118 Tasting Notes
I like this much better these days. I have probably just improved in terms of brewing through the years. I leaf this harder than others and give it a very good rinse to avoid feeling too much of the bamboo. I know the name has “bamboo” in it, but I wasn’t expecting so much, uh, bamboo-yness.
It’s strange that I seem to prefer younger raw pu’s, but older ripe pu’s. Guess it works out better financially in most cases so yay?
My brewing method has also changed considerably in terms of ritual and artifacts.
0. The bottom double-walled cup of the 150ml brewer shattered months ago (the company wanted to be paid like 80-85% of the cost of a brand new brewer to replace the cup so I said F that) and I switched to a 75ml budget gaiwan that also worked beautifully.
1. But recently, the lid of my daily workhorse 75ml gaiwan shattered, so until I replace that or figure out some other solution, I am using an even smaller porcelain houhin (<55-60ml total capacity).
2. This gets super hot, so I use a large clean bandana as a tea towel, mostly for hand protection as I pour.
3. Every shou or other funky tea gets sieved through this before drinking: https://ebay.to/35mb01h
4. To help me measure water when needed there is a 100mL Pyrex (also serves as a handy little tiny pitcher)
5. This then gets poured into a thick walled Korean ceramic teacup that weighs ~91g (I love this weight) and holds ~60ml.
6. There is a separate discard bowl that holds quite a bit, more than enough for at least two different tea sessions.
7. I used to filter tap water (which didn’t work for a number of reasons," then got water delivered for about 2 years but encountered many problems with the service); now I boil bottled water in a 30oz adagio electric kettle, store the water in a 44oz Zojirushi, and this works great. I know fancy places will have Bonavitas, but I’ve used them before and don’t enjoy the user experience nearly as much as the Adagio+Zojirushi combination.
8. For sessions that benefit from more capacity, I use some 120-150ml capacity items, mainly from Lin’s Ceramics.
I actually have a number of small cast iron teapots from the now defunct Teavana that could be used to store the off-boil water, and they’re more aesthetically pleasing, so we break them out for guests, but those things are surprisingly high maintenance, even the ones coated with enamel on the inside (they’ll rust if you aren’t meticulous), so 95% of the time I am pouring straight from my Zoji. Them’s just facts.
처음 맛을 보았을 때는 그냥 밍밍했는데 이번에는 달큰하고 고소하다. 꿀보리건빵 향이라고나 할까? 보리차를 진하게 내려서 꿀을 타도 비슷할 것이다. 차의 세계는 참으로 신비하고 흥미롭기 짝이 없는 것 같다.
Maybe all of my tea samples needed to rest? This wasn’t great the first time I tried it but is remarkably pleasant with strong barley (or other grain) and honey notes this morning.
Flavors: Honey, Roasted Barley
Fascinating. Resting did the trick. I would have sworn it is a completely different tea. It now tastes kind of like honey w/ the backbone you would expect from a fine single malt but more delicate. Very interesting. I now see why it became so well regarded. My guess is that this one is more sensitive to travel than most teas so if you tasted it before resting as I did, do give it another chance. I also did a thorough deep clean of my teaware earlier today. Maybe that also contributed to making sure the strengths of Arbor Red shone through this time. A stately energy swirls around playfully in your mouth somehow long after you swallow.
This was a generous 3g in
Dry leaf: dusty dried stone fruits
Soup: cloudy straw
Wet nose: smoke and jam and mustiness even after 2 rinses
Taste: bland and smoky and sweet and fruity and old but not mature all at once.
I would not seek out this tea unless I was a fan of clove cigarettes and those sandwich cookies with a thin layer of jam in the middle
song pairing: gradur – rari
The first half of this session is beautiful scent and energywise but it descends into a lightly smoky yet somehow rather harsh latter half. Have not paid enough attention to pinpoint whether the gentle but persistent harshness is in the belly or the mouth or throat or all of the above. I can try to remember to do that for my final sesskon. The raw sensation isn’t a dealbreaker but makes this less of an impulse buy despite it being at that sub-$100-for-200g sweet spot. Not sure if others are buying this to age but every time I drink this I get major munchies. So I like this a lot but would want the newer materials in it to mellow out further before subjecting my poor tummy to a whole cake of it.
This one’s heavy on the chocolate. Heavy, heavy deep dark chocolate. I had to go out and abandoned a 50ml cup on the table for hours. Took a tiny sip out of curiosity before discarding. It tasted so much like chocolate milk I ended up drinking it all mostly out of shock. It’s delicious if this is what you’re in the mood for. I don’t crave this flavor from tea often enough to stockpile relatively young LCT of this sort. But I could see myself virtuously choosing this over a slice of chocolate cake. It feels far too indulgent to have on a daily basis at any hour. If it was a beer it’d be a thick chocolate stout.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate
This website is so bugggggy! I signed in on my phone but it has locked me out on desktop for trying too many times. :(
The taster included the nifei so unless that was forged I am inclined to believe it is real. At 88$ for a full sized cake on some sites this is an economic solution if it works for you. As I was freeing the piece of paper, most of the chunk fell into my gaiwan so all 8 grams are in. I normally start with 4grams, but come, join me on my adventure.
