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Recent Tasting Notes
So, I feel like I’ve been taking my life in my own hands lately. First, I drink old, moldy pu-erh. Then I had strange, smoky pu-erh last night, the brew of which looked like mud. Then, I have a candy company send me a free sample of candy which has something from insects as an ingredient (seriously). And, how, here I am with this mushroom — the foulest-smelling thing I got in my order. Such a strange time for foods and beverages right now!
I do feel better considering that this evolved more in its scent than the other cakes. But, I still feel like I had to work up courage to try this one. When I first got it, I took it out of the plastic bag that it was in and it smelled like hot garbage. (I’m not kidding.) I thought that maybe I smelled it wrong, but no. It smelled like hot garbage. I set it aside and then took the wrapper off, thinking that maybe it was just the wrapper. I think it was. At first, the scent was much better, then after letting it sit for a while in a plastic bag alone, it let off a scent similar to vanilla.
I found some rice paper of my own (I do artwork so I had some from that) and I re-wrapped this, then set it at the bottom of the clay pot (I had to put it at the bottom because of its awkward shape. Since putting it in there, it has mellowed more than any of the other cakes. When I took it out, it didn’t have any strong scents at all. I used a pu-erh tea needle to pry leaves off. Not only did I get a lot of larger leaf pieces than I had expected, but the needle didn’t break any leaves. I wondered if I needed it when I first bought it, but I was truly amazed with how well it worked. (This was my first time using it.)
I used about 1 tsp and washed it for a short while. At first, the scent of the leaves and taste of the tea wasn’t great. It was like somebody had made mushroom tea and then sweetened it. The wet leaves smelled like mushroom leather — like somebody skinned a mushroom, tanned its hide, and then made a saddle out of it. The tea smelled like somebody steeped mushrooms and then sweetened it. It wasn’t all that appealing. But, the taste of the tea evolved as it cooled. By the time it reached room temperature, it was sweet with hints of spiciness and not much of any mushroom or leather tastes or smells.
The second brewing was sweet with spicy notes. The effect that the tea had came on a bit rough at first but then evened out. It was in-between the 2015 pu-erh and the 2007 pu-erh that I had, which makes sense, considering that this is a 2011 cake. I find it interesting how the effect changes as the tea ages. I think this is good now, though I think it would be even better in a year or two. It’s certainly drinkable, while the 2015 absolutely is not. They are both from the same brand, so perhaps this manufacturer just makes tea that ages this way. My 2007 was ready to drink much earlier but who’s to say that they use the same techniques. I’m going to drink a few more steepings of this and then give a more detailed impression. But, so far so good. I’m much happier with this one than the others, and it’s a wonderful surprise considering how terrible the smell was at first.
Flavors: Leather, Mushrooms, Sweet
My Lu Shan Yun Wu Green Tea was picked Spring 2017. I’m brewing it gong fu style and its coming out very vegital – spinach in particular. It give a very sour/astringent finish which is a bit off putting but after around 15-20 seconds I can taste a very sweet fruity notes not unlike fruit loops which keeps me coming back for more. I really love teas that transform like this so I would recommend it!
Flavors: Astringent, Citrus Zest, Drying, Sour, Spinach, Vegetables
Another sample from the same teafriend! I normally don’t bother with green teas, aside from the occasional sencha or gyokuro, as it’s annoying to have to drink them while they’re still fresh and I just like oolong and puerh better 9.9/10 times. I certainly wasn’t going to say no to a package which included some fresh teas though! I think this one is the first fresh Chinese green I have tried.
I tried it gongfu first, and found it to be so-so. It was vegetal and brothy with a bit of grassiness.
I much preferred it the second time I drank it when I did grandpa style. It took a while for all of the leaves to sink to the bottom, so I had to filter through my teeth for the first couple mugs full. The flavor was actually pretty intense at the start – very brothy and nutty, with a bit of a vegetal flavor as well. The nuttiness was the main flavor I noticed through most of the session. I think there may have been a bit of straw or hay underneath as well. I didn’t pick up any notes which I would describe as “bright” or “crisp.” No fruit or anything like that. The flavor also had an unusual depth to it, which I had a bit of trouble placing, but I think it was some umami in the nutty flavor which was tricking my palate some.
I certainly enjoyed my time with this tea, but Mao Feng won’t be something that I pick up on a regular basis or anything.
Flavors: Broth, Hay, Nutty, Umami, Vegetal
I got a sample of this tea from an awesome teafriend. It is my first go with a Duck Shit oolong or any kind of greener Dancong. I’m not sure I ever actually nailed the brewing over my three sessions with it. First attempt, I used boiled water, and it was generally bitter and unpleasant – failure. Next two, I used 195F water, which was much better.
The dry leaf had a creamy/milky, floral, honeysuckle sort of aroma to it. Once wet, it smelled more heavily floral, and also a bit vegetal.
