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Recent Tasting Notes
So this was the one tea I started Sunday, as I also had leaves from a couple other teas I continued with from the day before. This was the 2005 Menghai area wild material raw brick from Curated Puerh Box 0003. I used 8g, quick wash and a bit of a rest before getting going with the session.
At around 12 years old, this sheng produced a golden liquor and a soft, sweet aroma. It was smooth and oily in the mouth and sweet on the tongue, with just a bit of dustiness that revealed itself as it gradually opened up.
This was an easy one to enjoy and I will enjoy further exploring its subtleties in a future session!
Flavors: Dust, Smooth, Sweet
This was the “hush hush” tea from Curated Puerh Box 0004 so I’m not going to list it. I’ll just say it was a Taiwan stored 2006 sheng. I did 7g of this in a 100ml gaiwan on Saturday, and I was so not ready for the wonderful experience it was about to pull me into. I drink tea on homework day to keep me fueled, but this kept trying to claim my entire focus!
These tea leaves have a very slightly smoky aroma that I found very comforting. The liquor steeped out to an amber color and was thick, viscous and mouth-coating from the very first steep. The flavor had a light smokiness to it up front, along with a bit of camphor and light fruitiness that gradually pushed its way in.
The thing about this tea that really draw my attention was its depth. Something about it pulled me in, and I didn’t want to make it let me go. As I continued with the session, a bit of fluffy airiness developed in the texture, bringing with it a nice sweetness, both up front and in the form of huigan.
After several steeps over a few hours, the leaves had a warm, comforting, foresty aroma. I steeped them a few more times the next day to enjoy that a little while longer. Fantastic all around!
Flavors: Camphor, Forest Floor, Fruity, Smoke, Sweet
Well I’ve got quite a few notes to catch up on since last Friday, so let me start with this one. rhinkle and I drank this one at work last Friday.
This was a blend Steph made and sent in the swap we just had, YS Laoshan Black with cacao shells and vanilla beans.
First of all, just let me say this has an incredible chocolate aroma, both dry and steeped, and it is so well supported by the vanilla. We can taste the flavors waking up in the first steep, but they really came together in the second one, a purely delicious blend of chocolate, malt and sweetness that melded together and persisted through the few steeps we had time for.
We still have a bit left, fortunately, so we are saving our next steep for home, where we can truly savor it! Thank you again, Steph!
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Sweet, Vanilla
Tong Qin Hao 2007 shu. Some tea sent to me by a friend.
I steeped 4-5g in a 60cc gaiwan with boiling water, had 2 sessions so far, which is all of this I was sent, which is unfortunate. I got really excited about this tea, in my relatively limited shu experience. The taste was a deep, rich, creamy nuttiness, almost coffee-like. Most of the shu I’ve had so far have had a relatively thin texture and mouthfeel — this was thick and slippery on my tongue and gave me a buzzy feeling in my mouth and jaw. Teas like this make me sad I’ve neglected the shu world for so long while drinking sheng. Very enjoyable, no clue how to acquire more, may have to investigate.
Review for some “90s blue mark” sent to me by a friend.
Wet manure, grass clippings piled and left in the heat to compost in the Carolina summer sun. Absolutely unappealing. Pleasant buzzing in my jaw and good warmth in my shoulders and upper chest, but I could not continue drinking this post-lawnmower wasteland.
Tea: Handmade Shui Jin Gui by Tea Yuan, sample
Prep: 100cc gaiwan, full, boiling water, 10s, 10, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60
Sessions with this tea: 2
Taste: Opens with heavy-handed roast, which quickly fades into a dark fruit/cherry/raisin flavor with a sticky sweetness. Some floral notes in the background, then settles into a cinnamon-ish vibe, which abruptly ends. Sweet cherry/almond aroma. My second session with this I leafed lower, is generally the same but overall has more of a floral vibe, no cinnamon or cherry notes, but heavier on the nutty/almond aroma.
Body: Thick mouthfeel. Early playful feeling on tongue. Leaves a pleasant sour tang on the cheeks, similar in sensation to the cherry flavor. Extreme energy. I had to stop drinking this for a while because I got so over-caffeinated and jittery. Use caution. Second session same thing, I was through the roof after 5 steeps. Not sure why this is.
