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Recent Tasting Notes
Decided to finish off a sample today that I’ve had lying around for a little over a year. This is a strongly minty tea, both in the aroma and on the tongue, with some initial pine-iness, as well. The durability here is unremarkable; neither is it a marathon tea nor giving up in a few steeps. Similarly, qi is debatable, with the tea leaving a vague calmness that, while pleasant, may be mostly caffeine. That said, the flavor’s great and the mouthfeel thick and syrupy, so on the balance, this is a winner. I’m not mourning the fact that I missed out on this tea, but I do feel an indistinct regret.
Flavors: Mint, Pine
After breaking this cake I had about 2 to 3 grams of dust and REALLY broken leaf.
The cake itself was comprised of pretty ugly material, but at this point it has some age to it and I think it offers some unique taste to the Pubertea buy; and a little bit of insider info since you’re reading this, I am going to do this yearly while older tea is still within my grasp.
So the brew comes out rather dark with clarity to it. The taste is really bold and upfront with this interesting smoked fruit lasting taste. Taste last for awhile and the body heat does as well.
Really solid tea here for the price. Semi smoked fruit…. but the smoke is distant memory, if you know what I mean. Fun times ahead for many : )
I sat down looking at this tea as it sat post-rinse opening up, trying not to think of.all the info I’ve read online at Badger & Blade so as to taste wuth no preconceived notions.
It didn’t really work, but fortunately opinions were all over the place, so it’s not like I had any single strong impression anyhow.
The first infusion, around 10s, was a potent little brew, definitely grabbing my attention with a modest astringency and still very present (but pleasant) ku. The Bulang leaves it was supposed to contain werr very much in evidence, in all the best ways. I decided it would be unwise to make the second infusion any longer than the first, but I failed.to observe that a bit of leaf had wedged itself in the spout. That’s where the session took a turn for the strange.
The leaf chunk turned my poor pot’s pour into a painfully slow forty second affair. I cleaned the spout out as I pondered the option. I wasn’t about to dump it out, as there’s only samples available so I’m working off a mere ounce. I could dilute it with water, but that seemed… unkind to a tea of such cleanliness and beauty.
So I did what any good pu-head would do, and drank it.
The feeling in the mouth was of a thick soup. followed by the exact feeling of when my Italian grandmother used to pinch my cheeks as a young boy, but from the inside. The bitterness was very strong, but somehow still lovely. Then it hit my head like I’d been in one of those nature videos showing bighorn rams fighting it out during mating season.
Perhaps, indeed, this had been a bit more potent than I should have gone with.
I dank several more infusions, of a more moderate nature, but I cannot be trusted as a reliable observer as I spent the next little while reeling from the knockout blow of that second steep. I seem to recall thoroughly enjoying them, and am pleased to report I woke up the next morning in my own bed, with all my possessions and clothes accounted for.
In the name of science, I brewed the leaves again (they were on around 10-12 steeps now) three or four times with a clear head to see if I could make sense of the later steeps. I found them thoroughly unpleasant, with nothing remaining that would lead me to believe it even could be the same tea.
Either these are leaves that do not sit well (and I firmly believe some do and some do not, at this age range) or in my stupor from that overwhelming second steep I overlooked a great many flaws.
I’ll have to try it again to be sure – but at least I know how make the session memorable if it really isn’t doing it for me.
Just hold onto my cars keys, please.
The following are my tasting notes. They cover my first two sessions with this tea. I present them here, with minimal editing.
Leaves are lightly compressed. They look a bit smaller than the White Wrapper version. Smell of dry leaf is a cool earthiness. Definitely more broken leaf in this sample. Steamed aroma is almost nonexistent. Brewed aroma is a strong petrol. Beneath that, is some honey sweetness. That sweetness really sticks to your senses. Tea soup seems to be slightly more golden in color than the White Wrapper.
First sip is oily. Both in texture, and in flavor. Sunflower oil, to be exact. There’s also a lot of that honey sweetness. Not much else jumps out so far. The finish is long. Amazingly, the sweetness seems to get stronger as the finish progresses. Already, I feel a bit of a buzz.
