229 Tasting Notes
Second time with this tea. The first time I had it, I didn’t really “get” this tea. But a second try has revealed its redeeming qualities. Loving the aroma on the lid of the gaiwan for starters, old tobacco and old rooms, filled with grandparents and comfort. The flavor and body are still perplexing to me, they’re so much lighter than my other liu bao experience, centered on a distinct and enjoyable candied pumpkin, but not much spice or fermentation, or seemingly depth or thickness. Likewise for the finish, nothing exceptional. But the feeling is fantastic, a giddy, calm joy, quite calming and settling, almost to the point of sleepiness, but not. Sometimes heavy qi teas make me feel very disoriented and disconnected, but this one feels light, clear, yet relaxed and happy.
Flavors: Candy, Pumpkin, Tobacco, Wood
Received a pile of Harney & Sons samples for the holidays, so may post reviews of some of the more notable ones.
Really beautiful leaves on this tea. A smooth, graceful red, with some floral qualities. I don’t get to the cocoa, but there’s a sandalwood undercurrent and some spiciness. Smooth and sweet overall.
Flavors: Citrus, Honey, Wood
Brick sample. Low aroma, but heavily-compressed, early steeps are incredibly sweet. As the compression lets go, the floral bitterness, pleasant, intensifies. Brewing carefully, it stays in check and is balanced in a show of strength that’s quite enjoyable. Late steeps pick up some of the youthful fruitiness of sheng. Good tea, with great endurance, a revealing story, and both strength and grace.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Sugar
Uncomfortable storage and lovely dried tobacco aroma, mostly in wet leaf. Has distinct minty wet-ish storage flavor. It has one of the lovelier dry pipe tobacco notes I’ve had in puer, but it doesn’t come with much else. It’s dry and astringent throughout, lacking body or interesting mouthfeel characteristics. Not getting a lot of body feels out of it. Dominated a little too heavily by the storage, as though there wasn’t something to hold up against it, and somehow the storage didn’t cut the astringency down.
Flavors: Clay, Tobacco
My first run with this tea was quite disappointing and had heavy notes of hongcha-level oxidation. Retrying today, with a little less leaf and getting a little more nuance out of it. Holding onto some smoky memories in the rinse and first steep, but not pointed. Low astringency, moderate bitterness, moderate sweetness. It has a sweet, soft woodsiness to it that’s comforting, but I struggle to find breadth to this tea, it has a shallow quality to it. Some definition mushroom flavors in the finish and not a ton of huigan. I want to enjoy this tea, but can’t quite get there.
Flavors: Mushrooms, Spices, Wood
An update to this tea after almost 10 years. Mushroom and leather aroma. Thick soup, with a touch of sourness up front, middle steeps give distinct plum, and generate saliva nicely. Late steeps have fantastic, long-lasting huigan. Best part is the strong, calming happy qi. My drier storage has left this tea with some astringency and punch that I think make it feel full bodied and rich. This cake has also struggled with sourness in the first 3-4 steeps, I think due to colder, drier storage (something I’m trying to gently remedy), but it doesn’t really compromise the tea. So lovely…
Flavors: Leather, Mushrooms, Plums, Sugar
Nearly 10 years after the release of this five mini-brick series, I finally try them all. This on has a warm honey and spice aroma. Breaking off a chunk, I’m surprised by the size of some of the leaves on the outside of the brick. The first couple of steeps have some intense broken leaf bitterness, which seems unavoidable with this level of compression. Middle steeps open up much more sweetness and a quite respectable huigan. More spicy leather and tobacco through and above average endurance in terms of sweetness and body in later steeps. Decent for the series and I’m excited to see how this ages.
Flavors: Honey, Leather, Spices, Tobacco
Floral, plantation nose. Lightly sweet, moderately astringent early steeps. Punchy broken leaf bitterness and cloud in the middle. Some tameness and a bit of orange from age and a bit of caramel flavor. There’s a hint of a decent qi and a distant bit of huigan, making this above average for the series. Clean, mostly boring plantation tea I hope ages into something passable.
Flavors: Caramel, Flowers
I’m trying again to love this tea, after reading some comments on Instagram about its more endearing qualities. I think the reality is that Taiwanese style puer isn’t my style. I pushed the tea harder this time and produced more plum and astringency, but it still seems a bit hollow. There’s underripe stonefruit pit astringency and spring Witch Hazel twigs, but some decided sourness as well. Chalking this up to a style of semi-aged puer which isn’t me.
Flavors: Astringent, Plums
Dry leaves are a bit smaller than I expect, but give a fruity, herbal scent. When wet, aged smoke reveals itself, with a bit of meatiness. Quickly then, pine sap and lots of herbal notes. Overall round, married, and richly flavorful. Paler than I expected for 16 years, but still having great aged qualities, with tobacco and leather playing strong in the finish. A high note of astringency rides in the middle and late steeps and it empties out by steep 6 or 7. Great value overall and a tea with a flavor profile and aging history that is right up my alley.
Flavors: Herbaceous, Leather, Pine, Smoke, Tobacco