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Recent Tasting Notes
Sampled this one among a few other Hai Lang Haos. Good value semi-aged cake. Seems to have been stored relatively dryly, but doesn’t have some of the sour off-notes that can sometimes be associated with that – good dry storage in other words. Still has some of its youthful bulang bitter punchiness, but tempered by a honey-sweet, woody finish. A good value buy for people looking for a daily drinker with some age on it.
This is another review from the backlog. I finished a pouch of this tea sometime around mid-late February, but forgot to post a review here. I am now remedying that. At the time I was working my way through what I had of this tea, I recall thinking that it was very good, yet perhaps a little odd and a little difficult. Going back through my session notes, I still stand by that opinion. This struck me as being the sort of tea I would not mind having on hand, but would only drink occasionally.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
The dry tea leaves emitted aromas of char, cinnamon, burnt wood, dark chocolate, birch, and sweet cherry prior to the rinse. After the rinse, I found emerging aromas of roasted almond and rock sugar underscored by a hint of rose. The first real infusion brought forth aromas of smoke, roasted peanut, and honey as well as a stronger rock sugar scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor initially offered a smooth mouthfeel with notes of char, cinnamon, burnt wood, sweet cherry, birch bark, rock sugar, and roasted almond. The finish, however, brought out fleeting impressions of roasted grain, grass, and smoke. Subsequent infusions brought out notes of cream, cannabis, leather, minerals, apricot, orange, peach, toasted sesame, pine, and grilled zucchini. In addition to the new impressions just listed, the notes of roasted grain grew stronger while flavors of rose, honey, roasted peanut, and dark chocolate also belatedly appeared. The later infusions emphasized lingering notes of minerals, cream, rose, honey, and roasted nuts underscored by toasted sesame, char, roasted grain, sweet cherry, and rock sugar.
Overall, this was an interesting and rather intense tea. There was a lot to process about it, thus making it more suitable for situations that allow for quiet, patient, highly focused sniffing and sipping than anything else. There were times when I found the constant multi-directional tug of war among the tea’s flavor components to be a little overwhelming. Also, this is a minor quibble, but given the name, I was expecting a much more overtly floral tea. In the end, I guess I can sum this tea up by stating that I see why some others thought so highly of it, but I found it to be the sort of tea for which I would have to be in the mood. Ultimately, I would recommend that curious drinkers, especially those familiar with Wuyi oolongs, give this one a shot, but do not expect a tea that will avoid challenging you.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Bark, Burnt, Cannabis, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Grain, Grass, Honey, Leather, Mineral, Orange, Peach, Peanut, Pine, Roasted, Rose, Smoke, Sugar, Wood, Zucchini
Gongfu in a 70ml glazed pot, boiling water into a thermos, so probably about 207F. Malty sweet potatoes with a layer of chocolate. Delicious and very nicely balanced with very low bitterness. I usually find hong to be too bitter potato skin or bitter malty/astringent, this is much better ratio of those aspects. Does tend to go a little sour by the third steep. Thanks for the sample, steph!
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Sour, Sweet Potatoes
This 2006 cake of yiwu area leaves was wet stored in xishuangbanna for 10 years, and then I assume in Oregon with Scott until I ordered it (Jan 2018). This tea hints scents of
chrysanthemum and camphor. The first few steeps have some wet-storage taste to them. The liquor was immediately sweet upon sipping. It has a very mellow flavor, and the tea soup is extremely smooth. There was a very light aftertaste of honey. Warm hay scents and flavors were abundant throughout the tasting experience. Overall this is a soft and mellow tea, and a great introductory wet-storage tea to try. This pu’er handled being overbrewed well, and would likely be inoffensive to most drinkers, even those who don’t normally drink puer teas. If you’re looking for an extremely vibrant tea, this one could be a pass, but as a soothing after-dinner drinker, I am happy to have this regularly.
