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Recent Tasting Notes
I just finished my sample of this from the TU Group Buy I participated in a little while back. This was a pretty good tea – no complaints about it – but it wasn’t anything special. Good and tasty, but nothing to write home about really. The dry leaf had a nice floral aroma. After a rinse, it gave off a nice and crisp straw aroma with just a hint of a citric feel to it.
The tea had a pleasant and thick texture to go along with a consistent flavor profile. I got a sweet nutty flavor off of this, with slight floral and straw tendencies, especially in the early steeps. This tea was sweet, completely lacking in any unpleasant astringency or bitterness. A very easy tea to just guzzle down. It also displayed rather impressive longevity. I was able to drink almost two liters of the stuff before it finally gave out. Some would probably consider this tea a little boring – and I might count myself among them if I were to drink this every day for much of any period of time. So I guess it is easy enough to drink that it would make a good “daily drinker” for when you are focused on things other than the tea, but isn’t interesting enough to make me want to come back to it on a day-to-day basis.
While I was drinking this tea, somebody in our Slack teachat asked me a question which stimulated some good thinking on my part. He asked me to compare this tea with Bitterleaf Tea’s 2016 Year of the Monkey Yiwu, White2Tea’s 2016 Diving Duck, and a Yunnan Sourcing 2016 Yiwu. I have tried all of those besides a YS 2016 Yiwu. They are all in a the same price range. If I had to put the three of them which I tried in order of how much I enjoyed them, it would go as such: BLT Year of the Monkey > W2T Diving Duck > TU Charity. BLT’s is a clear winner for me, with DD and Charity pretty close to each other.
I’m interested in how other people who have tried these three teas would rank them. Comment away if you have! :)
Flavors: Floral, Nutty, Straw, Sweet
This one smelled more green than sheng when it was dry, so I had high hopes for it. There is a bit of that green funk, but it’s accompanied by the formaldehyde and flowery soap that usually comes with sheng. My coworker, who actually enjoys it, describes it as Dial soap and flowers.
He’s benefiting immensely from my sheng experiments this morning.
I steeped this a little heavier than usual due to the almost nonexistent aroma off the dry leaf, 7g to 100ml at 198-200F. Very light flavors with cooler water, borderline boring was my first impression, actually, as it was a pretty one note, unchanging tea for the first 6 or 7 steeps or so. Not an unpleasant note, by any mean, in fact, it was quite mellow and calm and pleasant with an herbaceous, bassy sweet note to it and a soft, moderate thickness with a bit of roof drying astringency.
Later steeps the astringency dies down considerably and so I pushed it with hotter water (upped to 205 F and longer steep times that I would have called slightly overbrewed in most tea) and it returned a nice bit of sour-almost-not-quite citrus bordering floral notes alongside the sweetness, creating an interesting mouth feel dynamic with the astringency. The taste reminded me of sweet and sour stir fry sauce with a more vinegar than citric sourness at parts that helped contrast the sweetness. Nothing mind blowing, but a nice little last hurrah from this tea which had been quite boringly polite up til now. I haven’t tried this at boiling yet, but soon enough we’ll see what that brings out of this.
Flavors: Citrus, Herbaceous, Sour, Sweet, Vinegar
Woah, this tea is a DRUNK, lemme tell ya what. Starts off medicinally herbal with an interesting twist on the dried date flavor if it was stored in weird conditions, and then a pretty heavy astringency kicks in that never leaves, unfortunately. There’s a fair amount of bitterness too, but that fades while the astringency doesn’t, and I hate astringent tea, :(.
The heavy brain tickling, lead finger weighing qi starts to trickle in early, around steep 3 or 4, along with a sweet, syrupy red fruit flavor I quite liked, but doesn’t stick around. Still that heavy undercurrent of woody astringency that is the base of this tea, but wow, I started losing track of the steeps we were on and where the last steep when and where did my notes go around steep 6. Flavors don’t really change much from that sort of ‘medicine woody goodness’ according to my jumbled notes there on, it seems.
