91 Tasting Notes
2008 Mr Feng’s ‘Selected Trees’ – Essence Of Tea
Price: £0.60 / g £15 for 25 g.
Dry: Med brown with some grey leaves. Med compression. Sweet wood, but they all seem to smell like that from my Essence Of Tea order so far.
Wet: Concentrated herbal, quite smoky, dark fruit. Yiwu-style sweetness.
8 grams in Gaiwan.
Summary: Power house of bitterness, but of high quality material. Full flavour in the mouth unlike the Mengku 2007 Mu Ye Chun light flavour. Gives good energy. This tea does not have a lot of character, and for a 2008 tea it has incredibly strong bitterness, something which surprisingly is not mentioned in the description.
Rinse: Very clear, light golden.
10s – Light golden. Sweet. Very clear tasting. Mild bitterness. I feel like a cool breeze has gone down my throat. Very mild flavours though. Bit like a Yiwu.
15s – Med golden. Strong bitterness and tart sweetness with some smoke. The after-taste is dry bitterness. This reminds me of Pu-erh.sk’s 2014 Naka. It is a youthful, bitter sheng of quality material.
5s – Light golden. Very bitter and energetic. Smoke is clearing slightly. Consistency is thick just as the description says.
10s – Light golden. This tea has a solid body, which is like a rainbow of bitterness.
7s – The bitterness is softening.
The bitterness can be tasted minutes after drinking.
2007 Xiaguan Golden Ribbon toucha 100g from Naturally Fine Tea at Aliexpress.
Price: £7.77 ($11.84) 100g. £0.08 ($0.12) /gram.
Summary: Drinkable, but very poor tea.
Dry: It has a golden ribbon on it, held by 3-4 leaves. Faint straw aroma. Compression is not rock hard as one comes to expect from a Xiaguan tuocha. I have previously had the 2008 Dream of Red from Yunnan Sourcing and 2012 Jingmai from Dragon Tea House. Instead, the compression is very light. It is easy to break into and the toucha appears quite brittle. I broke off a chunk to drink and lots of other pieces came off too. Unusual for a Xiaguan toucha with my experience of them.
Wet: Interesting. Warm horse, becoming leathery. Quite prickly; smoke is dark. There is an aged aroma that I was not expecting from a tea of 2007: old books with dark fruit behind. No birdcage aroma here however.
Rinse twice, as per usual. The colour of the liquor is light gold and very clear.Rest for 40 minutes. I don’t usually, but I want to give this tea a good start.
5s – Med golden brown? This is no young sheng. It does not have the bitterness of the 2008 Dream in Red. It is completely worn out. This tastes like aged raw pu-erh or wet stored pu-erh. It has some smoke, but not the usual Xiaguan house style of smoke.
10s – Med golden brown? It has a bit of warm horse, leather taste. Very mild, worn out; slightly smoky after taste. I think there is something odd here…
15s – Less dark medium golden brown. It has notes of stewed tea, and it leaves a mild ages taste of old books. I’m very disappointed with this tea.
25s – Light brown. I’m sweating, but I do have my coat on.
This tea arrived after only 10 days. A nice green and yellow box. I had been looking forward to this one. Slightly ruffled looking, but that must be it’s due to its age. I notice the lid is not a tight fit like the 2008 Dream of Red or the 2012 Jingmai, but that must be a loose box. There is no date on the wrapper, but that could be normal. It tastes nothing like my previous Xiaguan tuochas, but it is a different tea. Compression is very light and not the rock-hard compression I’m used to, but this is a different tea. Overall, the flavour was not there, but that could be bad storage. I had a look at the leaves after the session and found a couple of black, hard, rubbery leaves that looked like cooked pu-erh. I don’t know how to explain that one.
Dianhong Tea at Aliexpress
Price: £11.92 ($18.37) for 150g cake.
Price per gram: 7.95p ($0.12)
Sweet: Very smooth, creamy and syrupy with lighter brews. Heavier brews yield an unfavourable metallic taste.
When brewed heavy I would rate this only 75/100.
Dry: Fishy. A yellow aroma…
Wet: Soft, yellow, creamy, light smoke. Not particularly inviting. Porridge sweetness.
5s – Dark brown. Sweet creamy, syrupy sip. Lightly brewed like this it is very pleasant. A cool breeze, milky, butteryness with a hint of cream.
20s – Darker brown. Soft cream on the sip. The body is soap-like. It is stimulating, but not overpowering. It is richly creamy and it swells to a medium strength body.
40s – Very dark brown. This tea is incredibly smooth and rounded with only a trace of an off wood note. Brewing this tea with more leaf and for longer steeps time, I find it gets heavy in a way where I feel it gives too much caffeine / metallic taste.
Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Honey, Soap
Price: £27.80 ($42.53) / 250g in box.
5g in Gaiwan.
On a good day: 82/100
On a bad day: 65/100
Hot gaiwan: Smouldering wood.
Wet: Dry, dusty, smokey, dark fruit.