Flavors: Hay, Honey, Sweet, warm grass
This review marks another Dancong sipdown. Prior to trying this tea, I was wholly unfamiliar with Ba Xian Dancong. I was aware that Ba Xian was popularly referred to as “Eight Immortals,” but aside from that tidbit, I could not tell any of you anything else about it. It took a couple days to grow on me, but for the most part, my first impression of this type of Dancong oolong was thoroughly positive. I found this to be a mellow, aromatic, and flavorful tea with more than enough complexity and depth to satisfy.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced curious aromas reminiscent of flowers and stone fruits. After the rinse, I was able to pick out somewhat clearer aromas of orchid and some emerging scents that were simultaneously citrusy and vegetal, yet I still could not place the stone fruit aromas. The first proper infusion brought out touches of pear, magnolia, and jasmine on the nose. In the mouth, the liquor offered pleasant notes of orchid and magnolia on the entry that were quickly balanced by impressions of pear, peach, and lychee before a subtle grassiness emerged on the finish. Subsequent infusions brought out hints of jasmine in the mouth and a little more pronounced grassiness. New impressions of apple, almond, lemon, orange zest, violet, orange blossom, plum, honeydew, and minerals also appeared. The later infusions retained subtle impressions of minerals backed by fleeting notes of pear, grass, citrus, almond, violet, and a belatedly emerging maltiness.
An interesting and satisfying Dancong oolong, I could not find much to fault about this one. For me, it ended up being an exceptional introduction to Ba Xian-I am now looking forward to trying at least one or two more in the coming year. Though the leaves in my gaiwan were not as long and intact as those in the photographs provided by Yunnan Sourcing/Yunnan Sourcing US, I would not display much hesitation in recommending this tea to anyone curious about some of the less heralded Dancongs.
Flavors: Almond, Apple, Floral, Grass, Honeydew, Jasmine, Lemon, Lychee, Malt, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Violet
It turns out that I had a few more of these spring 2016 Dancongs than I thought. I’m now prioritizing finishing them before I move on to some of my remaining 2017 teas. Those of you who read my reviews should expect a steady stream of Dancong reviews with a few breaks here and there for at least the next two weeks. As of this writing, I am down to my last 3-4 grams of this tea and have come to the conclusion that this is an exceptional Dancong oolong.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, I detected an orchid scent coupled with hints of stone fruit and something like caraway. The rinse brought out a much more intense orchid aroma as well as aromas of pomegranate and citrus. The first infusion then brought out a peach-like scent. Yunnan Sourcing’s description mentioned something about dried cannabis flowers, but I did not get anything like that. In the mouth, the soft, smooth tea liquor offered a dominant orchid note with some underlying stone fruit hints. Subsequent infusions retained the strong floral character, but also added impressions of peach, honey, plum, candied orange peel, pomegranate, tangerine, malt, toast, minerals, and marshmallow underscored by hints of caraway and damp grass. The later infusions were heavy on mineral notes, though I could still detect infrequent impressions of toast, marshmallow, orchid, citrus, and damp grass.
A surprisingly refined, mellow tea with admirable complexity and a respectable layering of aromas and flavors, this reminded me of a somewhat less fruity Mi Lan Xiang. I loved the way the alternately sweet and pungent orchid impressions filled the nose and mouth, and I also appreciated the fact that the liquor never turned all that soapy. If you are a fan of floral oolongs, make a point to give this one a try. I doubt you will regret it.
Flavors: Citrus, Fruity, Grass, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orange, Orchid, Peach, Plums, Toast
Prior to trying this tea, I had kind of established the idea that Ya Shi Xiang was just not my thing and never likely to be. I’m still at a point where I am learning about Dancong oolongs as I go, but so far, teas like Mi Lan Xiang and Da Wu Ye have been consistently more satisfying for me. This tea, however, convinced me that it was absolutely necessary for me to be more open-minded about Ya Shi Xiang Dancong oolongs. I found it to be a wonderfully mellow, subtle tea with an absolutely fantastic texture in the mouth.
Naturally, I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, I found that the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cream, vanilla, and flowers. After the rinse, I noted emerging scents of roasted almond, butter, rose, violet, and orange blossom. The first infusion brought out some scents of toast and caraway. In the mouth, I noted mild flavors of roasted almond, cream, butter, vanilla, toast, and orange blossom. Subsequent infusions brought out the caraway, rose, and violet notes in the mouth. I also began to catch emerging impressions of minerals, steamed milk, earth, pomelo, lemon zest, watercress, damp grass, cattail shoots, banana leaf, and toasted marshmallow. The later infusions were predictably mild, offering lingering notes of cream, vanilla, toast, and minerals up front and fleeting nutty and vegetal characteristics on the swallow.
