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Recent Tasting Notes
Patiently I am waiting, any day now the update for Minecraft will be released and boy is it a doozy! Currently I am wandering around my creative world, Ramble, making sure my transition to the update will be smooth. Building an aquarium for Guardians, getting the gardens ready for new flowers, creating a spot for a new ice castle…lots to do!
It is time for some Sheng! Today I am looking at Tanlong Premium Tea Collection’s 2011 Mengku Snow Mountain Hundreds Year Old Tea Tree Puerh, this Sheng comes from old trees high up in the mountains, and wow, are these leaves BIG. Big and silvery, covered with delicate trichomes, I admit I admired them for quite a while before I got around to drinking them. The aroma of these leaves is pungent! Strong notes of wet cedar, camphor, wet hay, and sweet raisins mix with a distinct aroma of white wine and cooked lettuce. Definitely an intense smelling tea, one that I indulged in sniffing for the entire time my kettle was heating up.
I decided to brew this one in my gaiwan, sometimes I give my Sheng pot a break, usually that is when I want to admire the leaves, and this was one of those times. The aroma of the now soggy leaves is a pungent blend of wine and fresh grapes, wet hay, wet grass, spinach, and an extremely delicate distant floral note that is almost impossible to pin down. The liquid is surprisingly sweet, with aroma notes of apples, honey, sweet freshly broken hay, grapes, and a hint of sweeter raisins. The aroma borders on creamy with its sweetness, making this possibly the sweetest Sheng I have sniffed.
The first steep is delicious! Very mellow and sweet with strong notes of raisins and broken hay, the raisin notes freshen up towards the end with notes of grapes and a finish of slightly crisp lettuce. I notice right away how this tea has a very relaxing and cooling qi, I will not be surprised if this tea gets me super tea drunk.
For this steep, the first thing I noticed about the aroma is the slightly surprising note of fresh dill, not what I was expecting! There are also notes of honey and grapes with a touch of hay and sage. The herbaceous turn of the aroma carried over to the taste, blending intensely sweet honey and grapes with a finish of sage and lingering dill. The taste reminds me of summer and gardening, and the cooling qi is refreshing.
That dill note is still here, which is really fun, I love dill and might say it is my favorite herb. There are notes of hay and oxalis with a touch of sage, not really sweet anymore focusing instead on herbaceous. Whoa, this tea did an about face, instead of being intensely sweet it starts out with an herbaceous bitterness that reminds me of fenugreek and spinach. After this bitterness there is a burst of sweetness like grapes and an intense salivary response, the finish is a floral blend of dill and asters with a lingering cedar coolness.
I went several more steeps with this tea, it stays herbaceous for quite a while, finishing off with mineral notes and a lingering sweetness. My prediction was correct, the qi was mellow but strong, I found myself wanting to melt into my chair while contemplating the wafts of steam coming from my cup.
So here I was drinking the same tea two days in a row. Inconceivable! (Yeah, also just finished reading The Princess Bride).
A couple of days ago I had my first session with this tea where I pushed it pretty hard with the timing (15/10/10/10/15/15/15/20/25/30/45/90/…) and thought it was good but not very complex. kieblera5 noted in the comments on that tasting that they really enjoyed it, so I decided to give it another try.
I did a second session last night with much shorter steep lengths (5/7/9/11/…seconds) and got a lot more out of it. Aromas of tart stone fruits (sour cherries through apricots) dominated the session, but hints of cloves and stewed figs made brief appearances toward the end. The cup had wonderful sweet, spicy, citrus, tart and herbal notes, with cloves making an appearance or two.
The first steep felt like the tea was still opening up, but from then on it was a great ride. Steeps 5-8 were my favorites with a well-integrated flavor profile of the above tastes and numerous exclamation points in my notes. Steep 19 was a bit of a hail-Mary at 10 minutes. This tea did not give me heartburn like so many young shengs do, so that’s a big plus.
I did all this in a single session starting at 10:30 PM and finishing up at 1 AM. I was pretty tea-drunk by this point and the wife was fast asleep so I woke up the cats, arranged them as an audience in front of me and proceeded to recite the history of Florin as documented by the great historian S. Morgenstern (not the abridged version that William Goldman did; it left out all the subtle satire on the excesses of European royalty). By 4 AM the cats were asleep with limbs akimbo and two were snoring, so it was time to call it a night.
I’m upgrading my rating on this and will probably procure some more as it’s a great sheng to drink now. Recommended for those who like an accessible young sheng that’s primarily sweet-tart-spicy.