The flavor was floral, buttery, creamy, and vegetal. I didn’t notice much of any evolution over the course of the session. Pretty constant and tasty. Based upon this session alone, I prefer the darker dancongs, but I still need to try some more green ones.
Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Floral, Green, Honeysuckle, Vegetal
The leaves on this tea almost look like a white tea: long and spindly with colours of white, light green, & dark green.
It’s a very light green with notes of hay & a slight buttery nuttiness. It’s also very sweet on the tongue. I enjoy this one but not quite as much as my more robust greens.
I like Xiaguan for two reasons:
One, they’re cheap. ’Nuff said.
Two, the flavor profile most closely matches my very first pu’erh experience, which was in China at a family’s home. I still remember being amazed at this complex, earthy, savory and sweet, intriguing tea that was worlds away from what I knew as tea. Every time I drink Xiaguan it’s like a trip down memory lane.
The flavor profile here is that rich stable-meets-cigar-humidor flavor that is both challenging and intriguing for your palate. It is definitely on the more savory side of things, but there is a nice dried fruit, lemongrass, and hops sweetness that arrives in the finish and lingers in the aftertaste.
Highly recommended for the price. Also, grab a handful of walnuts while you drink – it goes well with the experience.
Dry leaf: stable, hay, tobacco, cigar humidor. In preheated vessel – some fruit notes of dried date and prune arrive.
Smell: strongly brewed black tea blend, hay, stable, tobacco. Some marine/seashore notes.
Taste: hay, strongly brewed black tea blend, black walnut, green tobacco. Hops-like bitterness and sweetness. Some black pepper and seashore notes. Dried date and lemongrass in finish and aftertaste.
on steep 7 now. this is a very nice tea, smoke, tobacco. steep 4 had a bit of bitterness, so i dialed it back to flash steeps, and its still doing fine at that. steep 5 had a bit of warm apple cider sweetness. if someone lit a cuban cigar, took one puff and put it out, then if you were to puff on it unlt is how the smokiness is now. rich, sweet, slightly smoky cigar tobacco. flavour like a crisp apple in the later steeps. well worth the money to get one of these.
Not sure how this compares to last year’s tea but this one is good. There is a light malty note along with a certain nutty flavor and some chocolate notes. This is definitely one of my favorite black teas.
I brewed this one time with 4 pearls or about 3 tsp leaf and 200 degree water in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper for 3 minutes.
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Nutty
Very interesting young puerh, really enjoyed this one. Purchased a 25g sample from YS, reviewing after two sessions.
Appearance: Very attractive green/white/brown contrasting colors in the broken off cake. Fairly large leaves, individual pieces break off relatively intact.
Dry Aroma – Mild sweetness, something reminiscent of milk chocolate, but not exactly. Interesting.
Wet aroma – Sweet plum, moss, early morning dew
Taste – develops from unripe fruit and mild astringency in earlier steepings, more astringency in middle steepings, orange creamsicle emerged later on… really wild. Final infusion had an interesting balance of astringency and vanilla. Didn’t expect that.
Overall – really enjoyed this tea. Nowhere near as aggressive or medicinal as some other young sheng I’ve had. It’s all good, but nice to experience the other end of the spectrum.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cut grass, Orange, Pear, Vanilla
Got this yesterday. It is pretty nice. It has a malty note and I would say a chocolate note. Can’t say that it is better or worse than last year’s tea.
I brewed this one time in a Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 200 degree water for 3 minutes.
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt
I find it very interesting how these have been progressing in the clay pot that I put them in. The pot itself has taken on such a strong scent from the tea cakes and it’s only been a few days. The top of the container has what looks like some faint clusters of white mold which smells exactly like the tea cakes themselves. In addition, the tea cakes now seem to have a slightly more pleasing flavor than previously. I’m going to wait much longer until I try tasting them again (at least a month). But, this is a very interesting process to watch. It’s hard to understand just how alive these cakes are when they’re just sitting there all quiet and unassuming. But, to see this growth happening now is such an amazing thing. I had been thinking of these tea cakes as tea, but with this much life in them, they seem much more within the realms of yoghurt and probiotic drinks.
I learned something very valuable today. You see, when I started buying pu-erh years ago, I didn’t know much of anything about it. I purchased a bunch of it and lost interest in it for a while. Years later, when I tried it, it was delicious. Completely unbeknownst to me, the pu-erh I had purchased was premium stuff.
Now, because I had only ever been exposed to pu-erh of such high quality, I thought all pu-erh tasted like that. So, when I’d see notes claiming that pu-erh tasted like a musty old basement or shoes or rank mushrooms, I just thought: they must not be used to that clean, earthy taste. No. That’s not it. That’s not it at all. There are apparently two very different types of ripe pu-erh: the smooth variety and the gamey variety. This is the gamey variety.