I’m rather used to Ya Shi Xiang Dancongs that offer a blast of caraway, rye, and muddy vegetal and earthy notes through the majority of a gongfu session, but this tea was much more mellow and displayed a greater integration and a more sophisticated layering of aromas and flavors. Unlike many Dancongs, this tea was also neither soapy nor slippery in the mouth. Instead, it displayed a wonderfully creamy, milky mouthfeel. In the end, this tea just struck me as being so nice that I cannot help but recommend it highly.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Citrus, Cream, Earth, Grass, Lemon Zest, Marshmallow, Milk, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Rose, Toast, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet
I had to take a few days off due to illness, but I’m back again and ready to post some more reviews. This last week has been so frustrating. I interviewed for a new job, but I ended up not getting it. Has anyone ever had one of those interviews where you can tell the interviewer has already made up their mind and isn’t taking you seriously? This was definitely one of those interviews for me. The interviewer did not even bother to show up on time for the interview. It was that bad. Then the brakes blew out on my car. Then I ended up once again dealing with sinusitis when the cold weather broke. It’s been a struggle. This was the tea that kept me company through most of the week. Like my week, I found it to be difficult and frustrating. Unlike my week, however, it was not necessarily bad overall.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was followed by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas reminiscent of char, dark wood, cream, and stone fruit. After the rinse, I found aromas of wild mushroom, cooked spinach, and some sort of roasted vegetable. The first proper infusion brought out hints of burnt sugar on the nose. On the palate, the liquor expressed elusive notes of burnt sugar, cream, wild strawberry, peach, and pomelo backed by hints of dark wood and char with a ghostly floral quality on the finish. So, the first infusion was not all that much like the nose. Subsequent infusions brought out impressions of rose, honey roasted peanut, roasted almond, orange zest, sweet cherry, earth, minerals, and slightly stronger impressions of wild mushroom and dark wood that belatedly managed to show up in the mouth as well. The char notes started to recede into the background while the nose started to take on some citrusy qualities. I also started to note emerging impressions of roasted green beans, watercress, cooked spinach, and collard greens. Interestingly enough, the finish on each of these infusions started off with hints of char, burnt sugar, earth, and vegetables before a blast of floral notes took over, dominating the aftertaste. To me, it was like a blend of rose, chrysanthemum, and dandelion. There was also something of a cooling presence in the nose, mouth, and throat after the swallow. The later infusions were mostly dominated by notes of minerals, dark wood, earth, and a stronger char note up front, though fleeting underpinnings of wild mushroom, cooked spinach, honey roasted peanut, and roasted green beans were still just barely detectable before cream, burnt sugar, and those odd cooling sensations once again took over on the finish.
There was a lot going on with this tea, but it was all so hard to pin down throughout the session. Just to be sure I wasn’t making this harder than it needed to be, I brewed this tea Western and tried a slightly different gongfu preparation and got very similar results. Overall, this just struck me as being an odd and rather difficult tea. It was also a little rough around the edges; the aromas and flavors it displayed clashed in a few places, setting up some odd, awkward contrasts. Again, it was not bad, but it also was not great. I’m glad I took the opportunity to try it, and perhaps others will get more satisfaction from it than I did, but this did not offer everything I tend to look for in a Wuyi oolong.
Flavors: Almond, Char, Cherry, Citrus, Cream, Dandelion, Dark Wood, Earth, Floral, Green Beans, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Rose, Spinach, Strawberry, Sugar, Vegetal
Steepster really does not seem to want me to post this note. As I was typing the next to last paragraph of a review for this tea, it deleted my note as I was typing. It was literally there and then gone. Let’s try this again. I finished up a 50 gram pouch of this tea a little over a week ago, but opted to prioritize a few other reviews and didn’t get around to seriously thinking about posting a review for this tea until this evening. I found this to be a very good Yunnan black tea, but I seem to be something of an outlier in that respect because this does not seem to have been one of the more popular 2016 Yunnan Sourcing black teas.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cedar, pine, malt, molasses, and caramel. After the rinse, I found emerging scents of honey and roasted nuts. The first proper infusion brought out a stronger roasted nut scent. On the palate, the liquor offered notes of malt, caramel, and honey balanced by a touch of molasses and impressions of bitter roasted nuts (almost like black walnut and hickory). Subsequent infusions brought out notes of butter, cream, vanilla, cocoa, tobacco, pine, and roasted peanut, while the cedar finally started to show itself on the palate. Hints of smoke, marshmallow, minerals, ginger, toast, and orange zest also emerged fairly late in the session. The later infusions emphasized mineral, roasted nut, and malt notes balanced by hints of caramel, orange zest, ginger, and toast.
