Hai Lang Hao (Yunnan Sourcing)Edit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
One of a number of samples I got of more affordable (i.e. not $600/cake) HLH sheng. The dry leaf on this one had a nice and pretty classically Yiwu-smelling profile. After a rinse, it was more savory, with some soft sweetness underneath.
The tea had a good balance of astringency and sweetness, with mostly softer vegetal flavors on the front of the sip, followed by a nice and sweet huigan which fills the mouth. The liquor was thick and comforting. This was an easy tea to drink, though interesting enough not to be boring. I noticed some good throat-feeling from this tea, especially in the mid steeps when it was really opened up and giving its all.
The combination of the thick texture and the vegetal notes I was getting occasionally reminded me of potato – like plain mashed potato, oddly enough. A good one to try, but not much of a standout. Texture was its strongest quality with pleasant flavor to go alongside it.
Flavors: Floral, Potato, Sweet, Thick, Vegetal
My first Hai Lang Hao. I’ve had a sample of this sitting in my pumidor for over a month now, I think. Since I was lucky enough to get a corner piece, I decided to use that one and just a few of the loose bits at the bottom of the bag to round the amount in my 160ml Jianshui teapot to 11g. Both the smell of the dry leaf and wet leaf after a 10s rinse were a very typical shu pu’er aroma with maybe a hint of sweetness in there somewhere. I didn’t really pay attention to the early steeps, but in later infusions the liquor itself smelled of clean raw fish fillet with the skin still on.
After giving the leaves ten minutes to soak up the moisture, I managed to prod the big piece to come apart with my finger with less difficulty than I’d expected. I proceeded to do eleven infusions, for 10s, 10s, 10s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 50s, 90s, 2 min. 30s and 3 min. 30s respectively. The first infusion brewed quite cloudy, but also quite a lot darker than I would’ve expected. The subsequent infusions brewed crystal clear as far as clarity goes, though, and it is possible that the cloudiness was caused by hairs floating in the tea soup as I noticed clumps of beached hairs at the edge of my cup after I was finished with the first round.
I could tell that this would be a great tea from just one small sip, and spoilers, it was. The flavor was strong, yet also very round and soft. My cup already raised to take my second sip, I put it back down, because I wanted to fully enjoy the long-lasting finish this tea has. This is a tea you want to take your time with and savor. The taste was chocolatey, with maybe hints of coffee. The tea wasn’t super thick or viscous, but it still had a decent body/mouthfeel. The texture was perhaps just a tad grainy.
The second infusion brewed very dark and now had a much more prominent coffee flavor, but without any sort of bitterness. The chocolate was virtually gone from the tea. The flavor continued to be strong, especially for a shu pu’er, but retained its soft and round, full-bodied character. The aftertaste was even longer lasting than before and seemed to only grow stronger over time. The viscosity remained low while the mouthfeel also remained decent. Both this and the first infusion shared a slight underlying sweetness even though at no point was this an inherently sweet tea.
Having not lengthened the steeping time for the third infusion, the tea brewed dark, but not quite as dark as before. This was also reflected in a lighter taste. The flavors were relatively typical ripe pu’er flavors, ones I have difficulty describing. The tea gave me the impression of being in transition between lighter and darker flavors. It still retained most of its prior round smoothness, while the texture/mouthfeel actually improved. In its finish the tea may have actually felt slightly syrupy. Lengthening the steeping time for the fourth infusion produced probably the strongest infusion yet and brought a small return back to the darker flavors. I’m often not a fan of darker flavors in tea, but here they didn’t bother me at all, which actually seems to be the case with most shu pu’er. At this point my tasting notes read: “Excellent tea.”
For the fifth steeping I didn’t dare to extend the brewing time. This produced a slightly lighter color, which was still quite dark, however. Instead of the prior reddish brown, the color was now a beautiful red. The darker flavors were starting to taper off, while one could notice some more sweetness creeping into the tea. The long-lasting aftertaste from previous infusions was retained still. Having lengthened the time for the sixth steeping, the tea brewed about as dark as before. The flavors were now getting lighter, while the strength of the tea remained about the same as before. This steep wasn’t particularly sweet, but what I got from it were berries.