Good flavor, good aroma, but I really hate the jittery feeling this one gave me. Maybe I can try seriously underleafing to see if same flavor/aroma comes out without the feeling of impending doom?
Tea: 2007 Kunlu Mountain raw from Bana Tea
Prep: 100cc gaiwan, 8g, boiling water, 10s, 10, flashx2, 10, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 50, 60×4, stopped timing
Sessions with this tea: 1
Taste: Good god. Where to start? Delicate floral bitterness up front with a nutty walnut flavor. As it steeps out this transforms into like, honey that has been microwaved and is ready to add to cooking. With nuttiness built in. Maybe honey drizzled over walnuts and left in the oven a bit. That bitterness from walnut shells is there. The bitterness stays across all steeps, and is very pleasant, turning into sweetness. The bitterness and sweetness evolve from floral to deep and rich, never really veering into that fruity sweetness of like a darker tea.
Body: Darker orange color. Thick slurpy mouthfeel. Where do I put all of this saliva? Saliva floods my mouth like I turned around at the beach and got hit by a wave I wasn’t expecting. Except the wave is made of the burnt honey flavor which the tea tasted like. Cooling in the cheeks. The energy for this one sits in my upper chest and exudes alert calmness, not too jittery.
A very enjoyable tea. It has just enough bitterness to keep me interested, and the overall complexity of the interplay between the flavors is very interesting. I needed a bib to deal with all the saliva dripping down my chin. The body is great. Please someone tell me where to get more of this.
Tea: some 2011 Dayi shu puer that was sent to me, unlabeled
Prep: 60cc gaiwan, 4gish? boiling water, quick steeps
Sessions with this tea: 1
Taste: Very mild fermentation notes. Light leather and vanilla. Doesn’t evolve much across steepings. Later steepings bring in a kind of “pulpwood/paper” taste, which yes I am familiar with from chewing paper in grade school. Don’t ask.
Body: A lot less thick than what I expected. Fairly moderate thickness, the earthy feeling lingers a bit, and I feel strength in my jaw and upper neck. Get a bit of heaviness in the stomach also, not pleasant.
Not usually a huge shu fan, and this was sent to me by a friend to try something different. Is definitely on the lightweight side. Would have to ask to find out what this is, but I don’t care much to ask.
2011 Xing Ren Xiang Almond Aroma dancong, from Tea Habitat
Summary: I dunno if almond aroma or almond flower aroma, but I certainly convinced myself of the nuts
Prep: 100cc gaiwan, full of leaves, boiling flash infusions at first. After infusion 5, dropped temp to 190 and increased steeps out to chase flavor
Sessions with this tea: just the 1 so far
Taste: Ok I convinced myself I got the almond flavor as soon as it gets in the mouth. Closed my nose, no almond. Opened my nose, almond. Maybe I’m crazy? Is very fleeting flavor though. I didn’t get a lot else from this tea, mildly floral, mildly nutty.
Body: light and smooth together, not as “bright” as I tend to think of dancongs
Not a beginner tea? I felt like I was tinkering a lot to draw out the essence. Maybe I need more sessions with it.
kuding cha from LP’s mystery buy.
having this a second time; i still like it. probably going to have to order more. i’ve been using 2 “nails” : 80ml, gongfu style. last time i did it more bowl style. both are good. definitely bitter, with a sweetness. idk, i like it, but i can see how it would be polarizing. :P definitely something to be in the mood for.
I’m trying out this tuo that matu sent me—“I didn’t like it, so now it’s your problem!” It’s a “2013 Menghai (region, not factory) raw I randomly bought on eBay.”
Dry leaf has no strong smell—I’m picking up a bit of menthol or mint lifesavers or something but that might be my nose playing tricks on me. Nice and easy to pick apart, not too dense. My crappy oyster knife did just fine.
