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Recent Tasting Notes
Got a decent sized sample with the Sheng Olympiad. Brewed the whole thing in one go, zisha teapot. Small leaves, slight whiff of more humid storage than what I can do here, evident in the browning already on the leaves. Liquor more amber than is usual for barely close to five years old.
Some light bitterness and medium thickness, more on the spicy end than floral. Pleasant drinker with decent storage. I understand this was a pricey tea but not premium price. I can easily drink this but it’s not strong enough a sheng for me in terms of caffeine and bitterness. If it didn’t say spring I would guess this to be an autumn tea. After about eight steeps I felt like the tea needs coaxing and longer steep times.
Received a sample of this in Liquid Proust’s 2017 Sheng Olympiad. This is my second session with this tea as I had a generous 12g sample bag. I enjoyed my previous session with this tea and remember thinking that it definitely stands above the other Bang Dong samples in the package. Dry leaf has a typical young sheng clean apricot and grassy smell. Thrown into a dry, hot gaiwan, the aroma is similar, but more pronounced and fuller.
The color of the rinse is a pale yellow trending towards orange, not unexpected for the age of this tea. The gaiwan lid smells of spiced apricot, a bit more nuanced than the younger shengs I typically drink in the $.10-$.15/g price range.
The first steep brews up about the same as the rinse, perhaps a little darker. There’s a bit of cloudiness in the liquor. The taste is very soft and mellow with a pleasant lingering apricot aftertaste in the back of the mouth.
Steep number two is darker still and I can tell I’m getting close to reaching the juicy center of this tea. The fruity sweet taste is still there, but it’s now joined by a creamy vegetal note and increasing thickness. The vegetal flavor is, to me, reminiscent of white2tea’s Poundcake.
I let the third steep go on a little longer to see what happens when I push this tea a bit. It’s still sweet and getting thicker, but a pleasant bitterness has appeared.
By the fourth steep, the cloudiness has cleared up almost completely. The sweet creamy vegetable taste begins to overtake the apricot up front but the apricot is as present as ever in the aftertaste. This is, in my opinion, a rather dynamic tea. It’s something I look for as it adds interest to a session.
The fifth steep, at about 35 seconds, continues the trend of the vegetal, green taste overshadowing the soft apricot. We’re not at the stewed greens stage yet, but I can tell we’ll probably get there in time.
The leaves have just about fully opened at this point and the young green flavor has built up substantially. There’s some astringency creeping in and the bitterness has remained at a nice, manageable level. The qi is relaxing – not something I’d want to drink first thing in the morning.
For the back half of this tea, I’m bumping up the temperature to see what else I can get out of the leaves. At 205F, I’m getting more astringency and bitterness, but also sweetness. With quick back-to-back steeps, my face is feeling numb and my body’s warming up. This tea just keeps going. The color has been consistent since steep three and the flavor refuses to drop off.
After about 12 steeps, the aforementioned green sheng flavor is still quite present and doesn’t show any signs of changing.
This is a really agreeable tea. Approachable for puer newbies and enjoyable for vets. There’s something for everyone here, but it comes at a price. This cake looks to be sold out as of January 2017, but at $.44/g, it’s on the expensive side. Would I buy a whole cake? Probably not. Would I drink a whole cake? Yep!
Flavors: Apricot, Creamy, Green, Spices, Thick, Vegetal
I got this sample from Liquid Proust a long time ago – I was surprised to see this tea was still in stock at Tea Urchin. I remember trying the 2011 Bang Wei and being impressed with the powerful qi it boasted, so I was going into this session expecting something similar. The dry leaves had a strong and sweet aroma – I would probably say tobacco-y as well. After a rinse, they smelled more vegetal, like cucumber with a strong zing to it.
