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Recent Tasting Notes
This tea seems pretty classic Yiwu, albeit a high quality example thereof and more changeable than I expected. Throughout the session I had with it today, it kept a noticeable honey aroma and maintained a decent thickness. Oddly, the tea started lighter in flavor than it ended, beginning with predominantly sharp notes amid background sweetness, but developing an almost juicy fruitiness in the last several steeps after a brief citric period. The mouth activity was pretty solid on this; the aftertaste lingers and a few steeps towards the end had a genuinely cooling finish. Other than a little bit of head feeling, I didn’t notice much actual qi on this; mostly just some uncomfortable jitteriness early on from a fairly strong caffeine presence (I overdosed on caffeine some yesterday, and some of this may have been aftershocks).
This was the latter half of a sample I’ve had around for a good seven months. I ended more impressed with this tea than I started, but I’m not totally sure how I’d rate it; ideally, I’d really want to play around more with it. As it is, I’ve got a lot of tea sitting around, and I’m not enough of a Yiwu fanboy to pay the asking price at this point. That said, if you consider yourself a stronger fan of the genre than I, it’s definitely at least worth a look.
This is a nice young sheng, smooth vegetal flavor, I also noticed some very pleasant sweetness in it. I felt a long lasting mellow Qi, I was not expecting mellow from this tea because of its age and I was very pleased with the body and mind calming, meditative effects. 3 hours from the first sip I still feel nice and relaxed.
Having now tried this tea, I completely understand why the reviews are a bit all over the place. Even beyond the simple fact that being in a trade box might not result in optimal conditions for the leaf (no disrespect intended to the wonderful Dr. Jim, whose efforts for this community I hold in the highest respect!), the tea itself is somewhat of a puzzle box.
The first few steeps, it is entirely possible, even likely, that I referred to this teas flavor as “repugnant” and “not unlike steeping a carton of unlit Benson & Hedges”. I understand, I think, why some people described a smoke flavor while others noted none – it’s so precisely a mimic of tobacco, at least to my palate, that if like myself you have never lived near where the plant is grown the natural reaction (which I had myself at first) is to associate burning, ash, and unpleasant eye-watering bar scenes with the flavor. However, critically thinking, I cannot say there actually was any smoke present, although what was pleasant I did not enjoy.
However, the flavor was very full. This is not necessarily good when it’s a bad flavor to your tastes, but still notable as an indicator of quality. It had unfortunate length. But the body reaction was altogether pleasant, and kept the desire to continue the session alive and kicking. It was rather a reversal of something like French fries, as a kind soul pointed out to me during pontification over this odd sample. With junk food, the mouth wants more and the body suffers. This was completely the opposite.
Son where around steep 6-7, the flavor took a complete left turn and became rather pleasant, but at the cost of the vital force that made the early steeps so penetrating. It was as if the station was abruptly changed from music you dislike to your favorite tunes, but simultaneously the volume was halved. I found myself wishing the strength of the earlier steeps had intersected somewhat with the flavor I more enjoyed – but it’s entirely possible that the flavor did not alter as much as the notes I disliked weakened, allowing me to see the treasures lying beneath the surface.
The tea did not end quickly either, although it may sound like I am implying it did – a dozen or more of the more tasty infusions ensued, they were just more of the “calm and gentle” variety as opposed to the initial “boat in a maelstrom” feel.
Perhaps next time, I shall try my hand with rather less leaf, and see if that tempers the early going. I sense I haven’t found the trick to open this puzzle box yet – but as it’s out of stock, I suppose it’s all right if I never do.
If nothing else, I found this a unique experience, and those are often worthwhile ofor their own sake.
Drink well, until next I prattle at you endlessly.
This is a tea I bought back in 2013 and have slowly been consuming since; eyeballing, I’ve got roughly half a cake left, and I currently plan on dragging that out for the long haul. Looking back on some notes I took when I first tasted this, it’s interesting to see how this has evolved. At the time, I noted tobacco and smoke, with some mild qi; this differs substantially from my impressions today.
