Master Han's 2012 Sheng Pu'er

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Pu-erh Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Terri HarpLady
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205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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From Verdant Tea

Master Han picks wild tea trees in the Qianjiazhai region of the Mount Ailao National Forest Preserve, Yunnan. He takes the utmost care to “let the leaves speak,” pressing each batch of leaves differently to bring out their best, either as a looseleaf sheng, a black tea or a pressed cake or ball of tea.

He works his own land, but is part of the Dongsa farmers cooperative. The cooperative does not pool tea for bulk selling, but rather invests in equipment together so that each farmer can produce their own distinct products with a greater degree of ownership.

This unique 250g brick of tea presents a great opportunity to invest in Mast Han’s craft and age a young pu’er of his. Even with only a year of age, this tea is rich, smooth and complex. The first sips move between citrus and savory, like teff-flour based injera bread, or malted semolina. The sweet aftertaste is crisp like fresh napa cabbage, and the citrus moves towards lime. The darker lingering aftertaste hints at Holy Basil.

In later steepings the body continues to build and has the olive-oil smoothness that is characteristic of Master Han’s finest teas, a true reflection of the Qianjiazhai region. Compare this tea with Master Han’s black tea so that you can see the strong relation between them, especially in the olive oil notes. This sheng is like a fresh unfiltered olive oil- full of green spicy chlorophyl notes, while the black tea is smoother and sweeter like a filtered oil.

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15 Tasting Notes

3262 tasting notes

Tomorrow morning I’m flying to Orlando, FL to visit my folks, who live in Apopka. It will be a week of no real responsibilities. At least once a day Dad will ask me to show him something on the piano, as I’ve been teaching him theory & improvisation for a few years now. Mom will find reasons to go to the health food store, the book store, or other locations to get some time alone with me. We’ll hang out relaxing. I’m smuggling some Egyptian Walking Onions for their garden. (Last time I smuggled 2 of their amazing aloe plants home, they are very different from the ones I have here). I don’t care much for FL, but I like to go visit my folks each year for their anniversary. Last year we had a family reunion in Springfield, MO to celebrate 60 years. It was the first time all 5 siblings had been in the same place in about 30 years! This year it is back to a nice quiet week of goofing off, watching movies, gardening, & eating. And drinking tea. The hardest decision I have to make today is which teas to bring:
A) My favorites…but there are so many!
B) A sipdown sampler collection
I still haven’t decided, LOL.
Meanwhile, the TOMC bundle came on Saturday, & today I’m working my way through some of the selections.

Don’t think I’m any kind of authority on Sheng, because I’m not, but for a year old Sheng, this seems amazingly smooth, sweet, & even kind of creamy. Most of the other young Shengs I’ve tried have been kind of harsh, especially if I use more than 3G. The chaqi hit me after the first cup, & I’ve been sipping cup after cup, in between doing various things that need to be done before I leave town: a few loads of laundry, water all houseplants, etc. The flavor is rich with a full maltiness, a bright citrus sensation, steam sauteed cabbage, & a lingering herbaceousness & thick tongue. I like it!


I hope the trip goes well! It sounds super relaxing.

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8261 tasting notes

I’ve been drinking this one over the course of the morning/afternoon as Try to get my tea order figured out and get some work done. Turns out with the Nina’s order and the Lupicia order that were placed, but i won’t have in my cupboard until March…i technically need to get down to 130 by the end of February. However, since those orders won’t be in my house until march…i’m so not counting them until they get here. So unless more tea shows up in the next few days, i’ve officially made my goal of getting to 150 by the end of February…final tally to occur on Saturday heh. In the mean time, at least i can keep on working on things.

I pulled this one out today because yesterday i drank the same but the shu… turns out i like this one a little better, but i don’t quite have the same drinking experience as others have had. To me, this is a little smoky…and a little creamy. Some have said cabbage like flavours, which i’m totally not getting, but what i am getting, i’m enjoying. The last little bit of this sample will be reserved for Cavo :)


Who would have known ordering and drinking tea was so much work :P


haha it is! organising orders with a few of us haha


yay sheng!

