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Recent Tasting Notes
Second up from puerh plus box is 2011 Hui Run ripe from YS. I started by heating the yixing and giving the tea a rinse. The leaves were surprisingly clean with not much dust. I got an aroma of dark cherries and plums and peat from the tea.
Starting with the first infusion I got a very dark almost coffee like liqour, it was a bit thick as well. A strong aroma of peat and wet wood. It has a certain sweetness as well, chocolate and maybe plums or raisins as well.
Second infusion I got a funky flavor in the tea, im not sure what it is, but it wasnt altogether pleasant. Liquor color is consistent and most of the flavor profiles are consistent as well.
Third infusion similiar to the second, Im not sure what that off flavor is, but its still there. Wet wood and peat are playing over it as well.
Fourth infusion , much much better now, now it tastes like ripe tea usually does, wet wood, sweetness, peat, and plums and a bit of chocolate as well. Though it has a slight bit of dampness in the flavor now, its got that classic ripe puerh flavor profile.
Judging by the colors, this is going to brew out many many steepings.
I do recommend this tea, but I also might recommend giving it an extra wash or two,
Flavors: Chocolate, Overripe Cherries, Peat, Plums, Wet Wood
3.5g/ 40ml clay shiboridashi 205F short steeps
This is a very generous sample i got from my teafriend – thank you so much.
It is my second try. first time i tried it about 6 months ago. it was pretty good then and improved even more now. The soup was sweet and thick, slight pleasant bitterness, zero smoke and quick huigan. it was good pushed at later steeps. went thru decent amount of steeps. it was very enjoyable session.
This is a nice tasting ripe. It has a fair amount of fermentation flavor that I would say has begun to clear. It was a little weak but very present. It lasted maybe five steeps. I didn’t really notice any chocolate notes but I suppose I could have missed them. There was a bit of a light fruity profile towards the end of twelve steeps. It was very good.
I steeped this tea twelve times in a 110ml teapot with 9.9g 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 minutes. There were a few steeps left in the leaves.
A very enjoyable white tea,
The sweetness is sharp and persistant. Feeling at times like some sweetners, this piercing sweetness reminds me of white cake for some reasons.
steeping brings in contrast between sweetness and roundness. further brews give way to a rich texture.
Unsure whether the flavors or the tea is causing happy delights within me, I’d reccomend it for moody days, or perhaps any day!
Can’t get enough!
Flavors: Cake, Corn Husk, Smoke, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass
Dried leaves are delicate and smell like powderty white flowers and cucumber plants.
This smell is the peak of this tea to me. Dreaming of a cool spring wanderlust in misty mountains.
There is definetly a melon rind-cucmber freshness.
it opens up to an oily steep with toasted aromas, low bitterness but a dry finish of chalk/rock. From this point occasional notes of hay and sugar are welcomed.
Overall i thought it was boring.
Ending with very long steeps unfold lingering sweetness balanced by the chalkyness.
No notes yet. Add one?
This is a nice Lao Cha Tou brick. There was a fair amount of fermentation flavor but it had partially cleared. The fermentation note was a little weak. A little bitterness crept in in the middle steeps after the leaves had opened up. There was a general evolving sweet note to this tea. There were some chocolate notes. And towards the end of twelve steeps you might say a fruity taste developed although it was weak. Overall this was a very good tea.
I steeped this twelve times in a 200ml gaiwan with 15.1g 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 minutes. There were a few steeps left in the tea but twelve steeps from a 200ml gaiwan is a large amount of tea.
While I have a very well trained palate when it comes to black teas, I have to say that I don’t always have the vocabulary to back that up. I have similar issues with describing wines and whiskey, even the ones that I love. I’ll try to do my best though.
Dian hong teas have been my daily drinkers for the last 5 years, and pretty much the tea that made me a tea junkie. I’ve only recently started looking past my local vendors and this tea was part of my first YS order based off of a reddit recommendation. Oh boy, it sure did not disappoint.
Even though I’ll often have yunnan blacks western style, I decided to steep this in my gaiwan. I used 5g of tea in a 150ml gaiwan, starting off with a flash steep and moving slowly up to about a minute. I got 8 really good steeps out of this one. It started off with a light golden colour, becoming darker and perhaps the strongest in flavour on the 3rd and 4th steeps. Absolutely no astringency and hints of caramel and a bit earthy like a ripe puerh. The malty flavour that I love about yunnan blacks is definitely there too.
Most definitely one of the best yunnan blacks that I have ever had. This will surely be a repeat order. Looking forward to trying this western style too.