The tea opened up with a crisp and slightly vegetal taste, followed by a straw finish. As the tea started to open up a bit more, it became much more reminiscent of hay in the front of the sip, with a bit of pine and some fruit in the aftertaste. As the session went on, the flavors deepened and intensified – the hay note in front of the sip became very sweet and intense, and the finish was almost milky and floral. I had a bit of a hard time putting my finger on all the different flavors which were swimming around in this one.
The qi was predictably strong. Around the third or fourth steep, I started to feel a bit of a buzzing in my head, which quickly spread to my throat, chest, and shoulders. More of a tea high than a mellow tea-drunk to this one. It actually got a little bit too intense at one point and I had to give this tea a break and grab a bite to eat. It made me feel sort of light and nauseous – but it was bizarre, as I felt the nausea more in my throat than in my stomach where I’d normally associate that feeling. I must say, it was slightly unpleasant – seems like a tea you might want to enjoy in lower doses than normal sheng parameters, or just make sure you’ve eaten recently enough that it won’t upset your stomach. I still have a small amount of this left, so maybe I’ll try in a little gaiwan with a lighter ratio.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Hay, Pine, Straw
Brewed in a zisha pot. Very deep herbal tones. Lighter flavor on the first brew then expected. Second brew- much thicker body, a lot more bitterness. Some florality but mostly herbal with a slight lemon zest tone. Nutty hints. 3&4 brew – decent cooling, decent mouth feel. All around this has been very soft and light on flavor but medium textured with decent finish/mouth characteristics. 5th brew, soft and sweet – good cooling in the back of the throat, nice lingering sweetness, all around soft, sweet, and subtle, nuanced but not exactly what you expect from a spring bang dong cake. All of the usual floral and fruit notes are quite soft. Quality seems to be there, but this is a very soft and round take on bang dong. looking forward to trying it again w/ a heavier leafing and seeing how that goes. however, I enjoyed the more forward and flavorful YS bang dong’s. probably my least favorite bang dong of the 2017 sheng olympics.
Freaking unbelievable! I have to agree with LP on many facets of this tea. The entire session is SMOOTH, almost silky! I waited 3 months for this tea to arrive(God I hate China Post) and now can confirm that it was worth it. The aroma of the dry leaves is so intense and sweet. Truly unlike most puerh on the market. I love how Tea Urchin kept this in maocha form as you can really appreciate the beauty of the full, thick leaves. The first couple steeps are quite light but already show a fantastic huigan and oilyness. Not to mention an unsurprisingly strong sweetness. The bitterness shows up in the middle steeps(definitely not overpowering) but fades quickly. It adds more to the texture and mouthfeel than anything else. I am really starting to notice that grape skin texture that LP mentioned. Moving on to my favorite part of this tea: the Qi! Holy shiiit this tea is STRONG. By steep #2 I was heating up. I can feel this heaviness in my chest. I’m on steep # 4 right now and am most definitely gettin tea wasted. It’s more of a motivating energy for me as oppose to the relaxing, stoned feeling from the 05 Naka. I couldn’t be happier with this purchase and seriously guys if you have the funds go buy a sample! Yes it’s expensive but having access to a tea of this quality from the mystical Lao Ban Zhang is a rarity to so the least.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, White Grapes
This tea is very ugly. However, we do not drink beauty pagent winners so into the pot she goes. The leaf is incredibly compressed with strong notes of bitter greens, oak, parchment, and slightly sweet raisan-y tobacco tang. I warmed my pot up and tossed the rock inside. I nice sauna yielded some intense tobacco scents along with melon, apricot, and a sweet/spicy medley. I washed the leaf twice and began my boil. The taste is very nice and sweet. The leaf opens up, and I get some brown sugar in the forefront with a nectar sugarcane aftertaste. The ta progresses with sweet corn, tobacco, and fruitiness in the cup. The huigan is beautiful and lasting; I am really enjoying this brew. The body is amazingly full, and the flavors continue to be complex and transfer about. The next steeping move into a wood base with the familiar intense sugarcane aftertaste. The qi begins with a steady flow of energy that emits a calm focused power. The last steeping jump over to hay and peat moss with an undertone of daffodils. This tea is superb, and I should probably get more of it. I can’t stress enough to not judge a tea by its appearance. I’ve noticed that some of the ugliest are the best!