When you get up in the morning, do you think to yourself: I’d just love to drink myself a nice, tall cup of moldy, mushroomy basement! No? Me neither. Well, this is what this tasted like. It only slightly eased up after a few brews. I actually didn’t mind the flavor after the mustiness and rank mushroomy scent and flavor somewhat subsided. The problem was, it wasn’t just the flavor that was coarse and unpleasant, the effect of the tea was like bouncing down jagged rocks. No smooth relaxing sensation or smooth energizing effect. This was relaxing one minute, pounding headache the next — and I had this with food, so I can only imagine how much worse it would’ve been on an empty stomach.
The progression of scents and flavors was strange and vivid, like a bad acid trip. It started out so mushroomy that it was like snorting a line of shiitake. Then, came the mustiness, the staleness, the standing water scents and flavors. It would’ve been more pleasant to go drink a cup of mud. So, I tossed that cup out (something I have never done before) and tried brewing a second cup. This one was as if someone had filled a pair of leather boots with cacao beans and then set them in a dank, old basement and then flooded it with standing water and left it to get moldy, musty, and mushroomy. It was more pleasant than before, but to be clear, that’s like saying that hitting your thumb with a hammer once is better than hitting your thumb with a hammer twice — neither option is desirable. After that, it brewed its way into what I could only refer to as wet book tea. Imagine that someone decided to throw books into that standing basement water, and voilà: the next cup of this. I managed to finish that cup, too, though much to my dismay because my head felt like someone was using it to skip stones…thwack…thwack…thwack, thwack, thwack, splosh…into a throbbing headache — and I’m not someone who typically gets headaches. So, having a headache at all is strange for me. But, one so severe and unpleasant? I can only think of two or three other times in my life that I’ve had a headache this bad.
Truly, this has been the most awful pu-erh experience I’ve ever had. I’m going to let this one air out, maybe age it a bit longer, and if it doesn’t cease to be this rank and hellish basement brew mixed with head trauma, I’m going to chuck it in the bin and call it a day. My taste buds and my head do not deserve this sort of punishment.
Note to self: Always get a sample first. Always. It may take longer. But, just do it. Your body will thank you.
Flavors: Cocoa, Mushrooms, Musty, Paper, Sour, Sweet
Brews a light gold, noticeably less green in smell and taste than the 2016 shengs I’ve been drinking.
The taste is moderately sweet and the mouthfeel is moderately thick, slight bitterness. Flavors of sugarcane, green wood, white grapes, pine, heart of palm, and a mild peachyness. Overall pretty nice, though not my favorite from YS’s collection.
Flavors: Green Wood, Peach, Pine, Resin, Sugarcane, White Grapes
What I enjoy about this tea is its body. Aroma-wise, it’s not the headiest (at least at age 3), though the wet leaf smells a lot like a Taiwanese oolong in its latter, more vegetal steeps. There’s no smoke and very little bitterness or astringency. It seems to need to be pushed a little. But around the third steeping, it begins rolling around on the tongue like cream, and clings to the back of the mouth, a tiny bit of camphor, a little spice and pancake batter.
Flavors: Cake, Cream, Orchid, Vegetal
strong malty and baked potato, wood shavings. bit of something sweeter like marshmallow.
Palate is round, soft and malty with touches of smoke. as my morning tea, this is just fine, but not very complex.
Curious if this will change with time
Sheng are still an unacquired taste to my palate.
I would say this one is not too strong and a good introduction to appreciating them.
Smooth notes of hay and bamboo shoots, there is a bit more character through a smokiness that reminds me of whiskey. On it’s best infusions it gets sweet and floral,ending with a kick of red chillies.
Interesting and approachable.
I received a bag of this tea from Yunnan Sourcing a few days ago. Yesterday afternoon I had a chance to enjoy it.
Used 4 grams of leaves, ca. 150 ml. water, 205°F. Brewed in Giawan. Didn’t wash. First steep was ca. 10 seconds. The second steep was ca. 15 seconds.
To start I warmed the giawan and tea cup with the almost boiling water. Put the tea in the giawan and put the lid on, let it rest for 10-15 seconds.
Dry leaf gave off a somewhat blueberry aroma.
First steep of ca. 10 seconds. I got a quite pleasant kudzu blossom smell from the tea and from the leaves remaining in the giawan after pouring the tea. If you don’t live in an area where kudzu grows you can substitute a rich grapey smell, but to me that’s no quite right. There was a light astringency in the front of my mouth that hung on, not offensive at all. Mouth feel was a little light but for the first brief steep I don’t think that out of the ordinary.
Second steep is always the one I look forward to eagerly, ca. 15 sec. long. The kudzu blossoms came right to the front with this steep. Quite pleasant. But now had a green leaf undertone as well. Like if you waded into a kudzu hell, breaking vines and crushing leaves as you went, getting to a blossom to smell. As the liquor cooled slightly a caramel note joined the kudzu. Then I noticed a light sweetness in the liquor that faded to a light astringency moving further back in the mouth. The liquor now had a thick mouth feel and I noticed a watermelon after taste once the liquor started to shift from hot to pleasantly warm.
I didn’t go beyond 2 steeps but look forward to see what happens when I do.