24 Tasting Notes

78

First, I would argue that most tea drinkers would be well-served to have this tea in their cupboard (ignoring the price for the moment). Additionally, my rating is accounting for the fact that it’s retail price is $24/100g cake. For those wary of pile fermentation flavors and odors, this certainly is one of the easiest introductions to the style while retaining some degree of complexity. It isn’t too woody, malty, chocolatey. It’s a more medium-bodied shou puerh, with a limited but present richness and thickness in the cup, and pushing this tea doesn’t appear to draw out a great deal of bitterness. I really like shou puerh, but this one is nice for days when my palate is worn out or I just need a really clean shou puerh. I struggle to think of another ripe puerh I’ve had that was so clean, especially for its age. I probably wouldn’t have bought it if Misty Peaks wasn’t running a two-for-one sale, and I’m afraid that $27/100g including shipping is a bit too steep to buy another one, but I’m happy to have the two cakes for the time being.

Preparation
Boiling 5 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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88

When I want a change of pace from the usual tippy golden Yunnan/Fujian black teas, this is what I want. Sure, every once in a great while I’ll look for the Assam I probably have somewhere in my cupboard, but this tea is a really great Yunnan pure black. It has the complexity of maybe an old arbor black tea, but it’s smoother and also totally different. It resets my brain and briefly rids me of the tendency to assume that stronger is better.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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81

The nose on this was what really got my attention, as it made me think of the aromas of a ramen restaurant with the vibrant umami aroma of nori (seaweed). The body seemed more medium while the lower-grade Ontario was full-bodied. Definitely a good-quality shou puerh, but I’ll need to come back to it and pay a bit more attention to the flavors.

Flavors: Seaweed, Umami

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92

Very vibrant caramel/chocolate/dark fruit flavor and thick coating mouthfeel in the first four infusions, and the sweetness and richness hung on better than most tippy black teas in the later infusions, though there was quite a contrast between the third, fourth, and fifth steepings where it got woodier and a little thinner

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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66

I think I finally figured out this tea. It’s a nice, woody, straightforward tea that’s… well, I guess it’s interesting enough to have on hand as a daily drinker. That said, it doesn’t really lend itself well to daily drinking because it needs to be brewed ridiculously strong in order to get the full experience out of this tea. I’m talking tripling the normal dosage. But once you get a sufficiently high dosage of tea, this thing just keeps on producing, such that when I’ve taken out a sample I’ve drank that tea for multiple days, stubbornly (and somewhat annoyingly) ceasing to die after, well, I don’t know how many steepings, but certainly more than a dozen. I’ll take a tally next time I brew this, because this has been an experience kinda like a Brazilian steakhouse: you have to really be in the mood for it, and it can easily disappoint, but it can be fun as well. It’s been fun in the sense that the pace at which this tea disappears is almost comical.

Preparation
Boiling 15 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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94

First of all, I don’t think this tea deserves the 94 I’ve given it on taste alone. Of course, this is dynamic through the first 7 infusions before settling in to mildly over-extracted sheng puerh notes. I’ve done 3g in 60mL and 10g in 150mL, and I’ve found that the tea is fairly forgiving given the lower brewing temperatures that I use (170-195F). I’ve found that at least some of the initial steepings yield a nice thick, brothy, umami, middle tones that are pleasant. However, I think the tea makes up the rest of its price in the effects it has on the body. By the second cup I was already feeling warmth in the face, and through the next few I was giggling and feeling floaty and high. I made the mistake of having two steepings of 3g in 60mL (the 5th and 6th, actually) before going to class, and while I was able to take notes with full clarity, I felt myself having to both force myself to focus a little bit harder, and I had to bite back the giggles. I became self-conscious when I walked to my next class and had to try not to break into a smile during a lecture about 1950’s Stalinist policy. That said, I had one of the best days I’ve had in the last few months due to the fantastic mood I was in all day. I’ve yet to have a personal session of this tea straight through (the 10g in 150mL was with four other people, of course), but this isn’t a tea I feel comfortable merely taking out to brew on a whim due to the price and the psychological effects that need to be planned for.

Preparation
3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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83

With a delicate touch, this tea pops with light, buttery, nutty, vegetal, and nectar sweet notes. I’ve found a hard time finding Chinese greens I like, but this one is great. You only need short infusions of low-temperature water, ~170ºF, for it to give a fairly pale but flavorful liquor, and beyond that can yield overpowering and off-putting bitterness and astringency.

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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78

This is not a bold, tippy, chocolatey Yunnan gold bud tea; it’s much more floral and fruity and complex. I have to say, steeps 2-5 are great. It kind of tapers off pretty quickly to where I wonder why I’m continuing to steep the leaves. I’ve also found it a bit difficult to truly dial in the perfect protocol for steeping this tea, as brewing it too hot or too long brings out some unpleasant notes, and it can easily be brewed too weak by overcorrecting for this. I wouldn’t view this as a straight black tea, but should be approached as one would with an oolong, taking care to brew it at the right temperature and appreciating the lighter notes rather than waiting and expecting a big punch of chocolatey sweetness.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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Profile

Bio

Eau Claire, WI native and current UW student living in Madison. My hometown had a tea shop that got me into tea before I went off to college to learn from talking to experts in Nashville and Madison, particularly the owner of Macha Tea Company. My tastes change with the seasons, but I love sheng and shou pu-erh, rock oolongs, Taiwanese oolongs, Yunnan blacks, and Japanese greens.

My love of tea is balanced by my love of good coffee (I have lists of the best coffee shops for Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Madison, Nashville, and Chicago) and my love of chemistry and environmental sciences, my fields of study in college.

Location

Madison, WI

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