Hai Lang Hao (Yunnan Sourcing)Edit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
I loved the Hai Lang Hao Yi Shan Mo ripe pu’er enough to purchase a whole brick of it, so I was very curious to try out what a traditional raw pu’er offering from this village would be like. The ten gram sample I received was all broken up leaves with even some twigs mixed in. After my last ten gram sample from Yunnan Sourcing turned out to be closer to twelve grams, I probably really should have weighed this one, but let’s pretend it was ten grams. I dumped it all in my preheated 140ml gaiwan and what I could smell was almost like mocha. Really interesting. I gave the leaves a brief five second rinse and sipped what little the leaves hadn’t absorbed while I let the moisture soak in even deeper for five minutes or so. What I tasted was cream and plum. Fairly strong too. Plum is a new one for me.
I did eleven steeps. The timing for these was interesting: 5s, 5s, 5s, 5s, 5s, 5s, 5s, 7s, 10s, 15s and 20s. Yes, flash steeps until steep seven! Pretty much what you’d expect from a dancong brewed Chaozhou style. The first infusion tasted pretty much identical to the wash, expect slightly more diluted because of the larger volume of water. The body was fairly medium. The cha qi on the other hand was HEAVY. I felt the tea so strongly in my body, it forced me to slow down.
The second and third steep brewed up REALLY, REALLY strong, but the flavors themselves were less discernible now. There were some echoes of the earlier taste along with some greenness. I found the tea really overpowering, both in strength and its effects. Steep four produced a slightly bigger, creamier body. The taste was still somewhat plummy while I also got some astringency and sweetness.
The increase in body was lost in the fifth infusion while the profile started to become cleaner. The strength and effects of the tea were still as strong as ever. The next two steeps introduced an increasing amount of bitterness and steep seven was also when the strength finally started to drop for the first time.
Starting with the eighth infusion the flavors also began simplifying. Some of the tea’s underlying basic taste could still be found in the background while there was some bitterness and astringency present as well. The tea was still going strong in the ninth steep, but it was less intense now and easier to drink as a result. The taste was fruity, not just plummy like before. The fruits were still present in the next steep, but now in a drier form and together with the lack of sweetness the two were making the tea less enjoyable. The last steep still had strength, but the flavors were starting to taper off, so I thought this a good place to end the session. The increasing dryness also wasn’t doing the tea any favors.
This was the most intense tea I’ve ever drunk. I am a fan of strong tea (loved Hai Lang’s Lao Man’e sheng), but even for me this tea was simply too overpowering. If there’s ever been a tea I felt needed time to mellow out, it’s this one. This tea did not get me tea drunk, the effects were from the neck down, but the burden it placed on the body was immense. I started the session around noon and finished a couple hours later. Even when going to bed that night, I could still feel the effects of the tea. Underestimate Yi Shan Mo at your own peril.
Clearly this is top-notch material, but as stated, for me the tea is simply too intense. While the plum notes are interesting, another thing I would hold against the tea is that it doesn’t really vary very much in terms of flavor. Perhaps it’s due to the stage it’s right now in its development, but the base taste of cream and plums is present in some form through most of the steeps, making the tea feel a bit monotonous. Obviously a great candidate for aging, but fortunately another expensive tea I don’t feel compelled to invest in.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Cream, Drying, Fruity, Plums
This is fantastic and right from the start you can tell it is from older material than the pressing date. Starts off with some sweet tobacco and earthy notes, slowly evolving to a greener pleasant mild astringency. This brews up real nice and is a bargain at the current price. Will probably be even more amazing in a few years.
After reviewing Hai Lang Hao’s Yi Shan Mo ripe pu’er from Yiwu, which is often dubbed the queen of pu’er, here comes the king. My sample was ten grams so I used ten grams. For brewing I used my trusty 160ml Jianshui clay teapot, although I didn’t always fill it quite full so the leaf-to-water ratio is probably closer to 1g/15ml or so. I gave the leaves a brief rinse for under ten seconds and let them have five minutes to soften up while I did other preparations. I did a total of eleven steeps, the timing for these being 10s, 8s, 10s, 13s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 75s, 2 min., 4 min. and 10 min.