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390 tasting notes

smells like a tieguanyin but with a deeper warm roundness to it. it steeped up very light and clear…. BUT. sigh. sometimes there is a but.

my ‘but’ is this: i don’t like this for the same reason i didn’t like turkey before i was allergic and lobster… there is a disconcerting sweetness that hits at just the wrong time.

it’s the tip of the tongue that detects sweetness. an argument could be made that i swallow in a strange manner and that’s why it hits at the time it does, or it could be down to individual physiology. there’s simply no way to know.

i will keep trying. i can tell you that verdant’s golden buds puerh is the most brilliant i’ve ever had if that explains anything to any budding tongue-ologists out there (couldn’t resist the pun).

nitty gritty: light, mild, sweet and smooth… just not for me (though i will keep trying).

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec

you know what’s deleriously funny about NOT liking this tea? i was so upset (because verdant is one of my defacto awesomes) that i went and ordered some of my favourites to address the trauma, LMAO). perfect stress reaction for a student with a loan, huh? sheesh.

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264 tasting notes

This is delicious.
Thick and creamy with a nice pine-like brightness that is sweet, similar to my beloved Silver Buds.
I definitely see the crispness like fresh napa cabbage (slight twinge of bitterness that makes you salivate) or fresh granny smith apple (like when you bite in and your tastebuds go wild with the sweet tart flavour).
Yum. Yum Yum

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248 tasting notes

I felt like being adventurous today, so I picked a random puerh. While I’m no expert on sheng, I’ve had my fair share of cheap young sheng samples, and not many of them were palatable let alone good. Regardless, David over at Verdant says that this is a pretty good tea despite its age, so I figured I’d go for it.

I carefully broke off a nice portion of leaves, and brewed them up using my gaiwan and near-boiling water. The leaves were allowed to steep for 15 seconds for this first cup. The first thing that I noticed is that the aroma of the tea is actually fairly mild, lacking the harshness I associate with young sheng. Likewise, the tea flavor is a lot milder as well, which was a wonderful surprise. While there is the expected initial astringency, it is neither a strong as I expected nor a long-lasting. The tea actually sweetens after a few seconds, and then it gets really interesting. The tea is very crisp, with notes citrus and some spices mixing together to create a very complex yet relaxing flavor profile that lingers for over a minute on the hard palate. Finally, the tea has a very nice smooth feeling to round off the experience. It will be really interesting to see what later steeps reveal, after a lot of the tannins get washed out.

The second cup was brewed with the same parameters as the first, but only half the steep time. Surprisingly, the tea is only a touch milder than during the first steep. The stringency is less noticeable, but the complexity and the aftertaste are unaffected. Not much else to say other than it’s still rather pleasant. Maybe the next cup will be more revealing…

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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301 tasting notes

I’ve been sipping on this sample from Verdant off and on for the past three days. Two quick rinses and then 10s, 20s, 30s, 40s, etc. in my gaiwan. The tea is smooth and mellow with a light green liquor. It has a bit of a fresh crisp taste with a dominant note of citrus but it is very smooth and mellow. I detected very little astringency (I mean hardly any at all). Amazing taste for such a young sheng. I’ll definitely be buying a brick of this in a few days.


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140 tasting notes

Very good young sheng. Certainly has more age to it than the date indicates. The citrusy lime and mineral notes mingled with basil and cilantro, ending with a thick stewed sweet peas savoriness. It’s the uniqueness in taste that puts the Ai Lao mountain teas in its elevated class. Something special for sure.There definitely seems to be a faint similarity and kindredness to the YiWu mountain teas, although they aren’t the same. This tea should keep its complexity and age nicely.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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149 tasting notes

Huh, could’ve sworn I’d written a note about this, but Steepster may have eaten it. Didn’t keep a backup, so this’ll be a lot shorter than whatever I had originally.

First time drinking a sheng, I believe. Reminded me of yabao, which I really love. Crisp, bright, and sweet, with very slight astringency. Smooth, almost creamy. Very enjoyable!

(Sample sipdown!)

