116 Tasting Notes

I had the 2016 version of this tea and am told by the vendor they are very similar, but that waiting a year for it to develop will change it and is preferred.

My notes will echo to BigDaddy’s. These leaves were skillfully processed and are from good terroir. The honey, orchid, and wild rose fragrance of the brewed leaves is pungent and intoxicating. It reminds me of what a proper, upper tier Dan Cong should be. I used my chaozhou pot, gaiwan, and glass tumbler at work—while the chaozhou clay enhances the purity and depth of the tea, the experience consistent across brewing devices.

Definitive and distinct structure in both texture, flavor, and depth — it coats the center, sides and back of the tongue revealing an interesting confluence of rock sugar, orchid florals, crisp peach, and complex wood and mineral notes presented together. There is real depth and presence that is felt in the sides of the tongue and back of the throat. This one is something to experience and won’t empty your wallet.

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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.

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What can I say, I’m a total sucker for fresh spring harvests (xincha).

This green is superb and it trumps the 2016 Wuliang mao feng. Nice pungent apricot/peach blossom aroma. Much more robust than I expected. It went for more than 6 steeps – and still had good flavor. There’s a hint of smoke that reminds me of its rural origins, rather than dominating the fruit, floral, and crisp notes, IMO. It has that wonderful, penetrating cooling sensation that i associate with sheng pu’er.

The delicate leaves are a gorgeous shade of jungle green and are a bit broken, but that doesn’t seem to effect the drinking experience. Tea liquor is very clear and with a jade hue (hence the name?).

Big shout out to Scott for sourcing such a broad range of fresh greens.

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In recent years, there’s been a bit of noise around liu bao on the online tea universe. For those who have never had, it’s quite similar to shu pu’er, but still quite distinct. The “golden flowers”, aka good mold that this genre – heicha – is known for, was a turn off for me at first, as I thought it was either a marketing ploy for poorly stored tea. In fact, the opposite is true. It’s a good thing and their growth is natural and intentionally triggered. There’s plenty of literature out there for those interested.

I’m an openminded guy, so I ordered a sample without expectations. This is not a pretty tea, BUT it has grown on me fast. Dried tea chunks smell like old furniture, which makes sense for 16 years old leaves. Wet leaves smell of wet leather. Interesting.

The tea soup is an aesthetically pleasing reddish hue and very clear. The initial steeps are thick, lively, complex, and almost spicy. Lots of wood notes, leather, and hints of paprika that linger on the tongue. It looks and tastes clean. Especially after airing it out. 5 g will yield about 9 steeps, depending on how you brew of course.

This one is very comfortable going down, yet still interesting on the palate. I ended up purchasing more. I find airing out the tea upon arrival for a week or so will help it settle, improve sweetness, and produce a cleaner taste.

S.G. Sanders

I very much liked this too….Quite unexpected.


I have some left from my phoenix collection order a few years back, I love it. Not as an every day thing, but for sure as something that I miss and have to comeback to. Also, for some reason it makes me feel like it would be great to settle a overstuffed stomach. lol


Yeah, it’s very soothing in every way. It reminds me more of a clean-humid-stored very aged sheng than shu pu’er.

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This sample has been lying around unsealed my tupperware pumidor for over 1 year. I’m not the biggest fan of blends, as I am sort of a purist. I also don’t purchase autumn harvests, but here we are.

The leaves came apart from the bing chunk without much effort. It’s practically maocha. They have a strong dried apricot and peach fragrance after the rinse. The leaves are quite long and thick and some are still slightly olive toned. The tea liquor is a deep gold with an orange-like hue. Very clear.

First few steeps are much fruiter in the front than I expected — some honey, wood notes, and quince jam. At first, this seemed like it would be a sweet autumn tea (yawn), but by the 5th or so steep there is healthy, refreshing bitterness that rings in the back the tongue and lingers for a while. I liked where this is going.

There isn’t much body at all. Instead, the tea has good qi and a remarkable warming affect I feel coming from my solar plexus. It’s a dynamic little tea.


I’ll try my cake later to see if the same thing happened. I haven’t touched it since when I first got it

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Multiple roastings combined with well-sourced leaves make for a complex and well structured tea. The tea is very present in the back of the throat and solar plexus.
Nice subtly sweet granite/mineral base, complex cedar notes, and layered depth similar to wild blueberries, dark chocolate, cinnamon, and roasted grains. Later steeps reveal more floral and fruity notes.

I’ve had only a few teas like this, but for a much higher price, so I definitely intend on grabbing another bag of this one.

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drank Qi Lan by Wuyi Origin
116 tasting notes

This came with a few other yanchas from Wuyi Rock Tea Factory (don’t know why the first person added the “shan”, but there you have it). Skyping regularly with Cindy has given me a better idea of her wealth of experience gained from her family’s multi-generation tea making business in Wuyi. It’s also allowed me to continue to practice Mandarin – a rare opportunity in my current weekly routine!

This is my first Qi Lan. Her yanchas are grown exclusively in either the Banyan or Zhengyan areas. It’s highly floral yet subtle in its crystalline rock/mineral sweetness. The roasted notes are still there, but will fade in a year. The taste is pure and quite straightforward. There is a thick body and depth to this tea. It has good clarity and a certain cleanliness, not just in the glass pitcher but also in the mouth.

