306 Tasting Notes
I’m reviewing this one more time to try to pick up a few notes that stand out. This is the last I have of this tea and I’m really bummed. I have a yixing pot seasoned for it and need to find a worthy replacement, so I’m going to write some pointers here to help me when I’m sampling new teas in the future. I just don’t have enough to keep on hand to try side by side with others.
The leaves in the warm pot smell heavily of cocoa, a very mild hint of dill, and a bit of a light roast coffee scent, more of a Central or South American coffee, as coffee terroir goes. The first infusion is a bold, but sweet one. It tastes heavily of brown sugar and oats, a little malty. Reminds me of brown sugar oatmeal, but definitely a more ruch and robust flavor.
The second infusion has some rich dark fruit notes like fig. The wet leaves smell of cooked raisins. The third infusion tastes still somewhat sweet, but with some darker tones like molasses coming through. On the fourth and fifth infusions, a bit of light bitterness/sourness emerges and darker flavors come through, but there is still a good amount of sweetness as well. The brown sugar sweetness continues throughout further steepings, while it continues to be dark and bold in flavor as well, with notes of cocoa, molasses and dark fruits. It gets sweeter again with further infusions.
I really love this tea. I am going to stop my notes here, and hope I can find a similar tea to replace this one with for my yixing pot soon!
Thank you to Phillip at Taiwan Tea Crafts, for the sample!
This oolong is very smooth and creamy. It has a nice interplay of mountain forest and floral scents and flavors, and the taste is mildly creamy and sweet with just enough roast to give it a mild nutty quality, or a bit of flavor like flaky puff pastry dough.
I’m brewing this gongfu style in a small gongfu style teapot. The second infusion brings more of the flavors from the first, with a fuller body and more green forest notes. By the third infusion, I’m picking up a bit of a metallic taste in the finish and the other flavors have become a bit more muted (checked my water at this point to make sure the kettle wasn’t responsible for that flavor, and it wasn’t). After that, didn’t get a metallic taste again, just a nice, round lightly roasted oolong flavor. This is a pretty enjoyable and rather “standard” Taiwanese oolong of its type. Good stuff.
Flavors: Floral, Forest Floor, Green, Nutty, Pastries, Sweet
This tea is unlike any other tea I’ve had… and it surpasses most in quality and just the sheer depth of the experience one has in drinking this tea.
It is a very hard tea to describe. On appearance, it looks like a Chinese strip-style oolong, similar to Wuyi Yancha. The scent is incredibly fragrant, very fruity, floral, honeyed, sweet. This is the most robust and fragrant fruity-smelling tea I’ve had.
The flavor is quite complex and very sweet. The best I can describe it is that it taste like a really, really, really good Yunnan red tea with its lofty floral and fruit notes underscored by darker tones… mix that with a fruity/floral softly sweet wuyi oolong (with all its delicious roasted flavors) and a buttery high mountain oolong with its creamy, fruity, green and floral qualities. There’s a very sweet floral smell about this tea, and I believe orchids may be a flower that smell similar. Maybe something like magnolias even? I’m not a flower scent expert, but this is more sweet than perfumy as far as that goes.
I had the honor of enjoying this tea with a friend the other day, and I hear the process for creating it was quite an elaborate one. Sadly, Shang Tea does not produce this tea currently, but with this many high reviews, I wish they would consider re-creating it! I believe that a tea like this could be sold as a premium tea for much higher prices than Shang Tea had originally charged, to make up for the high cost of producing it.
I will skip brewing parameters, since I wasn’t the one brewing it, but it was brewed Gongfu Style in a gaiwan, basically quick infusions like a Wuyi oolong.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Sweet
Brewing this in a gaiwan, 8 second infusion and slightly increasing each time.
This tea smells very fresh. The fragrance of the leaves after a rinse is very strong, but I’m not sure quite how to describe it. It’s pungent… and somewhere between maybe grapefruit and cooked brussel sprouts. I know those two scents aren’t all that similar, but what I’m getting from this is something that seems like it has fruit, floral, and vegetal qualities and is on the pungent side of things. I imagine there’s an exotic flower out there that smells just like this tea.
The flavor is also quite pungent and vegetal, quite buttery as well, and has a good deal of lingering bitterness. It also has some hints of orange blossom (reminding me in some ways of WYMM’s “Cane” puer) and there’s a very mouthwatering sour/tart finish.
After the first infusion, the scent of the leaves is definitely more floral, not the pungent vegetal from before. I’m also reminded of grapefruit again.
The second infusion is very buttery and green tasting like the first, and the bitterness is a bit less.This is a very clean-tasting and enjoyable Puer.
The third infusion is a little bit sweet, then becomes tangy, and has a mild bitternesss throughout. Same flavors reminding me of a chinese green tea. Grassy with notes of green beans and spring-like aroma.
The fourth infusion of this tea offers more of the same flavors. The floral note is coming through more. All-in-all this is a really enjoyable tea. I can see why the Puer farmers drink it every day. If I could do that, I probably would too. I’ll update this review if I notice any surprising changes in flavor from here on, but for now I’m off to enjoy the tea without analyzing and typing after each cup. ;3
Flavors: Floral, Grapefruit, Green Beans, Pleasantly Sour, Vegetal
Gongfu style brewing in a gaiwan, after the initial rinse, this tea has similar scents to the Third Grade version that I tried, but this one seems to have a more woody scent to it, with more of a damp forest-floor kind of aroma. There is still a subtle sweet dough aroma as in the Third Grade, but it is less pronounced. While I don’t find this scent as inviting as the Third Grade… it is also more complex and intriguing.