Second steeping is a lot stronger. There’s a bit of that petrol taste right off the bat. That goes into intense honey sweetness. Finish doesn’t evolve too much. A vegetal note enters in, but it’s second fiddle to the honey sweetness. Texture is still oily. Throat feeling is a bit harsh. The kind of harsh you get right after you’ve recovered from a head cold. Like swallowing is a bit painful, and lumpy. The back of the mouth/top of the throat areas is cool.
Third steeping is stronger on the vegetal tones. The petrol is mostly gone. So is the sunflower oil note. Though, the texture is still oily. All that remains is the honey sweetness. On the finish, the sunflower oil note comes back. Throat feeling is still harsh.
Four steepings in. Surprisingly, the cha qi isn’t overwhelming me like it did with the White Wrapper. In fact, I barely notice it. There’s some minor heaviness in the fingers, and some even more minor mellowing of the mind. Flavor hasn’t changed. Finish hasn’t changed. Throat feeling hasn’t changed.
I think the White Wrapper is better.
Using my jianshui pot this time. Very little aroma in the steamed leaf. Ditto for first brewed leaf. Taste is very different than the previous session. Flavor is very weak. What little I can detect is a hint of pu’er dirt, and a bit of corn sweetness. Viscosity is fairly thin, and watery. Already, the throaty aspect of this tea is coming into play. I feel the need to clear my throat.
Second brew is very similar. There’s now a bit of pleasant bitterness in the mix. Finish quickly moves into the sweet corn. Still very watery. I used 6.5g for a 100ml pot, so I’m not sure why that’d be the case. Throat feeling isn’t growing in intensity…yet.
After I finish the third steeping, cha qi starts to hit me. It’s still mellow, but I can tell that it’ll grow rapidly. It’s centered in around the forehead – right between the eyes.
Third brew is aromaless, at least the texture is starting to thicken up. Flavor is a very forward hit of acidic dirt. The acidic dirt note is carried through on the finish. It’s joined by pleasant bitterness. Throat feeling is staying pretty stable. Definitely noticeable, but not irritating like it was in my previous session. Cha qi is also acting differently. It’s sort of lazily ebb-flowing around. One minute I feel fairly stoned, the next I barely feel it.
Fourth brew is showing a bit more flavour. Acidic dirt is still at the forefront, but it’s gotten a bit more complex. It’s got a bitter edge, with just a hint of minerality and sweetness. Finish is sort of a drying sensation in the mouth. Throat is feeling okay. Cha qi is hitting harder.
The tea gets stronger with every brew. Which, considering where it started, isn’t saying all that much. I think the Black Wrapper is a disappointment. What it does get right, read cha qi, is still not enough to make it worth the price of admission. Especially when compared to other teas in its price range.
I drank another session of this one with some dear teafriends yesterday. I am posting a separate review, as this session was from a different source than the sample I tried at a previous date. This one seems to have seen slightly drier storage than my previous sample. Still very good though – spicy notes aplenty in the first half of the session with some woodiness (cedar?) and a dry finish that reminds me of walnuts.
This sample had much more of a sourness in the corners of the mouth that I associate with dry storage than the first sample I had. It wasn’t a deal-breaker, but it was slightly less pleasant. Still a very good session, but I think this one benefits from a wetter storage.
I was fortunate enough to get a sample of this tea (along with its “white wrapper” counterpart) in a swap with a kind and generous new teafriend. From the minimal amount of research I have done, it seems this is a coveted cake which has received a lot of positive press in the online puerh community, and is thus now sold out of many sources and goes for pretty incredibly high prices otherwise. I brewed this tea up at 1g/15mL, as I normally do with sheng. The dry leaves had a nutty (walnut) note to the aroma, with some light sweetness. After a rinse, the aroma was sweeter, but notes of leather and wood also emerged.
The first steep had a slight leathery note and was a little bit sharp or rough in the front of the sip. The finish was woody sweet, with what I thought was a hint of dark fruitiness – this huigan was long-lasting. I took my time between sips, as the flavor lingered for minutes at a time in my mouth. I started to feel a little bit of rising energy in my chest as I let the huigan play out after this steep. The texture was already pleasantly thick.
Any sharpnesss was gone for me in the next steep. It was sweet and woody, though a touch drying. Huigan was woody sweet and again lingered long after swallowing. I started to really feel the qi at this point – my arms felt simultaneously heavy and light.