Flavors: Caramel, Earth, Malt
I commute by bicycle, often leaving before dawn, and taking fire roads over the spine of the Santa Monica range before descending down to the ocean. Over the weekend a fire erupted on the hill-side just above Mandeville Canyon, consuming all the dead brush as it climbed up to Kenter/Canyonback. The fire crews were still mopping up this morning, but they ignored me as I pedaled past their staging area and over the blackened soil, still smoldering in places, smoke languidly rising to join the marine layer. Earlier, this same fog had pushed the hawks down out of the sky, one red-tail passing just 10 feet overhead before alighting on its prey immediately across the road as I climbed Mulholland Dr.
I mention these things in passing (as well as a Memorial Day weekend suffused with smoked brisket, Alasdair Fraser/Natalie Haas, and Laphroaig) as they all served to prime me for this tea:
Prepared in my Jian Shui gaiwan, and served in my porcelain tea cup via my glass cha hai. Filtered Santa Monica municipal water just off the boil throughout.
The dry leaves are pure pine smoke, but faint mineral and stone fruit aromas emerge from the wet leaves (possibly taking on some qualities from the un-glazed clay?).
Mahogany liquor; beach bonfire aromatics are more subtle than anticipated; delicately smoky flavor profile with a sweet vaguely spicy core suggesting sarsaparilla; not too drying in the finish, and free of any acrid notes, char, or heavy phenolics. Hints of peat, wood, and fruit in the periphery. Smooth and almost creamy. A well crafted hong cha, the smoke serves to elevate the best elements of the leaves rather than hide their short-comings.
A fairly brief session, forcefully punctuating the workday morning – 8 infusions ranging from 20 seconds to 2 minutes, though I would use more leaf next time if I wanted to push beyond 5 or 6 infusions.
Wow! This is a very high quality sheng that hits all the right spots for me.
Brews a medium-dark yellow, noticeably darker than most of the other 2016 sheng I’ve been tasting. Smells of spice, honey and reminds me a bit of bag balm/tiger balm. Like the aroma the taste is spicy with prominent notes of mushroom and aromatic wood like pine and cedar. Honey, grain, stewed veggies, fresh spring water, and herbal medicine with a hint of something floral. The brew is thick and viscous, very potent and moderately bitter. It’s very complex and active in the mouth with a cinnamon-like pungence. The qi is noticeable very early on and makes my face and cheeks feel flush and tingly. Five grams lasted many brews and about a liter of water. The brewed leaves are plump and an attractive olive green with thick veins and stems like spaghetti noodles.
This is a very potent tea with a nice balance of bitter and sweet as well as a complex, never boring flavor profile. I tend to be kind of stingy when purchasing tea, really struggling to spend over $50 on a cake, but this is a tea that I will happily spring a little extra for.
Flavors: Cedar, Floral, Grain, Honey, Medicinal, Mineral, Mushrooms, Pine, Spices, Vegetables, Wet Rocks
This is a quite premium-priced ripe made up of a quite tippy blend of smaller and more medium-sized leaves. The cake doesn’t look anything special and the compression is neither too loose or too heavy. I was able to break off a single piece of the top layer that weighed almost exactly the desired 10.5g for my 160ml Jianshui teapot simply by inserting my pu’er pick from the side in a couple of places and then lifting up. I then proceeded to gently break this one large piece into a few smaller pieces by hand. I’d like to note that this cake has the cleanest-looking wrapper I’ve seen, that is to say when I lifted the bing off the inside of the wrapper only had a very small number of broken-off leaves and a few specks of dust here and there. I’m not saying this is necessarily any sort of indicator of quality, it’s just an observation I made.
The dry leaves have a very typical shu pu’er smell to my nose. Even in a pre-heated teapot the scent of the broken-off portion of the cake was very faint, however. I gave the leaves only one average rinse for just over ten seconds and let them rest for ten minutes before I started brewing. The scent of the wet leaves was somewhat surprising. There wasn’t any of the typical manure I smell in shu pu’er and instead my nose picked up hay which I associate more with raw pu’er and another note for which the closest descriptor my brain could come up with is warm raisin. That is not quite accurate, but it’s the best I could come up with. The scent was warm and familiar. Another note of interest is that even the smell of the wet leaves was much weaker than is typical for shu pu’er.