Admittedly, the nose on the initial steep was much as I remember it, with camphor and notes that I can best describe as minty (common to a lot of semi-aged stuff; I’m pretty sure this is wrong); this was present in the flavor and recurred a couple of times throughout the session, but didn’t dominate. Instead, I noticed mostly lightly bitter, alkaline notes on the first several steeps, not unlike those in the 2012 Essence of Tea bulang, although not quite as pronounced. The flavor was remarkably pure, with no noticeable smoke and a slightly bitter, cooling finish. As the session continued, the flavor deepened, moving into dark fruit territory, albeit with a distinct sour note riding atop it. This sourness was new, even in the past six months; it came and went throughout the session, missing from some steeps entirely only to reappear on the next, and I’m not quite sure what to think of it. The qi was gripping: while drinking the last of the third steep, I suddenly found myself, cup in mid-air, staring intently at the bookshelf.
The evolution in this tea has been interesting, though the appearance of sourness has me more than a little concerned. I recently exposed my tea to far too much cold, as I currently keep it in my apartment in a sealed plastic tub, which had been by a very large window; this worked fine in the summer, but with temperatures dipping below freezing, the tea got properly frigid. I’ve relocated my storage away from the window, and with any luck, things will normalize themselves. Suffice it to say, though, that I’ll keep an eye on this tea and revisit it in a couple of months.
I finally got back to another tea from the Pubertea group buy! I have only tried a couple teas from Essence of Tea, but they’ve been pretty good. This one is I believe the oldest sheng I’ve yet tasted. It’s not too tightly compressed – it looks like it is, but it comes apart pretty readily when subjected to boiled water. The dry leaves have a light, slightly musty aroma. After a rinse, I smelled some woody sweetness, along with a bit of a sour/sweaty note.
The tea started out earthy with a bit of sweetness in the first steep – the tea was really still opening up. The next four steeps were probably my favorite from this tea. They were nice and clean, with a pleasant nutty sweetness – none of the astringency often associated with a nutty flavor. There was still a good bit of earthiness to it, along with some deeper sweetness, almost reminding me of very dark chocolate.
After this, the tea took a rather unwelcome turn, gaining a bit of a sour note which I couldn’t really shake for the rest of the session. There were some really nice and clean wood notes in there as well – not aromatic or spicy wood, but just straight up wood. Unfortunately, there was also a bit of a sour finish, and the tea got a bit drying as well. There was also a bit of a salty note at times.
I brewed this up in my Jianshui pot, which doesn’t have the fastest pour time – I’ll have to save the rest and brew it in a gaiwan to see if keeping infusion times low for longer helps with the sourness. Also to see what differences I might notice in brewing this one in Jianshui vs. Porcelain. Based on this session, I wasn’t a huge fan of this one – it was alright, but not too great.
Flavors: Earth, Nutty, Sour, Wood
Another sample out of the Puerh TTB here. This is one of the few teas I’ve tried from Essence of Tea – for some reason they just haven’t really been on my radar as far as puerh orders go yet. The leaf had a nice straw aroma, along with some fruitiness and sugar once I rinsed it.
The tea started out with some bitterness in the first four steeps, along with a pretty mouth drying effect. I tasted straw and a fruity finish, sort of apricot, but more the rind than the fruit. That fruitiness started to move more into a pineapple area around steep 4, but not as acidic as pineapple would be.
Steeps 5-8 were mostly just soft straw sweetness. The fruity notes were almost gone in the finish. 9-12 got a bit of a new sweet finish, slightly burnt sugar along with the straw notes. The tea was noticeably drying for the whole session – people who don’t like the mouth drying feeling might not be into this one. I’m really not a huge fan of it usually, but it didn’t detract too much in this instance. At this point in the session, I was feeling a decent amount of qi. Decently powerful, almost jittery.