The seventh steeping brewed a still quite dark red. The texture was noticeably thinner. The flavors were even lighter now, with the tea tasting like sweet water. While the brew seemed simplistic at first, it turned out to have more complexity to it than might’ve appeared at first glance. The berries were still somewhere in the mix, and I could almost say I tasted a light toffee note in there somewhere. There was also still some darker stuff present in the finish. While there wasn’t really a lasting aftertaste in the tea anymore, this steep did leave some aromas lingering in your mouth. Overall the tea wasn’t as excellent as before, but still quite pleasant and drinkable.
The eighth infusion was an improvement over the last. It tasted like super smooth kissel with a hint of milk/cream in it. Even the texture – especially the finish – was reminiscent of said dessert. The flavors were light, but very smooth and full-bodied. My notes read: “Such a superb tea.” Steep number nine produced still a quite dark liquor, even if the color was getting lighter. The note was light, but I definitely tasted strawberry in this steep. In addition to extending the time, I filled the teapot with slightly less water for the tenth infusion. The resulting flavor was surprisingly strong and the strawberry was replaced by the taste of black currant leaf juice. The eleventh steep I brewed with even less water, pouring hot water over the pot from time to time to keep up the heat. The color of the liquor was once again a couple shades lighter than before. Even though I’m confident the leaves could have still gone on, at this point there was practically only basic sweetness left and I decided to stop here.
Ripe pu’er is the one category of tea I’ve had difficulties getting into, but this tea was excellent. The material is clearly very high quality and the processing has been done expertly. This tea is perfectly drinkable right now. Not only is this the most flavorful and strongest tasting ripe pu’er I’ve drunk, it manages to somehow combine that with the best longevity I’ve seen in a shu pu’er as well. It’s the best of both worlds with no drawbacks. Even though the mouthfeel was decent, it was not on the same level with the other attributes of this tea. That is the one area where I hope this tea might improve with age. Flavor-wise I found this tea very enjoyable, even if the flavors are very typical shu pu’er flavors. The strength of this tea is how it delivers those flavors instead of what those flavors are specifically.
While I know a brick of this currently costs $245 on Yunnan Sourcing, I think this tea actually represents a great value. While this tea is $0.245/g which is well above most moderately priced ripes, I found it to be way better than twice as good as teas that cost around half as much. I know you can get a pretty fancy raw pu’er for that price, but if ripe pu’er is your thing, this tea is definitely worth ordering a sample of. All that being said, I’m not sure if I’ll be buying any sort of quantity of this tea for myself. While this tea was excellent, the one thing it perhaps lacked was that something that made it feel special. This would be an excellent tea to brew or recommend to someone as an introduction to how ripe pu’er tastes. As an experience, it’s probably up there among some of the best teas I’ve had, but if I were to keep coming back to it, I think I might want there to be some sort of hook that makes it feel more unique. I will have to keep sampling other ripe pu’ers and come back to this one after I have a broader sense of the category as a whole. If it still holds up as one of the best ripes I’ve had, then perhaps I will have to buy it.
Flavors: Berries, Black Currant, Chocolate, Coffee, Strawberry, Sweet
This is a very tasty tea. It started out on a bitter note. There was a fair amount of fermentation flavor but I didn’t really notice it. Slowly over the course of fourteen steeps the bitter note turned to a sweet note. I would have to say it had a bit of a nutty flavor to it. Mushrooms might be another possible interpretation of it. In all it was very good. This is not a cheap brick at around $245 for a 1000g brick. I gave it fourteen steeps because it was so expensive. But it would have gone a few more. Judging by the color in the fourteenth steep I would say it would have gone at least another four to five steeps with longer times on the steep. But I lost my patience at 3 minutes so I didn’t want to keep going. Overall this is one of the best ripe teas I have had.
I steeped this fourteen times in a 160ml solid silver teapot with 12.3g 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, 1 min, 1.5 min, 2 min, 2.5 min, and 3 minutes. I definitely recommend a sample of this.
Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Nutty, Sweet
This tea is in the top three for surprise productions. The leaf is silvery and spindle like with sweet and light floral tones as well as some high notes of soft wood. I warmed my gaiwan and slipped some inside. The scent opens into highly sweet aromas with incredible high “white” notes (unripe mango?). I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The base of the tea is cedar with some lovely high notes of pink lady apples. The brew yields a lasting oily honeycomb sweetness with sunflower florals on the exhale. The drink has few sticky rice tones along with a robust caramel color and succulent sweet vapor rising from the cup. I was pulled in tight with this one! A pleasant sour note comes through later as a complimenting bitter, and it provides some good tongue curling. However, this tea its all about the exhale. I was pulling great marshmallow sweetness that engulfed my senses. The qi is high cooling sensation that targets the head and provides nice uplifting sensations. I was picking up Bosc pear by steep 3. The brew ends with a cane-sugar sweetness and the qi drives towards the back of the head with good pressure. Now, after this session I was curious as to what this tea cost. I know with Hai Lang Hao it is either a bit pricey or its cheap. This is the later, and it surprised me quite a bit. This is a great example of the fact that its all about storage and processing. I am a big buff on quality material, but if you don’t know what you’re doing you can really f*$# up. This tea has amazing tones, huigan, and a bit kuwei for the price, plus the qi is actually notable; in which, I find that quality to be rare with plantation tea (especially) at this price.
Flavors: Cedar, Floral, Flowers, Honey, Honeysuckle, Mango, Marshmallow, Pear, Pleasantly Sour, Rice, Sugarcane, Sweet
Awesome awesome awesome. I wasn’t taking notes when I had this yesterday but man it was really good. Very easy to brew and drink, mellow and sweet. Would be an excellent daily drinker, especially at 7.5 cents/g. I will definitely be buying a cake!
I’ve had a cake of this, which I blind bought on the recommendation of mrmopar in my stash for quite a while now. I pulled my cake out to give it a try for the first time in a few months last night. The dry leaf is very interesting looking. The leaves are long and spindly, and there are a pretty good number of twigs mixed it. It’s really a bit difficult to fit chunks of it into brewing vessels until you get some hot water on it. The leaves had a nice fruity aroma, with notes of straw as well. After a rinse, the tea smelled slightly smoky, though none of this smoke really makes it into the flavor, and again like straw.
From the get-go, this tea steeps out very thick. The first steep had a bit of an herbal note to it, along with a sweetness which immediately filled my mouth. The tea has good throat-feeling, and even before I finished drinking the first infusion, my head was pounding.
The sweetness stayed very strong, as did the thickness. By the third steep, I was feeling just about as teadrunk as I ever have before. My notes get a little bit garbled after this, but I know the tea went around 15 steeps, though possibly could have called it quits at 13. The sweetness stayed pretty strong, but was not cloying. I also don’t really know how to describe it – a bit mineral or honey maybe, with some slight apricot notes detectable at times.
I remember trying this tea around when I first got it, and being decently impressed by the quality of it. Now, after the tea has been resting in my pumidor for around 5 or 6 months, I am absolutely floored by the quality:price ratio. For me, this tea is an absolute steal. The texture and qi are incredibly potent and enjoyable, and the flavor, while nothing spectacular or unusual, is very enjoyable. I now have a large amount of this tea en route from Yunnan Sourcing, along with some other Hai Lang Hao samples. I feel pretty confident buying a lot of this tea, as it already has a bit of a head-start with aging, being pressed from 2012 maocha, and because I like how it has changed already just sitting in my moderately humid pumidor for a few months.
I’ll be trying this some different ways as well – I want to see how much leaf I can get away with using, as it’s pretty forgiving and not at all prone to bitterness. If my normal amount gave me such a powerful teadrunk, who knows what 7 or 8g could do! :P
Flavors: Fruity, Mineral, Straw, Sweet, Thick
Random backlog I found on Microsoft Word…
2012 Hai Lang Hao
Yang Chun San Yue
8g, 92c, 120ml
S1 shows immediately that the color is no longer ‘green’. Shades of ugly green/brownish stuff with some darker leaf in there. Up front there is a soft astringency that I assume will disappear because it’s quite faint. The taste leaves a nice tartness going on as the sweetness cannot be tasted unless you lick your lips since the mouth feel kind of tingles the taste away.
S2 the tea is opening up a bit more which makes the astringency not noticeable anymore because there is a bitterness that is creeping in. Maybe this is the type of tea that will need me to ride the waves with it until I find the calm waters. The taste is appealing behind the upfront hindrance of taste though. Somewhat of a wet cigar taste… if you’ve ever experienced that, not unpleasant but unique.
