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Recent Tasting Notes
2006 Fall Lao Ban Zhang Raw – 5.08g in 200mL at 208 C with a 10s rinse 10 min rest.
Dry leaves smell fruity as of apricot or preaches. Wet leaves smell of raisins, apricots and tobacco. The aroma of the wet leaves is heavenly!
This tea is produced by Members of Mengku Shuangjiang Tea Factory, but I purchased it from Yunnan Sourcing.
1/15s: The very first thing I notice is the mouthfeel. From the very first sip it has a sort of numbing/tingling sensation on the tongue. A little vegetal, very mild like water from steamed or boiled broccoli with a note of honey. A prominant bit of sweetness that really blossoms at the back of the throat. No bitterness detected.
2/15s: Sweet, vegetal with a really smooth finish. Just enough astringency to make it crisp to the tongue. No bitterness. Detecting a little bit of something fruity already. Very good. May be feeling the first hints of cha qi, though it could be wishful thinking.
3/20s: Same as previous though the cha qi still hasn’t come on stronger.
4/30s: This is a lovely tea as far as taste goes, but the cha qi is of the mellow sort.
5/45s: A bit more bite and more fruit in this cup. Much more astringency, but it’s perfect! I should have been giving longer steeps from the start maybe. Ride that edge of astringence and bitterness to get some really amazing taste. Big apricot and date notes here.
6/60s: Cha qi leaves a light tingling feel throughout the body now, but I’m wondering if I’m not feeling as much since I’m running on very little sleep at the moment. Still geting the tingling sensation on the tongue.
7/60s: Much sweeter with notes of dates, currants and apricot.
8/90s: This is a very good tea, I just wish it had more punch in the cha qi department.
9/120s: Sweet grass and apricot with the tingling mouthfeel. Interesting bitter note just as you swallow that melts into more sweetness.
10/180: Actually got a bit of bitterness in this cup. Pushed the leaves too much on this one. Still good.
I really have to try this tea again when I’m better rested. Right now I don’t really feel tired though I should, but I can’t say one way or another if that has an affect feeling the cha qi.
I have bought this on a nice discount in 2015. It is stored in the temperate climate of the Netherlands, which might be far from ideal, but should be interesting. I am very curious to see how this pu erh will evolve, and to see whether it will get better in time. I will try to log its development by updating this review.
First year (2015-2016, age 5-6 years): I already liked the taste of this sheng pu erh when I first tried it. It is like a pretty harsh green tea. It easily becomes bitter and astringent, but there is also a promising complexity. This tea is far from balanced. There is a strong smell that reminds of tobacco leaves, noticeable to the dry cake, and also in the cup.
During the first winter, it got pretty cold and moist in the place of storage. The cake even developed some visible mold, which (luckily) disappeared when the season was over. Presently, after one year of storage, I am pretty sure I can already taste some differences. The liquor seems to have gotten somewhat darker, and the tobacco-leave smell somewhat weaker. There is a slight hint of pinewood or peppermint in the aftertaste that I haven’t noticed before.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Tobacco
If I hadn’t gotten this from Yunnan Sourcing I would doubt the age on this tea. It hasn’t cleared anywhere in the way I imagine a eleven year old tea should have cleared. There was a lot of fermentation flavor to this tea. It was the dominant note for the first four or five steeps along with notes of camphor. There was also a bittersweet note in the beginning. This gradually turned into something sweet in nature. I can’t say I found notes of chocolate in this one. I could go out on a limb and say it developed a fruity taste in the latter steeps, that’s a maybe. Not sure what the note in the latter steeps would be described as. Overall I did like this tea. It just had a lot more fermentation taste than you expect a 2005 tea to have. I guess it was a victim of extremely dry storage at the Yunnan Sourcing warehouse and from whomever they bought it from. I think it will probably clear given another five years or so of New York storage. Someone once told me that ripe tea only changes for the first five years and that’s it. That person couldn’t have been more wrong. In my experience it takes twenty years of dry storage environment for a ripe tea to change into one with no fermentation taste. The 1996 Dayi Lao Cha Tou I recently bought from Aliexpress King Tea is an example of one that has totally cleared. This one was still quite good, just still needs to clear.