Flavors: Citrus, Herbaceous, Spicy, Sweet, Tart
Well my nearly year-long tea buying hiatus has ended. I know what you’re thinking … how did he do it? Easy. I stayed away from the friendly enablers here on Steepster for much of it. Also traveling a lot for work helped.
I bought samples of the current shengs from Mandala, and this one was first into the gaiwan.
I started with a flash rinse, a 5 minute pause and a 15 second opening steep. This first steep was unusual for me. I got a numbing sensation on the top of my tongue like when you eat a dish heavy in cloves, tingling in the back of my throat, and a lively mouth feel in a citrus-spice way but which was really neither. I was unable to put my finger on any definite notes.
Subsequent steeps were more conventional. Medium bodied, with a rotating array of spicy, tart, sweet and fruity notes taking center stage. The aroma was primarily tart stone fruits, with some apricot in the later steeps. I got a calming energy that was good for focusing on work.
I pushed this tea pretty hard in terms of timing, ranging from 10 seconds to 3 minutes over 15 steeps, and the 7 grams of leaf filled my 100ml gaiwan to the brim. I never got any smokey notes, which is good since I don’t tolerate those well. The sample was a single chunk pried from a cake. It had loose compression and I was able to tease individual leaves out of it without too much trouble.
I’m going to have to try this again with shorter steep times to see if more complex notes emerge.
Overall quite enjoyable and a possible candidate for buying a cake to age a few years.
Flavors: Citrus, Spicy, Sweet, Tart
Tea sample 3 from Amanda’soggyenderman’wilson.
an amazing tea!
when i smell the leaves/buds dry, i smell nothing :(
when i smell the leaves/buds wet, they smell peppery and spicy! :D
when i smell the brewed tea, i smell light spices and light pepper.
when i taste the brewed tea, i taste moderate spices and heavy pepper :D
i rate this tea a 100 because it was not at all like the bedbug smelling buds i had from a different company
Flavors: Pepper, Spices, Spicy
Time passes without notice. It’s been 4 years for this Shu PuEr Tea. When we first produce the Tea, I wasn’t a big fan of it, until last weekend, I wanted to serve some fermented PuEr to my mom. I digged out this Tea from the storage box ! When I was drinking the Tea, I double check the wrapping paper twice and the production year again and again.. I couldn’t believe this was the Tea that I didn’t love before. The new fermentation scent of the Tea has gone, what it has left is the straight woody taste, and the herbal like scents . This Tea is very dry , it almost give me a feeling of the beach sunshine. And the most amazing part is .. I used only 2-3 grams of Tea leaves to steep the Tea, it is so strong that the soup colour is very dark. This Tea is so long lasting. I almost want to say , if you want lots of caffeine but u know coffee is not good for you. Definitely try this Tea, it works so well for energy boosting, but also calms your soul with its calming property. I gave it a new name the Coffee Tea.
Available at TanLongTea.com under PuEr Tea (2012 fermented PuEr)
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Flavors: Nutty, Wood
When it comes to classic and expensive teas like 2009 BingDao Ancient Tree , I try to use the best water source to steep the tea.
In other word, if you wanna know how good the water quality is, use the BingDao tea to do what I call the “water quality testing”
Let’s get start with Fiji water!
At the first 3 steeps,
After a sip , rich nectar honey aroma surrounding your throat , very smooth, high in fragramce. My friend once told me the fragrance is too much for him LOl
You can feel the coolness and the frangrance between your teeth, all around in your mouth. If you have sensitive feelings, the coolness gets down deeply to your stomach.
The coolness that I mentioned here is the coolness after astringency(HuiGan), or we call it the sweet coolness ?
I think this tea has very mild astringency, which I preferred. THE characteristics of teas from Mengku region like BingDao are very much about the wild flower and honey frangrance. The tea soup body is very thick, rich and deep, some new teas are so rich like diluted honey.
Smelling the cup after drinking the tea, you can smell that dry flower scents. It is like how the loose tea leaves smell before steeping.
BingDao tea will never go wrong for “water test” because only the good water can bring out the best of BingDao Tea!
Back home in China, my father goes to a certain remote mountain to refill spring water for our tea shop every weekend.
Before starting to steep the BingDao Tea, I strongly wish to have someone who loves tea to share it with me! But I ended up, siting with myself again , enjoying this tea with Fiji water.
