apefuzz said

Pu'erh regions

Hello everyone,

Inspired by White2Tea’s Pu’erh terroir/region sampler, Rasseru’s reviews of the sampler, and the great info provided by teadb.org, I’ve decided to take my own taste tour of Yunnan. I selected my own samples from Yunnan Sourcing rather than get White2Tea’s sampler, mainly just so I could get more variety and know more specifically what I was buying. But, I am in debt to White2Tea for the great idea.

With this in mind, I am inviting feedback and comments regarding your own experiences and takes on the flavor profiles of pu’erh regions and terroir. I am excited about expanding my education and my palate, and would like to hear what others’ experiences have been.

Of course, I invite you to explore these regions with me! The taste tour begins in January. (All are YS productions and are in similar – modest – price ranges to maintain some consistency):
YIWU: 2010 Ge Deng, 2015 Autumn Man Zhuan
MENGHAI: 2011 Ba Da Mountain, 2012 Pasha Mountain, 2013 Autumn Bu Lang
PUER/SIMAO/LANCANG: 2013 Autumn Wu Liang, 2014 Jing Gu old arbor, 2014 Ai Lao Mountain wild arbor
LINCANG: 2015 Bang Dong village, 2014 Qing Mei Shan old arbor (Yong De region)

18 Replies
mrmopar said

I think you will have an interesting time on your hands.

apefuzz said

Something to look forward to during those post-holiday winter days!

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Grill said


Some good descriptions and discussion of tea regions in this thread

apefuzz said

This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for the research!

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apefuzz said

Lincang / Mengku review:

Two teas (Bang Dong and Qing Mei) isn’t exactly a representative sample size… But, I really like what I found. Both teas had quite different flavor profiles, but the nature of the flavors was similar – complex, deep, not easily described with single notes. I found myself saying things like “fruitcake” and “fruit-infused chocolate.” Also of note was their noticeable sweetness. Both teas had complex sweetness – saccharine and fruit sweetness that was accompanied by a solid base of “darker” flavors – spice cake, dark chocolate, etc.

I will be returning to this neck of the woods soon. Outstanding experiences, both of them.

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apefuzz said

Western Xishuangbanna / Menghai review:

All three Western Xishuangbanna teas (Ba Da, Pasha, Bu Lang) shared parsley/dill herbal notes in some fashion. Also present in all three teas was a vague fruitiness that I can only describe as Juicy Fruit gum – sort of light peach, orange, berry, gummy sweetness.

I would also venture to say these really do need some age on them before you get a lot of decent flavors out of them – I’m talking at least 5-7 years. Pasha was the oldest of my group (5-6 yrs), and it was also the clear winner in terms of taste.

Anyway, interesting group. The herbal notes were strong, but the age on the Pasha reveals some definite aging potential with good flavors developing.

elena-z said

Thank you!
Yesterday I was drinking bitterleaftea’s bulang for the first time, and it totally smelled like dill pickles! Now I know I’m not crazy :))

Rasseru said

I personally love that gummy sweetness found in sheng. I have a Maynards wine gum addiction & the tongue numbing sweetness is similar & makes me very happy, and I’ve had good luck from teas around menghai for this

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apefuzz said

Eastern Xishuangbanna / Yi Wu review:

I’m noticing some similar characteristics even among other Xishuangbanna (i.e. Menghai) teas. The Juicy Fruit gum and the fresh parsley notes are the most prominent. However, the Menghai teas were much more upfront and bold with their flavor. Yi Wu teas had more apparent sweetness (particularly floral sweetness, some fruit notes and hints of chocolate), but nothing like the bold sweetness of Lincang region.

In terms of price, I really can’t figure it out. What I sampled were definitely quality teas, but they were on par with the quality I have had in other regions. Yet the Yi Wu teas cost substantially more than other regions. I found the sweetness stronger and more complex in the Lincang teas, at half the price. Menghai teas also offered some similar flavors, but with more strength (again at a lower price.)

It is important to note, however, that I was definitely at the cheaper end of the price scale, so there may be a much more substantial return if you are willing to spend more.

Rui A. said

The reason why Yiwu teas are more expensive is because there is a huge demand for them. They are known for their mild taste rather than some teas which are very pungent. Although I drink many teas from other regions and/or mountains like Jingmai or even the prohibitively expensive Lao Banzhang I always go back to my trusted Yiwu teas after I sip a tea that is not really to my taste.

Enjoy your tea journey.

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apefuzz said

Puer/Simao review:

Can’t really pin this one down. There are no common flavors that the three teas shared. The Wu Liang was very smoky and vegetal, the Jing Gu sweet and foresty, and the Ai Lao light and fruity. Overall, I can simply say that I feel like this region gives you some good return for your money. The Wu Liang, despite its ashiness, had the vegetal strength that the Menghai area teas had. The Jing Gu gave a great old arbor depth of experience. The Ai Lao, despite its lightness, was sweet and enjoyable. All are at a fraction of comparable teas.

It is a region worth exploring. It seems to offer something for everyone, and at a bargain.

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apefuzz said

Final thoughts:

It’s always a bit of a trap classifying things like this by region. Just because something comes from somewhere doesn’t mean it will taste a certain way. Nevertheless, there are some similarities, and knowing the general character of teas from one region can help you decide where to explore and how to narrow your samplings.

My little adventure was very narrow, however. I only bought from one company (Yunnan Sourcing), stayed within 2-5 years old, and stayed within a $40-60/cake price range. I’m sure some cakes will age much better than others. I’m sure some regions have different characteristics when you buy more premium products. I’m sure different companies have varying profiles from these offerings.

In any event, the tour through Yunnan was as fun as it was educational. Next time I may tour Lincang a little more in-depth, or perhaps run through the offerings of the big boys like Menghai or Xiaguan.

Menghai – vegetal, strong herbal. Aging potential seems high.
Yiwu – light floral sweetness. I don’t really get the hype.
Lincang – thick, complex sweetness. Awesome. Will return soon.
Simao – a little bit of everything. Seem more budget-friendly.

CalebB95 said

Interesting research. I have researching terroir myself

Rasseru said

Awesome man, thanks for all the reviews.

Hinagiku said

This research was very inspiring, thank you for the sharing! :D

Bitterleaf said

Yiwu might be my favourite… I highly recommend exploring it more and trying teas of different ages and quality. There is a reason for the hype (IMO), but it’s not always evident in every tea from there. Although, in the end maybe it’s just not your cup…

apefuzz said

Bitterleaf – I will definitely still be roaming around Yiwu to see what’s out there. It has way too many fans for me to write it off! My concern is that the stuff that I would find exciting to drink exceeds what I’m willing to pay for tea. I’m a bit (edit: a lot) of a cheapskate!

I did notice some of your regional samplers. Those do fit nicely within my budget. Will have to check those out soon!

Bitterleaf said

Yeah, that’s very true. Yiwu, particularly the known villages, comes at a bit of a premium. That’s not to say there aren’t some very good teas that are also affordable, but there’s a bit of a sweet spot in terms of cost and value, IMO.

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