I’m not sure why, but I was not expecting much complexity out of this tea. Instead, I got a ton of it. Though this may not be one of Yunnan Sourcing’s more popular Yunnan black teas here on Steepster, I found this one to be extremely enjoyable. Your mileage may vary.
Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Cocoa, Cream, Ginger, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Roasted nuts, Smoke, Toast, Tobacco, Vanilla, Walnut
This tea was such a pain for me. First, it was one of those teas that I opened and then forgot about for a longer period of time than was appropriate (I noted a few small punctures at the top of the pouch, so I ended up sealing it in another pouch. That’s probably why I forgot about it). Second, I just never got to a point where I was comfortable brewing this one. I tried two different gongfu sessions, and one was pleasant, yet not exactly consistent, while the other just yielded exceedingly bland, boring tea. I then started brewing this tea Western and got much more desirable results compared to the second gongfu session. When this tea was good, I enjoyed it, but I never quite felt that I got it right.
[Note: Of the three preparations, the initial gongfu session was my favorite overall, so that is the one that will be described below.]
When it came to preparing this tea, I opted to gongfu 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water. After a quick rinse, I steeped the leaves for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 11 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 15 seconds, 18 seconds, 22 seconds, 28 seconds, 35 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes. I know this was a weird way to do things, but it was rather late and I kept messing up my timing, so I had to keep making little adjustments until I got to the longer infusions.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves offered muted aromas of flowers, ripe plums, and sweetgrass. After the rinse, I picked up stronger floral scents (orchid, but there were other flowers there too. I kept thinking of both plumeria and geranium, but I wasn’t sure about either) and hints of roasted almond. The first infusion yielded no real difference on the nose as far as I could tell. In the mouth, the liquor offered delicate notes of roasted almond underscored by plum, sweetgrass, and orchid impressions. Subsequent infusions brought out a very smooth liquor without the expected dancong soapiness/slickness. I found emerging impressions of cream, butter, wood, and marshmallow joining stronger plum, sweetgrass, and orchid notes. There was definitely some geranium in there, and in places, I could find underlying impressions of minerals, rock sugar, cherry, malt, and toast. The later infusions were quick to wash out, offering very fleeting notes of minerals, cream, butter, and marshmallow with some distant, lingering hints of orchid, stone fruits, and sweetgrass.
I know most of the other reviewers rather liked this one, and while I did as well, I found it to be an odd tea. It was not exactly unpleasant, just rather different and difficult in my opinion. I know I should have gotten to it sooner after opening its pouch and then transferring it to a different storage vessel, but I still found a lot in this tea that held my interest. This intrigued me enough to want to give a fresher, more recent harvest a try.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Cherry, Cream, Floral, Geranium, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orchid, Plums, Sugar, Toast, Wood
Another of the teas I finished during my recent hong cha binge, I originally purchased this tea to make up for the fact that I missed out on a similar tea from another seller. When Whispering Pines Tea Company introduced an imperial gold needle dian hong, I kept balking at the opportunity to purchase some. I figured that it probably wouldn’t sell out quickly, so there was a good chance I could still get a pouch when the prices dropped or during a sale. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. When I finally decided to pull the trigger, I discovered that the tea was out of stock. Shortly thereafter, I discovered this tea on the Yunnan Sourcing US website. It seemed similar, so I figured I would order some and try it to make up for missing out on the other. No disrespect to the Whispering Pines tea (which I still haven’t tried, by the way), but I probably should have just opted to go with this one first.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 ounces of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of baked bread, malt, and honey. The rinse released new aromas of smoke, caramel, and baked sweet potato. The first proper infusion produced a near identical bouquet. In the mouth, the liquor offered incredibly slight, delicate notes of baked bread, honey, malt, and caramel underscored by a hint of butter. Subsequent infusions brought out the baked sweet potato impressions, while butter appeared on the nose and started to really pop in the mouth. I also noted that a slight smokiness made its way to the palate. The baked bread notes started to gradually transform into yeast roll impressions. New notes of orange zest, vanilla, brown sugar, chocolate, pine, eucalyptus, fennel, roasted peanut, roasted chestnut, marzipan, camphor, menthol, and minerals appeared as well. The later infusions mostly featured notes of minerals and malt balanced by a cooling herbal presence, a slight breadiness, and a touch of brown sugar sweetness.