Overall, I wasn’t much of a fan of the flavor profile of this one, although I did find the interesting variation on dried date flavor cool. The energy is where this one delivers, however, holy cow! Most tea drunks are like a muted giggly high or tunnel vision/heaviness for me, this was full on stop what the heck is going on, where did my tea go, oh, did I… drink it? level of drunk, lol. I’ll save the rest of my 43g and see if maybe the astringency dies down with more time.
Flavors: Astringent, Dates, Herbaceous, Medicinal, Red Fruits, Wood
True to the written description, this is a remarkably old tasting tea for a 2006. It’s starting to venture into shou territory (although without the fermentation taste, cleared or otherwise) in terms of color and flavor and is a very pleasant, calming tea. Got that nice aged thing with some storage must flavors to it, but not unpleasantly or overwhelmingly so.
Behind the storage, it is quite woody and savory, with wisps of smoke at the start and hints of dried fruit/date sweetness as the storage clears out towards the end. There is a bit of dry spinach acridity/astringency to the mouth as you drink this that never really goes away, but not quite off-putting enough to be a negative, especially as it’s a forgiving brew to steep even with that.
Overall, I liked this and it has a good aged flavor to it, but it’s not particularly complex or interesting, just quite solid.
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Musty, Smoke, Wood
I just finished off the last of my sample of this one – I drank most of it a few months ago. I thought I’d already reviewed on here, so I didn’t take very good tasting notes. Oops.
There was one note which stood out for me in this tea – a fruitiness that was sometimes like apricot, but more often tasted like orange rind to me. The only teas I’ve had which would have a comparable flavor are the puerhs which are actually stuffed into orange rind and brewed along with it. There were other flavors as well, perhaps straw and a slight floral note, but all were second to this intense fruitiness.
This tea was much more about flavor than body or feeling. The taste was wonderful, but I didn’t note any qi, and the body was more juicy than thick, if that makes any sense. A solid tea. Interestingly, I remember this tea being quite fruity the last time I drank it, but I seem to remember more of an apricot sweetness than the distinct orange rind I got from it this time. Perhaps I last drank this before I had tried one of the puerh-stuffed mandarins, so I didn’t have that comparison to make in my head.
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Fruity, Orange Zest, Straw
I am not keen on Autumn tea, but this tea has a wicked sale price. I inquired to a tea friend and they came to the rescue with a sample to help me decide on if this cake was destined to be a guest in my cabinet. The dry leaf is loosely compressed with soft tones of spice, some sweetness, and an autumn leaf pile (figures). The leaves are very dark and are beginning to show their age. I warmed my pot up and slipped some inside. The aroma creeps out with sweet dark fruits, buckwheat honey, grain, graham cracker, and some fig. However, a note an odd blueberry note in the background that draws me in to this fruity medley. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The taste is leafy at first (so descriptive right), but it proceeds to a pronounced mossy taste with some brown sugar in the back. The next sip brings a clear peach note that pierces through the roughage. The brew flows with fruity sweetness; however, this flavor does not last long. This tea moves into a woody category with mild astringency, and I suppose the tea likes it best there cause it does not leave. In fact, the brew continues on this path of wood, dry, and bitter for the remainder of the session. On the contrary, this tea has some great qi. The sensation begins in the temples and slowly massages inwards and outwards; A full encompassing body high with good vibrations. The qi continues to move about and flows really well. Actually, I only continued to drink for the qi. I’m not sure how I feel about this tea, but I don’t believe I will buy a cake. The qi is good, but it is too much wood for me.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Dark Wood, Honey, Moss, Peach, Red Fruits, Sweet, Wood
From the Puerh Plus TTB 2
This is actually a tale of two tastings. I really liked my first sample of this tea. It was light but elegant, with citrus and floral notes. As I drank it, the flavors grew on meand my enjoyment increased through many cups. Thinking I might like to buy a cake, I kept the remaining 3 grams of the tea to enable me to try it again, before making a purchase decision.
