135 Tasting Notes
I agree with Rich: 2018 Lucy is “…a little more complex.” “It tastes of bittersweet chocolate …” “Very smooth, and moderate caffeine.”
Like Code, we tasted a little astringency. For me, when it was noticeable, it was on the front portion of my tongue. Perhaps it’s related to the notes of bittersweet chocolate?
Overall, intermittent astringency aside, Lucy is rich, smooth and provides 6 full-bodied steeps, 2 moderately full-bodied, with the last 2 being lighter-bodied, but still enjoyable.
At the current $50 regular price, the $/gram ratio could be better – $50/250 g = $.20/g, as Lucy is a 250 g cake as opposed to the traditional 357 g or larger 500 g cakes. With our steeping method, https://steepster.com/looseTman, this works out to be $4/day unless it’s purchased on sale.
If your tap or well water has impurities that must be filtered out such as high levels of hardness, or iron that necessitate a water softener and you then wish to remove the sodium introduced by the softener (because you have high blood pressure or a family history of high blood pressure) or, if there are any number of contaminates, a reverse osmosis system is frequently necessary. However, RO water is not the best for brewing tea:
“Putting aside for a moment the influences on tea before it is dried and finished, tea also goes through a second “flavoring” process as you brew it and sip it. First, you have to consider the water you use, and take into account all the flavors it offers. Straight reverse-osmosis water is never recommended in tea brewing, because it is so pure that it tastes flat. If you use a spring water or filtered tap water, the flavor of this water will come through, contributing sweetness, texture, or in undesirable cases, metal and chemical traces to your tea. No matter what, you are “blending” your tea with a water that you hope will help bring out the best that the tea has to offer.”
Published on April 26th, 2012 by David Duckler
If an RO system is necessary for your residential water and you want to enjoy your tea without hauling bottled spring water, then you may wish to consider adding a re-mineralization filter after your RO system such as the Impact Alkaline to bring your TDS level into the following range:
“Water with 50 – 150 ppm total dissolved solids (TDS) or 1 to 3 grains hardness provides the best results, according to the Tea Association of the USA." http://www.teaandcoffee.net/0609/tea.htm
The TDS of our RO water before the remineralization filter, typically measures ~24 PPM.
We use a HM Digital: DM-2: In-Line Dual TDS Monitor (https://steepster.com/teaware/hm-digital/100243-dm-2-in-line-dual-tds-monitor) to monitor how much the Impact Alkaline is able to raise the TDS level of our reverse osmosis system. Today for example, the TDS level after the Impact Alkaline is 84 PPM, which puts us right in the middle of the 50 to 150 PPM range recommended by the Tea Association of the USA. I track this metric over time.
Please be advised, that a number of factors affect how much a remineralization filter like the Impact Alkaline will raise your TDS including: age of filter, water pressure, water temperature etc. As they say, “YMMV”.
Highly recommended based on the taste of both our water and our tea.
Even though I haven’t posted a review in quite a while, we’re still enjoy gung-fu Pu-erh (mostly Shou, some Sheng) every morning.
Today is something different, something special, something so special, I had to post a review. We’re enjoying our very last mugs of 2006 Special Dark using TheTeaFairy’s Western brewing method. 1 Tbsp. (5g) / 10oz / 212 / rinse / 5 min.
Rich, smooth, dark, warm, velvety, full-bodied, chocolatey, & relaxing – just perfect!
Zero bitterness, acidity, astringency, or any hint of fermentation flavor (as you’d expect in a 14 yr-old Shou) – just absolutely perfect!
Unfortunately, it’s N.L.A.( no longer available) & our bag is now empty :-(( – the end of an Era! God bless Garret & the wonderful Chinese people who grew it & made it!
Garret, any chance of S.D. 2.0?
Flavors: Dark Chocolate
Courtesy of an exceptional friend, we’ve tasted this 10-yr old shou twice. Briefly, we agree with Rich, this is a much lighter shou compared to most other Menghai Dayi shou.
“Hou Pu” (thick pu-erh) appears to be a complete misnomer! If you’re looking for a full-bodied, thick, rich, breakfast shou, Dayi offers several other choices.