I steeped this twelve times in a 150ml gaiwan with 13.5g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, and 2 min. This tea was not done at twelve steeps. If I hadn’t hit my caffeine limit I could have gotten a few more steeps out of it.
Flavors: Camphor, Dark Bittersweet, Earth, Sweet
The Trails of LBZ, Case 5 of 6
(Liquid Proust search for his favorite laser beam zensheng)
Drinking this last night was probably the most disappointing tea time that I have had in quite awhile. I brewed up around 7g around 12 times and decided not to review it then because my remarks were really negative.
The 2009 and 2007 that YS offer has quite a strong kick to it where it was almost like it wasn’t tea; just… kicked my butt.
This however, being a $400 cake I saved it towards the end, ended up just…. okay, taste wise this was the smoothest and more aged but it lacked any ability to make me stumble to the bathroom. There just wasn’t any feeling coming about because of this tea which is why I’m going through these LBZ; eventually I’ll find my best and have a cupping here in Columbus with many people to make them all lose their minds.
Unsure why this didn’t do anything for me, but as for the aging and taste it was good. If it wasn’t for my experimenting to find something that about knocks me out, this might have been a great tea… but probably not something I would buy at the price range due to my finances.
Having now purchased/tasted more pu-erh than I care to admit, I figured my first review should be one of the first few teas that I acquired. I will admit that its price per gram was what attracted me in the first place, and that I should’ve taken experts’ advice regarding “small samples before entire cakes or bings.”
I really wanted to like this tea more than I did. Upon first opening the cake, I noticed the fairly firm compression. Its bouquet presented a sweet wood smell; something akin to entering a 1700s house, or an old cabin in the woods. I was pleased that there was no hint of wo dui, but that was about where the affair ended.
The taste, at least for me, could be best summed up as warm water poured over Wheaties. No matter what “water to tea ratio” or temperature I used, the liquor seemed to have little mouth-feel, body, or even much color. The strongest flavor was the aftertaste; which can be described as somewhat sour or tart, and reminiscent of lima beans. I couldn’t help but feel that the tea tasted tired and weak; no amount of boiling water could coax out any real character.
On the positive side, I noted the relatively low amount of caffeine; this is a tea that might be fairly safe for some as bed-time approaches. Secondly, the mild taste could be appropriate for serving to someone that is hesitant to try a fermented pu-erh.
In summation, this tea reminds me of a Camry “S”. It sounds exciting, because all of the right boxes are checked (old tree, respected factory, already 10 years old, etc.), but it just isn’t the sports-car you were looking for. It sounds good on paper, but winds up being inoffensive and bland. Still, for 400 grams at less than $25, I can’t really be upset if I never drink it again.
Flavors: Lima Beans
This is a lovely smooth sheng. Getting fruity sweetness and nice natural tasting body and aroma. It doesnt taste aged in a forced way, just mellow and lovely. I cant place the flavours very well but it is really nice.
But oh is it a strong one. ive got the jitters like I would from a coffee and that affects my enjoyment. Literally after each small cup I can feel it come on and im buzzing like a bee. I didnt get through many steeps at all today because It took me ages to get over each one. And there wasnt much leaf used either. perhaps 3-4g
Highly recommended for people who can take a stimulating qi hit ok, and have the money to spend on it.
Flavors: Apricot, Sweet
This is probably my favorite raw puer to date. It is squeaky clean and mellow, and carries a sweet pungency that I enjoy in young sheng. While clearly aged, this tea doesn’t carry much in the way of aged fragrances other than a very mild earthy character and a tiny hint of mushroom on the fragrance of the brew. Otherwise its just smooth sheng goodness.
To be honest I’m disappointed that I like this tea so much… but only because now I want to buy more and its just too expensive for me.
If anyone has any recommendations on teas that approach this flavor/aroma profile, I’m all ears!
This one has a very strong and enveloping energy right off the bat. Through the first, say about, 5 steeps this one seems to have a lot of potential. Although it falls off rather quick and leaves a strong bitter sweetness to end the session.
Overall not a very exciting tea, but has signs of an exceptional tea. Not overly encapsulating, which I find popular amongst a few Mengku factory teas.