Rinse: lid smell is pretty much neutral green tea. Soup is more amber than yellow. 1st steep (5s): lid smell is underspiced pot roast. Taste is astringent and chalky, I can barely taste through the bitterness. Dumped this steep after a few sips. 2nd steep (5s): lid smell is composting dried autumn leaves. Even though the water temp fell to ~203 for this steep it is far too astringent. The aftertaste isn’t very pleasant but it is going deep which is nice. I’m getting little teases of fruit but I can’t pin it down. Also dumped most of this steep. 3rd steep (7-8s, 195F): lid smell is a children’s playground wood chip bedding after rain and a couple kids peed their pants. I’m really smelling urine deep in the background. A little bit less bitter, not sure if it’s the water temp or it’s just chilling out. Tasting orange pith. Astringency is still there and not feeling great. 4th steep (12s, reboiled): Still getting a little bit of urine smell but mostly just wet earth/wood/grass. God, why am I still drinking this? My mouth is so dry. Bitterness is manageable at this point but it is still so astringent. Getting some cigarette ash notes.
I might do as Matu suggested and use this as pick practice.
“2004 Yang Ping Hao Kong Que Zhi Xiang (ripe)” as a gift from Liquid Proust included in the Pubertea group buy.
Shou really isn’t something I’m nearly as confident describing in depth as sheng, so I can’t give a great deal of insight into this tea. At 13 years old, this is also the oldest shou I’ve drank by 5 years or so meaning it is uncharted territory for me. I tried drinking a more recent cake yesterday appearing to have a roughly equal level of fermentation to it for comparison, and this older shou had less astringency/bitterness to it. There may have been a chocolate like sweetness to this, but I don’t know that that’s quite the right word to describe it. Imagine a very strongly brewed, decent quality shou with the slight bitterness present when steeped aggressively being replaced with a milder form of aged sheng profile. That’s the closest description I could come up with.
Overall this was a pleasant tea to drink over the course of 8 or 9 steeps. While there wasn’t a whole lot going on as far as fragrance at any point, the flavor hardly weakened from steep 1 until the end. I likely could have got 2+ more cups out of this, and I may go back tomorrow to ride the sample out.
Had the ball from the pubertea group buy today. I can’t remember if that was a “surprise” from LP or if I just can’t remember what the mterial there was. Either way, I enjoyed this one a lot. This was probably my favorite tea from that buy so far. No idea what the material here was or quality, but i thought this was great. The ball took a good three steps before it really opened up at all, but steeps 4-7 were fantastic. This had a sweater than the YQH and EOT stuff and was very easy to chug cup after cup. It didn’t last horribly long, and got to pretty mellow steeps a bit earlier than I would have liked for how good the mid stages were, but I also hit the first couple rinses/steeps fairly hard to get the ball opened up.
Also, this ball had enormous in tact leaves in it for being a rolled ball. Yeah there was chopped up stuff here and there, but several huge stems with two leaves and a bud each. That alone tells me this was much nicer than your average chopped up factory scraps used for many pu balls.
Enjoyed some lazers today from a friend. Unfortunately I should have taken better notes on the flavor, but a few things stand out. There were some seriously huge intact leaves in this sample. No dust, no fragments, all enormous full leaves. This was also a pretty powerful tea that kept going for many, many steeps. I didn’t count, but it had to have been at least 18-20.
First Pubertea tasting!
I debated not putting up any thoughts on this session as it was very lackluster, and only decided to describe it here after the last couple steeps. Anyways, here’s my first crack at the aged group buy teas: the 2006 YQH QiXiang.
I steeped roughly 5 g’s in an English tea cup using a mesh basket so this was very dilute compared to normal puer preparation. For this reason the first five or six steeps were basically warm water with zero flavor even after the leaves opened up a bit. Becoming frustrated with wasting part of my sample of such a nice tea I started pushing the steeps hotter and longer trying to get notes of something. I got a few generic aged notes from steeps 6/7-11 or so before finally getting what I wanted. By this point I was to fairly long boiling steeps and finally got to know what the tea was about. Even being so dilute and well steeped this tea became a pleasant surprise. The quality material showed itself in these long, hot steeps. A pleasant mouthfeel and thickness was present coating my teeth and leaving a smooth sweetness. I could see this tea giving a good tea drunk feeling with more leaf in less water as I felt a little of this effect late into the day after 16 or so cups. This could also make the tea more interesting hopefully as from what I tasted this tea had a good texture and lingering feeling in the mouth but a very one dimensional taste.