This tea opened up really strong. I don’t know if it’s as strong as the 1996 CNNP Green Mark Te Ji I reviewed, but it’s definitely one of the strongest ripes I’ve had. The body was already quite good and the taste that of unsweetened baking chocolate. The aftertaste was strong even just after a few sips. It felt like I could already feel the tea affecting me a little bit, although I can’t be entirely sure.
The second steep brewed a really dark mahogany and you could just tell how thick the tea was by looking at the last drops slowly dripping from the teapot. The taste and texture were that of sugar-free chocolate pudding. The tea was so thick, it felt like you could use a spoon to scoop it up. Both the taste and aftertaste were strong and there was a gentle pleasant bitterness to the tea.
The third steep was thick, slick and oily. This time the flavors were more subtle, but eventually I arrived at the conclusion that the taste was mainly woody. At this point I was already starting to feel the cumulative qi. For the fourth infusion I extended the time just a hair and the tea was strong again. I’d made it slightly bitter, but the other flavors were a bit hard to discern. I’d say they were mainly woody again. The qi was hitting me hard though and I almost decided to go lie down because of how intense this tea is.
I brewed the next infusion just a tad longer than I’d intended, but the tea wasn’t too strong at all. Seems I should have gone even just a bit longer, because there was less body now and the flavors came off as rather simple, being mainly simple woody notes. I managed to get the strength back where I wanted in the next steep and the texture improved a little too being slightly syrupy. The flavors had now shifted slightly toward darker woody tones. The tea was very easy to drink, nice, but not super rich nor thin. The cha qi was still falling hard on me, making me feel like I might drop my cup if I was not careful.
Steep seven brewed incredibly sweet, like somebody had put a full cube of sugar in my cup. The taste was sugary and woody. Really nice. At this point it did start to feel like the qi was letting up. The strength continued to be good in the next steep. The body was decent as well. The flavors however were rather simple. The tea was fairly sweet, but not as sweet as before.
Steep nine was still solid in terms of strength. It started off woody and maybe a bit mineraly. It was very fresh and slightly cooling. As I kept drinking it, I started tasting menthol more and more. This was really interesting as I’ve tasted mint a couple times in pu’er, but never menthol. I ended up really liking this steep. While I found the next infusion less cooling in the mouth, I could taste menthol even stronger now. The sweetness was pretty much gone from the tea, making it taste like a sugar-free breath mint. The mouthfeel was still quite nice and overall this steep was enjoyable, pleasant, perhaps even rewarding for such a late steep.
The eleventh steep was the last one I did. There wasn’t all that much taste left even after a ten minute infusion. There was kind of a bad berry taste to the soup, maybe a bit acid. Maybe you could have done one more ultra long infusion with these leaves, but I deemed them pretty much done.
Unsurprisingly, this tea was good. Was it the best ripe I’ve had? Actually, no. I liked the Yi Shan Mo better. And one or two other teas as well. But this tea was good, wish all ripes were this level of quality. Is it worth the ridiculous price? I don’t think so. Not even close. I think the Yi Shan Mo at 38.5¢/g is totally worth the price and I like it better than the Lao Ban Zhang which costs four times as much, so do the math. As most people probably can’t afford this tea, myself included, I think the better question is is this tea worth buying a sample of? I’d say so. I would recommend trying out other genuinely high quality ripes first to see if you even find them worth it in your book, but if you’re genuinely interested and don’t find the cost of even a mere 10g sample too difficult to justify, go for it.
This tea brews strong, it brews thick, and the cha qi is really potent. It has probably the strongest chocolate notes I’ve tasted in any tea. I still can’t get past that. The longevity is great too, for a ripe and for a tea that brews this strong. I’m glad this tea was good, but I’m even more glad I liked the Yi Shan Mo better, because I want that tea and can’t afford this one. What’s clear is that Hai Lang produces some great teas.