S3 took some time to let the mouth feel sit. Easily last for 5 minutes. Went back into the next steep with some more thought on what I am tasting. I think the bitterness might actually be described better as ‘full of tannins’ in regards to the light tobacco taste which reminds me of roasted asparagus; yet the mouth feel gives it complexity that I cannot describe very well.
S4 to S6 still a really strong mouth feel and the bitterness/tannic aspect is very much alive. Was not expecting to still have this going on at this point.
S7 to S10 still got the mouth feels but the bitterness is either used to by my mouth or it is dying down. This is probably a tea for someone who wants that tobacco’ish feeling going on or to store away a darker sheng that will produce a nice thick cup later on down the road as the viscosity with this one will surely grow.
Dry leaf: SMOKEY, SWEET, EARTHY (mesquite wood/smoke, wild honey, blackstrap molasses, baked pears, autumn leaves, green stem, light wood)
Smell: SMOKEY, EARTHY, some SWEET (bonfire, cured tobacco leaf, raw walnut, some wet rock minerality. In gaiwan – noticeable apple cider notes)
Taste: EARTH, SMOKE, OIL, PEPPER, FRUIT (autumn leaves, hay, leather, wood smoke, ash, resin, camphor, cooked walnut, nutty oily sweetness, bittersweet, peppery spiciness. In gaiwan, several fruit notes are present – plum, date, fig, pear, apple cider, stewed fruit)
SO… Cruising through Yunnan Sourcing’s page, I stumble upon Hai Lang Hao, whose cakes are well out of my price range – the first one I see is over $300. I chuckle to myself, but continue down the page. Lo and behold! I see a cake for $25 amongst its more costly brethren. I had to get it, just out of sheer curiosity.
The dry leaves themselves are a little disappointing – tons of spindly stems, some even with no leaves at all on them. So, basically I’m thinking this is the cake made with all of the reject material from his actual cakes.
That said, it actually is pretty awesome (and it’s not all stems – don’t get me wrong!) Assuming it is some of the reject pickings – I imagine they are still coming from the bushes that provide the material for his more expensive offerings. What does that mean? It means we can get some pretty awesome flavors for a bargain price.
Really enjoyable – brewed several times in “young” yixing pot and several times in gaiwan. Gaiwan brought out all of the fruit notes above. Yixing “stole” these flavors and provided an oily, nutty, smooth experience.
I got 10 grams and put it in gaiwan and gave it a rinse for 5 seconds . The first steep for 5 seconds and it tasted like bitter grass.The second brew was for ten seconds and tasted stronger and the color was darker as well and it had a bitter edge to it and made my tongue tingle as.The last steep was stronger and darker and and done it for fifteen seconds and tasted like older hay and you could fell it in your throat after drinking.
Flavors: Bitter, Grass, Hay, Thick
This tea is good. It is sweet with a lot of fermentation flavor in the early steeps. This is a quality tea. This is good because I have a lot of it. Its sweet flavor in the eighth steep is reminiscent of dates. It’s young to develop this flavor but it’s sweet in later steeps. There was little bitterness to this tea even in the early steeps.
I steeped this eight times in a 170ml teapot with 10g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec.
Ordered a sample of this to try on my last order.
I broke out 11 grams for the Gaiwan. Went with a 5 second rinse to wake up the leaf . It is flora land aromatic after the rinse. Did 3 quick 5 second steeps for the big mug for this one. Color is a bit lighter than I expected, more like the color of a newer tea. Avery thick tea with a decent shot of bitterness.
Quite potent with hints of pepper , wood camphor and a bit of the saltiness that some shengs can give.
It really opened me up to some deep breathing about halfway through the cup. Nice Huigan on this one. Tongue tingle goes a bit after drinking this one for a while. Some hints of apple in this one also. Very nice tea.
Flavors: Apple, Camphor, Floral, Wood
Working this one up tonight, an interesting description by the seller.
Dry leaf slight smoke and vegetal aroma.
One rinse with 10 grams in the Gaiwan. A spicy green aroma to this one.
First steep, actually 3 short ones for the cup. Brewed aroma wood and steamed vegetables.
First sip pretty stout with some tongue tingling going on. Pine and citrus seem to come to mind on this one. Very nice lively mouth-feel on this one. A nice little hit of camphor along with the other flavors dancing around. A very complex one to drink but simply enjoyable.
Flavors: Camphor, Pine, Wood