At the 9-10th infusion, the tea’s aroma or frangrance start fading. now, you can taste the tea soup itself. THE WIRD THING IS It deliver more astringency at the later steeps. If you like astringency in teas, this tea’s later infusion will be perfect for you. Usually PuEr teas from the Southern YunNan MengHai area like LaoBanzhang and LaoManE deliver strong astringency which will disappear immediately in your mouth and turn into sweet coolness. BingDao tea and Teas from MengKu give you the floral frangrance first, then at the 4th steeps, they begin to deliver some astringency.
Maybe this stronger astringency comes from the higher water temperature too. In the beginning, I tend to use lower temperature water to steep the tea in order to retain its aroma. I have learned that MengKu area teas are ideal to steep with lower temperature water, at lease at the first few steeps.
I rarely steep BingDao Tea. In the past, I steep BingDao only if there’s special occation. But today, I decided to give the Fiji water a try ! Using my belove tea to “test the quality of FiJi water”
I have been told by a good friend from college many years ago that Fiji bottel water is the best. HE is from Fiji too! But… I never had the intention to buy Fiji water for tea steeping, because Fiji water is the most expensive bottel water on the shelf. Lol
Second reason is, we use so much water for tea steeping …. FIJI WATER is not an optimal solution for better water because the amount of water we use everyday .
By the way, I gave the tea a 3mins steep for the 13th steep, it has a very strong body, darker soup colour. The sweetness hits your tongue immediately ! And the sweetness continues to come!
When we look at the steeped leaves, it is not as big as the Hu’s Valley ancient tea trees.
Many know that the ages of BingDao tea trees are actually younger than tea trees from many other tea villages nearby . OLD Tea trees of BingDao are between 100-500 years old according to village records.
I enjoy this rare Bingdao tea cake very much! And I didnt use a tea filer , I poured the tea liquid directly to my cup, so I can get the original taste of the tea.
Steeping time is between 3sec to 3mins for later infusions.
In my conclusion .. yes… I really like the FiJi water ! It does enhance so much of the tea taste! I have tried different kinds of bottel water for tea steeping, I still havn’t found a high quality spring water in canada for Tea steeping. I tried Eska, Real canadian, Evian.. As many as you can find on the retail shelf ..
Other bottel water brands contain lots of White powder in the water after boiling , and they made my tea taste salty and like infused with dust water..
The Fiji water has less “white powder” after boiling..
And it does bring out the REAL original taste of BingDao Tea , it is very similar to the taste back home.
Sounds like doing an advertisement for FiJi water lol
If you have any good experiences with water , please share your experiences with me !
Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Winter Honey
If you follow my Instagram, you might have noticed I have not been in the best condition, healthwise, yes, I did a dumb and pushed myself into a really awful flair up. Stupid Fibromyalgia, and stupid me for not listening to the signs my body was sending me! All is not lost though, I realized that I can take this time of physical recovery to exercise my brain and get back to work on my much neglected tea research. Currently researching the different tea producing regions of Africa!
Today we take another look at TanLong Premium Tea Collection, specifically their Primordial Purple Tea Buds! You are probably looking at this strange little buds in my picture and wondering what on earth they are, well in a nutshell, they the buds from a tea tree, some sources I have read say that this style tea (Ya Bao, Zi Ya Bao) is plucked in the very early spring, more or less late winter, as the trees are starting to produce their new growth. This particular tea comes from an ancient forest and harvested by one of the native ethnic groups of Yunnan (there are several and I am not sure which one or which part of Yunnan these are from) and since this is a purple tea, that means it is high in that much loved pigment, Anthocyanin! It seems I am slowly becoming a connoisseur of purple teas. One thing I do know about this tea (other than it is very pretty) is that it is sun dried making it similar to a white, but comes from the same trees that produce the much loved Puerh and have the capability to be aged…the ever present conundrum of what category to put them in. The aroma of the buds is quite unusual, it blends herbaceous notes of sage and a bit of thyme with sweet honey, rich loam, and a finish of smoke. There is also a mild hint of camphor, but that comes in almost as an afterthought, this very much so is like a smoked white tea, which is fascinating.
Into the gaiwan the buds go, and does anyone else think they look like baby pinecones? Giving the buds their needed steeping brings out a whole bunch of fun new notes! Most noticeable would be plums, slightly sour plums, with accompanying notes of hay, spinach, sage, pepper, camphor, and a finish of spice. Well that got pretty complex when soaked! The liquid has the plum aroma as well, though it is not as strong as the wet leaves, it also has notes of honey and hay, and a delicate finish of wood.