Flavors: Bitter, Chocolate, Menthol, Sugar, Sweet, Wood
I haven’t seen very many Yiwu ripe pu’ers on the market and this is the first one I’ve tried. I used 12.3g in my 160ml Jianshui clay teapot, so roughly half my sample. Although this is a brick, the compression seems very light and I was able to break larger chunks into smaller ones without having to used hardly any force at all. I rinsed the leaves for under ten seconds and let the leaves soak up the moisture for five minutes before I began brewing. I did a total of eight steeps, the timing for these being 12s, 12s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 50s, 90s and 3 min. For drinking the tea, I used both a regular glazed teacup as well as a Jianshui clay teacup dedicated to shu pu’er.
The first infusion brewed a dark red. The liquor was surprisingly clear especially for such a young tea. The tea was syrupy, slick, clean and slightly sweet. The strength was good. The next steep brewed a pure black. Possibly the darkest color I’ve seen, if you can compare black with another black. The mouthfeel was velvety and there was a mild pleasant bitterness to the tea. I’m not really sure if there was quite a coffee taste to this steep as is often the case with shu pu’ers at this stage.
Steep three produced a super clean, beautiful liquor. The mouthfeel was astonishing. It felt like the tea was massaging your tongue. Just phenomenal. The tea left an active sensation in your mouth even after you swallowed. There was even less bitterness now. I don’t really know how to describe the taste. It leaned more towards darker notes, but I’m not sure if calling it coffee or roasted is quite correct.
Steep four was somewhat weaker than the prior infusions, which was a sign for me that I could push this tea even harder for the following steeps. The taste was also less complex, but very sweet. Quite impressively the tea still brewed a perfect black in the fifth steep. The tea was now stronger and less sweet. The taste was mainly woody. At this point I could start to feel the tea in my body, especially around my chest and abdomen.
Infusion number six continued to brew totally black. Contrary to the color, the tea had become very fresh with a clear taste of mint. The soup was ultra clean and both cooling and warming in the mouth at the same time. The taste was also accompanied by a REALLY nice and pleasant qi. This steeping was definitely one of the standouts. Steep seven is finally where the tea only brewed a very dark red as opposed to a total black. In contrast to the color, the flavor had dropped much more significantly and was merely that of some basic sweetness. Steep eight also continued to have plenty of color and the strength was now better as well, but the flavors simply weren’t there. The tea was simple and nice and you could probably have continued with these extended sweet steeps for a while, but I deemed the session to be done.
I feel I’ve described this tea with much fewer words than I usually do. This can either be a good sign or a bad sign. In this case it’s a good sign. This tea was exceptional. I don’t know if it’s my favorite or second favorite shu pu’er up to this point, but I can say that the base material is definitely my favorite and it has been expertly processed. This tea performed much like I’d demand from a high-end raw pu’er, while offering the flavor experience of a shu pu’er. Since the tea has been more lightly fermented and the leaves aren’t totally black, I’d expect it to develop and become even better over the years, although it’s perfectly drinkable now and I didn’t detect any off-flavors.
I would very much like to buy more of this tea. The two inhibitors are however the fact that it comes in a 1kg brick and consequently the high price that results from that. This tea is however most definitely worth the price. Assuming it doesn’t sell out in the very near future, I’d love to grab a brick of this once I’m able. While this is an accessible tea, I would say that its true strengths might be lost on someone still very new to pu’er. Just the way it flows out of the cha hai as I pour tells me how high-quality it is. Despite the dark color, the tea didn’t brew particularly strong, so I wouldn’t go much lighter on the leaf than I did and you could probably easily go heavier. The only real downside was the longevity, but hopefully more flavors will develop there as the tea ages.