So, my health-seeking/improving journey continues. Saw a naturopath for the first time the other day who suggested, among other things, that I include coconut oil in my nutrition plan. Yeah, I am continuing the One Night in Rio and Brazilian Fruit, as in previous post, now with the addition of a bit of coconut oil. A bit odd, but it works.
I continue to play with the combination of One Night in Rio by Camellia Sinensis, Pineapple Marshmallow by 52teas, and Brazilian Fruit by Mighty Leaf Tea: two out of three, and today three out of three. The possible combinations fascinate me.Today, it’s half Brazilian Fruit and a quarter each of One Night in Rio and Pineapple Marshmallow. I wanted the ka-pow of the Chinese black base in BF, the pineapple and coconut fruit of ONIR, and the marshmallow softness in the PM. Mission accomplished. I added a spoon of honey to bring the fruit out even more.
I get cravings for peach tea.
I decided to make my own this time. A second steeping of Assam, which made the tea less tannic. I added a left over bag of Celestial Seasonings peach tea.
It worked out really well. Good peachy flavour, nice background. Could have used one less teaspoon of sugar, though.
Today’s random steeping was a Genmaicha. The tea was served after a meal. It was a mix of genmaicha with a bit of matcha in the tea bag. Overall it had a bit of a confused flavour. I definitely got the toasted rice, just not the balance of the green tea.
The tea cup was awesome though. Imagine a cold, rainy day and you search for warmth. The cup is round and rough to fit your hands and the material is stone like and transfers the heat to you. :)
Today’s tea was a bit of a mystery. Ok, I assume it is a Ceylon, but the mystery was how to drink it.
At first, I just found that it brewed a super weak cup of tea. Forget about a second steep from these leaves!
However, I tried to up the amount of tea used to three small tea spoons. The flavour was now a good ceylon. Although I still couldn’t get resteeps out of it. The tea was a real orange colour in a clear cup or a rose colour in a darker cup.
I think the lesson here is that you need to experiment with your teas to bring the best out of them. Price is definitely a factor in teas you need to use more of. $10 / 100g is a good price, $20 is not!
Today’s random steeping is an Earl Grey from Singell Estate in Darjeeling. The bergamot flavour is light enough to be enjoyable. The scent is milder. Bergamot is a type of orange, but is a little different. It is neither like the lemon or lime that I have freshly squeezed in my tea. The tea itsslf is a black darjerling. I believe the use of this tea as opposed to a more full bodied tea lets the bergamot shine through. The colour is closer to a lighter ceylon.
This is the green tea that I picked up for $10 for 100 grams. I decided to try strong brewing it, so I weighed out 10 g of the tea. 200 mL of water was used at a cooler temperature, around 150 to 160 F.
The tea had a shimmery golden appearance. The taste was vegetal. With sugar, it brightened up, but still was on the oceanic vegetal side.
The second brewing was also vegetal. Although this time there was a strong vegetal / mineral smell. Quite unusual.
By the third steeping the tea had mellowed in flavour.
After reading about Russian Caravan Tea, I decided to try making a blend. This is probably not caravan tea though.
I chose these three to blend:
Darjerling Black (Unknown)
Oolong Supreme (Davids Tea)
Lapsang Souching (Unknown)
I used 1 teaspoon of each tea for my cup. I mixed in 1 table spoon of honey and 3 teaspoons of sugar (roughly). I also added milk.
I was surprised at how incredibly smoky this tea was. It is like the other teas are enhancing the smokiness and enabling me to appreciate the flavours of the wood.
The body of the tea is a bit lighter. The honey rounds it out.
I can’t really pick out any strong flavours. Though the front of my tongue is tingling with unami.
I think traditionally you want to go heavier when mixing with a smokey tea. However, I think this experiment showed that blending with lighter teas can enhance the smokiness.
Now if I had only made some toast and jam to go with this. Ok, second steeping too light and smokey. Tried the toast and jam too.