Lao Tong Zhi 2012 Shu Pu'er Cake

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Pu-erh Tea
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7 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I have a method for smelling things. Breath in and out a few times, nice slow breaths, then after exhaling through your nose, stick your nose in the cup (or wherever you want to stick it), and just...” Read full tasting note
  • “If you take time with tea, you can learn to listen to what it wants to say. If you’re new to the world of tea this may seem like an odd statement. How can tea speak? If I said that eating Turkey on...” Read full tasting note
  • “SIPDOWN! Thank you terri for sending me a sample of this one. This is another from yesterday that i didn’t get a chance to log. I’m trying to get to a few of the samples terri sent me so that i...” Read full tasting note
  • “I purchased a cake of this during the Cyber Monday Verdant Tea sale. I have been craving pu’er for a while now, and needed something that I could pick apart at leisure while there still being...” Read full tasting note

From Verdant Tea

“This well-balanced pu’er shows incredible promise in texture and flavor for its age, with juicy and savory notes . . .”

Usually, shu pu’er that has been aged less than two to three years is too rough and heavy for immediate consumption, or it is already smoothed out to the point of being boring. This exemplary young 357g shu cake exhibits both smoothness and complexity.

The wet leaves smell rich and earthy with notes of mocha and raisin. In early steepings, the raisin profile continues to grow, complemented by by spicy cinnamon notes. After a few steeps, the texture becomes even more interesting with a clean mustiness, and salty caramel notes.

The rich warmer side of this tea is counter-complimented in late steepings by an exciting coolness in the aftertaste usually only found in wild-picked pu’er with a few years under its belt. This coolness continues to grow as the tea becomes sweeter and juicier while the musty elements fade into the background. At no point in steeping does this tea get too heavy, or sour like so many young pu’er tend to do.

This is a forgiving and durable tea well-suited to drinking now, or buying a few cakes of and aging for a few years to bring out the latent complexity and depth.

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7 Tasting Notes

3294 tasting notes

I have a method for smelling things. Breath in and out a few times, nice slow breaths, then after exhaling through your nose, stick your nose in the cup (or wherever you want to stick it), and just barely inhale, like almost not inhaling, just barely let the air begin to enter. A friend of mine had lost his sense of smell, and he used this technique, and after awhile he got his ability to smell back. He was elated.

This smells like buttery salted caramel. It’s also very attractive to look at, at least to me! I’m using one of my new Earthen Gaiwans that I got from Stacy @ Butiki. They really are adorable!!

1. My formula: 5G + 4oz (1 rinse) @ 4sec = nice deep color of burnt orange, aroma of cream & cinnamon (very mild), and the taste is sweet! There is a very slight bitter edge, kind of like coffee, but not. There is also a vanilla sensation, & tingling on my tongue.

2. 10 seconds = There really is a spicey cinnamon-like flavor here, and a grown-up kind of sweetness, like the sweetness of dark chocolate, although it does not taste like dark chocolate.

While I’m reheating my water, I’m packaging xmas CDs that I sold from my website! (sorry for the shameless self-promotion)
I’m also packaging up samples of the czar nicholas II St Valentine for the people in our steepster bookclub that are reading Anna Karanina. If anyone else wants some, let me know, cuz the package is HUGE, 8.8 oz!

3. 20 sec = I can tell, just by looking at my cup, that this is going to be an awesome brew!! It’s very deep, dark, & full bodied, and at first I was thinking Raisin Toast, but really it’s more like Boston Brown Bread with lots of raisins in it. Years ago, I used to steam-bake Boston Brown Bread in progresso soup cans all winter long. It’s fruity & dense, with a darker flavor than regular bread. My kids & I adored it.
4. 30 sec = molasses gives boston brown bread part of it’s dark flavor, & that’s what I’m really thinking of. This is kind of like having boston brown bread & a cup of coffee.
5. 1 minute: I figured I’d go for the gusto, and I’m glad I did! This is deliciously bold & sweet! The raisin & molasses & cinnamon flavors are really out there now.

My SigO, Tony, just showed up, so I’m done writing this review, but I’ll keep sipping until the flavors are gone. Meanwhile, I’m glad I bought a cake of this, & am excited about seeing how it ages! This is being added to my ‘favorite’ puer’s list in my tea journal.

BTW, the Earthen Gaiwan is performing beautifully, & you can see it, and get one @


I have the Czar Nikolas and you’re right about it being a huge bag. (I have the blue and red bags for making Russian Tea with jam in it)…AND I have a Gaiwan like yours, a Green and brown speckled one. I love it!( We must have some kind of mind meld going on.)