Flavors: Bitter, Mint, Sweet, Wood
I brewed the entire 10g sample in a 140ml gaiwan. What I received were small, evenly sized chunks without any loose bits. I don’t know which part of the cake they were from, but they seemed fairly compressed in comparison to the more loose-pressed cakes out there. The colors and general appearance were interesting, really bright and just overall a very different look.
I’ve only drunk one raw pu’er that is allegedly Lao Man’e, that being Mei Leaf’s Psychic Stream Seeker, but smelling the dry leaves in a preheated gaiwan I definitely recognized the unique, characteristic scent. The smell of the wet leaves was equally familiar, with an extremely pungent, dirty scent that made me think of something having to do with a kitchen. I rinsed the leaves briefly for five seconds or less and this being such a high-end tea I naturally drank the wash. Damn that’s potent, damn that’s bitter. I’m intrigued.
After a brief five minute rest I carried on to do a total of twelve steeps. The timings for these were 5s, 5s, 7s, 7s, 6s, 7s, 10s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 75s and 2 min. The first steep had a nice mouthfeel, quite oily. Fortunately the tea was still light both in taste and color thanks to the more compressed bits. There was some slight sweetness, with a characteristic touch of citrus and maybe some bitterness in the finish. The second infusion is where the ball slowly began to start rolling. The tea was strong, but not too strong, sour, slightly bitter, a bit sweet. There was a citric aftertaste and the tea left your mouth coated with oils. This was combined with an incredibly mouthwatering effect. This is the stuff.
Infusion three is where the bombs started raining down. The tea was really strong, but not too strong for me though. The distinct grapefruit note I tasted in Psychic Stream Seeker as well was now much more pronounced. Although the liquor was not thick, the mouthfeel was juicy and the aftertaste incredibly long-lasting. Steep four was however even stronger. On man. But I like brewing oolongs Chaozhou style so I like strong tea, just not over-brewed tea, there’s a difference. I was now getting the infamous bitterness, but it wasn’t a bitterness I dislike. Now that’s BITTER, AWW YEA!
The sensory assault continued in the fifth steep, but here was an exemplary example of a bitterness that transformed into juicy sweetness within two seconds after you swallowed. After being bombarded with bitterness, I was so used to it I could have actually brewed the tea a bit stronger for the sixth steep. The tea continued to be incredibly bitter, but I wasn’t getting the sweetness anymore.
Steep seven really surprised by being less aggressive. It was juicy and still bitter but only in the finish. You could taste the tea in your mouth when you breathed out through your nose. At this point I must say it’s really hard to differentiate with this tea what flavor are from the tea in your mouth right now, because this tea just builds up layers upon layers of strong lingering flavors with each steep with all of the past steeps feeding into the current one.
From this point on I finally started extending the steeping time more aggressively and this worked really well in countering the drop in strength. I managed to brew steep eight strong in a good way and it was probably my favorite up to that point. It was really aromatic; you could just take a few sips and then taste the aromatic compounds in your mouth as you breathed out through your nose. There was much less perceived bitterness now, but honestly my tongue was so numb to the bitterness by this point it’s quite possible I just wasn’t tasting it anymore.
With the ninth steeping the tea began to simplify and enter easy-drinking mode. It was still mainly bitter, but there was now less depth, complexity and nuance. From the next infusion onward the bitterness finally began to taper off, making way to an emerging sweetness. The mouthfeel in these late steeps continued to be generally quite juicy. There was some nastiness in steep eleven, but this cleared up for the twelfth steep where only sweetness remained, but the tea was clearly falling off fast. The leaves could have possibly been stretched for a couple more sweet, extra-long extractions, but I was quite full of tea so I decided to call it here.
I’m still very new to extremely bitter raw pu’ers and sheng pu’ers from Bulang in general, but I really liked this tea. Unfortunately a cake is beyond my budget. It’s not even a question of the price per gram being too high, although this tea is by no means cheap, Hai Lang Hao’s decision to press this material into beefy 400g cakes places this already premium tea beyond most people’s reach. Certainly most people who really want to try out this tea should be able to afford a sample, but an actual bing is something most of us can only dream about.