Hou Pu is dark, smooth, and pleasant without any astringency or bitterness. It also provides a noticeable relaxing qi. And since this is a decade-old shou, there isn’t any hint of fermentation flavor. This unique shou would be a good choice as an afternoon tea when one has time to notice and enjoy the subtleties of this very refined ripe pu-erh.
9.2g / 205° / 60s preheat/ 60s warm / 10s rinse / 20m rest/ 5s /10/20/30/40/60/120/240 every two steeps combined. This session produced six reasonable steeps instead of 8 as with most other Dayi shou. I would recommend more leaf. Perhaps this is why Hou Pu is only available in a 500g cake?
Thanks to a wonderful Steepster friend for sending us a sample of this very enjoyable young shou that we had for breakfast yesterday.
YS descibes Green Miricle as:
“Don’t let the tippy appearance lure you into thinking this tea is soft and sweet. It has some of that, but more as a returning taste. The upfront feeling and taste is bitter, thick and pungent.”
Very briefly, I think this is quite an accurate description. The upfront feeling and taste is amazingly thick and pungent despite its young age! To my palate, the sense of bitter was not as apparent. I also didn’t notice any obvious astringency or fishiness despite its youth.
This is a suprising young shou that’s bold and invigorating enough for that all important morning cup of motivation. I’m very glad I ordered a cake during YS’s recent shou sale just based on the very positive Steepster comments.
Well done Scott!
Courtesy of a exceptionally kind Steepster friend, my wife & I were able to experience this 13-yr old shou.
Color – Chocolate brown
Fragrance – Very faint
- Warmed leaves – Damp wet leaves
- Rinsed (10s) leaf – composted top soil
- Post 20-min rest – sweet fine pipe tobacco
- Brewed – Mild pu-erh aroma
Liqueur – Amber, initally a little cloudy
Taste – As one would expect with a 13-yr old brick, there wasn’t any bitterness, acidity, fishiness or funk.
It’s likely that I got off on the wrong foot with the Old Youle Brick by following the brewing parameters that have worked so well with many varieties of Menghai Dayi shou.
My first clue should have been immediately after the 20-min rest. I normally use a cocktail fork to loosen up the warmed wet leaves. Typically, this requires very little effort. In this case it wasn’t so easy. In fact, when I broke the chunk open, it was still dry on the inside. Since this was to be our first caffeine of the morning, no red flags occurred to me.
I typically don’t read other tasting notes before tasting a new tea, so as not to potentially color my impressions. Clearly, when trying a new (non-Dayi) shou, I need to check the Steepster recommended brewing parameters first.
Initially with a 10s steep, it was thin, flat, astringent and woody. The 2nd-round was very similar but improved to medium-body. By the third round, it was more mellow, but still woodie at the end of the sip. As I remember, there was a persistent woody aftertaste. (However, I didn’t make a note about this specific point.) Since woodiness isn’t a flavor I appreciate in shou, I lost interest in going any further.
Flavor profile: wood, bark
Impression – Since the brewing parameters used apparently weren’t a good match for this shou, I don’t think I can offer an accurate impression.
17.7g / 6 oz / 205° / 60s preheat / 60s warm leaves / 10s rinse / 20 min rest / every 2 steeps combined: 5s / 5 / 5 / 5 / 15 / 30
Courtesy of a exceptionally kind Steepster friend, my wife & I were able to experience this young shou.
Leaf Color – Chocolate brown with some gold tips throughout.
Fragrance – faint fruity
Aroma 60 sec. warmed leaves – Mod strong pu-erh up front with fine pipe tobacco in the background.
Aroma 20 min post rest – mild fine pipe tobacco w/pu-erh in background.
Brewed aroma – Not noted.
Liqueur – Cloudy amber initially
Taste – Ultra-smooth, rich, round, and very clean. There wasn’t any bitterness, astringency, fishiness or funk, which is surprising for a 2016.