The first few sips are ho hum and make me think I am getting the house tea at a relatively fancy dimsum place. 3 steeps later it is hitting me at the back and base of the skull. Must be the double dose effect.
This tea is 13yo and has zero off-putting storage funk after only one good rinse. That is impressive.
The taste is… I am a stuffy middle aged professional man who never raises his voice. The energy is briefly… Actually, my dear, I am the unassuming head of an international secret society… and, not to worry, I shall tell you all about it, but first let us have some tea. But the fun conspiratorial energy dissipates all too quickly. Feels like hype without the delivery.
I liked the overall experience despite the less than delicious taste, but am not convinced I want a whole cake. It kind of feels like not your favorite uncle, the uncle you would politely hang out with once in a while when you run into him at mandatory family functions, but you wouldn’t go out of your way to do it.
This will be more about naka generally than this specific tea. This tea seems like what is probably a perfectly drinkable naka from 2013. But I’m a strange one who has sadly not really enjoyed like 95% of the nakas that I’ve tried. There are many other teas I’ve enjoyed, and many other raw pus I’ve adored, but naka.. for some reason.. just doesn’t do it for me. The exception is when it’s so damn old that I can’t taste it and the energy’s super mellowed out. And 6 years is evidently not old enough for that to be true.
I really thought I’d enjoy the naka region more when it is younger because the 2005 w2t naka was not a bad experience (though price-y). I am also aware that many people do not drink pu for the taste or smell but the body feels. But I kinda do sometimes – care about taste and smell – and what I’ve learned is that naka, though it doesn’t smell terrible to me – doesn’t taste or feel nice to me when I can taste it.
For example, the mystery naka tasting set that LP sold earlier this year (https://www.liquidproust.com/listing/695708083/in-search-of-series-naka) just was not my style. Basically, I dislike the young naka taste and energy so much that I only ever want old stuff from there where the vast majority of the taste has dissipated and the energy (that is always uncomfortably rumbly for me) has had the time to truly mellow out. Maybe I don’t mind it so much if and when it’s blended with other things also. But with the young single region naka, I’m like… thank you, but not really, no, thank you, you have it. I am grateful to have had the opportunity in 2019 to have tasted a handful of nakas of various vintages from various vendors and collectors, but naka that is old enough for my taste is probably way out of my everyday price range. So you know, uh, more for you all who are probably big fans of naka anything.
Luckily, there are plenty of other regions where the young leaves are pleasing to me in multisensory ways (and also less popular and thus more affordable). I have some very young sheng cakes that are already mellowing out too much for my liking and I wish I had drunk them the previous year.
Let me see if I can describe what I personally find off-putting about younger naka. It always tastes like… ever-so-slightly sour or unpleasantly stale old book pages to me, even though it doesn’t smell that way. Isn’t that weird? And in the tummy I always get this vague sense that I’ve poisoned myself, seriously which is such an odd but specific feeling to get every time I have naka but not other pu’s. It would be interesting to organize a blind tasting lol to see if this sensation can be reproduced.
I mean, I’ve never tasted old book pages. But I’ve been around enough old ass books that are nearly disintegrating and know what they smell like. Sometimes they smell great, but sometimes they smell sort of awful, and younger naka apparently for me just veers too closely to always tasting like bad-smelling old books, somehow without smelling the same. I know that will make no f-ing sense to most people, but every time I taste naka I’m like… oh… this again. Unhappy library. Unhappy tummy. Rummmmbles. Bye.
It’s okay, though. I’ve just mailed almost every last bit of naka I have to my mother to try. Maybe she will love it.
This tastes like a completely different blend/processing than the 2012 (that was far too smokey for me). Now the positive reviews of other years from this line make more sense.
I still prefer, let’s say, W2T’s raw terroir starter kit (69.50/400 grams, shipping included)to this, but at 33/400g + shipping, this is pretty dang good. I can see why people are tonging it for their babies.
It’s like a Hershey’s bar. You can get as fancy as can be with chocolate, too, with single origin, single estate, x% dark, et cetera, but the nicer stuff in pu gets prohibitively expensive fast, so there is often a need for something cheap, dependable, and more or less universally pleasing that gets the job done. Impression 2018 is your perfect raw puer Hershey’s bar… err.. cake. It’s raw pu for people who are looking to stock up on it the way someone would stock up on TP.
Hershey’s, if I recall correctly from the bygone days when I could still have milk chocolate, had a sort of sour (internet says this is due to butyric acid, a byproduct of lipolysis, which is itself a method of milk stabilization. uh, great to know, thanks internet), tacky aftertaste and mouthfeel. Anyway, in a similar fashion, Impression has a very slightly harsh throat feel. But no one reasonable would mind that at this price point given that it’s still very drinkable. As in, no one could claim that they had not had raw pu after having this. And probably very few people who would like other raw pu to begin with would come away from an Impression session claiming they absolutely hated it.
It isn’t anything to write home about, but the existence of totally drinkable raw puer still available at this price is something that the whole community rightfully celebrates. Glad I tried it!