After trying two teas allegedly from this hot village, despite different vintages and the other one being roasted, their flavor profiles matched so well they corroborate one another quite nicely, lending credibility to both. The grapefruit note was much more prominent in the Mei Leaf tea most likely due to it being a younger tea, while the bitterness had been replaced in it by intense sourness due to the roasting process. While it was a very good tea in its own right, I liked this tea even more. I’ve never ordered from them, but I know Tea Urchin offers a couple of Lao Man’e shengs, so I will have to order samples and see how I like their teas. It would be nice to acquire some Lao Man’e both for drinking and aging, but at a more affordable price than the Hai Lang Hao offering. I’m definitely intrigued by this region after this session.
If you’ve never had a tea like this, it can definitely be a very informative and eye-opening experience. Even if you think you don’t like bitter teas, a tea like this could prove you otherwise. Even if it doesn’t, it’s worth it for the experience alone. To try to sum up this tea, it is one of the strongest teas you are likely to ever find, with great longevity to boot. It’s bold, aggressive and extremely bitter, but that does not mean it lacks complexity, depth or nuance. This is a matter of personal preference, but I personally never found the bitterness unpleasant. I should add that that is not generally the case for me with sheng. While the mouthfeel was generally juicy, the tea was never particularly thick and overall the mouthfeel was a bit of a letdown for such a high-end tea. The one other thing I hold a bit against the tea is the qi. The tea didn’t really have much of a noticeable effect during the session, but afterward with quite a delay I suddenly started feeling incredibly exhausted like I’d just run a marathon or something. This was strikingly similar to the qi in the Hai Lang Hao Lao Man’e ripe pu’er I reviewed a while back. The one notable difference in the qi was that whereas the raw pu’er only made me feel physically exhausted, the ripe also made me feel extremely lethargic and uninterested in even doing anything, even not doing anything. Fortunately the exhaustion did lift in a reasonable amount of time, but while drinking a tea like this should leave you exhausted as it is quite an undertaking, the cha qi still didn’t agree with me.
This tea showcases really well why the area is so revered and the fame is definitely justified. If you like your teas strong, look no further.
Flavors: Bitter, Grapefruit, Sweet
Another 2017 offering, this time the first Hai Lang Hao raw pu’er I’ve tried. I used 8.9g in a 130ml gaiwan and drank the tea both from a regular glazed teacup as well as an unglazed Jianshui clay cup. I rinsed the leaves briefly for five seconds and drank the wash while I let the moisture soak in for five to ten minutes. The texture was soft and creamy. I proceeded to do eleven more steeps, timing for these being 5s, 5s, 7s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 75s, 2 min. and 3 min.
The first actual steep was much bolder than the wash. It had a wonderful mouthfeel and the same creamy vanilla flavor you got a hint of in the rinse. The steep that followed felt really heavy both in the mouth and going down. I’m not really equipped to describe the flavor. It was amiable with maybe a hint of fruit, but nothing spectacular. My tongue was left feeling kind of bloated and like it wanted to rise to touch the roof of my mouth.
The third steep was really creamy, but also greener and somewhat astringent. The tea started to be less enjoyable in the next infusion when drunk from the regular cup, but from the clay cup it was soft and sweet. Steep number five saw a return back to soft and creamy, but now with a bit of astringency as well. This time the tea was actually less enjoyable from the clay cup, tasting mainly quite mineraly.
I should have probably pushed the tea a bit harder for the sixth steep as the flavor began dropping. At this point the tea started tasting more like a young green sheng. The flavor was about 50% prior sweetness and 50% young raw taste. The tea continued to be pretty thick in the next steep. It was quite sweet with an almost toffee or brown sugar sweetness to it. The sweetness also persisted in the mouth. Some of this sweetness lingered in the background in the eighth steeping, but in general the tea was becoming less pleasant. It was softer when drunk from clay, but very basic.