A very nice and very complex dian hong, this made for a truly lovely drinking experience. I loved the way the aroma and flavor components kept shifting and changing. My experience also suggested that this tea had more than respectable longevity. I’m not sure if I would recommend this to dian hong neophytes considering that I found it to be the sort of tea that actively encourages quiet analysis and contemplation, but I would definitely recommend it highly to experienced dian hong drinkers.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Chestnut, Chocolate, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Malt, Marzipan, Menthol, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Vanilla, Yeasty
Yay! It’s time for another backlogged review! I recently went through three pouches of Yunnan black teas from the autumn 2016 harvest and this was one of them. Like most of the Yunnan black teas offered by Yunnan Sourcing/Yunnan Sourcing US that I have tried, this one was a keeper. It was quite complex, yet never lost anything in the way of approachability.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cedar, pine, malt, honey, tobacco, and sweet potato. After the rinse, I found aromas of baked bread, brown sugar, and eucalyptus accompanying a strong honey scent. The first infusion introduced sharply amplified scents of pine and cedar as well as a stronger eucalyptus aroma. In the mouth, I noted impressions of malt, pine, cedar, eucalyptus, sweet potato, and brown sugar. Subsequent infusions brought out impressions of cream, orange, vanilla, caramel, minerals, and black pepper backed by hints of menthol and smoke. Honey, tobacco, and baked bread notes also appeared in the mouth around this point. The later infusions offered notes of minerals, malt, baked bread, caramel, and sweet potato underscored by herbal, menthol-like touches.
A complex, yet balanced Yunnan assamica, this proved to be a consistently likable, adaptable tea. Even though it mellowed quickly, rendering the later infusions rather predictable after a point, it made for a very enjoyable drinking experience. If you are a fan of traditional Yunnan black teas, you may want to consider giving this one a shot.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cedar, Cream, Eucalyptus, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Orange, Pine, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Vanilla
I’m obviously still working my way through a few of last year’s black teas, but fortunately, I don’t have many more left. I actually opened this one up around the end of October and used some of it to make iced tea (which was truly great, by the way). Since I managed to rip the bag it came in, I had to immediately transfer it to a tin. I then forgot about this tea until the end of November. After a test brew, I realized that it was still viable, though it may have fallen off a touch. I then devoted my time to finishing the last of it before moving on to something else. Overall, I found this to be a very nice black tea. Despite the slightly less-than-optimal condition it was in when I conducted my review session, it still had quite a bit to offer.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of nectarine, peach, malt, and honey. After the rinse, I found scents of roasted nuts and wood backed by a hint of citrus. The first infusion brought out something of an herbal quality on the nose. In the mouth, the liquor offered notes of roasted nuts, wood, malt, and honey with indistinct stone fruit notes and some cocoa tones. Subsequent infusions brought out considerably more cocoa. I also caught notes of red apple, brown sugar, blood orange, red pear, baked bread, prune, eucalyptus, black cherry, minerals, nectarine, sugarcane, and peach underscored by fleeting impressions of nutmeg, cinnamon, and something like camphor/menthol. The roasted nut notes separated somewhat, as I began to be reminded of a mix of roasted almonds and roasted walnuts. The later infusions mostly boasted notes of minerals, malt, wood, roasted nuts, and cocoa balanced by lingering hints of fruit and herbs.
