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Recent Tasting Notes
On the nose, spicy sweet notes are noticeable: horehound, sassafras, cola, and root beer. Dark molasses notes with hardwood and peanut shell rounding it off. In a preheated gaiwan, dry leaf emitted notes of ripe stewed plum, gummy fruitiness, and sweet hay.
On the palate, arrival is pinewood – soft, sweet woodiness with resinous notes. Body is relatively thick, but overall flavor is muted, developing hay, wood, and resin flavors. Gummy fruitiness starts to pop after sappy astringency arrives and dissipates. Aftertaste has nice plummy fruitiness. A little cocoa powder shows up well into the aftertaste.
A good experience; one that needs your full attention to appreciate.
I should have added this one for when it was on the website. I swear I wrote about it before. Anyway, I got it for the novelty of being from KunLu, and because it was a really nice and mega fuzzy black tea. It looks very similar to Verdant’s Golden Fleece, and it partially compares.
The dry leaf aroma is powdered, and soft. Sweet potato instantly came to mind along with a dusting of cocoa powder, but there was something a little bit floral to it as well. There was also a little bit of a dryness to it that was pleasant in smell.
I’ve brewed it western and gong fu, and it took me a bit to find a ratio I liked. It’s a very flexible tea that never becomes bold or astringent, but the flavors can be muddied or drying if it is over leafed or over steeped for long periods of time. I found that a medium gong fu session with 15-20 sec increments worked best for me at 5 grams in around 6 oz of water. Going too light makes the tea faint, but I at least caught some malty tones with a bit of a popping peanut nuttiness and chrysanthemum sweetness.
I know that chrysanthemum is a bit of a weird comparison, but it has the same sweet-dry profile that flower does no matter how I brew it. It borders on honey, but it is not honey like or close to honey suckle. Either way, it combines with the peanut, sweet potato and malt tones nicely and contrasts its dry leather mouthfeel…if leather ever had a mouthfeel, or you’ve had the pleasure to bite down a piece of leather in the middle of something excruciating like child birth. I can’t say I’ve experienced or will ever experience the latter, but I’ve bitten on leather for sheer curiosity. Back to the tea, it compliments the flavor imagined or real.
I do get cocoa flavors like raw cocoa nibs. They are noticeable, but not obvious and can be in the background like hints, but always transition mid sip to the end. It’s a good contrast to everything else. They get more prominent in the later steeps, and become very smooth at re-brew 6.
This tea is a very smooth one overall, and although it’s durable, it does not have too much stamina, unless you like your teas on the lighter end. It will yield to cup 8 if I push it, but it becomes vaguely sweet chrysanthemum sweet potato water at the end.
I also used to think this was a straightforward tea, but with the hints that I’ve gotten, I think it’s safe to say it does have some complexity. Every once in a while, there was an odd fruitiness in the background that I could not put my finger on. I’m not sure if someone else would taste it, so I won’t add that descriptor quite yet.
I personally have not drank this too often because it is a little bit too mellow even for me, but it is nice to have on a slow morning. If he had more left over, I’d certainly recommend it for people more used to white tea drinkers, or those looking to have golden tea from the origin area of the iron fist.
Flavors: Cocoa, Drying, Floral, Malt, Peanut, Smooth, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
I bought this from the Liquid Proust sale a while ago, sadly only now writing a note. This must be the DARKEST oolong I’ve ever seen. Entirely black. They also never unraveled during any of my steeps (and the last steep went for a WHILE for this reason), so possibly these were a little too roasted! I love seeing the big pieces of vanilla in the blend. I have been steeping up so many vanilla teas lately. Roasted oolong isn’t usually my thing. This one is good enough. I’m not really tasting much vanilla at all though, which is a shame. The vanilla would have really elevated the flavor. The oolong itself has less flavor than you would think, since this charcoal oolong REALLY looks like actual charcoal. I don’t think there was any saving this particular oolong, no matter how much Liquid Proust tried. Always happy to try any tea though.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // few minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // half a mug of tea // 6 minute steep
I wonder if I am the last person to have any of this. Welp, not anymore. I just made the last of it finally after hoarding it for a few years. It is still very good. I enjoy the flavor of toasted genmaicha over most styles of green tea. And I particularly like the lack of bitterness and also the blueberry that is slight but nice. Overall, this was a great blend.