Terri HarpLady

Yes, you sent me a sample of the St. Valentine when we first became friends! It’s some powerful rose tea, and a perfect complement to the Anna Karenina novel! I still haven’t tried the blue one yet. And I agree, we do seem to have a lot of similar tastes :D


I like the Blue pkg. Czar Nikolas II Renaissance Tea better, my granddaughter likes the Red pkg. St. Valentine which I think is way more floral. I’m not that fru fru…(more of a Shu lady…, a lady has to have lots of Shu’s you know!) OK dumb joke!

Terri HarpLady

@ Paul, it will be great to read your notes on this Shu!


I asked at the Savoy tea company today and they showed me a gaiwan. Didn’t buy it, but now I finally know what you’re talking about. :)

Terri HarpLady

Paul, I’m actually thinking of getting another cake myself, which is insane, given the amount of tea I have around here now. But it’s tasty now, so I want to be able to drink it in my rotation, and have a 2nd cake to age. Is that rediculous? LOL
MsW – my favorite Gaiwan is the Earthen Gaiwan from Butiki. The price is reasonable, & it’s really nice to handle.

Terri HarpLady

Paul, I think the reason I was thinking boston Brown bread was the molasses like flavor.

Terri HarpLady

LOL, yeah, they can split an episode between the 2 of us then :D

Terri HarpLady

Yay!! I also have my Private Reserve samples, which came on saturday. I’m off to get a massage, & then “Let the wild rumpus of tea sampling begin”, Little Terri said.
LOL! OK, so it won’t really be a rumpus (sigh), but little T loves to say things like that.

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676 tasting notes

If you take time with tea, you can learn to listen to what it wants to say.

If you’re new to the world of tea this may seem like an odd statement. How can tea speak?

If I said that eating Turkey on Thanksgiving reminded me of my childhood home in California you would understand. And if I told you that hot chocolate with mini marshmallows on a snowy day made me think of being a kid again…picking up ice skates and going out with friends for a game of hockey…the picture would form in your mind. The Turkey and cocoa didn’t speak to me but eating and drinking them brought memories to mind.

Tea can speak to our memory also, taking us to places long forgotten but stored like jewels ready for discovery.

Pu’er tea is like an interesting memory key. The right tea opens up complex chambers often with earthy flavors that flash and turn like wood sprites.

My brewing method today was a fat 4oz white Gaiwan.
There were 7 steepings.
I played with the time beginning (after a wash) at 10 seconds then 15, 15, 20, 45, 20, 1 minute and lastly 30 seconds.
The color was light golden caramel brown changing to deep amber and back to lighter golden with the shorter steep time.

About the color: The tea glitters like the famous Amber Room of Catherine the Great!

The leaves smelled creamy and sweet. I wasn’t expecting the flavor to be as lightly sweet and smooth as it was for a first pour with a hint of vanilla honey.

I was tempted to drink quickly…in a hurry to jump into the pool of richer steepings. So impatient…forgetting the polite behavior required with my tea.

Someone far away had worked very hard for me to have this cup.

Slowly, I moved on to more steepings, remembering to look at the color, smell the leaves and enjoy each inhaled slurp tossed to the back of my throat. Ah yes, smooth and juicy…full of light brown sugar.

Halfway through the tasting, there were some memories of water …coastlines and trees, fields of flowers and mountains. Hum. I dismissed the thoughts.

I drank more tea, which was becoming more like clover honey mixed with light brown sugar. The flavor never became bitter even with the longest steep time and never became dry.

I looked for spice and there was a vapor…and poof, gone. I could not put my finger (or nose or mouth) on it. Some other time maybe.

At the bottom of the 5th steeping I noticed a chewiness and a golden raisin taste. “So,” I chuckled, “it couldn’t be that.” I decided to stick to my opinion though, and later when I read the notes on the Verdent Website and saw the flavor profile mention ‘Raisin’, I smiled.

Again, I was having those wandering thoughts about the Sea and Mountains but stopped this time to consider my tea and what it was saying.

The thoughts floating in and out…the pictures in my memory were of visits to family in Washington State.
It’s so GREEN there with lush forests and farms! The fields of flowers in the Skagit Valley go on forever, and there is WATER everywhere!

Why was I thinking about the seashore, green fields and the trees of Washington? Remembering sitting on a bench in Anacortes looking out to Orca’s Island with the sun glittering on the water? Sailing through the San Juan Islands? A drive up to the snowline of Mt. Baker?

It’s calming, restful and beautiful!

Was it the juiciness of the tea and the smooth slightly sweet flavor that brought me there? Was this my jewel and a gift from the tea?

I think so. I became rested and calm. Happy with my memories.

One thing that I’ve been known to do with Pu’er that has a hint of salt (there is just a hint here) and slight caramel (I think this is more buttery than caramel) is add a few grains of sugar.
Stand back and see what happens…few grains in…and..CARAMEL!
Very delicious!

I bought 1 cake and it’s fabulous! (This tasting is from a 7oz. sample I bought to go with it.)


I loved this review! It is making me wish I had put an order in over the weekend!