So, funny story, I started writing this blog fairly early-ish in the evening, and made the mistake of walking away from my computer for a bit. Ben snatched it up and by the time he was finished I was super sleepy and had a mushy brain, so I took a nap…a 3am blog, haven’t done that in a while! Anyway, with these funky bud teas I find giving them a longer steep really brings out the flavors, so it sat in my gaiwan for a good 2 minutes before pouring off. The taste is still pretty subtle, though far from mild, it is very much so a preview of tastes to come. It starts off sweet and slightly spicy, like honey and nutmeg, this moves on to smoke and plums at the midtaste. The finish is a lingering woodiness bordering on resinous. And speaking of resinous, the mouthfeel is just fun, it almost feels tacky, like I have had resin or sap mixed in with the warm water, that is an entirely new sensation for me with tea.
The aroma of the second steep is very richly plums, no sourness, very ripe and sweet, with an added bonus of hay and smoke, with a nice cleansing burst of camphor at the finish. Breathing in a camphorous note is like breathing in fresh alpine air. The taste is not too shabby (really, I wrote that in my notebook, I would take a picture to show you, but my handwriting is so atrocious I doubt you could read it!) the resinous mouthfeel is gone, replaced by a smooth and slightly fuzzy one. The taste starts off with rich very ripe and sweet plums, and then boom, right in the middle is an explosion of smoke and camphor! That signature Yunnan taste of camphor lingers into the finish where it mingles with woodiness.
This tea is also pretty fantastic steeped bowl style, lingering for a while, and getting quite sweet by the fourth refilling of the bowl. For extra fun, I like to occasionally take one of soggy buds out and chew on them (I do this with the not purple variety as well) it is very woody, but also very enjoyable, one of those ‘absorbing the feeling of the land and trees’ moments, plus it tastes good. And now, with that done, I am going back to sleep.
You know the drill, blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/05/tanlong-premium-tea-collection.html
I came to a very silly realization last night while lying in bed, thinking on how a lot of my tea gear is imperfect, and how that endears them to me, gives them personality, it makes them beautiful. I started this very early in life, mostly because of shopping at thrift stores and yard sales (long time bargain hunter) those imperfections usually meant history and life, and I get to carry on its legacy. The only time I find myself unhappy is when I buy something and it is different from the description, like the beautiful Zisha teapot that turned out to be painted black (why?) and is taking some thoroughly cleaning and boiling before I even consider using it for anything other than a vase, it is safe to say that ebay seller got negative feedback. My larger point is, I realized I have been a follower of the art of Wabi-Sabi most my life, and that it has taken me this long to realize it is a bit silly!
Today’s tea might win the award for the most applicable for my blog, at least with the name, TanLong Premium Tea Collection’s The Home for Butterflies-LanCang River Basin- XiGui ManLu Mountain Ancient Tea Tree 2013 just fits, because butterflies! The LanCang River Basin is a resting place for butterflies, the story reminded me of a place I visited in Georgia where there were hundreds of Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies drifting through the air and resting on the river bank (it was actually a creek, but shh) it was magical. This Puerh is made from old tree’s leaves, 100+ years old, these trees grow in the shade of mango trees on Man Lu Mountain. It is of the large leaf variety, and you can certainly tell because the leaves are rather large and twisty, with a hint of silver down. They have a very sharp aroma, mixing camphor and a lite sour straw and wet greenwood. On top of that is a strong smell of fresh spinach and wet hay, this is a very pungent pu! Pungent in a strong way, and intense way, not in a smells gross way. This is one of those Shengs that you can smell the Cha Qi, it is strong and invigorating, which is pretty impressive.
Giving the tea a rinse and short first steep, I am pleased I got the leaves in the pot, the one problem with drinking large leaf teas with a tiny shui ping! The aroma of the now wet but not fully uncurled leaves is pretty intense, a good kick in the face of camphor with a touch of cedar, along side that intense cleansing aroma is very sweet broken hay and honey, toss in a bit of green wood and spinach and a delicate finish of walnut shells and you have the aroma of the soggy leaves. The liquid’s aroma is honey sweet, with notes of sun-warmed fresh hay (if you have ever spent time on a farm, you know that smell) a very light camphorous note, and a finish of delicate fresh cherry.
The first steep with its golden hay coloring can be best described as subtly beautiful. It is mild and delicate, with notes of fresh sweet cherries, distant flowers brought in on a breeze, a bit of freshly broken vegetation, honey and hay. At the finish there is a tiny hint of smoke, just a whiff at the back of the tongue, the aftertaste is a delicate lingering camphor note and honey.