The next steep was instantly mouthwatering, very sweet, and I was sure this time that there was a bit of fruitiness to the aftertaste. Not the bright, apricot fruitiness more common in young sheng, but a dark and deep fruity note that danced over my tongue and in my mouth. This steep was incredibly warming and started to make my mouth feel tingly and numb. The qi also moved its way up to my forehead, where I felt it sitting there.
The fourth steep had more of a dry woodiness with a sweet woody, nutty, and fruity character to the still powerful and lingering huigan. It reminded me slightly of the oakiness you get on the finish of oak-aged spirits or wine.
By the fifth steep, I was starting to feel a bit slower and fuzzy, less coordinated. I had to focus to not spill my tea all over the place. The flavors were much the same as the last steep, and they continued this way through around the twelfth steep. The qi continued to build for this whole period. It was a little bit difficult to carry on the conversations I was having with teafriends on Slack, and when I got up to use the restroom at one point, I remember feeling rather light and almost floaty.
Around the thirteenth steep, the flavor started to taper off. I squeezed out another five or six steeps, which still had good woody sweetness to them. As the flavor waned, so did the qi – I felt mostly normal by the end of the session, so it didn’t mess me up past when I was finished or anything like that.
This was an excellent session, probably the most pleasant and strong feeling qi of any sheng I’ve tried to this point, and the flavor was excellent as well. That said, it isn’t good enough to warrant the price of a full cake – I don’t really think there is any tea I would consider paying $1000+ (or $600 or whatever) for. If I was in a much different financial situation, then I would absolutely consider going for a cake(s) of this! I would definitely recommend people who are into sheng attempt to track down at least a sample of this tea.
Going into the session knowing what I did about this tea makes me wonder how much my mental state affected the session. If I went into sessions with other teas knowing that others (whose opinions I value) consider the tea to be a “face-melter” or to be known for strong qi, would I have similar experiences with them? How much of my opinion is colored by preconceptions going into a session? To be honest, at this point in my tea-journey, I’m certain that my experience is colored very much by my preconceptions. It makes me think I shouldn’t read up on teas before I try them, but of course how would I narrow down my options if I didn’t? Sampling every tea sold myself is obviously not feasible. This paragraph is kind of rambling, but I guess it’s just something I wondered about after having such an enjoyable session with this tea. Then again, whether enjoyment comes from your own experiences alone or your preconceptions (or both of course), it’s still enjoyment, right?
Flavors: Fruity, Leather, Nutty, Sweet, Walnut, Wood
This is a warm and “springy” tea, and I enjoyed sipping on it. The leaves are large and nicely threaded with a sweet peppery scent along with some creamed honey subtle tangy apricots and peaches. I warmed my yixing up and placed some inside. The aroma thickens with some prickliness to it. I can note crisp fruits of pineapple and peach. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The brew is thick and mild with molasses, fat, and apricot. It’s an enjoyable tea and it grows with some bitterness of crisp apple. The aftertaste and long and lingering with sweet oils. The tea carries some good balance of huigan and kuwei, which is nice. The last steeps cause the tea to become soft and sweet with a very faint bitter of buffalo grass. I liked this tea, but I feel at this price point it should stay in storage.
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Grass, Green, Pear, Pepper, Pineapple, Sweet
After I got my first clay pot in the mail I pulled out a random sample from my 10+ year stash of raw. This happened to be it.
Not going to lie, I completely forgot what I was tasking because the last day has been a super addictive session after session of getting to know my new friend: https://www.instagram.com/p/BPyKaLtgp_C/
What I can say… this was a treat. Unfortunately I have none left, but hey I tried it!
Hou de carries some killer tea, so I expected no less from this. The leaf is very dark and somewhat crumbly. A nice note of oak barrel, raisin, and spice emit from the leaves. I warmed my gaiwan and slipped some inside. The aroma expanded into some interesting tobacco, leather, and barley notes. I could pick up some tangy buckwheat honey and possible green apple (?) along with a floral background of gardenias. I washed the leaves and prepared for brewing. The taste begins very sweet and very thick. A prominent note of vanilla and crème greets my tongue along with a sturdy woody base. The next steeping brings about fresh honeycomb and a dark fruity background. The brew is quite complex and changing, for the next steeping leaves me with some spice in the aftertaste. The soup brings a nice huigan and is an easy drinker. The storage is crisp and clean, and the tea goes down rather quickly. The qi is restricted to the chest and acts as a coolant and pressurizer. I have no complaints with this tea. It was really good, but for some reason it didn’t leave a memorable impression with me. I’m not sure why; I guess we just weren’t compatible, haha.