Joshua Smith

Wow, this sounds really great! I just got this in today, but I opted to try a different tea first, and now I kind of regret my decision. While Shui Xian is nice, tasting an unknown tea is so much more fun!.

Anyway, I’m glad that you enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to try it in the near future.

Whispering Pines Tea Company

Thanks for helping me remember to remember. This one brings me home. <3

Terri HarpLady

Nice review, as always, Bonnie. I just got a bunch of new teas in today, including this one, but it was late in the day and I have to get up early, so they all have to wait until tomorrow afternoon. Oh, the agony…


It will be fun to hear what everyone else experience is with this tea since we all filter through out own taste buds and experiences.


sounds yummy!
Bonnie, will you take me to the mountains please?


I-Bloom, sure…but those are at the other end of Canada at the border with the U.S. Just hop on a ferry in Vancouver or Victoria…the San Juan Island and Puget Sound area’s are gorgeous (the Canadian and U.S. Rocky Mountains are beautiful too). Sure…come to the mountains any time!


I went to Calgary once, visited Banff and it was stunning! can’t wait to go again one day


beautiful review

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13512 tasting notes

SIPDOWN! Thank you terri for sending me a sample of this one. This is another from yesterday that i didn’t get a chance to log. I’m trying to get to a few of the samples terri sent me so that i can start to figure out what i like in terms of puerh AND to get my cupboard size down a little heh.

This is a really nice puerh. Not my favorite of those that iv’e tried but since i have so far enjoyed every puerh that i’ve tried, i’m thinking it’s just the tea for me lol

I did a few steepings of this, which are of course a little foggy for me now. I recall there being woody characteristics, raisin and an earthiness to it without being too much.

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64 tasting notes

I purchased a cake of this during the Cyber Monday Verdant Tea sale. I have been craving pu’er for a while now, and needed something that I could pick apart at leisure while there still being enough to age. It also serves as a distraction from my small, but steadily growing sheng collection, so that I can actually those items age. At any rate, I’ve tasted it a few times since I received it and am quite happy with it, especially considering its young age.

The dry cake’s aroma is lovely. Very spicy, woodsy, with hints of old books and laminate. The leaves are very well-compacted. The last few times I used about 5 grams (+/- 1 gram) in my trusty 100 mL gaiwan, using boiling water. The wet leaves smell delicious. They’re very potent, smelling of sweet earth, musk, and parchment. There are some spicy raisin-y scents hiding somewhere, but they aren’t the most apparent.

The liquor’s aroma is like sweet, spiced plums. Or maybe prunes? It’s a very rich, deep scent. The liquor’s appearance is dark brown, tinged with red. It really reminds me of coffee. Later on, it becomes much darker, almost black, tinged with a russet coloration.

Usual gong fu session: 5" wash, 5", 6", 8", 12", 20", 1’20", >5’

On to the flavor! The first steep is filled with raisin-y goodness, tons of spices, a bit of peat, woodsy, and very salty. Thankfully, the rich sweetness of the raisin and peaty/earthy flavors counteracts the saltiness, but it seems like there is a tad more than there needs to be. However, I think it helps to create the most interesting mouthfeel I’ve sensed in a while that I only find in this steep. It’s this crazy slippery feeling that makes it feel like the tea doesn’t even come into contact with my tongue, like there is some weird force field surrounding it. It’s really quite weird. But as if that wasn’t enough, it’s also incredibly creamy and creates a nice cooling effect in the throat. Just when I thought I had felt everything, the last sip, which had cooled off considerably, produced a fizzy sensation. Ahh pu’er, so unpredictable.

The next steep introduced caramel and earth flavors, really filling the body and rounding out the flavor profile. The crazy sensations above sort of dissipated a bit, all decreasing in intensity and duration. At this point an aftertaste begins to develop that turns incredibly spicy. Later on, it just catches in the throat, thick, hot, and lingering. Kind of like the aromatic spiciness of wasabi that catches in your nasal cavity. The fourth steep really presents the spicy profile. Seems like a mixture of cedar, turmeric, and cinnamon. I’m definitely considering making a chai with this shu. I had great success with a pumpkin spice-chocolate chai I crafted using Verdant’s Zhu Rong black (the girlfriend says its her favorite chai she’s had). I’ll probably make another post here if it turns out well.

Anyway, back to this shu. The last steeps result in a pretty weak brew flavor-wise, but there is this really nice cooling sensation they create that lingers for quite some time. After I was finished after my first tasting, I checked out the wet leaves. I’m not too excited about their condition. They’re really falling apart, peeling away from the central vein like wet paper. Considering it hasn’t been much time since the leaves were pressed, I’m a bit nervous of how they’ll fare after a few years. Hopefully, based on the current flavor, it won’t be much of an issue and will age nicely. I’ll attempt to restrain myself from finishing the cake and compare notes in six months or so.


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