The second tasting started out similar to the first, with a light, elegant flavor with floral and citrus highlights. However, this time the tea seemed to get worse, rather than better, losing the fruit and becoming bland. At the 4th cup, it was a slightly bitter straw; not bad but not the lovely tea I expected. A shorter steep at cup 5 removed the bitterness, but left a pleasant but not very interesting tea. I suspect that different steep times, temperature, etc. could develop different characteristics, so you could have some fun with it.
I wound up recommending this tea, because I think it is good value as an everyday tea. However, I’ve made a vow to not buy any more everyday teas, so I’m going to pass on this one. My numerical score is the average of the 87 I gave this on the first session and the 81 I’m giving it for the second session.
Really dark first brews. Around the eighth steep it moves to a medium level. Throughout the entire session there is a solid mouth feel and a good ten minute lasting flavor. I drank this over three hours with about 15 minutes between each brew. Fun tea, but darker than my normal sheng likes.
Puerh Tea TTB. This ite is really very good. It’s already got a nice dark color to it despite being only from 2011. It had no notes of leather or tobacco. It had very little bitterness. It was nice and sweet. I think I might use the term apricots. It had not lost that young sheng sweetness yet but seemed to be turning the corner as far as aging goes. This was really good sheng. It’s an autumn tea. Not sure if it is sweeter because of that.
I steeped this eight times in a 120ml gaiwan with 7.2g 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, and 30 sec. Could have gotten a lot more out of it but want to move on to another tea.
No notes yet. Add one?
Flavors: Cream, Floral, Honey
Got sent a rather generous sample of this from Tea Urchin, and have been really enjoying drinking it over the last few days.
For some reason my taste radar has gone out the window, i’m tired fighting off an infection..
Anyway this is a lovely sheng. It was recommended to brew for a bit longer, and im glad I read that, so I have been adding seconds on to my steep times and it is really nice. It has an almost cherry/berry-like taste to it (not super-sweet but its there), along with the sheng-leaf green, and a nice aged taste. I am finding I really like 5-10 years aged sheng, and this one I can definitely taste the aging, it adds a nice deeper edge to the steeps. (always seems to make my brain think that the sheng has been varnished)
I have been pushing this one and a really nice slightly camphor sour is coming out – but not too sour. Pleasant all round really.
I havent got as much cream as I would have hoped for, the description says creamy – it has a nice body but isnt crazy thick & leans towards the camphor side of things. There is some in there though, but more hidden than I thought it would be.
You cant buy this anymore, but you can get the younger 2012 one. If I wanted something young but with a slightly sour deeper aged taste, I would reach for this – I have enjoyed drinking it, and am considering a cake of the 2012 – the balance of the flavours is nice to me.
Flavors: Apricot, Berry, Camphor, Cherry, Cream, Pleasantly Sour
MrMopar gave me a sample of this tea to encourage me to add a cake to my next TU order.
It is hard to write a review, since this is one of those teas that sends me into the lotus position to just drift with the cha qi. After 3 cups (about 6 oz) I needed to take a 30 minute break to recover. So, A+ on the cha qi.
The taste is good too.It started with a straw favor with a hint of wood and the balance gradually shifted toward wood with each steep. By the third steep, the tea displayed a nice balance between young sheng and old. Hard to tell how much of this is due to MrMopar’s famous pumidor storage. I found both the young and old flavors enjoyable, and they didn’t really clash at all: just two aspects of a well-integrated tea. Speaking of well-integrated, the taste drifts smoothly into a very nice finish that I’m still tasting 15 minutes after my 3rd cup. While the tea has good classic flavor it doesn’t really display much flavor beyond the basic straw/wood balance. It does what it does very well but lacks that something extra that would make me consider it a special occasion tea.
My rating is based entirely on taste. My internal system adds a second rating for cha qi and this one scores 100.
I got a little sample of this from mrmopar through a swap (thanks!). I decided to go into this tea blind without looking the tea up first.
My initial impression after hitting the tea with boiling water was “burly” and “tobacco”. Interestingly that went away pretty much immediately and was replaced by gentler scents of mild pine-like woodsy character, musk, and a thick sweet pungency. The rinse smelled woody. After cooling off the wet leaves smelled wonderful with that sweet pungency.