Flavors: Blueberry, Green, Toasty
I should have reviewed this when the picture was still up. Dang.
Anyway, this tea was a treat. I’m happy that Andrew did not hoard it, but sold it for a little while online. Like him, I initially expected a medium to dark dong ding, but after I read his own notes on it, I knew it would be a little more floral than usual. He also wrote that it would pair well with desserts.
I’ve leaned more toward western so far going by a minute for steep one, and had some great notes in each resteep. It is fairly sweet, but definitely floral and savory. The savory notes are squash like, maybe close to sweet potato, but there just enough sweetness that reminds me of a sugar cookie amidst some subtle roast notes and buttery ones. I’m having a hard time pinning down the florals right now. Chocolate orchid, maybe? I don’t know, I’m at a loss right now. The overall smell is also like finely cooked vegetables, specifically squash right now.
The later steeps do have fluxes. I swear I get a little bit of violet and hyacinth in the florals, though the hyacinth is subtle. Cashew and graham cracker slowly creep in and rises at steep three and four. I’m just using flowery adjectives, so what do I know?
I’m quite impressed with this one. Despite some contrasts in the notes, they combine together in a balanced whole. The tea is very easy to drink, and it might be good for intermediate drinkers, probably good for slightly more experienced drinkers, but not daunting for any new drinker to try. I think a newer drinker might be board if they are looking for bursts of flavor, but might learn the virtue of layers and nuance.
It deserves a hard 90 right now. I might increase it as time goes on because this tea is fairly reliable. I have yet to gong fu it properly, but I think it might be well suited to grandpa style anyway.
I’m really into this one. I knew it would be a sheng that I’d like because I basically rely on Andrew’s preferences for pu-erh, but I am surprised this is a good taster. Most of the tasting notes are a bit more akin to oolong and white, but this is definite sheng all the way through.
I started off with a very light ten second rinse, and the smell was very fruity and floral. I got apricot, marshmellow, peach, grass, and a little bit of sheng astringency amidst a soft, cotton texture. “Viscous” is also a good adjective.
Moving onto the second steep, more florals pop up, namely orchid and, perhaps, honeysuckle. More cotton notes showed themselves, and more stone fruit ones followed.
Steps three through four so far have gotten more astringency and a very pleasant bitterness. I would not say it’s sour, but it is a little bit like a longer steeped Shan Lin Xi. Think green/white grapes. The grape notes were particularly noticeable in the recent steep, and the earlier rinse now that I think about it. I can even feel a little bit of dryness on my teeth and the roof of my mouth. The texture contrasts nicely with the fruitier tones.
I am enjoying this one greatly. I have yet to feel any effects yet since I am not power brewing it in my basic 4.5 grams to 6 oz ratio, but I am enjoying it for the sheer texture and taste. I’m curious to see what someone else’s opinion of this one is. I’m probably going to up the rating as time goes on.
No notes yet. Add one?
Rinsed it hot twice in case it was dank like the 80’s one people complained about. The first few steeps tasted old and vanilla-y. I like sour foods generally, so maybe I am not the best judge of unpleasant sour tastes, because my threshold is likely higher than that of others due to the sheer quantity of sour fermented foods and drinks I consume. Is this a little sour? A little? Dunno. But it is surely nothing compared to a sour ale.. Not much energy in this tea, though. Will need to leaf it harder next time.
The scent and flavor and mouthfeel are all right. But I rather dislike what it does to my throat, which feels coated with something uncomfortable after only 2 steeps. Is it smoke? Is it lingering astringency? Either way, it isn’t a good feeling. I am not sick, and it isn’t from a reaction to something I ate just before.
This is the last of the sample. The first half was shared with dear company, so the conversation outshone the tea. The first solo tasting was low energy compared to others tasted week. This one lands in a similar fashion.
I can see how someone who smokes might not even notice the yucky throat feel and thus enjoy this far more than non-smokers will. Farewell, strange blend that smells good and feels like I am smoking a cigarette. Blecch. Merry merry.