Again, I did not treat this tea as well as I should have, but there was still a lot of life left in it. I kind of wish I had gotten to it sooner and that I had not been so exhausted and stuffy when I conducted my review session, but it’s a little late to do anything about that now. This was a very enjoyable tea. Each of the 2016 Yunnan Sourcing purple black teas that I tried were very good. This one was certainly no exception.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blood orange, Brown Sugar, Camphor, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Dried Fruit, Eucalyptus, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Nutmeg, Peach, Pear, Red Apple, Sugarcane, Walnut, Wood
The goal for today was to go out and do some raid battles in Pokemon Go. Caught Ho-oh in the first battle I found in my neighborhood – so that was easier than expected and came home early to lounge around the house for the rest of the day.
Tonight I’m drinking this YS Laoshan. Not what I was expecting. This should be chocolatey – it not. It’s desserty but not chocolate. It’s more sweet potato/pecan pie. Yam/starch, cooked sugar, nutty, and a little roasty. The mouthfeel is also a little thin for my liking – this makes it seem more watery than it really is. This is good – it’s fine – I’m happily drinking it tonight, but it’s not amazing. Thanks Evol for sharing.
I’m using my fun little pot tonight. I really like this pot for black and oolong teas. It doesn’t pour fast enough for moonlight or sheng, but for darker teas it’s a great little pot. Happy I bought it.https://www.instagram.com/p/BcN-UkEhThI/?taken-by=dex3657
I’m on the fence with this one. Two things have happened that are working against this tea: 1) I’ve been blowing away my taste buds by drinking quite a bit of young raw puerh, and so need to fine-tune my palate when drinking something a bit more sophisticated, and 2) I did two comparisons this year of roasted vs. unroasted oolongs, and I noticed how the roasting, I thought, actually detracted from the overall experience. Now, I can’t get that out of my head whenever I drink a roasted oolong.
So, the first thing that happened when I drank this tea was a reaction of “Bleh, charcoal and peanut shell” followed by “This is boring.”
Then I started thinking about my first Wu Yi experience a few years ago. The dryness surprised me, but I was fascinated with how it brought me the experience of a rainy day on my palate – wet rocks, whiffs of green plants, some indefinable sweetness… As I started reminiscing, I started appreciating this tea. I stopped trying to find particular flavors and break down arrival/development/finish, and I just started enjoying my sips of a rainy day.
Dry mineral and nutty flavors arrive in an oily body. Hints of herbs, flowers, and fruit have a passing presence, and then the whole thing ends with a refreshing citrus finish. Definitely more of a mouth-feel experience than a taste-bud experience. But, I think this is the sort of tea that can have a comforting sort of nostalgia to it.
Still not really my thing, especially for the price, but I appreciate the fact that this tea has reminded me of how to approach understated and sophisticated teas.
Dry leaf – nutty and floral: peanut shell, dried parsley and cilantro; notes of carob, dark cherry, baker’s chocolate. In preheated vessel – charcoal roast, red currant.
Smell – roast, heavily roasted nuts, hard wood. Hints of red currant and chocolate, especially when the liquor has cooled a bit.
Taste – mineral, wet rock, roasted nut, peanut shell, oily body. Development has some floral notes arrive. Finish has red currant notes pop up. Aftertaste of citrus – orange oil, orange and grapefruit essence.
Let’s jump to the end – buy this cake if you are fan of rich, bold puerh and great deals.
I bought this cake at the end of a short pu’erh tasting journey through various regions. I noticed that young Bu Lang had quite a personality, and frankly, was not something I enjoyed drinking young. However, my gut told me that it was the sort of thing that would age and mellow out – leaving great flavors and a big personality. To test my hypothesis, I bought this cake.
I think my gut was right. This tea has a lot of depth and personality. There is a rich savoriness that is balanced throughout, from smell to aftertaste, by an equally rich and complex sweetness. In addition, just enough sharp flavors like astringency and bitter herb help lift the whole experience – like a well-hopped beer.
I still can’t figure out Hai Lang Hao though. The dude has cakes going for almost $1K, and then he has stuff like this. In any event, I get to have a budget cake made by someone who knows what they’re doing, so I’ll take it.
This is a great addition for anyone looking to have some semi-aged stuff on hand.