The tea went on for another 4 or so steeps, getting progressively weaker – still mostly just sweet straw with a drying mouthfeel. This tea was pretty good, but will probably be better in a few years. It probably has decent potential for developing into a really good tea down the road.
Flavors: Apricot, Burnt Sugar, Fruity, Pineapple, Straw
Knowing that I had a long night on my laptop ahead of me I decided to pull out something from Pubertea. Due to this being old, I went ahead and rinsed the tea twice before letting it sit for about 8 minutes. This is how I start my serious brews with stuff regardless of new/old.
First steep has a nice orange tint to the liquid and a stronger aroma on the musky side. Starts out with a slight sour note and some salty residual taste that comes out in some oolong teas. The depth doesn’t seem to be there and that’s what I am hoping comes out of this or some feels later on. A little mouth dryness towards the back on the very first steep though.
So… I meant to continue to write notes and everything… but, I didn’t.
Now on steep 22 I believe; 6g, 100ml, 95c constant. This tea really smoothed out and the funk is gone. Has a pretty strong medicinal taste at the end similar to menthol. Solid mellow feeling, but no enery or warmth. The taste has gotten what I called darker and deeper so I’m really just diving deeper into it and it hasn’t quite on me yet. I’ll brew the rest out over the night and music, time to see how far this will go.
This tea is a gem!
The leaves are smooth and crisp with light notes of mint ice cream, oak, and musky eucalyptus. The leaves are very delicate. I warmed up my shibo and prepared for brewing. I especially enjoy Malaysian storage when it is done right. The contrasting tones of dark wood and piercing mint just match so well. I carefully slid the leaves inside my vessel and let them steam. The lid of the shibo gives off some strong pipe tobacco; whereas, the leaves give some aged spice tones with plums. A very nice beginning. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The taste begins thick and sweet with a spice at the tip of the tongue. A lingering tangy sweetness naps at the back of my throat. The qi is fiercely slow burning like whale fat; it begins with a spark behind my head. The eucalyptus chill builds while sipping and tangos with the bitter wood bite. A thick honey sweetness interrupts them to begin break-dancing on my palette. This session is a wonderful show! The whale fat inferno has long since spread throughout my body and is now reduced to a smoldering tar resin that leaves me stoned. I am sweating from the heat and slow moving to get away. The perfect flavors, the great vibe, and my happy mind make me stay put as I take in the embers of this qi. This brew is deeply satisfying. The huigan is thick, the kuwei is prominent, and the tea keeps burning well into the night. I am kicking myself for not grabbing a cake while this was on sale. I am praying that a black Friday sale is in the near future, for my wallet may not forgive me for the sins I am about to commit.
Flavors: Cherry, Eucalyptus, Honey, Mint, Oak wood, Plums, Sweet, Tobacco, Winter Honey
I received a sample of this from a good tea friend. It was quite good. The first few steeps were a mix of bitter with leather and tobacco, all the while a sweet note trying to come through. The leather and tobacco were not incredibly strong like in a YQH tea. This tea evolved into a nice sweet tea although I am not sure what to call the note. If I ever order from EOT this one is on the top of my list.
Steeped this twelve times in a 100ml gaiwan with 7.3g 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 was a gift from a friend, and I think it is wonderful!
The leaves are very dark and incredibly aromatic. The wet Malaysian storage has done wonders to the this tea. The scent begins with minty camphor, fresh hay, mulch, and sweet pipe tobacco. I warmed up my shibo and placed what I had inside. The scent opens and builds into a dark green eucalyptus aroma. A strong backdrop of pipe tobacco rises along side some anise; the mixture of smells were very strong. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. First, the steeped leaves give off a sensational aroma of honey roasted almonds. Second, the taste begins warm and sweet at the forefront. A thick honey taste covers the tongue along with a favorable huigan. This brew is nice and sweet. A slight earthiness rises later on along with a rough wood tone. The qi is killer. An intense drowsing effect takes over my body. The smooth woodsy brew drowns me with a balance of bitter tobacco, cooling menthol, and honey desserts. I brewed this until the liquor was clear. It was a delicious treat.