Steep nine still had a surprising amount of body, but it was even more evident that the tea was becoming very basic in terms of taste. The soup was sweet and green, but when drunk from clay it got MUCH sweeter. The ofter characteristic soft, thick mouthfeel was still present in the next steep. The flavor was becoming increasingly green with the sweetness diminishing, but the astringency was still just barely there. The eleventh infusion was the last one I did. The tea was still slightly sweet, but also more astringent now. While the tea most likely still had more in it, I didn’t expect to see any more nuance developing so I called it there.
While this is clearly a quality tea, although not necessarily of the absolute highest quality, and I have no doubt it will develop into a great tea in a decade or two, it didn’t really appeal to me personally. Nothing about it struck me as special enough and the flavor profile didn’t appeal to me. I’ve yet to explore aged teas enough to find any that appealed to me, but this one despite being young actually reminded me of some of the things that didn’t appeal to me about the handful of semi-aged raws that I’ve tried. If I can predict any kind of trajectory for this tea based on how it is now, my gut feeling is that I won’t like it any more ten years from now as I do now. That being said, this tea is still really young and unless you have incredible confidence in your ability to evaluate raw pu’ers and know exactly what you want, it’s still too early to properly evaluate it I’d say. I still have two thirds of my sample left, so I will try this tea again a year from now. I have a feeling my thoughts on it won’t change, but you never know.
Flavors: Creamy, Green, Sweet
The most expensive shou I’ve tasted but is it the best? Did Hai Lang make it? Did he make it with gushu LBZ material? Did it remind me of Westvleteren 12, the elusive spicy, earthy chocolate Belgian Trappist ale that many critics call the best beer in the world? Did it steep over 20 times evolving each steep and leave me feeling as though I’d consumed something illegal? Did I answer my first question with a series of other questions?
Bought this in my Yunnan Sourcing Black Friday order and am just now getting around to drinking it. Unlike the last four Hai Lang Hao teas I would not call this phenomenal. It was fairly good though and somewhat expensive because of its age. I was a very tightly compressed brick. The first four steeps were a light amber color. After that it got darker and the fermentation taste, although weak, was noticeable. There was no real bitterness to this tea and it was fairly sweet. For a ripe this age the word dates is often used. This does not seem quite that sweet but it is definitely a sweet note in the last steeps. I steeped this ten times and will go back and steep it a few more times for my tea photography
I steeped this ten times in a 160ml Jian Shui teapot with 15.8g leaf with boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse but it could have benefited from a longer one as the first few steeps were quite weak. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 7 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 10 sec, 10 sec, and 15 sec.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet
Drinking this tea for a second time. It is still quite good. This time I didn’t get any bitter notes but sweet notes from the first steep. I felt some cha qi from the tea but not as much as last time. Thhs was a fairly complex tea with different notes emerging as I resteeped it. I still give this tea high marks. It was not quite as lasting as the LBZ ripe. This one was a blend of Xin Ban Zhang and nearby towns leaf.
I steeped this tea 24 times in a 50ml porcelain teapot with 5.4g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 7 sec, 7 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 10 sec, 10 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 15 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 20 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 25 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 30 sec, and 30 sec. There is no doubt that I could get another four or five steepings out of this with longer times.
This is an excellent ripe tea. It was strong with a bittersweet taste at first and a moderate amount of fermentation flavor. It got much sweeter as the steepings went on. There was a strong and relaxing cha qi from about the second steep that lasted until around the fourteenth steep. I gave this tea sixteen steeps in total and then steeped it a few more times for photographs. This was no cheap brick but nearly a dollar a gram brick. Even though I got it during Scott’s best sale of the year it was pricy. It was extremely well compressed. It dented my nice new tea tool which was annoying as the thing was made out of solid brass if I remember correctly. In the end I broke out my tea awl and that it did not dent. The steel of the awl was stronger than the brick. Overall this was one tasty tea. I would say that the bitterness lasted well into the eighth or tenth steep at least. The fermentation flavor did not last that long but I wasn’t paying close attention to the notes. I was too busy enjoying the qi of this brick, which of course is very rare in a ripe but Hai Lang Hao knows how to process a ripe tea so it retains it’s qi.