Flavors: Gardenias, Green Apple, Honey, Leather, Oak wood, Raisins, Red Fruits, Smooth, Sweet, Tobacco, Vanilla
Liquid Proust Group Buy of Aged oolong. I"m not certain that this is the correct tea, since there haven’t been any reviews for 5 years and this was a good-sized group buy.
1st is slightly woody, but the floral flavors are stronger. Rich roasted flavor appears on second sip. Very interesting tea: the flavor changes as it moves through my mouth. All of the different flavors are pleasant, but they range from light to heavy. Heaviest in the finish, where the roasted flavors dominate. 2nd: It’s obvious that the lighter floral notes are at the front of the mouth while the roast appears at the rear. Astringent at the finish. 3rd steep: Roasted aroma, and the roasted flavors hit earlier in the taste but are not overwhelming. There is still a sweet, floral note, which is strong at the finish. Later steeps became gradually less interesting as the astringency grew and the complexity lessened. I got about a dozen good steeps out of it before getting distracted and doing a 15 minute steep.
I used an unusual approach to steeping: 3 grams of tea in 50 ml with about 5 steeps of 20 seconds each before gradually increasing the steep times up to about 1 minute.
This is a very solid tea – both welcoming and encouraging. A fairly young tea although the “greenness” of the leaves that you would find in younger sheng has dissipated. There is a floral and deep honey aroma coming from the dry leaf. Tea liquor is light gold – very clear with a nice sheen to it. The smell from the cup has notes of hay, dried wood, and a light honey. First cup is sweet with a bit of astringency. There is also a slight metal hit coming through in the first brew but this disappeared in the other brews. The taste lightens up in the following infusions to become very smooth with a longlasting finish and no astringency; quite effervescent on the tongue. Now offering an appealing sweetness with fruity overtones and the aroma is both floral and fruity. During the fourth cup I could detect a quiet relaxing qi settling in. Overall the tea is complex enough for me to feel that this is a rich and powerful tea which offers a pleasant worthwhile session and interesting possibilities for aging in the years ahead.
XiZiHao (XZH) is a high quality “boutique” brand of puer. I set out to taste their 2013 “Que Zhen” and “Xuan Xi” shengs in order to make a purchase decision. Nicely compressed whole leaves with a few buds mixed in. Appealing aroma coming from the dry material which yields a clear and bright golden yellow tea soup. This gradually darkens as the air works on it. There is a honeylike tone and good body in the sip. An appealing sweet finish with a pleasant mouth-watering effect and a cooling aftertaste. Sweet and fruity top notes with a darker base. Good longevity – no signs of weakness after ten brews. This is a tasty quality tea which provides a pleasant experience. Worthy of a purchase but I opted to add the Xuan Xi to my collection instead of this Que Zhen.
Note: Both samples acquired from Houde http://houdeasianart.com/
This is the first year of production for the Mu Shu Cha and this premium cake is now seen as a classic production from the Shuangjiang Mengku Tea Co. Early spring material from the Shuangjiang region in the county of Lincang. Stone pressed – a mix of many whole leaves with stems and pieces. The tea liquor is a rich deep golden color and the early infusions are very aromatic, pungent and slightly astringent, with a mature sweetness. Strong aftertaste and thick mouthfeel. The tea becomes a bit creamy and fruity in later infusions and rather full in the mouth with a thickness that stays long on the tongue. 2005 was a particularly good production year for S.Mengku and many of these teas have become highly regarded mid-age shengs. The prices are very fair given the quality of the material and the age. This tea sells for $72 (500g = $0.14/g) and last year I purchased the 2005 DaXueShan (Big Snow Mtn.) from White2Tea for $60 (357g = $0.17/g). Two very good semi-aged teas. If you happen to run across either at a good price, definitely worthy of consideration.
Puerh Tea TTB. This is a nice example of a semi aged tea. It looks like it is no longer available from Hou De. It has aged a fair bit. It has no wet storage taste that I can discern. There is some bitterness and some sweetness to it along with a fair amount of astringency. I also detect a little bit of smoke but not much. I’m not getting much cha qi off this one. It is interesting to sample something from Hou De Fine Tea as I have never tried anything of theirs before. This qualifies as semi aged in my mind. The tea liquid has started to turn brown but is not fully amber yet.