I had read some discouraging things about Mahei, but I am intrigued by this tea. It isn’t so strong as the others, but as LP hinted in his rambling description, the scent is quite seductive. A lot of honey and subdued florals. If this scent could be turned into a syrup, it would pair well with a light, lacy pancake. Any tea that smells like this with about 3-4x more energy would be bomb. Wish there was more info on which region is causing which effect.
Flavors: Floral, Honey
Tried this again several times, with different leaf to water ratios and steep times. The experience remains fairly consistent. The first 6 steeps or so can be fairly pleasant, but after that, it becomes terribly smoky no matter how carefully I filter it. It is not the enjoyable peatiness of a Laphroaig, but a thick, dirty feeling coat in the mouth and throat like you’ve been gagged with a huge wad of soggy cigarette butts. This is decidedly not what I am looking for in a young sheng, and if this is what’s “necessary” to get a certain taste profile when aged, I’m still not interested, because it really just tastes gross after ~5 cups and I will never be able to dis-associate that yuckiness from a related taste profile.
Better than expected for the first 6 steeps or so. But the next 6 devolve into far too much smokeyness. Factory teas are intimidating for a whole slew of reasons, but people say the consistency and age-ability can be worth it. This seems to have been one of the pricier offerings, though. I wonder what the rest of the brand offerings are like.
Trying this again, especially since it rained today. It wasn’t quite as flavorless and scentless as it was last week, but everything is still very, think 80-90%, muted. You want total silence and focus to catch anything a tea in this state has to deliver. The younger one in this vertical tasting set was schizophrenic, but this one is the extremely soft spoken, introverted librarian. I kept going past steep 8 or 10, which was when I gave up last time and added the leaves into my grandpa pot. There is now a pleasant huigan, which, as gentle as it is, is many times stronger than any favor or scent this has to offer so far. Oh, I know. Maybe next time I will try doing 1.5g of this and 1.5g of the mahei/gaoshan (great scent, unimpressive energy) in the same pot. Maybe that is frowned upon, I haven’t checked, but whatever, it’s my tea now.
I was expecting more of an all around sensory experience, as with its 2017 counterpart, but this tea seems to have no discernable scent. Is it dead? Should I have allowed it to “rest” even though it only came from a few states away, most likely by car? I will try it a few more times, but this is a very bland tea. I get very sleepy after drinking it, but I could simply be tired. If it is the tea doing it, this is more a cure for insomnia than a beverage to enjoy for its own sake.
Smells sour, like a stinky closet, but one that has potential to smell great if it would only stop being so sour for a second. You can tell he was probably once a stud, but hasn’t showered for a little too long, so you won’t know for sure until dude takes a bath. I wonder if this is an example of storage smells I do not like.
Tea is pretty new though, so I drink the filtered rinse out of curiosity. I already feel jazzed by steep #3. Seems like a fairly powerful tea. I keep smelling the pot hoping the unfortunate sourness will go away, but it does not and so I prepare to pout for the rest of this session. Oh wellsios.
4: What? It suddenly stopped being sour as I had hoped, and now smells glorious. Pout be gone. Okay, so this is a tea you want to rinse several times. Got it. There is a bit of astringency, but it turns sweet almost immediately. I am not a fan of too much huigan because the unreal sweetness reminds me of stevia, which I am not fond of. But this much is all right.
5. It smells completely different now. Woodsy, in a good way, but startling given how it only lost the sourness a few moments ago. This tea evolves very quickly so it pays to remain consistently attentive without taking too many breaks.
6-7. I have identified the scent note that’s been plaguing me this whole time. It is vaguely reminiscent of mugwort incense that is used in Korean medicine. There is a smokey smell like tobacco, too, which adds to the illusion of being in the middle of a hazy 쑥뜸(ssookddeum) session.
8. This one packs a punch, so I will stop here and continue tomorrow.
Wow this tea is now so bitter. I like to steep things out but it is too bitter to continue. A few times I smelled the leaves again and encountered hot sweet yams, but the taste was so incredibly disconnected from that and punishing on the tongue/mouth. The huigan that reappears after does not make up for it. You would have to be pretty masochistic or patient to finish this.
This tea has an intractable multiple personality disorder. I thus retract my recommendation. If it was a person it would be that unhinged person in your building with undiagnosed, untreated TS. Can’t win ’em all.
