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Recent Tasting Notes
Reminiscent of old leather bound books, cedar, damp forest floor, something of a musty but not rotting wood smell. After 3 or 4 steeps, fruits become more prominent — prunes, figs, dates — and pipe tobacco. Very little bitterness or astringency. A very comforting array of aromas and flavors for a snowy early spring afternoon.
Gongfu, 150ml, boiling water, 2x rinse at 10s, start at 15s + 7s per add’l steep.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cedar, Dark Wood, Dates, Dried Fruit, Fig, Forest Floor, Leather, Paper, Tobacco
Having now sampled a large variety of purples I can safely add this one to my long list of ‘favorites’. This one is incredibly fragrant out of the box. The tea is very well balanced in all aspects: flavor, color, smoothness,etc. The overall body is medium; not overwhelming bold but has a backbone. The main body is fruit; I get red grapes from it with a hint of roasted flavors and very slight citrus notes. It has a crisp texture to it; alert but neither smooth nor bitter. Normally I brew purples at 185 F but I found that this one does better at 180F for 3 minutes or so. A very simple but nice tea. I think it might make great iced tea.
Flavors: Citrus, Fruity, Grapes, Roasted
From Andrew’s 2016 Sheng Olympiad. This is the first of the Bang Dong samples I’ve tried (maybe in the wrong order!) but I figured I had to start somewhere.
The initial smell is strong fruit and apricot to me, though my unfamiliarity with sheng generally means that this is a common note for me. The first couple steeps brew out with a very present fruit note that lingers in the aftertaste, with a light bitterness and astringency that plays in the mid notes but is not overpowering and makes things interesting.
Later steeps I find get more bitter and astringent, leaving my mouth feeling dry for up to a minute afterward. The apricot taste tends to subside, or is either hiding behind the bitterness. It’s not altogether unpleasant, though—it’s not a “sharp” bitterness, but sort of a “smooth” bitterness. One that I can keep drinking as I study or work, but maybe not one that I’d want to focus on altogether.
I’ll definitely be trying the younger Bang Dong samples soon to see if I can tell the difference!
There are two things to note about our little Iron Arhat here: 1) despite being one of the more expensive Wu Yi options from Yunnan Sourcing, it is still comparatively and relatively inexpensive (thank you, YS!) 2) it’s worth it. It clearly bridges the gap between costing more and thus having to deliver more. Not every tea with a higher price does that!
It is a complex, rich, and intriguing tea. Richness provided by cocoa and nutty notes, sweetness provided by red fruit notes, full body rounded out with cherry wood and mineral notes. In addition, and importantly, there is a noticeable sourness to it, but in a VERY GOOD way. If you have experienced the American phenomenon of “blue raspberry,” then you know what I’m talking about. It’s a raspberry sweetness that is cut through with some mouth-watering sourness that just lifts the flavor profile up and makes the flavors more intense and enjoyable. If “blue raspberry” means about as much to you as “Iron Arhat” does, well, then think slightly under-ripe raspberry or even sweet grapefruit.
I’m a sucker for pretty much anything from Wu Yi as it is, but what a treat this Arhat is. Inspired indeed!
Dry leaf: Mexican chocolate, cocoa powder, dry dark chocolate, waxy scented-candle sweetness, mineral sweetness, hint of dry cherry and dehydrated strawberries. In preheated vessel – sweet minerality and green leaf come to foreground.
Smell – roasted and sugared nuts, praline, roasted peanut, dry red fruit sweetness (dehydrated strawberries)
Taste – NUT: heavily roasted (but not burnt!) almond and pecan. SWEET: Mexican chocolate, cocoa powder, cherry wood, sweet minerality. FRUIT: raspberry-infused dark chocolate, raspberry. Is “blue raspberry Sour Patch kids” a stretch?! I kept getting those notes!
Don’t often drink shu, added to basket during last sale. Glad I did.
6g chunk in 100mL teapot, gongfu, boiling water, 3x rinse.
Not much I can add others haven’t said, thumbs up for this tea. Its good, inexpensive, flavorful, aromatic, lots of longevity. I think grandpa brewing this will last you all day.
Not much in the way of chi, but my feet/legs got cold after drinking this. Will need to see if this is recurring in future sessions. This may have just replaced my previous favorite shu…which was Hojo’s 2012 Gong Ting shu.
Not sedating, road-safe for driving. A very good daily drinker shu, did I mention inexpensive?
Flavors: Bark, Caramel, Cherry Wood, Chocolate, Coffee, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Mineral, Oats, petrichor, Spices, Sweet, Wet Wood
This tea seems to have good reviews so take mine with a grain of salt. I let this air out for a couple days, gave it a good ten second rinse. It has a beautiful deep brownish red colored soup. That’s about all I find pleasant about this tea. The scent of the brew is a black strap molasses (I like molasses but does not flatter this tea). The overall taste is dark and deep. The base flavor is a dark dark chocolate (90% cacao) with hints of tobacco. The overall tea is very bold and smooth but there is a bitter ashy/chocolate aftertaste that lingers on the tongue. The complexity is medium. This tea is not for me, but others might enjoy it. The dark chocolate in a bold cup sounds good in theory, but this tea is just not a good balance of flavor. Unique yes. Delicious? No. This tea gives my tongue nightmares.
