2016 Yunnan Sourcing "Guo You Lin" Raw Pu-erh

Tea type
Pu-erh Tea
Pu Erh Tea Leaves
Alcohol, Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Char, Citrus, Cream, Fish Broth, Herbs, Honey, Lemongrass, Metallic, Milk, Mineral, Red Wine, Sand, Spinach, Sweet, warm grass, Tea, Toasted Rice, Umami, Vegetal, Walnut, Wood, Creamy, Roasted, Sweet, Vanilla, Flowers, Green Wood, Herbaceous, Melon, Mushrooms, Peas, Pine
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Average preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 oz / 103 ml

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3 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I was in a mood for something special today. At the same time, I am trying to go through some of my YS pu-erh samples to see if I want to order something in the current sale. That’s why I grabbed...” Read full tasting note
  • “Time for another Yiwu. Much like the Man Lin I reviewed a week ago, I actually have a cake of this, but it’s aging at the bottom of my pumidor and so I went ahead and ordered a ten gram sample just...” Read full tasting note
  • “After months of looking for part time work, today I landed a cashier job at my local Home Depot in the garden department. This calls for celebration tea! The obvious choice was to break into my...” Read full tasting note

From Yunnan Sourcing

Guo You Lin 国有林 (lit. State Protected Forest) is a small area between Yi Wu town and Mengla town in the Yi Wu Mountains at an elevation of 1650 meters that is protected forest and is an animal reserve. In the early 1990’s there was a small village in the forest, but were made to leave by the government when they set up the protected forest resevere there. As part of the relocation deal the Mengla County government made a deal with local villagers allowing them to pick tea twice a year for 10 days each harvest. The rest of the year tea cannot be picked. No roads in or out of this area. Very biologically diverse with lots of plants and animals, not to mention old tea trees growing naturally.

Our offering is an Autumn Harvest pick, the spring tea of this year was very good but astronomically expensive. Don’t think for a second that this Autumn tea is lacking! It’s very powerful both in taste and cha qi. There is a deep and complex “yun wei” and the tea seems to take on a life of its own in the mouth and throat. This is an incredibly unique large leaf style assamica tea that will impress even the most discriminating sheng aficionado!

This tea was compressed in a small tea factory in Yi Wu town where unusually large 40 kilogram stone presses were used. Low temperature (35C) “baking” was used to dry these cakes after the compression process thus preserving their integrity! In total just 10 kilograms of this tea has been produced. We have delayed sales of this cake for more than 4 weeks to allow the water vapor from pressing to dissipate. Further ageing will only improve this wonderful tea!

Just 10 kilos in total produced!

250 grams per cake (7 cakes per bamboo tong)

This tea has been tested in a certified laboratory and has passed the MRL limits for pesticide residues as established by the EU Food and Safety commission.

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3 Tasting Notes

346 tasting notes

I was in a mood for something special today. At the same time, I am trying to go through some of my YS pu-erh samples to see if I want to order something in the current sale. That’s why I grabbed this sample, so generously provided by derk. As far as I can recall, this is the first single source Yi Wu tea I have had a chance to try. It proved to be special indeed. As TJ Elite already mentioned, I also found it to be a complete experience, as well as a tea that rewards patience. I think that in order to appreciate a tea like this, you really need to take your time.

Starting with the dry leaf scent, I didn’t notice any strong aromas there, just a generic sweet, honey aromas. On the other hand, the smell of the wet leaves initially reminded me of leaf and grass based compost, cream and some faint fruity note (maybe clementine?). Later on throughout the session I also noticed aromas of oak forest, steamed milk and pecan tart.

From the very first infusion, this tea is soft and creamy in the mouth with appreciable thickness and full body. Taste of the first infusion is dominated by umami. There are flavours of toasted rice, fish meat, sweet grass and some lemongrass in the finish. Aftertaste is pretty astringent and has hints of citrus skin (not the zest). The astringency in the aftertaste turns out to be a generic feature of the tea. It comes in various shades and is always there and always gradually transforming, but I never found the peaks of it to be unpleasant, which is quite remarkable.