Flavors: Apricot, Brown Sugar, Floral, Fruity, Hay, Melon, Nectar, Oak wood, Peat Moss, Raisins, Sugarcane, Sweet, Wood
I hope that the fine folk involved in the production of this tea drink it themselves. If they do, I expect that the feeling of satisfaction at having helped bring out the fullest potential of these leaves gives them a feeling of satisfaction unmatched by any I have experienced in my short time on this earth.
For all that the term “Tea Master” has a (probably deservedly) dubious reputation in the west, I challenge anyone with a discerning palate to drink this and tell me they’re not out there. They don’t need to flaunt it. They just handle their tea expertly, share it with folks they will likely never meet, and the world is a better place for it.
And the tin is terribly cute too!
Got a sample of this witih Liquid Proust’s Sheng Olympics 2017. This was a pretty good tea. It was a fairly balanced mix of bitter and sweet. I didn’t really pick up on the specifics so I will just generalize and say it was good. If I had any shortage of sheng cakes I would say it is good enough to buy a cake. But I have a lot of sheng cakes, although far fewer than I have shou cakes. It was very good and it was nice to try it.
I steeped this tea twelve times in a 150ml gaiwan with 8.1g 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.
Flavors: Bitter, Sweet
This is the pinnacle of sweet puerh. I’ve tasted a few that blend well into the “dessert” category, but this tea wins the game with longevity, qi, and thickness. The leaves are slightly darkened and loosely compressed. They give off a nice aroma of strong wood, subtle honey, and spicy musk in the background. I warmed up my pot and placed some inside. The becomes much stronger with a good heavy musk of fruits, tobacco, and cherry. A few sweeter notes of brown sugar and vanilla bean rise to the surface after a few sniffs. I washed the leaves and prepared for brewing. The taste is strong, full, and direct. I experience of whirl of flavors. The brew begins with a layer of resonated sugarcane, oak wood, and a crisp base of wildflowers. The next steep yields maple brown sugar, molasses, and a smooth honey aftertaste. A flourish of marshmallow rises from the tongue on the exhale. After that, I am greeted with a full bodied cedar taste that is wrapped in these same desert tones. The brew is potent. The soup continues darkened and filled with great flavors and tones that are mostly sweet and incredibly syrupy. The qi begins very aggressive and unstable, but it soothes out if you ease the session on. The sensation balances out to full body hum with powerful yet smooth waves. The feeling compliments the last steep which yields subtle floral qualities and sugar water. This is a tea I couldn’t drink fast enough. I really enjoy it, and it is one of my favorites. This is great example of the feminine qualities in yiwu tea. I don’t always reach for something sweet, but this makes a good desert tea, and its an instant crowd pleaser.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Floral, Honey, Maple Syrup, Marshmallow, Oak wood, Smooth, Sugarcane, Sweet
This not a very pretty tea. The leaves are stout and heavily compressed; A gray sheen covers the surface of the tea. The chunk smells of brief char and wet grass. The compression was fairly tight to get any other scents. I warmed up my pot and placed a bit inside. I lift the lid to meet oak barrel, strong pipe tobacco, wet leather, and sweet plum musk. This is a burly kind of tea. I washed the tea for a bit and then prepared for brewing. The taste begins sweet and thick with a pleasant aftertaste. The base of the brew is of maple wood with chestnut. Later steeping brings tobacco, red fruits, and maple syrup. The tea takes about six steeps to finally break away from one solid mass. The taste is fairly decent with good complexity and sweet/bitter mix. However, the qi is what’s so unique about this brew. When I look back at my notes, I can tell how strong a tea was by how much profanity I tend to use. Lets just say that there was good vocabulary in my journal. The sensation begins slow and creeps behind you. The qi becomes powerful and heavy (a bit too much). The feeling acts as a ton of bricks and it slowly presses down on you. I took a few breaks away from my tea table. Personally, it was a bit too aggressive for me, but I think some others would enjoy this.