Note: I have the 2013 bao tang from Tea Urchin, and this tea is a wonderful comparison to educate on how drastic and important storage conditions really are.
Flavors: Almond, Anise, Dark Wood, Earth, Eucalyptus, Hay, Honey, Menthol, Sweet, Tobacco
You know, I have had a really interesting journey with this tea. I bought the Malaysian storage cake for my birthday in November last year and it was admittedly, from the get go, set up for being a disappointment. Their 2008 Bulang sold out the day I was going to buy it and was a tea I had saved up for and been wanting for a while and it selling out so close to when I was going to buy it made it seem like a cruel joke. I then decided to get the Kai Yuan Blue Stamp and it wouldn’t go in my cart so I kind of just jumped for this last minute. Of course the Kai Yuan was still available, and I had not noticed until the order of this shipped. Initially I got this and it did not have too much flavor nor smell, the strong qi written about on the website was not apparent and the bitterness was rough in a seemingly absurdly exaggerated way.I love bitter food and drink.
So I don’t know what happened, but its made a full 180. I now like it so much that it is reserved for drinking only on special occasions. And I do not give that designation for any ol’ tea.
The tea is like a crazy dense cake with a $%#& ton of dried fruit in it. It is HUGE in a lot of ways. Its energy is instant, you feel it travel down, sitting in your throat and warming your belly. By steeps 3 or 4 there is a whole heating of the body and goosebumps happen as the cold is pushed out of your body. By steeps 7 or 8 I am a sloppy drunk. Sober me in the recesses of my mind is thinking, “stop dancing” but the tea doesn’t allow me to stop. Its intense, a full body effect, and I keep sipping and sipping, each time a new flavor or texture or after taste is revealed to me. Bitterness courses throughout, a living breathing pulsing center to this tea, there from the beginning of the sip to the aftertaste. It is no longer overwhelming, but a definite spiky texture which slightly distinguishes it from many bitter sensations I have had.
This is a tea for when you have 3 or 4 hours or more of nothing to do. I highly recommend never drinking when you have something to do. I very much enjoy it and feel a constant pull towards its beautiful essence.
*Brewing tip: lower temperature but same amount of leaf is the key to this tea. Less leaf does not fix the bitterness, flash steeps do.
First session was mostly broken leaves from the sample bag, and super bitter. But it had redeeming qualities so I made a note to revisit.
Second session a week later, I brewed 4 steeps and mixed them together. A final, and admittedly lazy, attempt to see if this tea had anything worth while. And yes it does!
Super thick body, mouth coating, well balanced, complex flavors of vanilla, wood, earth, leather. The bitter is there, but its like the bitterness of a grapefruit or orange peel (minus the citrus).
Filling chaqi, gives my body a full and strong feeling. Super cooling huigans. This is a good tea.
Not for the beginner puerh drinker.
I’m really glad I didn’t skim over this tea with all the samples I’m working through. Adding a cake to my next order.
I cannot in truth explain the properties of this fine tea, for in has, in truth, gently turned my mind into soup. It is a splendid tea for relaxing, most excellent in longevity of flavor, if not as much durability.
I do not recommend having it if you intend to undertake strenuous activity or even partake in other teas subsequently.
There was a bit of storage in the early going, but it went away relatively quickly.
Pretty good value proposition due to being loose, I can see why he’s sold through various iterations of loose Da Ye over the years. Outside of storage it doesn’t progress overly much, but it does enough imo to keep focused attention.
And as you may have noticed, it can also cause rambling stream of consciousness. Well done, EoT.
This tea is an old, stately gentlemen, sitting in front of a chessboard, telling long, winding tales of a time few remember anymore. You haven’t a hope of winning the chess match, you’re just using all of your clock and a lot of delaying maneuvers to hear more of what he has to say.