Dry leaf – aged spicy tobacco, hay, notes of spicy sweetness (like spiced jelly candy – clove, sassafras). In preheated vessel – dark tobacco notes get bolder and more notes of spiced jellies.
Smell – mushroom broth (vegetal, savory, earthy sweetness), hints of spiced jellies, hay and barn notes, sweetness like spice cake, hints of pine resin.
Taste – mushroom broth is primary flavor. Hay/barn and medium/sweet tobacco are secondary flavors. Light molasses and spice cake sweetness arrives in late development and finish. Chocolately body in finish and aftertaste, with returning spiced jelly sweetness balanced by savory notes from development. Some astringency in finish, with light bitter green herb.
After spending the better part of an hour glancing back and forth at my session notes, I came to the conclusion that I had no clue how to start a review of this tea. Where would I even start with it? Okay, before I go any further, let me explain my current circumstances in more detail. Hopefully, that will shed some light on my mindset going into the review sessions I conducted with this tea.
I did not previously make this information public, but I quit my despised job back around the start of the second week of September. At the time, I was actually working three jobs. My primary position was as a case manager for individuals with developmental disabilities that I held with a local community health agency. I also worked overnight on-call shifts as a mobile mental health crisis responder and evaluator for the same agency in addition to working part-time as a property manager for my parents’ property management company. For just shy of the past two years, my elderly grandmother has also been living with me. With my parents, who were also my bosses at one job, living right next door, an extremely willful elderly woman sharing a residence with me, and no adequate amount of time for socialization, my interactions with others were mostly limited to text messages, Facebook, and well, Steepster. This situation sucked. By the start of August, it had become apparent to me that I was not fitting in with the administration’s vision for the positions I occupied with my primary employer. I had been working at the agency just shy of two full years and had been highly praised in each position I held (I was transferred twice during my time there), but never received a raise and never really gelled with most of my coworkers. What’s worse is that I live in an area where higher paying jobs are notoriously hard to come by, and by most measures (government salary estimates based on my age, education level, training, and job experience), I was making at least $10,000-$16,000 less per year than I was worth. With no opportunities for advancement on the horizon, I abandoned my primary employer in order to work for my parents full-time. Unfortunately, that has meant more time at home, and with my grandmother’s seasonal depression suddenly kicking in hard (my grandfather died during the autumn of 2006), I have had a very unpleasant week. Tack on the facts that my bosses are right next door and I see them both on and off-the-clock multiple times every single day, and I have been dealing with a nasty inner ear infection, the medication for which apparently causes serious insomnia, and I have not been having a pleasant run of things here lately. This tea was the one that kept me company through most of this crap; I finished the last of it yesterday night when I couldn’t get any sleep to save my life. Yes, I have been up since yesterday morning. All of this being said, is it any wonder I have had more than a bit of difficulty getting my head straight with regard to rating this tea?
Anyway, enough of that for now. My review sessions were conducted on two separate evenings. The first, which is the one primarily detailed in this review, saw me steep 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 200 F water for 3 seconds following a flash rinse. This infusion was then chased by 15 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were 5 seconds, 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes. The second gongfu session differed in only a couple of small ways. The water temperature was lowered to 195 F and I started with a 5 second steep and then carried on from there. Otherwise, the two sessions were conducted in an identical manner.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted powerful, thrilling aromas of nectarine, peach, blood orange, and honey. After the rinse, I detected more subdued aromas of malt and wood balanced by a hint of cocoa. The first infusion produced a very similar bouquet, albeit one with a stronger cocoa presence and an emerging hint of cream. In the mouth, I found timid notes of cream, malt, chocolate, and wood underscored by fainter presences of fruit and honey. Subsequent infusions brought out the honey, blood orange, peach, and nectarine, though I caught them most strongly toward the finish. I also found touches of apricot, sugarcane, vanilla, earth, minerals, red apple, roasted almond, and caramel occasionally supported by traces of gentle nutmeg and camphor. The later infusions emphasized minerals, malt, wood, and caramel with touches of stone fruits, cream, and honey.