I did a total of ten infusions, for 10s, 10s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 60s, 90s and 120s. Since I was using almost exclusively larger chunks without any individual leaves and didn’t do a longer rinse, the leaves had yet to come apart by the first infusion which in turn resulted in a somewhat lighter first brew, which I was fine with. The color of the liquor was a cloudy red-ish orange. This cloudiness is something I noted in the first and last couple of infusions. In the mid-steeps when the liquor was darker it was hard to tell whether the soup was clear or not or if the cloudiness had persisted. Typically I associate the clarity of the tea soup as being an indicator of quality to a certain degree, but I’m not sure if I’d say the inverse is necessarily true and the lack of clarity is some sort of sign of the lack of quality. You shouldn’t take it more than as an observation. As expected, the first infusion was quite light, but it tasted okay although it’s hard to really say anything about it flavor-wise. It was maybe a bit sweet.
The second steep brewed darker. It coated your mouth with a slimy coating similar to thick saliva. I’m making the guess that this sensation is possibly the one the name of this tea refers to according to the description. The flavors in this infusion were interesting, but also beyond description. They weren’t really reminiscent of any flavors you can find anywhere else to my knowledge and therefore came across as somewhat abstract to me. Besides the flavor and mouthfeel the tea had to offer, it also made me sweat quite a bit and I might’ve even detected some tightness in my chest. In my limited personal experience and based on what I’ve gathered from others, cha qi is not that common to come across in shu pu’er so I was pleasantly surprised to find it here.
Based on the trajectory of the first two steeps, I felt this tea had promise to be the best ripe pu’er I’ve tasted, but unfortunately the tea didn’t manage to live up to that potential. The third steep brewed a very dark red. Not a particularly gorgeous red, just red. It had perhaps some sweetness and perhaps the tiniest hint of a toffee note, but I wasn’t getting much from it. The earlier slimy mouthfeel was greatly diminished, but the tea was making me feel warm and I could feel the qi in my chest. The qi continued to be present for the next three steeps before dropping off, whereas the taste remained extremely basic throughout. The tea tasted clean, with the sweetness gradually emerging as the infusions went on. The slick, slimy mouthfeel was coming and going in nature making a small return a couple of times. The last infusion I did interestingly had possibly the most flavor out of all the infusions I did, but at the same time I got the sense the tea might’ve been on its last legs. I’ve seen the pattern of a tea giving one last decent brew before totally giving out enough times to develop a sense for it. Whether or not the tea still had more to give, I was forced to end the session there due to time constraints and also being quite adequately hydrated by that point. Flavor-wise the final infusion actually had something else going on besides the base shu pu’er sweetness, but I’m not sure if there would’ve been anything more of interest for me to discover had I continued with the session.
I really had my hopes up for this tea after the second infusion. For a ripe this tea has decent qi going on, but in terms of flavor the tea just came across as incredibly stripped down after the second steep. It doesn’t even actually have that much of the typical shu sweetness and instead simply presents this base underlying shu pu’er flavor that isn’t all that much. On the sheng front this reminds me of the Misty Peak spring 2016 sheng which had the qi going for it, but the flavors just weren’t interesting. If this was a raw, I’d stash it away for ten years and come back to it, but since this is a ripe I’m not sure if I can really expect any huge changes over time. I will have to try brewing this in slightly different ways as time goes on and hopefully get some better results. This wasn’t a bad tea, but it didn’t turn out to be the first ripe I could award the green Recommended stamp to like I’d hoped.
This is my first review on Steepster, my first black tea of any proper lineage and my first close encounter with a tea cake. All that being said, I think I am capable of making at least a decent story out of this.
(NOTE: I did actually manage to screw things up. The search function sometimes doesn’t seem to produce this particular tea so I accidentally created a duplicate. Any help removing it will be appreciated!)
I got this one from my local supplier but managed to trace down its lineage as being a product of Yunnan Sourcing. (That’s 1UP for my local supplier!)
It is a warm sunny day here, but our indoors are cool. Left to my own devices for the afternoon, I set out to taste this tea, deliberately postponing lunch to see if it turns out true to its title.
Using a blunt little wine opener knife, I could easily follow the weaker points in the cake, taking out just enough larger pieces to complement the fannings already falling off. Using the lot in my 120ml (4oz) pre-heated gaiwan, having no strainer, I expected having to do a lot of teeth filtering, but no actual problems there. I used local tap water (~8.5 hardness degrees) right off the boil, but the water for steeps 3-6 was actually saved in an insulated stainless steel tea pot. To me, the dry leaves had no smell. My girlfriend, always the better nose, said it fondly reminded her of straw roofs.