Second steep brings more bitterness, somewhat akin to slightly unripe walnuts, and notes of fresh spinach, fish broth and charcoal. It is more metallic and mineral, the latter becomes especially pronounced in the aftertaste. The liquor is mouth-watering and very lubricating. Infusion number three is the most astringent from the get go and also reaches a peak thickness. There are honey and sandy soil flavours that give way to a super long aftertaste with allspice, sweet wood and wax like aspects. The taste and the constrictive feeling stays in the mouth and especially the throat for ages. At this point, I was kind of hit by the enveloping cha qi, and I started lucid dreaming for a while. I don’t think that can be attributed just to the tea though, I was already in a somewhat dreamy state to begin with. What I did notice though is that the tea helped enhance my awareness and clear my mind later on throughout the session.

Steeps 4 to 7 were underwhelming compared to the first three, but still very enjoyable. I figured they were shorter than they should’ve. As a result, the mouthfeel is thinner and buttery rather than creamy. The taste is still bitter, with more of a floral edge. I would compare it to tea tree oil at times. The aftertaste is slightly cooling like some alpine herbs. Over time, as the astringency peters out, some sweetness and suble fruitiness emerges.

For the next steeps, I increased the times more radically, which resulted in a return of thickness in the liquor. Somewhat unexpectedly, infusion #8 immediately reminds me of Cabernet Sauvignon. I am not sure if my mind is playing tricks or that note is really there though. It’s one of the stranger associations. Steep 9 is even longer, now up to about 1 minute. It has more bitterness, but I feel like it’s a different kind of bitterness almost. I can’t quite out a finger on it. It seems a little metalic, woody and vegetal but ultimately is like none of those. In the aftertaste, I get a slightest touch of camphor. The next infusion tastes a bit of alcohol and again has a strong bitterness that transforms into tart sweetness supplemented by the lasting astringency that’s of course still there. Despite the mouthfeel being more watery and displaying some chalkiness, it still has a decent viscosity. I love how the astringency in the aftertaste gives way to the floral fragrance over time.

My final steep is #12, about 5 minutes long. It is not super complex, but has slightly muted astringency and displays a lot of the coarse-grained qualities of the tea. It’s as if the tea—after showing all of its complexity—displayed a kind of a blunt summary of the session.

I am tempted to buy this tea. With the sale it comes out as $0.56/g which is still a lot for my current budget. However, I feel like this tea is special and will age well too. I will have think about it :)

Flavors: Alcohol, Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Char, Citrus, Cream, Fish Broth, Herbs, Honey, Lemongrass, Metallic, Milk, Mineral, Red Wine, Sand, Spinach, Sweet, warm grass, Tea, Toasted Rice, Umami, Vegetal, Walnut, Wood

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 80 ML
TJ Elite

This one’s a winner. Challenging, but equally rewarding. I will definitely have to go through some of my fancier samples for the sale as well.

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93 tasting notes

Time for another Yiwu. Much like the Man Lin I reviewed a week ago, I actually have a cake of this, but it’s aging at the bottom of my pumidor and so I went ahead and ordered a ten gram sample just for this session. The sample I received was pretty much just straight mao cha. The tin foil it came in was covered entirely in tiny hairs off of the leaves.

I brewed the entire sample in a 140ml gaiwan. After a brief sub-five second rinse, I tasted the wash while I let the moisture soak in for five minutes or so. The rinse was shockingly strong and astringent for just the briefest of washes. The tea was also very oily. The rinsed leaves had the smell of a seafood buffet. For the rest of the session this transformed into the scent of soured milk.

I followed the rinse with a total of ten steeps, the timing for these being 5s, 5s, 5s, 7s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s and 75s. The tea opened strong. The body was full and creamy and the taste also a bit creamy, but there was also an interesting sort of roasted note or something of that description. The steep that followed greeted you with a strong initial burst of astringency which however faded in a matter of seconds. The broth continued brewing up strong and oily.

I stuck to a flash brew for the third steep, which turned out to be the right call, because the strength was barely a notch lighter. It displayed the same fleeting astringency from before and coated your mouth and throat with its oiliness. In its wake, the tea left a sensation of softness in your mouth, accompanied by gentle sweetness. I could feel the tea in my throat and at its entrance there was a slight tingling sensation that made you want to keep drinking more.

The tea pushed on strong and oily in the fourth steep. There was now a perhaps more mineral taste that turned to sweetness. In addition there was a wonderful bitterness that titillated your palate in just the right way. The tea could be felt in your throat and chest, reaching all the way down to the end of the esophagus.