Summary: Clear, swelling raisin sweetness is joined by honey sweetness to give a floral profile. Not concentrated herbal here. It does have a stimulating grip. The number of steeps it gives is fairly limited.
The problem with this tea is it’s a bit hit and miss when brewing. Some days it has an excellent honey sweetness I’ve not come across, then other days it is flat and fairly plain and mildly astringent. However, it was worth buying to taste that honey sweetness.
5s – Med orange; slightly cloudy. Mild raisins; very gentle bitterness; light body. A bit thin.
15s – Med orange/gold. Thicker. Raisin sweetness swells, and a honey sweetness sparkling returns.
20s – Med orange/gold. Not so much honey sweetness this time. I think it wants brewing longer for that.
30s – Med orange/gold. Honey and floral. The returning sweetness is there.
Flavors: Honey, Raisins
2003 Fengwing Jia Ji Raw – Dragon Tea House
Price: £7.69 ($11.86) (50g)
Dry: Med compression. Fruity herbally. Colourful
Wet: Bright, herbally, dark lemony, menthol. Similar to 2008 Xiaguan Dream of red.
Summary: Fizzy, lemony. It is a good tea, but lacks complexity, multi-layering and the smoke it still too strong to appreciate its nuances.
Note: Dragon Tea House no longer stock this so I put it under Berylleb as they do stock it.
5s – Light/med orange. No sharp bitterness. Some fizzyness. Round in the mouth. Lingers. Has a lemony fizzyness on the swallow.
Other notes: Sour, lemons, strong bitterness, disinfectant, good body, bright. Strong, fast returning sweetness and bitterness.
This tea gives some tangyness/fizz/sparkle at the back of the throat. Flavour is cloudy bitter lemons. It is sharp and bitter in the mouth. Later steeps have less bitterness and maintain the cloudy lemon flavour, which has some grip underneath. A very strong tea when brewed hard.
Throat rhyme is there and causes the mouth to salivate. However, it is being blocked slightly by some grey smoke.
Price: £27.34 ($43.12) (400g cake
Summary: This starts of light before getting quite intense. Herbal and lemony fruitiness, some throat rhyme
8 grams (pried from the bottom slice at the edge).
This is my first raw cake :)
Dry: Dark brown with white’ish leaves, medium/high compression. Aroma is bright sour lemons.
Wet: Fresh green, dark fruits, complex aroma. Full leaves and stems.
5s – Light orange. Sweet sip with medium body, which appears to give some throat rhyme. It is pleasant and not simple or overly complex, but somewhere in between. No smoke or bitterness detected.
10s – Medium orange. Has some thickness in the mouth, and on the swallow I feel some oil from the leaves go down a little time afterwards. Some bitterness.
15s – Light orange. It has some herbal to it and some bright lemons notes that really stood out, and appeared quite randomly. This is not particularly smooth, but it is interesting to drink.
20s – Light orange. Judging by the strength of this tea, I would say it would go another 5 steeps at least. A subsequent session confirmed this.
Price: 250g bag £13.65 ($21.42)
Summary: A worn out tea that provides a mellow, creamy taste. For an aged tea with more flavours, I recommend one of these:
Wild Quarter Brick 1990 by pu-erh.sk
Yiwu 1999 maocha by pu-erh.sk
Tuo Cha 1990 by pu-erh.sk
1980’s Tong Qing Hao Tea Cake by SampleTea
5g in Gaiwan.
Dry: Slightly dusty, warehouse aroma. Loose leaf + clumps that are dark brown.
Wet: Slightly smoky, wet wood. No aged flavours like bird-cage or church-like aromas. Dark brown leaves and the odd black stem and leaf.
Note: There is no label on the paper bag to say what the tea is. Maybe they don’t know what it is?
Rinse water is dark gold.
5s – Dark gold. Very mild, very subtle hints of wood.
10s – Dark gold. Very mild, subtle hints of wood. No bitterness or astringency.
25s – Dark gold. Has some of the sweetness from shu pu-erh.
30s – Less dark gold. Soft wet wood. Taste is clean. Slight sparkle on the swallow. This tea tastes like it is very worn out.
40s – Dark gold. Some subtle bitterness against the soft wet wood.
50s – Dark gold. Mild wet wood, slightly creamy.
Flavors: Creamy, Wet wood
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Price: 100g £7.66 ($11.98) from Dragon Tea House.
7g in Gaiwan.
Dry: Dark brown; medium compression, slightly fishy.
Wet: Creamy, slightly fishy, chocolatey, electrical smoke.
5s – Med brown. Good body, soft bitterness on the swallow, woody.
10s – Dark brown. Strong, complex body. The flavour profile is woody body with a creamy, slightly fishy, sweet finish that lingers. This is excellent tea in terms of body and finish.
The only negatives are that the wood flavours can carry a bit of funk. i.e. Sometimes they don’t seem to fit.
This tea brews well when brewed for longer to give a darker flavour.
Flavors: Creamy, Dark Wood, Wet wood