I did not rinse. In retrospective it may have taken some of the initial dry woody astringency out, but I am not sure if I would have wanted that.
The wet smell after and before the brew was that of cherry sweets. Or strawberry sweets for all I care, but definitely an overpowering candy-like sweetness. Luckily I already knew from the other reviews that the taste would be in high contrast, so I wasn’t too surprised when it turned out to be a cured wood slash black tea astringency, with those resin and honey qualities I once used to search for in pipe tobacco. (These days I feel tempted to summarize resin + honey as ‘propolis’, but I’d have to re-check whether or not that’s accurate for this tea.)
This brew produced a slight bit of oil on top. The candy sweetness mixed itself with a new smell to produce a dried plum experience. The flavour, initially just a lighter experience of the same, left me guessing for a bit before I recognized that bodily orchid quality that I previously made acquaintance with in Jade Tieguanyin; fuller and sweeter than the famous, perfumy Biluochun fragrance. Maybe that’s what I was already searching for when I wrote down ‘resin and honey’ earlier.
At steep 3 the smell completely turned to orchids, but the flavour had already fallen back to a lighter version of its original resin-like astringency, which by steep 4 turned the experience into that of an ordinary, but still slightly more vibrant black tea.
So I decided to reboot the experience with fresh hot water. Annoyingly, from steep 5 onwards the leaves gave off more and more of their lovely sweet orchid fragrance, but the cup was already watered down. Finally around steep 8 the leaves toned down as well, or I would never have given up on them. Then again, I miss having my tea already. Maybe just one more wring yet…
Conclusions and learning points
Part of me used to think that you had to turn to raw pu’erh to find that combination of floral and dark fruit aroma’s, that it would somehow get lost during oxidation. Well, that turns out false.
Somehow I felt it was promising that this tea is also from Yunnan, and it might well have been helpful, but ‘ironically’ (get it?) I associate its most exciting aspect with a tea from the other side of the country. So in terms of geography and cultivars I still have some more homework to do.
At the first steep I already noticed this tea’s potential as an iced tea. I also think that this tea would serve well when totally exhausted in one single brew, for instance in a thermos or travel mug. Maybe then some of the orchid fragrance makes it into the brew.
As far as tea drunkenness is concerned, I have to confirm what others have already written. I will not say that this tea is completely without effects, but there is nothing really worthy of a description. In the end I just set out to have my lunch because it was getting late, and certainly not because I had to balance out my tea session.
Flavors: Candy, Dried Fruit, Honey, Orchid, Plums, Resin
Brewing this ~100ml, with a wash, 5g (sample), at around 190F
Colour is this very clear yellow/gold, looks fantastic (pic: http://imgur.com/H4tY18b).
I’m doing standard infusion time: 5s + 3s for each infusion.
I normally dislike wuyi oolong teas, due to the heavy mineral/rock taste, but this one is quite smooth and good.
The mineral taste is rather soft, and it isn’t rash but instead complementing. There is a sort of pumpkin taste to it as well as chamomile. It has a flower taste to it too. There is no sense of acidity or acridness from this tea. There is a slight fruit flavour, I would say reminiscent of apricot.
Really refreshing taste, but very weak aftertaste — you lose the taste of the tea after around like 5 seconds, so it’s advised to ‘swirl’ it inside your mouth before swallowing, savouring the flavour. It is a bit ‘one dimensional’ in taste, as it’s not particularly complex nor does it evolve throughout the steeping session (5th steep at the moment), but it’s refreshing and it is a pleasant surprise to one who generally dislikes wuyi oolongs
Flavors: Apricot, Flowers, Mineral, Pumpkin
Pretense: My friend send me unlabeled teas to get my honest opinion on stuff. So I did not know I had a Song Pin Hao tea and therefore kept it very badly. That being said it wasnt bad.
I opened the package and knew that I was looking at an aged sheng of decent quality. The leaves and buds could be clearly distinguished and they had a bit of a shine to them. There was some glob parts, but as a whole pretty good.
The tea showed notes of plumb which is inline with another aged Yiwu I had in China. This one though also showed notes of cigar smoke which took away a bit from the cleanliness of the flavor. The throat feel was pretty good, but most noteable of all was the come back flavor. Sweet and floral, the hui gan was one of the more unique I have had.
Some bitterness was present but nothing too heavy.
A very good tea, probably could have benefited from better storage.