It goes for 6 to 7 flavorful infusions, but could go a bit more had I added more leaf (this time just 5.5ish grams). There are no prices listed on Cindy’s website, but if you contact her yourself she’ll give you a good price. That might not be some folks’ do business, but that’s how it’s done in China.


I like Qi Lan tea. Not just the Oolong, the material processed into black tea is really satisfying to me, you get hints of sweet cinnamon and other mellow spices as part of its complexity. I need to check them out.


I can imagine that being a good black tea. Funny you mention that, since I found her laocong shuixian was quite akin to a very high-end black tea with the sweet rock aroma of shuixian. I need more sessions with that one before I can share notes.

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This is very young tea, but a good one that’s easy on the stomach yet not compromising on qi. Yeah, I’ve been knocked out since the 2nd steep. The tea liquor is as clear as golden citrin and the leaves are mostly large and dark olive green. They have a high floral fragrance which remains present in the empty cup.

Early steeps are syrupy and dominated by honeysuckle, irises, and daisies. The lingering mouthfeel is outstanding and the huigan has a cooling element to it too in the back of the mouth. Somewhere midway, high florals are accompanied by acorn, bitter dandelion greens, spicy raw Brussel’s sprouts, and smoky mustard greens. This is reflected in the aroma as well.

Here, mouthfeel, huigan, and qi increase in potency. My cheeks are flushed and my entire mouth cavity is pulsating with peppercorns in the back, floral intensity (sweet, bitter, and spicy at once) on the sides and the top, and qi in my head and spine. The tea remains stable even passed the 10th steep. Earlier I found mid to later steeps too vegetal for my liking, but the tea is settling nicely, as these green notes develop and add to its complexity.

This is just what I needed after a long day of work and slightly chaotic domestic situation. I don’t regret this purchase. Not one bit.

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This is the first Shui Xian Wuyi I’ve had. I thought I would do this right by grabbing a sample that is claimed to be sourced from Jiulongke, a small patch of tea gardens within the Zheng Yan scenic area. I’m still learning about Wuyi teas, but I have had true cliff Wuyi oolong before and this one seems to share some their characteristics.

These are large black, intact leaves that are highly floral after the rinse. I can’t recall any Wuyi with such a strong floral aroma. The first few infusions are thiiiiiiiiiick, smooth, and powerful. Very nice qi and strong mouthfeel that forces me to recline as I slowly sip. All the typical Shui Xian notes of prominent umami-like florals, cannabis, roasted barley, and sweet minerals (reminiscent of MSG) that cover the entire mouth almost like toothpaste. This sweet mineral note and strong mouthfeel linger for a some time after drinking.

This one goes strong until steep 8 or so. While it’s already enjoyable now, waiting at least a year or more for the flavors and textures to develop would pay this tea the respect it deserves and heighten the drinking experience. I could see this resulting in a richer tea liquid with some sweeter fruit notes.

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drank 2016 Poundcake by White2Tea
116 tasting notes

The poundcake is the young pop star of pu’er in the West for obvious reasons. I’m not one to embrace trends, but I’ve been curious what all the hype was about. This is my second session with this tea. The attractive long dried leaves have a sweet sugary/grassy scent which is enhaced with a spash of ripened passion and mango aromas after the first rinse. What’s not to like?

Steeps are consistently vibrant and active in the mouth with some throat action going on there too. This one has a nice buzzing qi that grabs my attention. Typically expert processing here: mercifully light compression respecting leaf integrity; pure and clean tea liquor and taste; and no burnt specks to be found. Tropical fruits, sweet florals, and milky oolong continue into later steeps with just a hint of astringency.

There’s a metallic finish (all too prolific in W2T’s shengs) at the roof and back of my mouth that takes points off in my book. This can be overcome with more dynamic flavor characteristics, which isn’t the case here considering the softer profile and lack of edge of this tea.

I can see why this would be attractive to beginners with a decent tea budget, but having tried at least 5 of W2T’s Yiwu-like shengs, I find myself unwilling to put up the cash for this xiao bing. Instead, I chose to pay $15 more for their 357 g 2009 Yiwu Gushu Bing, I suspect shared very similar characteristics in its youth.

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From childhood memories of mom serving chrysanthemum and Luo han guo tea to complimentary shu pu’er at Chinese banquets to substituting coffee with sencha to plow through college — tea has always been that comforting and essential element that restores balance to my system. It was only while studying in China that I learned to appreciate and fell in love with Chinese tea culture.

Order of preferences:
young sheng pu’er
green tea
roasted oolongs
aged sheng pu’er
shu pu’er


Personal brewing methods:

1) Use good water – filtered then boiled with maifanshi (麦饭石)。

2) Leaf to water ratios (depends on the tea)
- pu’er: 5 g for 100 ml
- green tea: 3 g for 150 ml
- oolong: 5 g for 100 ml
- white tea: 5 g for 100 ml
- heicha: 5 g for 100 ml, or boil brick teas over stovetop


Washington, DC

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