Incredible tea! At least to my taste. A good complex taste, fairly old puerh. Woody and incense notes. Will last for a good number of infusions and if you buy the whole brick it can be affordable per gram.
Flavors: Wet Wood, Wood
No notes yet. Add one?
Picked up this tea from Aliexpress King Tea about a month and a half ago. Just now getting around to trying it. It was bittersweet in the first couple of infusions. This quickly went away and I was left with a sweet ripe puerh. There was a fair amount of fermentation flavor to it, I’d say it was prominent for the first four or five steeps. There were some notes of chocolate in there and certainly a nice sweet taste. It did develop a fruity taste in later steeps. This is one well done puerh. The fermentation was not too heavy and did not taste of fish. I would definitely think of buying more of this one. Except I probably won’t because I just have so much ripe.
I steeped this tea fifteen times in an 85ml yixing teapot with 7.6g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, 2 min, 2.5 min, 3 min and 3.5 min. At fifteen steeps the tea was not completely played out. With longer steep times I would have gotten a few more steeps but fifteen steeps is enough for me. This was one excellent ripe and not at all expensive at $17.99 for a 150g cake.
Flavors: Bitter, Chocolate, Earth, Fruity, Sweet
Received from Yunnan Sourcing’s US site.
My sample gave me a session of spicy tobacco, mulled wine and plum flavors. Throughout the steeps there was a balance of sweet and tart sensations that highlighted the fruit flavors beautifully. My session ended rather quickly with the leaves steeping brass and mineral flavors.
Flavors: Plums, Red Wine, Tobacco
Difficult to accept that it has been 3 months since I posted a tea note. Although I have been drinking tea regularly and checking into Steepster every day or two, I have not been able to spend time writing notes. We all know that life happens and at times we have other responsibilities which keep us away from more pleasurable activities. Hopefully my life will now ease back into my normal patterns and offer more time to enjoy tea in a more thoughtful manner.
For some time now, I have been a fan of teas from the Mengku area (think Bingdao, DaXueShan, MuShuCha teas). The ShuangJiang Mengku Tea Co. has made a reputation specializing on productions from this area. A few months ago I stumbled upon this gem and I must say that it is a very fine production from S.Mengku’s factory. I’ve spent the last two days enjoying these beautiful whole leaves from high mountain trees found in a single grove of “ancient tea trees”. Loosely compressed cake with over 8 years maturation in China. Smooth drinking, brass colored tea liquor. Apricot-like nectar with good mouthfeel and an appealing cooling effect. Nice longevity as well – 10 rich steeps. This is a good one!
Corrected Tea Notes:
Earlier today I wrote a tea note on this S.Mengku sheng. Unfortunately, the tea I had enjoyed so much over the past two days was labeled incorrectly (these two teas were mixed up in the small tasting bags I had prepared last week.) My correct notes now indicate that this is a solid, more typical S.Mengku production, with nice age on it. Good leaf quality – mix of nicely rolled large leaf pieces, stems and a few whole leaves. Reported by the manufacturer and confirmed by Yunnan Sourcing as quality material from organic old trees high up on a mountain. Two quick and rinses and 4 steeps into the tea now. A bit astringent with a bite to it; a bit of tongue tingling; after four cups, my mouth and throat are rather dry. Quite a decent production and I have enjoyed my session with this tea but I may hold out for a year or so to go back to it and see if it might smooth out a bit more. My 68% – 71% storage should help it mature into something even better.
I purchased 2 cakes from Dragon Tea House some years ago and I regret that I only purchased 2… (still have 1 and a half cake, but I only brew it in special ocasions).
This is a really complex tea for me to review. It has a lot of flavour notes. It’s meallow, and medium to full bodied.
Dry – Thick, refreshing (camphor), sweetness with fruity notes, a candied red fruit scent.
Wet Very sweet, candied fruit, refreshing (faded mint sensation), wood, apricots dried reduced fruits, aged wood bitterness.
Liquor – Golden
1st 3secs Smooth with a clean sweetness that develops herbaceous and fruity character that seems a bit younger than the age stated, yet very pleasant with camphor (which can be indicative of the age and good storage). refreshing and pleasant huigan.