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541 tasting notes

I’m starting to think that all the past pu’erh teas I’ve had were shu; so this will be an all new experience! This is another tea from Verdant that I was excited to try. I just realized that all but 1 tea that I ordered was black or pu’erh. I’ve been really wanting to branch out and try these teas, so to the tasting!
In the sample bag there are a few large pieces of the sheng, as well as bits n pieces. I used the loose stuff for this brew. The leaves are so many colors! It is quite interesting to inspect. For these I will be combining 2 steeps per cuppa; mostly because I just so busy today.
steep 1&2 (5sec/7sec): When I first poured this I knew I was into something interesting! It did scream olive oil; which I have never smelled in a tea before. The wet leaves also remind me of some kind of bitter cabbage. To me this tastes oily, green (cabbage), and almost fairly mint (?). There is something about this that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I do enjoy it. Very different than any other pu’erh I’ve tried so far.

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709 tasting notes

I have a brick of this because it was a good price on Verdant’s site and I had impulse control issues at the time. Since buying it, I haven’t tried it. I was drooling over Mandala’s site earlier and thought to break into the one brick I do own. I don’t have the right tools so I picked a sharp slim paring knife with a good point and tried to gently squeeze it in various spots as I recalled from David Duckler’s video. In general it worked but I also broke leaves that I might not have if I had a better tool or more experience. Lots of fun though! Excavation with my tea.

Rinse of 15 seconds, 90 degree water.

Steep 1, 15 seconds @ 90 degrees, Light yellow, smells floral and sweet like hay. Reminiscent of greens and green oolongs. Taste is very mild, a little bitter. Not much, not enough to feel drying. Nothing really stands out or lasts.

Steep 2, 20 seconds @ 90 degrees. Deeper yellow, more like watery apple juice. Smell is similar, but a little less fresh hay and more like older hay that got damp. Flavour is stronger but I still have a hard time naming it. Definitely astringent, my mouth feels dry. Not a fan of that.

Steep 3, 25 seconds @ 90 degrees. Similar colour, aroma has faded. No more hay, no more sweet. Smells a bit like a barn. I know, I always use the same words with pu-erh. I need a class or something. Taste is not as astringent or drying. No sweetness, no floral, not much at all. I like this better though I do notice more bitterness lingering.

Might be a good time to mention I am fairly inexperienced in puerh and that sheng is not my favourite of the options. I prefer black teas and others that are similarly flavoured. So, shu.

Steep 4, 30 seconds @ 90 degrees. Hardly any aroma at all, but what is there is back to sweet hay. Say what? Flavourwise, it’s still not sweet but also less astringent again. Perhaps it’s mellowing out? I see people saying that young sheng mellows after the first few steeps. Am I experiencing that?! More pleasant, for sure. Beau says it’s the best.

Steep 5, 35 seconds @ 90 degrees. More sweet hay in aroma, which was finally represented in the taste. I get sweetness. Yiss. Nicer again.

Steep 6, 40 second @ 90 degrees. Not much aroma, unless I really get into it. Maybe a little spicy. Obviously, mild. Taste took a turn toward earlier flavours with a hint of astringency and a dearth of sweetness. Oh, you. Stop that!

Steep 7, 45 seconds @ 90 degrees. Completely unobjectionable but not interesting for me either. I’m calling it quits. I’m sure I’ll learn to like this, I’m just used to the boldness of black tea. This is not that.

I can only imagine what this would be like at boiling. I will try shorter times at boiling some day and see if I prefer it. I certainly have enough to experiment with. For now, this doesn’t impress me at all but I won’t rate since I don’t know how it holds up for what it is, only that I prefer blacks and shu.

PS – I just read all the other tasting notes. i don’t get any citrus or cabbage or apples or anything fun like that. Oy vey.


I need a class, too. I’m warming up to pu’erhs, but I still have a way to go!


‘ve never had a pu’erh, but I will try one and see how it goes. Can you link the video that you mentioned?


I’m pretty certain this is the one, though it’s been a while:

Verdant/David Duckler have come great videos to walk you through the process of gongfu steeping with some good explanations of why things are done a certain way – for the ceremony, and the practical reasons as well.

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