207 Tasting Notes


This tea is the darkest chocolate I’ve ever had. It’s also the most brutally potent tea I’ve ever had. The infusion timing for 5g in 85mL employed to prevent over-brewing was as follows: 3s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, 10s, 12s! I’ve never had a tea like this, although bulang bitterness is incredibly distinct, as it immediately reminds me of the nip of bitterness left in the 1997 Heng Li Chang Bulang. For me, the taste and texture experience on the front end of this tea is most akin to the finish on a 100% cacao super-dry, extra-dark alkaline heavy chocolate bar. Alkaline is really the absolute best word to describe this tea.

Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=606

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drank 2009 Mengsong by Zhi Ming Du
207 tasting notes

This Mengsong is such a stark contrast to the Hekai, both in processing and origin character. This is a cleaner, less-orange tea, with much more potency and strength. So much so that I find myself dialing back the leaf a little this morning. Creaminess dominates this tea. A rich, fruit flesh with whipped cream comes to mind, balanced by bright, fresh minty bitterness. In the back of the throat, strong sweetness returns – I love this character. Enjoyable, but requiring a more delicate hand, as it can get rather bristly if pushed.

Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=600

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drank 2009 He Kai by Zhi Ming Du
207 tasting notes

Fighting with the dense little bing, my first session pulled leaves from the bottom, inner portions of the cake, while the second session included more of the showy, large attractive leaves melded to the front of the cake. Differences were not particularly noticeable, in large part due to the fact that this tea is fairly tempered, with a very certain orangeness and lack of textural depth. A terrace or plantation origin shows through as that muddy green straw flavor, but it’s not overbearing. Various rich flavors exist in spades, as does front-palate bitterness, but thickness, minty coolness, and returning sweetness escape this tea.

Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=579

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I don’t have any particular flavor or texture descriptors in mind to throw around. I found the tea fresh, bright, incredibly pure (one of my favorite aspects of EoT’s pressings) and light. I thought the qi from this 2011 Nannuo was less immediate and capturing than any of the 2010 tea’s I sampled.

It was good, but I agree with Hobbes, I don’t believe it’s US$72 good. I preferred the Mansai and that tea is ten bucks cheaper. Taking both 2011 teas into mind, I do think it’s fair to say that the quality of these productions has increased. I preferred them both to the three 2010 examples I sampled. At this point, my interest in trying the single cake of the sold-out 2011 Mannuo I managed to acquire could not be much higher.

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I revisited this tea, today, for no apparent reason, and thought to my self…why am I wasting time drinking bad tea? Off to the compost with you…

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Compared with my two sets of notes from the 2010 Mansai, this tea has gained some thickness and depth, coming across less like a fleeting, young green and more like the rich, funky pu’er that it should be. One preparing for the aging process. I like it. Nada excuses a slightly more fractured leaf set due to a long journey through a remote region. This is slightly noticeable in the dry and steeped leaves, as well as in the very first steep, which shows just enough translucency to be detected. However, this in no way detracts from the tea, a quite tippy pu’er, with lots of buds and budsets visible in the exhausted leaves, which makes for a fresh and enlightening session.

Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=550

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The tea carries that fearful moniker “old tree,” leaving the buyer to judge the claim of origin. I believe this is old tree tea, but it might be more aptly named “Lots of Old Tree Stems.” Goodness, this was a stem-heavy tea. Pulling apart the steeped leaves, it reveals itself as at least half to two-thirds stems. I guess it can be called “old tree” if the stems are from old trees. There were a handful of large, graceful leaves, but they showed more oxidation than I like. I am, primarily, willing to believe the leaf origin based on a present mint coolness in the finish.

Otherwise, this is boring sheng. I saved the first six steeps in small cups to revisit after pushing the tea out to a 30s steep. This was an enlightening practice, as it was easy to again follow the flavor progression. For this tea, the first was papery, dry and herbal. The second and third bracingly sour, while the remainder desperately held onto a calm, lightly sweet mushroom, straw, and grain.

Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=539

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Wow. Delicious, potent, yellow, rich with texture. This is good tea.

There are three elements to this tea that cause me to call it good. First, is the incredible rich honey aroma and flavor. Honestly, it’s hard to believe that this hasn’t been laced with honey. Wonderful. Second, a wonderful kuwei climbs up and settles pleasantly on the tongue, immediately after swallowing; a pleasing sensation. Finally, and I’ve experienced it at this level in a few teas before, many minutes after finishing the tea, the huigan brings a fresh, sweet, clean, and cooling mint flavor from the back of the throat.

Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=527

Nathaniel Gruber

Sounds very nice. I know what you mean with the creeping mint sensation in the back of the throat afterwords.


It’s almost so sweet, it seems like sugar.

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2011 sample. This is a crisp, super-fresh brilliant green bud tea. Juicy sweet liquor, with a nice little froth on it. Responded well to a range of steeping temperatures. This is very clean and pure. One of the nicer, straightforward green teas I’ve had in a long time. Fresh and delightful.

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Comparing teas side-by-side is always fun. Today, pushing the ’09 Gong Tuo (http://steepster.com/teas/menghai-tea-factory/15881-2009-da-yi-gong-tuo) hard with an initial one minute steep, for an espresso-like brew, I was amused to see the weak last steeps of the 80s shu seem incredibly sweet when held up against, the more bitter, terse, and earthy ’09. Enlightening was that when brewing shu so aggressively, the faults of the tea come right to the surface, as it showed little sweetness or depth, instead giving a chalky coarseness and a watered-down earthen flavor, making the 80s tea seem so much more interesting. However, comparing young and aged shu in such a manner is probably not fair.

Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=511

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Exploring the world of fine Chinese and Japanese teas, my favorites include: sheng pu’er, moderately roasted oolongs, gyokuro, shincha, and high quality, artisanal whites and greens. I don’t subscribe to any particular style of brewing, but incorporate elements from traditional techniques to brew the best tea possible. I also seek to share the joy that tea brings me with others, but am really rather introverted.


Peace Dale, Rhode Island



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