinse and then we had probably around six or seven infusions? I think we could have extended the session farther but it was getting quite close to party time so we cut it short. I was hesitant about sharing this one with Cathryn ‘cause it’s a Pu and typically people react so extremely to Pu’erh. She actually really liked it though!
So, since I was more focused on the experience/conversation than the specifics of the tea I can tell you that this had notes of: Earth, Mud, Baker’s Chocolate (not overly sweet, a little bitter but in a good way), Roasted Nuts, Char, Wood, Malt, and maybe even mushrooms a little bit? Definitely can’t tell you which infusions in particular focused on which notes or how the flavours evolved and changed and worked with one another. Those are just the flavours I distinctly remember experiencing at one point or another.
The liquor was nice and velvety though; a really rich mouthfeel and viscosity. It wasn’t all that aggressive, but it was bold and fairly sweet. I definitely enjoyed the session! Actually, I sort of wish I had more of this just to go back and make more astute observations: but I’m happy with being able to say I just really enjoyed this one, and the company I was sharing it with.
This is a relatively nice ripe puerh but by no means spectacular. It didn’t have too much fermentation taste but what there was was unpleasant. This lasted about four steeps and was replaced by a sweet note. There were no notes of chocolate that I noticed. This probably falls into the category of a good daily drinker as they say. Not one for special occasions.
I brewed this eight times in a 195ml silver teapot with 13.1g 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, and 30 sec.
This is a tea I have mixed feelings about. It had a poor start but a decent finish. It had a fair amount of fermentation flavor. This flavor was initially quite unpleasant. It lasted about four steeps or so. The tea also had a bittersweet character to it. This evolved into a sweet taste over ten steeps. I don’t think I would call this one chocolaty, or really fruit flavored but it was good in steep ten.
I steeped this ten times in a 160ml teapot with 13.1g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, and 1 min.
This is a tea I have to give a mixed review to. There were two initial notes, one smooth and very sweet, the other I can only describe as pine tar and it was somewhat unpleasant. There were no notes of wet storage to the tea. The pine tar note as I describe it, and there may be a better description, lasted strongly through the fourth steep. After that this was a fairly nice, and very smooth tea. While it’s sweetness was not the apricoty note of a young sheng this was one of the sweetest shengs I have drank. While I am more of a ripe drinker, in the end I liked this tea, in the beginning not as much. There was perhaps a bit of smoke in the initial notes as well but not too much. This was a very inexpensive tea, I believe it was around $26 or $27. I take the note of pine tar to be a storage taste of some sort. In the end it was worth steeping ten times to me. It has a strong aftertaste as well. I am getting a little qi off of it, fairly relaxing but nothing massive. Someone more susceptible might get tea drunk off of this one.
I steeped this tea ten times in a 120ml gaiwan with 8.7g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, and 1 min. I’m not going to specifically recommend this tea but for some people it might be worth a sample. I do believe that the age claimed was accurate as the tea soup was decidedly darker than any young sheng I have ever drank. Ten years old is about right for this tea.
Flavors: Pine, Sweet
I have my doubts about this tea, about it’s age. As far as the fermentation flavor goes there was a lot of it. And it was somewhat unpleasant. It tasted more like a 2015 fermented tea. It had not cleared at all. The fermentation flavor was thick and lasted for about four or five steeps. It began to improve dramatically around the sixth steep. If you can get past the initial fermentation taste this is a good tea. A nice sweet note developed in the later steeps. I wasn’t really paying attention to the specifics to tell you about notes of chocolate but something of a fruity flavor did emerge.
I steeped this tea ten times in a 120ml gaiwan with 10g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, and 1 min.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet
I finally had the chance to give this tea a proper gongfu treatment. It was dark and rich throughout most of the eight steeps I gave the tea. There was a lot of fermentation flavor but that flavor was not unpleasant in general. There was another note to this tea that I am not sure how to describe. Kind of a rich and creamy note but I’m not sure what best describes it. The note is not 100% pleasant and certainly not tremendously pleasant. It’s kind of neutral in a way. I simply am not sure if I like the note. When I brewed this western style about a week ago this note didn’t emerge. Overall I like this tea. If one judges quality level based on how many times you can resteep the tea, it was quite dark in the eighth infusion. If I wasn’t at my caffeine limit I could have gotten somewhere between four and eight more steeps out of it to estimate. In general Streetshop88 has sold me some good tea and I think this passes the test. It is not truly spectacular but was pretty tasty.
I brewed two mini tuo cha or about 10.5g of leaf in an 120ml gaiwan with boiling water. I was short on time so didn’t give this one a rest. 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, and 30 sec.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet
Please note that this review is based on a single western style steep. This is a tasty ripe tea with a fair amount of fermentation flavor. That flavor is not unpleasant. It is somewhat sweet with little bitterness. It brews up dark and rich to a slightly creamy cup. It is a good choice for 3:30 in the morning when I can’t sleep and I am too lazy for gongfu cha.