Flavors: Ash, Dark Chocolate, Molasses, Tobacco
Excellent tea. I am not the most stringent rinser, but, this tea does require it. I rinsed for 7 seconds. It should brew a dark golden liquor for the 1st ‘drinking’ steep. It starts off with a spicy, woodsy (carpenter’s shop) taste. The spice taste ends abruptly but the woodsy taste stays consistently and develops honey notes in the middle. The ending is what makes this tea special; the spice taste returns and the honey notes evolve into green apple. This spiced apple (cinnamon + nutmeg or apple spice) aftertaste lingers on the tongue for awhile. The tea has a medium boldness, and is fairly smooth but with subtle astringency as well (which becomes more pronounced in later steeps). I thoroughly enjoyed the intense complexity, and ‘nature’ flavors present in this tea. There is no noticeable wet soil taste, just a deep wood flavor. In the later steeps the spice/apple flavors diminish and the ‘woodsy’ flavor remains strong. A great tea for anyone who is looking to expand their aged tea repertoire….though I wouldn’t recommend it as someone’s first crack at fermented/aged teas. Might add more to this later.
Flavors: Green Apple, Honey, Spices, Wood
Pure chocolate heaven! If you have ever made a really good hot chocolate with water then this is spot on. Nice rich thick mouth-feel with a pleasant sweetness that lingers long after the last sip. The undertones I get are very floral, almost like a chocolate rose ice cream.
Looking forward to trying a fresher Jin Jun Mei to compare. I used lower temprature water than I would usually use for a black because of the delicate nature of this tea.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Floral, Rose, Sweet
8g in a 200ml glass teapot with 195 degree F water
The taste is more reminiscent of a good Indian Assam than all of the chocolate heavy Yunnan blacks I have been drinking lately. Malty with a berry jammy quality that I keep going back to. I notice little astringency even with smaller broken bits that I bet would come out with higher temp and longer steep time.
I almost wish it wasn’t in cake form as its compressed tightly and I end up destroying a good bit of it when I break off some for a session.
Flavors: Berry, Jam, Malt
I do not usually drink flavored teas, but jasmine teas are the exception. And this jasmine surpasses all others. The dry leaf is rolled into perfect pearls, and has a wonderful rich floral aroma. The leaves open up nicely when brewed and last for many infusions. I concluded my session before the leaves lost flavor, and have on occasion infused them repeatedly throughout an entire day. Highly recommended for lovers of jasmine teas.
Flavors: Floral, Jasmine
Mostly dark green threads lightly compressed on top with harder compression underneath with more broken leaf. Light moss scent pre and a peppery moss scent after steeping. Flavors are most appealing, sweet apricot, medium viscosity, good mouth feel, just right amount of bitterness and astringency. Cha qi is restrained making it good for afternoon imbibing. I quite like this tea.
OK, so I obviously have a preference for Dancong and Wuyi Oolongs. That said I find this particular tea really outstanding in a number of ways.
The first thing that came to mind after some tasting was " sublime ".
This is not an in your face tea, and probably not for everyone. The nose has notes of light sweet gardenia, lightly toasted oats, milky/creamy notes, a sweet savoriness like toasted hazelnuts, hints of ripe tomato, and what I can only describe as a sunny meadow in the morning.
Palate; very delicate sweetness, oats, cream, slight umami, light herbal notes, and gardenia, perfect balance and a wonderful throat flavor and feel, lasts many steepings and changes wonderfully over time.
Bought this a while ago from Yunnan Sourcing. Just getting around to trying it. I suppose some people would really like this tea. Those who like the aged flavors generally described as leather and tobacco would really like this one. However what it is doing for me is reminding me that I almost never like a semi aged sheng. I have never had an authentic aged sheng meaning something over 25 years old so I don’t know if I would like that. Started brewing this at boiling. Then four steeps in I switched to 190 degrees hoping the negative flavors would dissipate. They did not. I am finding that I like young sheng, not semi aged sheng. I keep buying ten year old sheng hoping to come across one I really like but I haven’t found one yet that I liked for the taste. The Yang QIng Hao teas I did like but more for their strong cha qi than their taste.
I brewed this ten times in a 150ml gaiwan with 10g leaf and starting with boiling water, then switching to 190 degree 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, and 1 minute.
Flavors: Leather, Tobacco
Quite the tea… some nice woodsy notes going on with that steamed vegetable taste that settled but not aged raw puerh gives off.
Worth trying and I now that I know how easy going this is, I will have to compare to the 2015 Bang Dong : )
I took a lot of time studying this tea before reviewing. It was like riding a bronco. At first, I hated it, and was annoyed with how temperamental it can be ( I over steeped it many times). However, as time went on and I figured it out a little more I came to enjoy its complexity and energy. 175F for 4 minutes is the sweet spot for me. It is extremely astringent and bitter overall, heavily spicy, but with a mild body. The soup produced is a medium golden color. Tastes mostly of black pepper with a basil/cilantro aftertaste – there is a tinge of smokiness throughout but not the type of smoke you would experience in a Lapsang souchong. The energy of the tea is invigorating and refreshing; and of special note. I’m not sure I will order anytime soon, but I could see myself ordering it down the road as an evening tea. It was an interesting experience overall.
Flavors: Astringent, Herbs, Pepper, Smoke, Spicy