Flavors: Char, Dark Wood, Heavy, Plums, Red Fruits, Sweet, Tobacco
The aroma of the dry leaves is very light with vegetal sweet notes. After the rinse the leaves have a smoky, vegetal, a bit sweet and a touch of camphor.
1/5s: Thick, oily mouthfeel. Nice astringency with the tiniest touch of bitterness that punctuates the finish. Taste is honey and a little vegetal, but mostly honey. Some nice huiguan. Ohhhh man, after the earlier cha gao session, the cha qi just punched me in the face, LOL!
2/7s: Have to go easy on this one as pushing the steep too fast will bring out more of the bitter note. Not overbearing here, but it is peaking out here. Amazing huigan despite the increased bitterness. Lots of body; thick. I know this is the second session of the day, but this has to have some pretty strong qi!
3/7s: Very interesting bitter note. It’s not subtle, but the sweetness around it makes it… pleasant. Ha! There’s bitterness at the sides of the tongue but sweetness everywhere else. The bitter note fades quick and you’re left with that honey like sweetness. I have to try this one again when I haven’t had a prior session. Also… I REALLY should have gone with my 90mL teapot. This cha qi is threatening to kick my ass! Very dry/astringent ending on this one akin to a full bodied, dry red wine.
4/10s: Bitter is a bit subdued as the leaves get a little wake up. Honey note and sweetness continues.
5/7s: Dropped back down to 7s and good thing. Bitterness picked up a touch, but the sweetness and huigan are YUUUGE . Very thick mouth feel. First time having a tea that made me understand people’s description of a tea having an “oily” mouth feel. That said, the finish is still sharp, crisp and sweet. Something else going on too, but can’t quite place it. Maybe a camphor note coming through.
6/8s: Loving this huigan and the way bitter and sweet mingle on the tongue and give way to pure honey (perhaps a tiny vegetal note this time) in the aftertaste. Great mouthfeel. Oooooh, starting to feel that heady cha qi again. The caffeine content on this one has to be pretty high. The crazy thing yesterday was that I was SUPER awake and alert, but not at all jittery. Love that about these types of teas. :)
7/8s: Nice! The bitter note decided to take a break or perhaps blended into the astringency a bit more. Sweet, honey, with tiny vegetal and minty note. Note how short I’m having to keep the steeps to keep the bitterness down. I’m guessing this tea will go to 20 steeps easily. Bit of creaminess to that thick mouthfeel too. Love this steeping!
8/8s: Same as previous.
9&10/10s: Combined in the pitcher. Being lazy because it’s late. Man that’s good tea! Same quality
11-19/15-20s: Dang it, life got busy, but I kept drinking tea.
Unfortunately that means my notes aren’t what they usually are as sometimes I had to drink on the go or away from my computer. I’m continuing filling my tea pitcher (cha hai?) which is about 3 steeps/teapots with my zhuni pot.
If you cannot stand ANY bitterness this tea might not be for you, but if you don’t mind a little bit, this tea is awesome in its complexity. Just be careful not to push the early steeps too hard. In other words steep by taste not by time ie add 5 seconds with each additional steep. Listen to the leaves and you’ll be rewarded with amazing tea.
This is another tea that I would love to have a full cake of, but I realized that the slightly insane amount of money I’d spent over the last few months or so was only with a single tea supplier. Given that I’ve been buying tea from at least 4 or 5 other suppliers… I really, really don’t want to know how much I’ve spent on tea this year, LOL!