The second steep’s aroma is similar to the first, a blend of honey sweet warm hay and a touch of cherry, this time the camphor note is stronger and there is a note of fresh spinach at the finish. The taste is also very similar, but the delicate notes have more of a punch this time. The green vegetation notes are replaced with a mouthful of fresh spinach and the camphor is more present, causing a salivary explosion. There is a tiny bit of bitterness, but it is mild and quickly replaced with honey sweetness. This tea has a wonderful Qi, very invigorating!
Third steeping, the aroma is more camphor and more spinach, taking the sweet notes and giving it a touch more savory. It cools the nose and throat as I sniff it, some powerful camphor notes! The taste is very refreshing and cooling, like drinking a hot cup of tea with the feeling of drinking spring water, camphorous Yunnans are confusing at times. Like the previous steep there is a touch of bitterness that faded very quickly to sweet honey, the spinach note dominates the midsip along with a strong note of crushed vegetation. The finish is one of camphor and honey, both linger for quite a while.
As is my tradition, I continued with the steeping past the third steep, the fourth was deliciously sweet, almost no bitterness. By the sixth steep the camphor had calmed down a good deal, and the tea had mellowed out to just sweetness by the eighth. This is a tea I want, not just because of butterflies, but because I enjoyed the taste. It seems the more I drink Sheng, the more I prefer it over Shou, which is such a contrast to a year ago where I only kinda liked Sheng and preferred the earthiness of Shou.
It has been a very tea filled day, like, I have been tasting a bunch of teas while working on some much neglected tea research. Yes, you all know what that means, I am REALLY teadrunk, to the point of dancing around my room with a cup of Sheng and singing Queen really loudly. My cats are giving me dirty looks, but they are lame like that. I even gasp went outside with my tea and soaked up a bit of sunlight while sipping it, my tiny Shui Ping teapot seemed pleased to go on adventure, I am always afraid I am going to open my teapot confessional to find a note saying it has run off to go explore the world, there is just something about it!
In honor of the Bloodmoon Eclipse (which I missed, oops, I will catch the next one in September) I am taking a look at Tanlong Premium Tea Collection’s Ancient Tree Moon Light White Puer, a tea that is absolute magic and mystery. Yue Guang Bai (as it is also known as) can be considered to be both a white tea since it is withered (specifically under moonlight) and it can be considered a Puerh because it can be aged (beautifully I should note) and for extra brownie points it is from Yunnan and picked from old tea trees with rather large leaves. The best part is, the leaves look like the moon on one side and the dark night sky on the other, also they look like dark elves, so I love it. Yue Guang Bai is my tea of choice for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival as well, so yeah, onward to the tasting! Or more accurately onward to the aroma first, and these fluffy leaves have quite the aroma, in fact they have the signature aroma that I associate with a good Yu Guang Bai, tomato leaves and sun-dried tomatoes! It is an odd one, but very distinct to my nose, and quite pleasant, there are also notes of cucumber, peony flowers, and a finish of honey that lingers in the nose for a while after I take said nose out of the leaves.
Brewing the tea makes me both happy and sad, on the one hand it means tea, on the other it means that the beautiful leaves are soggy and not as pretty, but this happens with most teas. The aroma of the soggy leaves is a blend of honey and peony flowers, with a touch of fermented yeasty bread, giving it a touch of both sweetness and sourness, like sourdough, there is also a finish of tomato leaves. The liquid in my Cha Hai is honey sweet with touches of flower nectar and hay with a tiny hint of grapes, it is very sweet and more than a little mouthwatering.
The first steep is creamy, in both taste and mouthfeel. It starts off mild, with notes of peony and a bit of cucumber and freshly broken leaves. This moves to creamy sweet honey at the midtaste and lingers well into the finish, the sweetness just blooms in my mouth like a flower.
And onward to the second steep, really a fan of the word onward today, the aroma is sweet, nice notes of honey with an accompaniment of grapes and sourdough bread, and again, with a finish of tomato leaves. The aroma is pretty potent this steep, and the liquid is as well. Starting with a fancy cooling and camphourous note (hello Yunnan tea, love your signature cooling effect) with a blend of peony and cucumber and a pinch of lettuce and honey drizzled bread at the finish. The mouthfeel is thick and velvety, and the honey taste lingers into the aftertaste.
The third steep’s aroma is mellow and quite heavenly, with notes of cucumber and tomato leaves and a finish of honey. I really love that note of tomato leaf, you just do not really ever run into it, so it makes me happy. The taste is also pretty mellow, sweet blend of honey and peony flowers with lettuce and a hint cucumber. It does not have the camphorous taste like the second steep, but it still has a wonderful cooling effect. Ah Moonlight White, never stop being sublimely wonderful.