Flavors: Bitter, Smoke, Sour, Tobacco, Vegetal, Wet wood, Yams
Update: For steep 9, I discarded all undrunk previous steeps and changed settings to 5g/75ml just off boil for 20+sec. Tea instantly became delicious.
This smells lovely throughout, but the taste was pretty weak, so I think I will try what someone’s earlier note lists as a fail safe method and adjust settings to “6g/100ml 20s @ 95C” next time. I do not recommend what I did, which was 5g/120ml 7-10s at just off boil.
I got a small packet of this tea a long time ago – it’s been kicking around my storage for quite a while, and I pulled it out today at random and decided to brew it up. The base material is quite nice. I noticed the rum/barrel notes most on the nose. They didn’t come through all that much in the taste. This shou is more sweet than woody. Some heavy vanilla, somewhat rummy in taste, lightly floral, molasses. Again, mostly got the rum on the nose, which made for an interesting session compared to most shou. I don’t generally think of aroma as being a big part of shou compared to a lot of other teas, but this one definitely bucks that trend. If LP ever did another run of this or something like it, I’d seriously consider picking some up.
Three steeps in and my mouth is persistently dark cherry/cinnamon/plum flavored and my room now smells like a really sexy old bookstore. I also have it on good authority that this tea makes one extraordinarily kissable…
Flavors: Cacao, Cinnamon, Dark Wood, Overripe Cherries, Plums
LP sent a sample of this a while back when I joined a CLT group buy with him. I’ve finally got down to drinking the rest of it within the last couple of days.
The main note from this tea was ‘aged pear.’ I compared it to a stash of pears I tried from one of the oldest MRE’s (military ration) I have acquired (1994). Extremely caramelized, sweet, & tangy. The only difference with the tea was that there was a slight roasted note in each sip.
First, thanks to Liquid Proust for making old pu’erh available at an affordable price. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to expand their experiences and palate.
There is a lot of discussion out there regarding storage. Most people talk about humid vs. dry storage, in addition to how exactly they attempt to create their little pu’erh microclimates. That’s all good, but no one really ever talks about how long they plan on storing this stuff. There is a general perception that older is better. I would simply say that older is just different. And so, depending on your palate, older might just be worse.
That said, I think this is a good tea to sample to see if, for you, older is better. Do you like those earthy, vegetal pond flora notes? Do you like a cereal savory-sweetness? Do like the fragrant and pungent aroma of camphor? If so, then I guess you better start clearing some space for your stash, because you, my friend, like old pu’erh.
Personally, I find older pu’erh interesting, but not superior. For me, the optimum age for pu’erh is 7-12 years, under dry-ish storage conditions. But that’s because I like tobacco notes and dried fruit and spice cake sweetness, with some floral notes that give it some zest and pop. Stuff like the 1990s Guangyun is fun – and I have to say that the camphor experience is unique for sure (sort of like a peaty Islay Scotch malt – not delicious, per se, but fascinating and complex).
If you think you do like old pu’erh and are lamenting your expensive tastes and lack of storage, I really think you have some cheaper options. First of all, earthy, woody ripe pu’erh is a damn good approximation. You’re not going to get the fragrant camphor notes (although I have had one or two ripes that have it – more expensive than run-of-the-mill ripes, but much cheaper than aged sheng). Also, I think Fu Zhuan hei cha also gives an interesting “Chinese medicine” sort of experience that you get with old sheng. I don’t know – maybe mix the two together and see what happens?!
Anyway, this tea is mighty tasty, and certainly worth the low price LP offers it for. I just think that people need to be real about putting old sheng pu’erh on a pedestal. People are dropping loads of cash for teas that (I’m sorry) taste like a $50 wet-stored ripe.
Don’t take my word for it. Get some of this tea and see what you think.
Dry leaf – pond flora, compost, forest floor, wet wood. In preheated vessel – cereal notes arrive
Smell – pond flora, cream of wheat, camphor, wet hardwood
Taste – pond flora, cream of wheat, wet hardwood. Hints of chocolate in finish. Aftertaste has fragrant camphor notes arrive, lemongrass, poppy seed, lemon pith, with secondary notes of prune and rum-raisin sweetness that linger in the background.