Steep five presented a really wonderful mixture of bitterness and astringency which rewarded you with some sweetness. The next infusion continued being really full and oily in the mouth. The tea was thick. Really, really thick. The taste was bright and astringent. In the aftertaste there was very clear vanilla note. I could feel the tea around my jaw and the saliva in my cheeks tasted really sweet.

The seventh steeping was soft and oily and wonderfully sweet. I’m not talking of this steep specifically, but this is the kind of tea you could just keep drinking forever. I could still feel the tea in my jaw. At this point a small heatwave washed over me, which is just par for the course. The steep that followed is where the tea finally started thinning out and simplifying for the first time. The strength was still good and the taste a mixture of sweetness and astringency which both went away within a few seconds.

Infusion nine is where the flavors began to fade while the astringency started creeping up. There were still some hints of oiliness left and the body was decent. Steep ten is the last one I did. The body was thinner and the taste a mixture of sweetness, astringency and bitterness. The tea wasn’t bad, but I wanted to end a good session on a high note so I decided to call it there just to be safe. It’s possible the tea had more left to give, but I didn’t wanna risk it.

In my notes for the 2016 Man Lin, I explained my rocky history with Yiwu teas. After the Man Lin turned out so great, I was sure my luck’d run out and didn’t dare to hold too high expectation for this one. I’m glad I was wrong, because this was flat out one of the best teas I’ve had, perhaps the best. While the first couple initial brews were interesting, at that point it was hard to gauge where the tea was going, but once it got going, it just kept getting better and better and I was sold. Whereas the Man Lin is an excellent tea in its own right and very yummy and approachable, the Guo You Lin is more demanding and challenging. I doubt people new to pu’er would be able to appreciate it to its fullest. While the Man Lin is very tasty, Guo You Lin is more of a complete experience that involves your body and other senses.

All that being said, I drank this tea together with my mother who, although not a tea connoisseur, has been drinking tea with me about once a week for over a year now, and she like me loved the tea and said she could drink this every day. She in particular loved the throat feel and the bitterness and astringency in this tea. You most certainly don’t have to be some sort of master to appreciate this tea, but you should definitely work your way up to teas of this caliber.

The astringency in this tea is interesting. I am familiar with bitterness that quickly transforms into something else, but astringency that does that is a new one for me. The astringency and bitterness in this tea are very enjoyable and never abrasive or persistent. They are also integral to the overall experience. Appreciation of these two things would be recommended before trying to tackle this tea. If you can enjoy teas like Mang Fei, you are golden.

Is this tea worth the price? At $0.52/g this tea is not only worth it but a bargain. In my experience, spring teas of roughly this vintage that offer this level of quality can easily cost close to twice as much. I’m not saying you can’t find really good spring teas around this price point, but if you are trying to match this tea, you are more likely to end up paying more.

So any cons? None that I can think of… I’m not sure if I got any qi, but with a tea this strong and this much body sensation, I’m not really looking for an additional layer of input. This tea is perfectly ready to be drunk and enjoyed now, but the aging potential is also intriguing. I can’t recommend this tea any more highly and the artwork is fantastic.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Creamy, Mineral, Roasted, Sweet, Vanilla

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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317 tasting notes

After months of looking for part time work, today I landed a cashier job at my local Home Depot in the garden department. This calls for celebration tea! The obvious choice was to break into my sample of the pricey wild grown Guo You Lin Yiwu from YS.

The leaves in my sample are medium sized and fairly broken up. Using 5g in my 90mL jian shui pot, this tea brews a medium yellow and is quite potent. I’m immediately hit by the thickness and aroma of the broth. It’s super thick and coats the mouth and throat with bittersweetness and wildflower aroma. The flavor is shitake mushroom with honey, pine, green wood, wild flowers, and steamed vegetables. As I brew it out I begin to notice the qi, first in my head and then in my chest and arms. Nothing stonerific, but nice calming, tingly sensations. Five grams lasts my whole 1L kettle.

This is a very nice and potent young sheng. Worth the price tag? Maybe not for me; it’s really high quality, but just doesn’t have enough “special” to it for a tea with such a big price tag. Very glad to have tried it though, and happy to have had it for a celebration tea.

Flavors: Flowers, Green Wood, Herbaceous, Honey, Melon, Mushrooms, Peas, Pine, Umami

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 90 ML



Enjoy your celebration and your new job!


Congrats to you brother!


Right on, congratulations!


Thanks guys!


Congrats on the new job! Now you can use all your income on tea just like me! :)

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