I’ve brewed seven steeps so far (10s, 10s, 15s, 15s, 15s, 15s, 20s). This tea is quite relaxing and somewhat “stoney.” The fragrance of the brew and leaves were sweetly pungent and woodsy. A more noticeable aged character slipped in around the 3rd brew. The mouthfeel was pretty nice, slightly thick for the first and second brews, and slipping to a mild drying after the third. The beautiful greenish-brown leaves were fully hydrated and open by the 7th steep. All steeps were a nice orange color.
I quite enjoyed my experience with this tea, and was thrilled to see that it is also affordable.
Pu’erh TTB 2015 Tea #15
I’ve had less than a handful of TeaUrchin teas which has been different than my experience with everyone else. This is one of the few sheng that I can say has no notes of bitterness which makes me a happy camper right now. Also, this one is high in caffeine. I drink a lot of tea throughout the day but once I began drinking this today I had a spike of energy. This is a rather nice tea with just a pure taste and no bitterness. No smoke or wood, just great. I wish it had a little ‘wild’ to it though.
Thank You Mr Mopar for this sample. This was one tasty sheng. There was only a little bitterness to it but not a pronounced strong bitterness. There was a sweetness, somewhat fruity, from the beginning. Not sure if I can pin this note down specifically. This was a very mild sheng. I didn’t find myself adding sugar to it as I probably would have a year ago. I get a bit of a spicy aftertaste to it along with a sweet aftertaste. I can taste this one when I am done drinking it. While I get no major effect from this tea it is quite relaxing after a long day. I steeped this twelve times in my 60ml gaiwan and would have continued but for my insomnia. It’s time to stop drinking tea. But since I only used a small amount of tea for my little gaiwan I can have another session with this. I really have to order from Tea Urchin one of these days. That is if I figure out where to put it. I am running out of space to store new puerh.
I steeped this twelve times in a 60ml gaiwan with 4.1g 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, and 2 min.
Flavors: Bitter, Sweet
I’ve been enjoying this tea all afternoon, even into the evening.
The first couple of steeps were a sweet meadow. There was a slightly soapy taste mid-tongue, but otherwise it was very nice, & in the following steeps it was gone.
Throughout all steeping, the taste was of olive leaf, with a shiny clean sensation, & a satisfying tanginess, gradually getting a little sweeter with each cup.
The taste didn’t really change otherwise, but it was good, so that didn’t really matter.
No major tea buzz, but a pleasant tea to spend my afternoon with.
Thanks Stephanie for sharing a sample with me! :)
This morning I am drinking a sample here I got from a friend… the 2nd time I’ve had it in the last couple of weeks.
It’s interesting the different type of flavors you get from sheng. Compared to a smoky, sour tea like a Xiaguan, this is much more mellow and more of an every day drinking tea for most people. I’m getting the sweetish/brown sugary notes, with a definite bittersweet flavor in the finish. I’ve tended to like the “Yiwu” shengs I’ve had in the past. I like the more relaxing energy I am getting from this. Not sure how to rate this one right now.
Seriously tempted to buy some but why is TeaUrchin shipping so expensive? $20 flat rate for China Post airmail? Seems like a lot if you are ordering something small.
A sample of this tea was in my Christmas present from sweet Marzipan :D
The only other Sparrow’s Tongue I’ve had was a tightly rolled very green version. Totally different from this! This one is all creamy and roasty and has a pleasant mineral finish. Extremely faint glimpses of floral notes peek through occasionally. Generally I prefer greener oolongs but this is a nice change for me.
Mushroom, mushroom, mushroom. Walking deep in the forest sitting down on a rotting tree log covered in shrooms. Chopping creminis for mushroom consomme. Kombucha kvass. Porchini dust for lamb tenderloin. Amsterdam in my youth. All things mushroom. Outside of that a bite dry, tannin, astringency but all in a mellow way. Leaf is beautiful light brown uniform with the broth resembling, what else, mushroom consomme. Used way too much tea to water but I don’t have an intermediate gaiwan. The steeps after rinse and wait started at 45sec and gradually up from there ending after an all day session. Yummy tea glad I purchased.