2nd 3secs Smooth with bittersweet to bitter floral notes that transition to a bittersweet to sweet notes while maintaining a tart and bitter fruit base and developing wood notes. The wood note has hints of dried fruits, but ends up becoming herbaceous and refreshing.
3rd 4secs Smooth and increasingly bitter to bittersweet on the front with deep honeyed notes and now apparent wood character with herbaceous accentuation that linger as the notes become sweeter and fresh with the camphor that lodges in the throat.
4th 6secs Bitter and bittersweet , honeyed, fruity some floral notes with wood notes and now some astringency appears with a slight drying sensation, but remains bittersweet and sweet with a refreshing finish.
I had about 11 steeps of this one. I feel like it help up with strong notes up to the 6th steep and started collapsing, but I could easily correct the times by the color of the liquor and scent.
The overall notes are good with only some astringency which is not a bad thing if you are considering aging. What I liked about this tea is that is one of those that is still defining itself in terms of age characteristics. You can see get the traits of youth from the herbaceous and fruity/floral notes; followed by the aging characteristics of aged wood and camphor. I’m not going to score this one yet. I’m going to finish my sample piece another day and updating this note with ‘updates’ and a score.
Flavors: Camphor, Fruity, Herbaceous, Honey, Wood
This is for the 2013 version, which doesn’t appear to have an entry. Sweet and mellow as mentioned, almost grainlike flavors. Not very grassy. There’s a little huigan, but it’s not that pronounced. The main reason I’m rating this as high as I am is the qi. For an hour after consuming it, I was very dizzy and euphoric and found all manner of decidedly unfunny things funny. I was still shaking after two hours. This is far and away the strongest qi I have encountered in my puerh journey thus far. (Though I do have a nice HLH Cha Wang sample sitting unopened for next week…)
The main downsides I can see are the lack of bitterness/staying power and that the qi doesn’t lend itself well to relaxing or to contemplating much of anything. Drinking it in excess also gives me a rather nasty headache.
I flash brewed this tea using boiling or very near boiling water, 5g of leaf, and White2Tea’s standard ruyao gaiwan. I got somewhere on the order of 15 steepings before it began to lose strength.
Flavors: Fruity, Grain, Sweet
Thany you to the generous Steepster friend who gave me this sample. This is good tea, excellent. There was just a little bitterness in the early steeps but just barely noticeable. It was sweet and smooth from the beginning. I steeped this twelve times and it showed no signs of giving out. This is no weak tea. This is among the smoothest puerhs I have ever drank.
I steeped this 12 times in a 120ml gaiwan with 5.7g leaf and 200 degree water. I steeped it for 10 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, 2 min, 2.5 min, 3 min, and 3.5 min. I still have the leaves in the gaiwan and may go back to them tomorrow.
Descriptions of this tea indicate that it is one of the highest grade teas produced by the Shuangjiang Mengku Tea Co. The hand processing and stone compression result in moderate compression of the cake and make it very easy to pick off whole leaves. The leaves look lovely – for a factory produced puerh, they are very large and whole rather than bits, pieces, and stems. The smell of the dry leaf is clean and fresh. I rinsed twice and steeped the leaves three times but I’m not ready to describe the tea in detail for I really don’t think I’ve worked with this one enough. The cups were sweet and mellow but lacked the flavor profile I was expecting. Thus, to be continued…….
My, my, my – ain’t this fine? A very generous Steepsterite provided me with a sample of this delightful sheng. Sarsonator and I were saying this morning we were going to search out teas with great cha qi and from now on and just buy those. Sarsita! Here’s one!!!
This is nicely sweet and delicious with a velvety qi that makes me hum. More (and the song!) on my blog at: https://atasteofmzpriss.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/2006-fall-lao-ban-zhang-ancient-tree-raw-pu-erh-yunnan-sourcing/
Thank you so much awesome Steepster friend.
Clean dry leaves with a woody, sweet nose offering a hint of incense. Golden liquor with good clarity. Vegetal flavor and a touch of mushroom with a touch of sweetness; tiny amount of bitterness in the first two cups. Smooth with definite character in later cups. Ample complexity beginning in the third infusion and lasting through the remaining six resteeps. Good aftertaste in the mouth. Potential to continue improving with age.
Note: good tea but not my favorite Mengku and not even my favorite Arbor King from Mengku.