Flavor profile – Initially, there wasn’t an obivous flavor except mild cocoa at the end of the sip. Unfortunately, the third round ( 15s & 30s steps combined) weren’t like the previous very enjoyable cups. The flavor profile morphed into a tart acidic citrus that overshadowed all that we enjoyed in the prior cups. Before I could finish this cup I had stomach upset. Tasting session ended.
Impression – This “bipolar” shou isn’t a morning cup. Given the name " Golden Fruit", and the tart acidic citrus flavor, this shou reminded me of Earl Grey. Not our cup of Shou!
10.5g / 6 oz / 205° / 60s preheat / 60s warm leaves / 10s rinse / 20 min rest / every 2 cups combined / 5s / 5 / 5 / 5 / 15 / 30 / stopped due to stomach upset.
We ordered this 9-yr old shou based on the recommendation of John @ King Tea and our fondness for Menghai shou. We’ve finished this 357g cake a while ago. What follows is what stood out for us:
Taste – Full-bodied, & smooth. As one would expect with a 9-yr old Menghai cake, there wasn’t any bitterness, astringency, acidity, fishiness or funk.
Flavor profile – Typical Menghai shou flavor. There wasn’t anything that stood out as being particularly memorable. It’s less complex or more homogenous.
Impression – This shou is a good robust morning cup. It’s just not as satisfying as: https://steepster.com/teas/menghai-tea-factory-berylleb-on-ebay/35545-2011-menghai-dayi-100-year-tribute-cake, which is three years younger.
12g / 6 oz / 205° / 60s preheat / 60s warm leaves / 5s rinse / 20 min rest / 5s / 5 / 5 / 5 / 15 / 30 / 60 /120
Courtesy of a exceptionally kind Steepster friend, my wife & I were able to experience this 8-yr old shou.
Leaf Color – Chocolate brown with gold tips throughout.
Fragrance – mild, sweet
Aroma rinsed leaves – winey, keemun-like
Aroma 20 min post rest – keemun, sweet fine pipe tobacco
Brewed aroma – faint keemun
Liqueur – Dark chocolate brown, thick, viscous with a sheen.
Taste – Full-bodied, thick, rich, round, and ultra-smooth. As one would expect with a 8-yr old premium cake, there wasn’t any bitterness, acidity, fishiness or funk. There was mild astringency that didn’t increase with additional cups of this shou. Perhaps, the quantity of leaves (16.8 g) may have been the cause of it? Perhaps, a slightly lower temperature?
Flavor profile – I was in keemun heaven! This shou reminded me of the best crop-year of Teavivre’s Premium Keemun that I’ve tasted. I was quite surprised and pleased!
Impression – This shou is a bold robust invigorating morning cup that tastes like a full-bodied keemun rather than pu-erh. Keemun lovers rejoyce! “You can have your Pu-erh & Keemun too!” :-) This is an excellent shou.
16.8g / 6 oz / 205° / 60s preheat / 60s warm leaves / 10s rinse / 20 min rest / 5s / 5 / 5 / 5 / 10 / 20 / 40 /80
Courtesy of a very kind Steepster friend, my wife & I were able to experience this 10-yr old shou.
Color – Chocolate brown with some gold tips on surface.
Fragrance – sweet
Warmed leaves – refined puerh aroma, very clean
Rinsed leaf aroma – mild pleasing pu-erh aroma, I anticipate good things!
Brewed aroma – Very mild aroma – citrus
Liqueur – Amber, initally a little cloudy
Taste – Medium-bodied, very clean, ultra-smooth, & rich. As one would expect with a 10-yr old premium cake, there wasn’t any bitterness, astringency, acidity, fishiness or funk.
Flavor profile – I agree with mrmopar, this shou has a mild mineral flavor that was more obvious near the end of the sip.
Impression – This shou conjured up thoughts of a very refined introvert skilled in the art of diplomacy to win over your tastebuds and your smile. It isn’t a bold robust extroverted morning cup. This shou is perhaps best served at the traditional English afternoon tea time. This is an excellent shou.
11.6g / 6 oz / 205° / 60s preheat / 60s warm leaves / 5s rinse / 20 min rest / 5s / 5 / 5 / 5 / 15 / 30 / 60 /120