Brews up a medium-dark yellow, and has a spicy and honeyed aroma (though not as honeyed as yesterday’s Wuliang) Taste wise it’s also quite comparable to the Wuliang; honey, mineral, grain, but it’s dryer (as in less sweet, not astringent) and has less honey and bitterness, but a thicker body and a more mineral, spicier, woody-er flavor. After a couple of steeps I start to get strong “qi” feelings of calm and mild tingling on the crown of the head.
It’s a nice tea, but for the price I would go with the Wuliang as it’s quite similar and cheaper.
Flavors: Grain, Herbs, Honey, Spices, Wet Rocks, Wood
My sample is a nice, loosely pressed piece of cake with medium sized green leaves. Smells very “green.”
Brews a medium yellow. This is a medium strength young sheng with medium-low bitterness. Super strong honey aroma and flavor, the bottom of my cha hai smells just like warm honey. Other notes of green wood, clay, wildflowers, and grain/baked goods.
This is a very nice tea, especially for being on the cheaper end of YS’s 2016 lineup. It’s a shame though how pu’erh prices have gone up since I started the habit, I remember when I bought the 2012 Wuliang in 2012 it was only $25-ish.
Flavors: Clay, Flowers, Grain, Green Wood, Honey, Mineral
Prep: 60cc gaiwan, 3-6g, boiling water, flash steep x2, 10s, 10s, 20s, 20s, etc..
Sessions with this tea: 5+
Taste: Bitter/sweet. Very mild flavor, maybe tiny bit oniony? I certainly don’t get fruity as was previously mentioned. I dunno, the flavor isn’t the highlight of this tea.
Body: where this tea shines. Thick like melted butter, mouth-coating, returning sweetness. Noticeable salivation. Sits mid-chest with calm warmth. Gentle energy. Very pleasant mouthfeel and body.
Pleasant tea at a decent price point without a lot of taste but a lot of mouthfeel, and a nice even-flow body.
I did a 20 second rinse then 20 seconds for the first 3 infusions then +10 for the rest of the infusions
For the first steeping I noticed this almost overwhelming earthiness. Like, a mushroom if it were stuck in a glass of hot water. This taste overwhelmed the rest of the flavors, and other than this I got a little bit of a black tea taste but barely noticeable and with the classic ripe taste. It was smooth, almost too smooth. For those who like really smooth tea this one if for you. I on the otherhand like my ripes to have at least a little bit of character, not just super smooth. But, again, this is just me, and when it comes to ripes I have my standards very high, and it all comes down to what you are looking for in a puerh.
after the earthiness came a medicinal black liquorish tasting cooling effect.In the second steeping I got more of a cherry taste with the pronounced earthiness of the last steep, and the date like flavor came back. This tea is really dark! It was almost pitch black from the second to the 4th steeping.
Sorry it’s been like an hour since I drank this and the qi is so strong like I am really sorry if this tasting note makes no sense at all. I will edit this later when the qi leaves me alone, haha.
Flavors: Cherry, Licorice, Mushrooms
I’ve recommended this tea several times already. It’s simply a great buy. Very affordable and lots of depth of flavor. I don’t know if you are going to find a better deal out there, particularly if you are looking for tea with some age on it.
I noticed some Menghai characteristics in its flavor profile, notably some sharp and spicy herbal notes that, with age, have developed into some wonderful tobacco and fruit notes. The dry storage has preserved some youthful herbal notes that work wonderfully well with the aged flavors. Great personality on this one.
There is a lot of depth here. Great balance of flavors. And it’s $40 for 500g! Pick one up before I buy all the rest!
Dry leaf: sweet pipe tobacco, stable, rich prune and dried dark fruit. In preheated vessel – some tart raspberry and spice notes arrive.
Smell: pipe tobacco, stable, rich prune and dried dark fruit, dried green herbal (sassafras, parsley), cola
Taste: pipe tobacco, stable, herbal (sassafras, parsley), prune, clove, allspice, raisin, lemongrass, coriander
This is my favorite green from YS and this year’s seems a bit more delicate than last year’s harvest. Less of your typical apricot; more sweet peach blossom in the aroma. There are more crisp, savory notes, roasted vegetal notes that feels more nuanced on the palate. These early to mid-steeps remind me more of a mountain-sourced Japanese sencha.
As with last year’s harvest, this tea can steep for a long time and will continue to release very pleasant flavors and aromas until the end.
There is artistry in these leaves. They are quite stout, spindly, and veiny, which reminds me more of leaves from older bushes. Gorgeous range of jungle greens that are pleasing to look at in my off-white shiboridashi.