Flavors: Bitter, Dark Bittersweet, Honey, Sweet
This was very yummy! The leaf is of moderate compression and is filled with soft fruity tones and some tang. A light floral (mums?) can picked off from the leaves along with brown sugar and molasses. I warmed up my gaiwan and stuffed this inside. The aroma picked up into crystalized sugar, wet oak, more molasses, and apricot. I washed the leaves and swished them around to prepare for brewing. The taste began an oil thickness. The drink is heavy, syrupy, and tasty. The flavor is 100% sweet with wildflower honey. The cup even smells like honey. However, a few steeping in, a light grass astringency blends with the desert qualities. The brew continues like this for some time. Later brewing yields some heavier floral notes (dandelion?). I really liked this. The qi is nice and warming and a constant buzz effect. The brew is nice, but it lacks some complexities. It’s a very yummy tea, but it’s not interesting.
Flavors: Apricot, Dandelion, Floral, Grass, Honey, Oak wood, Powdered sugar, Smooth, Sugar, Sugarcane, Winter Honey
A beautiful tea. I love Bulang; there’s something about the peppery acidity that makes me happy. The leaf is loosely compressed and has a sharp grassy scent. The undertones include some light florals and sweet aromatic wood. I warmed up my shibo and threw it in. I gave the shibo a shake and lifted the lid to intense raisin tones with apricot. The scents are sweet and heavy. I can take in some dark wood underneath a massive amount of peach. This was going to be a good tea. I washed the leaves and gave em a steep. The taste has a sweet character with some light bitterness, at first. The peppery kuwei rises up from the vegetal and floral qualities to nip at the tongue. The next steep yields some roasted vegetable tones with a consistent rising peppercorn. The astringency appears at about steep three with a drying squeaky clean tone. The dryness is tart and cleansing. The brew then turns into a unique drink with bright tones; I can pick up daises, lemon, and hay. The aftertaste is potent and lasting with a tart sweetness; alike a lemon bar. The qi hits mid session and it hits hard. A nice vibrating sensation the creates a tingling pulse up the spine. By the end of the session, I can feel my hairs rise. This is a goosebumpin’ tea! I really enjoy this one, and I can’t wait to get some more of it!
Flavors: Drying, Floral, Flowers, Hay, Peach, Pepper, Peppercorn, Sweet, Tart, Vegetal
A treat for turkey day! Super excited to try this, I cracked open the sample bag to unearth leaves that were not quite tall, but dark AND handsome, in addition to smelling like cocoa and burnt sugar and tantalizing danger to my wallet (we’ll keep this little encounter a secret from the SO, haha).
I started off hitting this with boiling water, which was a mistake. It was delicious nonetheless, with a strong mineral roast flavor across the spectrum, high and low, along with lingering sweet caramel afternotes and a bread-y flavor that ended in an intense dance of orchid bouquet flavors that accompanied each exhale, but was very strong on the roast bitterness and much improved when I switched to 180 F halfway through the session.
The lower temp water brings out an AMAZINGLY buttery slick, creamy mouthfeel along with a decadently rich honey and orchid flavored body and a distinct peach fruit aftertaste, well balanced and accentuated throughout by the now calmer, subtler roast.
There is astringency and bitterness to this tea, particularly at the start where I hit it with (I realize now) much too hot water and the roast stood out strongly, but it is well balanced throughout and I feel complements the underlying flavors, helping them to stand out rather than detract.
The mouthfeel, as mentioned before, is a lovely creamy slickness that coats the throat steadily across sips and brings out a nectar sweetness in the throat that slowly shifts to a more mineral, sugar sweetness and even a surprising subtle menthol cooling quality as it dies. It and the bright peach notes were the highlight of this tea for me.
The energy on this one was excellent and strong, I could feel it rushing to my head by steep 3 and it steadily built over the session in a very invigorating (but calm) way. It fades fast in flavor intensity after steep 10, but those 10 steeps are bursting with flavor and an intoxicating ride, definitely a great way to prepare for the food prep and festivities to follow today.
Here’s hoping it doesn’t break my wallet when it does get released, ^^;.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Creamy, Honey, Mineral, Nectar, Orchid, Peach, Roasted, Sugarcane