The session in which I used 195 F water differed from the session detailed above in the sense that I caught some stronger sugarcane aromas and flavors once the tea was firing on all cylinders. This session also brought more complex and pronounced herb and spice impressions. The nutmeg was still kind of there, as was the camphor, though I also was sure that I caught notes of anise, black licorice, and clove. I read the product description provided by Yunnan Sourcing US and a mention of eucalyptus was made, and while I could see that also being a possibility, I just did not get that impression myself.
Now that I have written a novel, allow me to simply state that I found this tea to be very pleasant. Ultimately, I did not feel that it was the best or most consistent Yunnan purple varietal black tea I have had to this point, but it was still very much a worthwhile tea. I could see fans of such teas or those looking for something new and unique being into this one.
Flavors: Almond, Anise, Apricot, Blood orange, Camphor, Caramel, Clove, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Fruity, Honey, Licorice, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Peach, Red Apple, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Wood
Reviewing the Spring 2017 Ju Duo Zai. This tea is surprising in that in contradicts itself from beginning to end. When I opened the bag of this Ju Duo Zai, and saw that rather than being a very dark, almost black-green like in the photo on the YS website, it was brown, I was happy and looking forward to the lightly roasted flavor. The leaves were very fine and rolled lengthwise. When I smelled the dry leaves, I was surprised. It didn’t smell like roast at all. The initial dry leaf aroma was more seaweed than roast. So, now I was expecting it to lean more like a green dan cong in flavor profile once brewed.
I did a rinse with near boiling water, and then steeped for 15 seconds for the first infusion. When I removed the lid of the gaiwan, the leaves had lost practically all of their brown color, and were olive green with some nice oxidation. I’m thinking to myself, ha!, I’ve got you now. You were green all along, and that explained the seaweed aroma. The wet leaves smelled like a young sheng pu-er.
One sip, and I had to chuckle. It didn’t taste green-leaning like I was expecting. Here we have a brown dry leaf that smells green, and once steeped, a green colored leaf that smells like a sheng pu-er, but tastes like a lightly roasted tea with even some fermented black tea notes in the first infusion.
I found this tea a very fun experience because of the constant surprises throughout the session. This would be a fun tea to have at a tea tasting with friends, and not tell the guests what it is, and have them try to guess at the various stages of preparation.
Addendum: I never experienced any bitterness in the Spring 2017 edition. It was smooth, sweet, and left a wet mouth feel.
I tried this tea, and I’m not getting anything like cinnamon aroma. I did it gong fu style in a porcelain gaiwan. I’l try it again with a longer initial steep. Anyone have any ideas? I also have some ginger aroma dan cong. I’ll try that next to see if I can detect the ginger note.
The dry leaf smell of this tea is not particularly strong. It is a roasted tea, but that doesn’t come through heavily in the dry leaf aroma. Instead, the dry leaf smells more like a black tea. The wet tea leaves change dramatically in aroma. There is some definite roasted, charcoal notes present, and I smell a leafy green smell similar to stewed turnip greens. I get a touch of seaweed, as well.
I did a rinse and then a 30 second infusion at around 190F, and the flavor of the tea is initially similar to a da hong pao but with less roasted intensity and not as heavily oxidized. While the tea is held in the mouth, the roasted notes are dominate. But after swallowing, the tea has a long-lasting aftertaste, and the aftertaste is more tie guan yin with green and fruity notes. At all times, there is a sweetness in the mouth. After a minute or so, there is some mouth-drying. The liquor is the color of urine-stained underbelly of a vixen fox. HA! Sometimes the descriptions I see are so over the top with flavors I know I’ll never be able to detect, I just had to throw that one in there as a joke. That’s actually a description of the fur to use for tying a Hendrickson dry fly, and it’s not yellow as you might expect, but pink. This tea isn’t pink. It is similar to the color of maple syrup, but with a bit more yellow.
The second infusion was done at cooler water temp for 40 seconds. There is little difference other than the char notes come out a little more.
Third infusion, I went back to 190F water and did 20 seconds. Char notes subsiding on this infusion, but aftertaste is barely there. Where in the first infusion there was a definite transformation, this infusion remains consistent during drinking and in after-taste.
Fourth infusion is rather weak, and I’m getting some of the seaweed notes. I’m going to call the session here.
Flavors: Char, Fruity, Mineral, Roasted, Seaweed, Sweet