I steeped this tea eight times in a 120ml gaiwan with 8.4g 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, anad 30 sec.
Thanks to Grill for this sample!
Right from the beginning, this tea has a spicy and slightly smoky aroma. It also tastes spicy and smoky, but not overpowering. It’s a very savory brew, and thick and oily. I love the oily ones! It reminds me a lot of the Xianshu LinChang cake I have from puerh.sk, but the smoke is much less pronounced. It really caused me to sweat, so serious Qi. Overall, I wouldn’t mind drinking it again, but I like the puerh.sk one better.
I really need to start logging more teas. I’m drinking tea, I am! The problem is a bunch of the ones I’ve had recently are not in the Steepster database, so I have to go through the trouble of adding the tea.
Anyway, I did it! Thanks to Grill for this sample!
I haven’t developed a taste for sheng with some years on it, but this one ain’t bad! Very clean taste. Brews up amber in color with a slightly minty aroma. Tastes kinda fruity, like dried fruit! Mmm! It has some bitterness, especially in early steeps. Not super thick, but decent. It’s also very reasonably priced. I really like the dried fruit taste, so this one is wishlisted!
8 grams in my hongni xisha pot. I didn’t write down extended notes on this one but this tea is a masterpiece. Just about 15 years of age have this is a great position to drink now. It’s thick, sweet and mellow. Little bit of woodiness but it more on the fruity end of the spectrum. Becoming more and more of a northern tea fan. Great throat, chest, stomach action on this one. Can feel the tea going down the throat and settle in your stomach. Still this teas best attribute is the powerful qi. Wasn’t expecting it at all since I’ve never felt it at that level in a tea this old before. I was all settled into have a relaxing mellow session but the tea had other idea. She slap me and slapped me around good. By the 6th cup I was so tea drunk that I had to get up and walk away for a good 20 to 30 minutes.
Amazing session, one of my favorites with any tea to date. Wish this was a touch cheaper as it ranges from 300 to 400 dollars. Would rank this up with White2tea’s blue mark as my favorite shengs with 15 plus years on it
7.5g 100ml Yixing. Second time drinking this and both times it floored me. Super thick and coating, like liquid pudding. A silky smooth mouth feel and a very full body make this tea enjoyable on just those merits alone. It was sweet and mellow but not without lacking complexity. No astringency in the steeps I drank, I was only able to get 6 or 7 down before I waived the white flag of total tea drunkenness . I pushed it (more like over steeped, not on purpose, was already pretty tea drunk) for a steeping and did get some bitterness but it wasn’t at all unpleasant and gave good balance to the thick oily sweetness.
Feeling of calm and relaxation started creeping in quickly, as soon as the first steep. It slowly intensified till that over steep when it hit me like a truck. I melted into my chair, muscle tension went poof. I am a ball of jelly floating along in a sea of qi. If I was on my couch I’m pretty sure nap time would have followed soon after. Eventually I return back to earth and drink a couple more steeps before my thirst for being tea smashed has been sated.
As I’m sure you could guess, I’d recommend this tea to anyone and everyone. This along with White2tea’s 2015 Last Thoughts and XHZ’s ‘06 black wrapper LBZ have been my favorites among puerhs I’ve tried.
Thanks for reading and I hope you all get a chance to try this great tea one day.
Easy drinker! Smooth and sweet. Great flavor. Nice rich smell – rather aromatic straight out of the wrapper. Beautiful cake. Easy to pick apart for brewing (mix of pieces and whole leaves). Yields a clear orange liquor with a penetrating taste without any smokiness. Offers a decent mouthfeel but it is slightly drying/astringent. Endearing notes of floral and fruity sweetness with a subtle amount of bitterness in the background. If I had to criticize something, it would be the modest longevity – 7 to 8 enjoyable cups before it becomes thin. Seems to be a solid tea for its current price of $49.50.
This pu’er was unlike any I have had before. Instead of an earthy taste, this one has a very strong woody taste to it. The more I sipped it, the more I liked it. It has a very complex, yet very appealing taste to it that I found I enjoy tremendously.