27 Tasting Notes
Just an all-around enjoyable tea, really. Not necessarily a whole lot of complexity here: predominant notes of lighter fruit (like another reviewer, I’m really not sure what, precisely), backed by some mild sweetness and a little bit of Bulang-esque bitterness that comes out more on the later steeps. Some hints of darker undertones start to emerge a bit later in the session, but they’re kind of fleeting and the tea doesn’t change all that much. It’s solidly durable, though; I don’t count my steeps, generally, but the number’s in the mid-high range. The liquor’s reasonably thick, though not outstandingly so, and the throat pooling effect is definitely there.
There’s a definite tea-drunk effect on this one, but it’s not as immediate as some; it’s more of a gradual muzziness that creeps up on you almost unnoticed, until, around the fifth or sixth steep, you stand up and realize that everything’s more than a little muzzy. This is more relaxing than I remember from some of my earlier sessions, where my recollections are of something higher octane. It’s possible that this has evolved a bit over the year-and-a-half I’ve had it, but it’s hard to say.
On the whole, this is a very good tea that’s just outside the top tier for me. It has very few recognizable flaws, but it also lacks the oomph to push it over that threshold; it’s a near thing, though, and in many ways, this is a more immediately enjoyable tea than some of those higher echelon ones. I’ve not had subsequent productions, but if they’re comparable to this, I’d definitely consider them.
I brewed this up late this afternoon, using up a sample I received from the White2tea tea club several months ago. This is on the darker side of the oolong spectrum, although the roast is found primarily in the aroma and less in the flavor. Said flavor is smooth and reminiscent of autumn, with a slight bit of sweetness behind it; despite it being a rock oolong, I didn’t get much in the way of mineral in the taste. It’s not the most dynamic tea in the world, and I get more caffeine than qi, but it’s pretty durable for an oolong (7-8 steeps with these parameters, I think, though I didn’t keep detailed track), fairly thick, and quite enjoyable. I’m not much of an oolong drinker, but this seems like it’d be a solid choice.
This is not a flashy tea, per se. The flavor and aroma are pretty much classic Yiwu (straw, savory, slightly grainy, some grapes), the finish clean, the mouthfeel thick but not overly so, the qi present but of the clarifying, rather than intoxicating, variety. It all just harmonizes so damn well and for so long; over time, the flavor might darken a bit, then come to resemble a more savory Fade, but it doesn’t really get watery as the steeps lengthen. Excellent.
I’ve had this for a couple of years now, and I’m not sure if it’s changed much. If anything, I think the flavor’s darkened on the later steeps and it’s gotten maybe a little tarter and fruitier, moving away from white grapes a bit. It’ll be interesting to see where this heads.
This is a tea I bought back in 2013 and have slowly been consuming since; eyeballing, I’ve got roughly half a cake left, and I currently plan on dragging that out for the long haul. Looking back on some notes I took when I first tasted this, it’s interesting to see how this has evolved. At the time, I noted tobacco and smoke, with some mild qi; this differs substantially from my impressions today.
Admittedly, the nose on the initial steep was much as I remember it, with camphor and notes that I can best describe as minty (common to a lot of semi-aged stuff; I’m pretty sure this is wrong); this was present in the flavor and recurred a couple of times throughout the session, but didn’t dominate. Instead, I noticed mostly lightly bitter, alkaline notes on the first several steeps, not unlike those in the 2012 Essence of Tea bulang, although not quite as pronounced. The flavor was remarkably pure, with no noticeable smoke and a slightly bitter, cooling finish. As the session continued, the flavor deepened, moving into dark fruit territory, albeit with a distinct sour note riding atop it. This sourness was new, even in the past six months; it came and went throughout the session, missing from some steeps entirely only to reappear on the next, and I’m not quite sure what to think of it. The qi was gripping: while drinking the last of the third steep, I suddenly found myself, cup in mid-air, staring intently at the bookshelf.
The evolution in this tea has been interesting, though the appearance of sourness has me more than a little concerned. I recently exposed my tea to far too much cold, as I currently keep it in my apartment in a sealed plastic tub, which had been by a very large window; this worked fine in the summer, but with temperatures dipping below freezing, the tea got properly frigid. I’ve relocated my storage away from the window, and with any luck, things will normalize themselves. Suffice it to say, though, that I’ll keep an eye on this tea and revisit it in a couple of months.
Starting off with some spiciness on the first steep that developed into menthol on the second, I started this tea off with fairly high hopes. However, the menthol rapidly faded, supplanted by a slight sour note that floated above a general dark creaminess not too far removed from a typical 7572. The menthol’s lingered in a generally cooling aftertaste, but that’s about the only remnant of it. Other than flavor, the tea has a bit of viscosity—not a whole lot though—and nothing to speak of in the way of qi, with only a little caffeine in the background. This is decent, but there’s better tea available for the not insignificant price.
Provided as a sample with my last order from Bana.
Flavors: Cream, Menthol, Mushrooms, Sour
Of all the ripes I’ve had, this one behaves the most like a sheng; it’s got a high, sharp note lurking in the background that I seldom see in anything but the lightest fermentation ripes. This flavor undergirds the dark, savory mushroom of typical gong-ting ripe and keeps it lively and engaging, breaking the monotony I often find with that style. Other than that, there’s a little bit of dark-fruit plumminess present in the first couple of steeps, though it doesn’t last too long, along with a bit of storage mustiness that rinses off pretty quickly. The finish is surprisingly long and pentetrating, with some kuwei of the persistent, throat-clenching kind.
The negatives are more or less what you’d expect from a ripe. The durability’s not quite what it could be, compared to a comparably old sheng, and the qi—while present in a sort of calming background way—isn’t all that noticeable. That said, as a fan of ripes, this one is a no-brainer, and I’d recommend it even to those who aren’t terribly fond of them; it’s a good way to experience something resembling a relatively high-quality older sheng at a pretty reasonable price.
Seeing how this is my first review on this site, I’m not going to wax rhapsodic in the same vein as the others here, but suffice it to say that this tea is phenomenal. As others have noted, the flavor isn’t why you drink this, necessarily, but I actually quite like it; then again, I’m a big fan of Menghai-ish teas. It starts off fairly light in the first couple of steeps, bright and citric with a not insignificant, though not overpowering bitterness. Over the next several steeps, the liquor and the taste proceed to darken, with the flavors developing a bolder low note, while retaining a high, almost lime-like citrusiness. Lurking on the sides of all of this is a distinctly milky character, almost like a milk oolong at times, something I’ve never encountered in a puerh—or any unflavored tea—before. This character settles in and doesn’t really fade over a number of steeps—I didn’t really count, but it showed more durability than most teas I drink. Towards, the end, though, the bitterness starts to fade and the milk comes forward a bit more and transforms into light sweetness, until it all gradually fades. There’s a tiny bit of astringency on the late steeps, but nothing like the astringency bomb that, say, 72 Hours can become if you’re not careful.
The really remarkable character of the tea, though, is outside the flavor, as I mentioned earlier. The mouthfeel is some of the most viscous I’ve experienced in a tea, thicker than most beer, even. Its finish was strong enough that, at times, I got almost the same flavor as the tea itself, albeit without that viscosity. Finally, the qi was intense, beyond just caffeine. Definitely face-numbing, but more than once throughout the session, I also found myself capable of doing very little except staring at a wall for several minutes.
I almost never drink tea in isolation, even gong-fu; I’m usually, at the very least, reading something. This tea joins those rare few that has held my attention over a whole session. Paul outdid himself with this one; if you can try it, do so.
(Thanks to my wife, who got me this tea for Christmas)