And as he declares checkmate on you, the garrulous fellow stops in mid-sentence and looks up at the sun, nearly fully set now. He seems ready to stand, but looks into your eyes and reads what’s there. A smile creeps over his face, and he begins to replace his pieces in the starting positions.
This is a sample I took from the puerh TTB. I used 7.8g in a 120mL gaiwan with boiling water. The dry leaf smelled smokey and a little leathery. Once rinsed, I got more smokey and peaty notes with hints of fruit. I also smelled a menthol aroma in there, but this never translated to the flavor of the tea for me.
The first three steeps were smoky and peaty…not in a totally off-putting way, but it wasn’t particularly good. Slightly sweet as well with some fruitiness and leather. Second steep saw a bit of bitterness enter the mix. If I had to pick one word to describe these early steeps, it would be “abrasive.” Just the texture mixed with the flavors was a little bit rough to my senses.
Over the next couple steeps, the smokiness dissipated a bit, becoming a more palatable woody note, still with light fruit notes in the background – plum or prune I’d say. The smoky peaty flavor is still there, but more in the background.
Steeps 6-10 were probably the best of the bunch. The sixth actually got a bit of a nice creamy texture going with some sweet fruitiness, though still retaining a bit of a rough edge. The next three were progressively smoother with sweet wood and fruity notes.
I gave it a couple more steeps at the end. These ones were back to being kind of rough, smoky…not too fabulous. The leaves were pretty chopped up – I don’t know if it was just my sample or the nature of this tea normally, so I’m not surprised it didn’t go any further.
I would guess this is a tea which needs more age on it. Steeps 7-10 seemed like they were a bit of a sneak preview into how this tea might taste in a further aged state. As it is right now, just too smokey and rough for me to enjoy a great deal.
Flavors: Fruity, Leather, Peat, Plums, Smoke, Wood
I initially thought I was going to be updating my first note, but not I noticed that I never uploaded that. I will put this current one and just edit it later with the original at the bottom for reference (when I find that note from over a year ago).
Dry – plummy and prune like with some mid-aged bittersweet wood and a musky sweetness (wee like). lol
Wet – Prunes for sure, dried fruit (aged), musky melon, bittersweet woody notes, some hints of dark richness.
Liquor – deep gold/light amber >> amber.
The initial steeps with woody-tangy fruit and the ‘prune’ sort of intensifies a bit with hints of medicinal notes, yet they are a lot cleaner than I would expect from the initial notes. There is some minor astringency, but the final sensation is oily and numbing.
The mid steeps are more woody and bittersweet in the front with a more definitive ‘prune’ and slightly more bitter to bittersweet woody note, yet it goes down smoothly. There is some slight astringency followed by a pleasant numbing sensation, but it becomes oily and thick in the finish.
The final steeps are smoother still, but they ‘prune’ taste is A LOT LESS fruity like and more like medicinal, think like Chinese aged fruits that have that mix of ‘fruit’ but then has a lingering bitterness than can be just as pleasant as unpleasant (to me it depends on the day and the tea, but I’ve had this before in other mid aged teas from EoT.
“You can know a man by the trees he selects,” said nobody ever.
My primary impression of Mr. Feng is that he is a man who enjoys a well-aged scotch. The robust, thick liquor that the tea produces is smoky, and the flavor lasts a long, LONG time. It will punish you if you oversteep, much as you might be punished (though more belatedly) if you don’t exercise prudence with your scotch.
Other reviewers have noted that they feel this will become better with more age, and I’m inclined to agree. It’s a rare case where I feel justified in stating that with several more years of quality storage, this will likely become a treasure.
As it stands now, it just tells us that Mr Feng likes his trees to be in it for the long haul.
Long overdue PU TTB review obligation.