I steeped this sixteen times in a 85ml Yixing Teapot with 8.4g 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, 10 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 15 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 25 sec. It was still not a weak tea in the sixteenth steep. I steeped it about five more times for the photographs I am going to take for my Instagram page.
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Earth, Sweet
This is another excellent tea from Hai Lang Hao. A real Yiwu ripe is somewhat rare. But with Hai Lang Hao and Yunnan Sourcing I trust that it is real. It was significantly less money than the LBZ ripe but still quite expensive. This was a very good tea. There was some bitterness at first and certainly some fermentation flavor although for some reason I really didn’t notice the fermentation taste. I steeped this tea sixteen times and it turned from having a light bitterness to a muted sweetness and then to a sweet ripe puerh, almost sugar sweet but not quite. This wqas also a strong tea as it lasted well into the sixteen steeps without me resorting to five minute steeps. There was some qi to it but not the massive qi of the LBZ ripe I drank yesterday.
I steeped this tea sixteen times in a 85ml Yixing teapot with boiling water and 8.2g leaf. 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, 10 sec, 15 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, and 45 seconds.
Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Sweet
Drinking this again, for the third time. The second time I drank it Steepster was down so I could not post a review. I overleafed it a bit today to see just how much I could get out of this tea. I used 9g in a 70ml teapot. It went 34 steeps without getting too watery. It still had a nice amber color in the 34th steep. It started of a nice dark black color and held this color for about 25 steeps. Around the 26th or 27th steep it evolved into an amber colored tea, but still nice tasting. This was one of the most complex ripe teas I have drank. It started out quite bitter. So bitter I didn’t really notice the fermentation taste. This slowly changed into a sweet note after a good amount of steeps. In the end it was a mildly sweet tea that had not lost too much of it’s flavor. I did steep it 34 times. This is the most I have taken any tea. The last three steeps I put aside to photograph my tea session. This is without a doubt the best new ripe I have drank. And as to qi, it was quite potent up until the 12th or 14th steep then it was not noticeable. I only wish I could have afforded two of these. It is definitely on my list to buy another. It is in my opinion the rarest of teas. No one generally makes LBZ material into ripe tea. BUt with Hai Lang Hao and Yunnan Sourcing I trust that it is exactly that. The fact that this tea went 34 steeps is further proof of it’s origin.
I steeped this 34 times in a 70ml teapot with 9g 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, 7 sec, 10 sec, 10 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec 15 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 20 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 25 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 30 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 45 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1 min, 1 min, 2 min, 2 min, 2min, 3 min, 3 min, and 4 min.
Flavors: Bitter, Sweet
This was an incredible ripe tea. Most teas that call themselves ripe LBZ are fakes. Not this one. Made by Hai Lang Hao and sold by Yunnan Sourcing at a very high price you know it is real. The first thing about this tea that I really noticed was the Qi. In the second steep it hit me like a steamroller. It kept going for quite a while too. I can still feel it and I am on the 16th steep. This tea was perhaps the strongest tea I can remember drinking. It started out quite bitter. But this bitterness gradually changed into a sweet note. I did not add any sugar to this tea. But in the sixteenth steep it tastes like I did. There were definite fruity notes and perhaps chocolate notes but I am unsure about that. This tea was perhaps the best young ripe I have ever drank. And it is very rare for a ripe tea to have any qi, let alone a strong qi like this one. I am tempted to buy another brick at some point to store for the long haul. This was a spectacular tea when viewed over sixteen steeps.
I steeped this sixteen times in a 70ml teapot with 5.1g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 7sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, and 45 sec. I definitely recommend that anyone into ripe tea buy a sample of this from Yunnan Sourcing. This tea was so strong I altered my steeping pattern to have more short steeps. This tea was spectacular in the end.
Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Fruity, Sweet
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.