I brewed this one time in a teavana glass perfect tea maker/gravity steeper with 11g leaf or 2 mini tuo cha and boiling water. I gave it a long 20 second rinse to break up the mini tuo cha. I brewed it for 30 sec.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet
Bought this partially to compare to their Nonpareil Da Hong Pao. While this is not as good as their Nonpareil Da Hong Pao it’s not at all bad. It is more heavily roasted than the other but not too potently roasted. The roast flavor was strong for the first three or four steeps and then got milder. There is a fruity note behind the roast, kind of a smoked fruity note but definitely there. The only real problem I have this tea was that I had to buy a lot of it. They only sell it in 250g quantities. The price is quite good at $36.98. I don’t think the leaves were low quality leaves with extra roasting. That is just my impression though.
I brewed this six times in a 120ml gaiwan with 8.6g leaf and 200 degree water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, and 20 sec. I’m sure I could get more steepings out of the leaves if I wanted to continue. The tea wasn’t done at six steepings.
Flavors: Fruity, Roasted
This is a very tasty black tea. It got some malty flavor too it but not a lot. I like that. It’s got notes of chocolate or cocoa, or what people call those notes. They never quite taste like chocolate to me but I know what is meant by it. It’s also got something of a sweet note. Not sure what to tell you as to how sweet because I added a little sugar. But it definitely has a natural sweet note to it just not sure how strong. I have gotten some good teas from Streetshop88 over the past couple of years but I wonder about the claim on this one. Is it really organic, wild tree, and ancient tree, who knows. It is, however pretty good. It’s much less malty than the Yunnan teas I’ve gotten recently from Yunnan Sourcing. The leaves look like quality leaves, but that is just my impression. At $13.98 for 100g of this tea the price was certainly right. This is definitely a tea I will endeavor to finish rather than see sit there.
I brewed this one time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and boiling water for 3 minutes.
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Sweet
Please note that this review is based on a single steep, western style. This is a fairly tasty ripe that had partially cleared. It has some fermentation taste but it is not overpowering. There is a little bitterness and a nice sweetness to this tea. This is an inexpensive tea. I only paid $17.98 for 250g of it. It is a tea that I don’t regret buying. Other loose ripes I have bought from Streetshop88 have been good too so I am not surprised that I liked this one. This claims to be an organic tea. I personally wonder if this claim is true but it is a nice tea so I cannot complain for the price. I don’t knnow how many steeps this one would go as I gave it only one short steep in a large teapot.
I brewed this once in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and boiling water for 15 seconds after giving it a 10 second rinse.
Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Sweet
This tea is pretty good. It has somewhat strong notes of malt and an even stronger note that I might describe as baked bread, not sure if that is the best description. There are other complex notes that I am totally failing to describe properly.
I brewed this tea once in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and boiling water for 3 minutes.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt
This tea is really good. The first note I found in this tea was the roasted note. This is however, not an over roasted oolong. The roasted note was strong in the first steep and began to dissipate by the second steep. There was another note behind the roasted note a sweet note, not sure how to describe it. This tea is inexpensive as Da Hong Paos go at $12.98 for 50g. This is quite a bargain because it is that good. I am decidedly not a fan of over roasted tea and I really liked this. Streetshop88 generally calls their top line of teas ‘nonpareil’ and this seems like a quality tea to me. I don’t doubt that Whispering Pines Da Hong Pao is better but this is incredibly good for the price. It is extremely tasty and very much a bargain.
I steeped this eight times in a 120ml gaiwan with 8g leaf and 200 degree water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec. It still held a nice color at eight steeps. Had I wanted to continue I’m sure I could have gotten about four more steeps out of it.
Flavors: Roasted, Sweet
This is a tasty ripe puerh with a moderate amount of fermentation flavor, It has partially but not completely cleared. There was only a little bitterness in the early infusions. Also, the fermentation flavor did not last past the fourth infusion. I didn’t notice any taste of chocolate in this one, I know people are always asking if ripe puerh tastes like chocolate. There was a fruity flavor in later steeps once the fermentation taste was gone. Overall this was an excellent puerh but not up there with the top niche of puerhs. For the price of around $25 for a 357g bing it is a good value. I don’t know if Streetshop88 is still selling it as I bought it months ago and am just now getting around to drinking it. I gave this eight steeps and I think it would certainly have gone twelve steeps. Don’t think somehow that you’d get twenty out of this one. I stopped at eight because I had had enough caffeine for the day.
I brewed this eight times in a 120ml gaiwan with 8.6g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec.
Flavors: Earth, Fruity, Sweet
Surprisingly, for a 2007 raw, it tastes very green and vegetal to me, like I would expect of a 2013-15. It was light in color and didn’t have any of the typical mid-age sheng flavors that I expect. Definitely tastes of honey with a slight bitterness at the third steep. Good, lasting sweetness with a hint of fruit. I can agree with the raisin flavor notes, but I didn’t really identify a specific fruity flavor that I immediately said raisin..
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Green, Honey, Vegetal
This is a nice, inexpensive sweet ripe puerh from Streetshop88. There was a fair amount of fermentation flavor in the early steeps but I detected no fishiness or funk. There was a sweet flavor and little bitterness. There were fruity notes in later steeps. Didn’t notice if there were any notes of chocolate in there.
I steeped this eight times in a 180ml teapot with 11.7g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec. I could certainly gotten a few more steeps out of this tea had I wanted to.
Flavors: Earth, Fruity, Sweet