The first two steeps are absolutely lovely. Leather, camphor, hint of menthol. You find yourself amazed at how much of a mellow aged flavor is present for a tea so relatively young, but then by the third steep, the bitterness comes out of nowhere, punches you in the face, steals your wallet, and leaves you on the ground in a dark alley thinking “I should have waited another ten years.”
First, let’s address the elephant in the room right up front. You know it’s wrong, I know it’s wrong, and it’s high time somebody was held accountable. I want to make it clear however, that while this happened to come up on an EoT review, they are far from the only offender. Tea Urchin has fallen prey to this. Yunnan Sourcing, at time of writing, offers four cakes and five pieces of teaware flaunting this inequality. It’s high time we demand change for this injustice!
I’m talking, of course, of the amazing prevalence of peacock cakes, especially it compares to the COMPLETE LACK of peahen cakes. Hell, I’d even settle for a peafowl cake. Throw the ladies a bone here, vendors. I thought gender equality issues, at least in the states, were getting solved. I defy any one of you to press a Peahen in 2017 and state loud and proud that you support equal rights for Phasianinae!
HI there, sorry I’m late to my own review, but the tea just wouldn’t quit. I left the radio dialed in to a talk station, hopefully they had something interesting to say.
This tea, if you will excuse the tortured simile, is a barbecue advertiser’s wet dream. It’s thick. It’s rich. It’s smoky. It’s bold. It’s every overused adjective for condiment manufacturers rolled up into one powerhouse of a package. I’m sipping in infusions 16 and 17 as I write this. They may not be quite as robust as the first 15, but the fifteenth was still lively enough to convince me the attempt was warranted, and that’s saying something.
In the early steeps, this tea is Smoky. I know they probably burn through a lot of unfiltereds during pressing and such, but Xiaguan probably called to ask how they got that much smoke in a tea. The truly impressive thing is that after one of two steeps, it manages to integrate nicely into a lovely overall flavor profile.
The soup is thick, and the flavors are long lasting. This is why your grandparents were always telling you they don’t make them like they used to. To get tea of this caliber today, I don’t even know what sort of immoral acts you’d have to commit to which Chinese government official. I dare not even contemplate it.
Still, despite its considerable highlights, it did not have the elusive “it” that would compel me to exhort all listeners to mortgage their homes and sell all their lesser teas to load up on this buy the jian. I’d happily drink it anytime… but I wouldn’t ecstatically drink it. I look for something ineffable in the very best teas, and this tea is totally effable.
Given that I’m never going to outdo that last sentence for sheer asinine potency, I think I’ve said enough.
looks/smells/tastes like Camelia taliensis, mostly buds. Never had taliensis gushu before, but taliensis is distinct for anyone who’s had it. You can try Hojo’s Feng Qing Wild White tea if you’re curious, its comparable to Secret Forest, but Secret Forest has much stronger aftertaste/flavors. Maybe because Secret Forest is a puerh not a white tea, its maocha and wasn’t steamed/pressed into cake, and its probably from an older tree.
Opened the bag and never smelled something so strong and pleasant. Aromas mirrored the flavor. Strong apricot, stone fruits, and I’ve found taliensis has a dankness almost like hops, can’t figure out how else to describe it. Sweet muscatel.
After one cup I got body massaging chaqi and my whole body covered in goosebumps, but it didn’t return. Energy then went to my head and stayed there the rest of the session. Later sessions I didn’t get any chi.
Lots of longevity. But the problem I’ve seen with taliensis is that it lacks complexity needed to keep it interesting through its longevity. After a while I move on to another tea.
Final thoughts: A session with this tea takes me through about 3 phases. Its like young sheng up front, a white tea in the middle, and finishes like a black tea or even oriental beauty. It oxidizes in a matter of hours in the gaiwan. So the length of each ‘phase’ depends how long you let it oxidize. Initial steeps are yellowish-green, progressively turning darker and darker until you’ve got dark amber liquor at the end of a session after maybe 2 hours.
Flavors: Apricot, Muscatel, Sugarcane, Sweet