The deep red-auburn first infusion has a strong scent of cake batter. The taste is certainly much more woody and earthy than the finer Third Grade version. The wood flavor really lingers. It is mildly sweet. If I did not know any better, I’d say they mixed up the 3rd and 7th grade samples in my pack, as their website says the larger leaf grade should have sweeter, milder flavor, while the smaller leaf grades should taste more woody. I’m getting the inverse of that between the two that I tried, but I can tell you that the leaves of this sample were certainly larger, so they definitely didn’t mix the two up.
The second infusion has some interesting tastes. Something reminds me of the fermented taste of beer, and there’s an earthy kind of mushroom taste that really lingers.
The third infusion is more mellow. The flavor is mostly savory and woody. The mouthfeel is rather clean. Again, a flavor lingers like damp forest floor or mushroom.
My infusions from this point forward had similar flavors and were increasingly mellow, with some oat and wheat notes emerging later on. I honestly wasn’t particularly enjoying this tea, unlike the Third Grade, which I enjoyed a lot, so I didn’t push too many more infusions out of it.
To sum this up, I think this tea has a clean taste and feel to it, but the flavors are on the musty and dank side. If you are one who likes a more fermented taste or likes woody, earthy decay or fungus flavors, I think this Puer could be for you.
I’m going to skip the numeric rating, since I feel like the quality of the tea is good but it just didn’t suit my tastes at all. Hard to choose a number that depicts that.
Flavors: Forest Floor, Musty, Wood
I’m brewing in a thick-walled gaiwan. After a rinse of these leaves, they have such a beautiful dark appearance, nearly black, sleek and shiny. The scent gives off notes of cocoa, sweet dough, and forest floor. A lot more of the sweet dough scent comes through in the smell of the brewed liquor.
I only rinsed this Puer once. Many people rinse Puer twice before drinking, especially Shu Puer. I tend to actually drink the rinse of a Sheng Puer if it is good enough, and drink the first infusion of a Shu Puer if it is good enough, rather than rinsing twice.
The flavor is much more sweet than I expected. It’s very rich. Mild, but full flavored. The sweetness of this one is a fruity kind of sweetness and really lingers in your mouth. I’m reminded of dark bing cherries.
The second infusion smells more rich and sweet. Darker flavors are coming through in the taste, very rich, very clean. I’m reminded of dark tasting fruit again, maybe fig. The first infusion had a hint of the “leathery” kind of taste that I’m used to in Shu Puer, but this infusion does not, so if you want to avoid that taste, two rinses would be ideal. While I feel the first infusion tasted good, this one would be a gentler starting point, especially if serving to guests. The taste that lingers in my mouth is like light brown sugar.
On the third infusion, I taste some umami (savoryness) coming into the flavor. There are still notes of dark fruit, this time reminding me more of plum, but they are subtler now. The feel of this tea in the mouth is still incredibly smooth, clean, and rich. It really coats the mouth and leaves a lasting flavor.
The fourth infusion is still rich and smooth, with similar flavors.
Fifth infusion is a little less sweet and has a lingering buttery taste. There are subtle notes of metal.
The sixth infusion is mellow and sweet again, a pretty straightforward Shu Puer flavor on the sweet side. It has the usual Shu notes of mild earth, wood, leather, old books, but they are equaled by the mellowness and sweetness.
Seventh infusion, back to more earthy, musty flavors, not particularly ones I enjoy, but neither are they offensive.
I pushed the eighth infusion much longer and it is back to having a sweet taste, this time like cane sugar with just a hint of cherry.
As ratings go, it’s always a bit tricky for me to form an opinion that merges my perception of the tea’s quality with my level of personal enjoyment for it. The ratings I give are really just personal notes so I can look back and remember quickly what I thought of all the teas I’ve tried without having to read the reviews again and again. This Puer did have some rich, sweet qualities in the earlier infusions that were superior to most of the Shu Cha I’ve tried, but I felt that later infusions weren’t holding onto the best flavors of it as well. Still, it was very clean and a really wonderful drinking experience, enough that I regard it highly among my experience with Shu Puer.
Flavors: Butter, Cherry, Cocoa, Fig, Umami
Thank you Wymm Tea, for the samples!
Being a cat, curiosity is my forte and patience is not in the least a strength of mine, so naturally I had to go for the crown jewel of this sampler pack first. Wymm Tea’s website says the Mangnuo Cane Tea Sheng is their signature tea. I didn’t read much of Wymm’s description so that I can get into this with an open mind and unbiased palate.
The dry leaves in a warm gaiwan smell of open fields of grass. There’s a slight smell of farm pasture as well. There are subtle hints of citrus trees and flowers.
After a rinse of the leaves, the scent reminds me quite a bit of orange blossoms, with plenty of green vegetation to accompany.
I like to taste the rinse on Sheng Puer to get a good idea of what is coming. I can usually detect some of the more subtle notes here that may get covered up in later infusions by the stronger flavor. The scent of the rinse liquor is something surreal. I can’t quite describe it, it’s so new to me. This is one of the things I love about tea. I’m always experiencing new tastes and aromas I have never experienced before. The best way I can describe this scent is as a very sweet, clean smell, perhaps reminiscent of dew on flowers. There’s still a bit of an orange blossom fragrance, or maybe even an orange custard kind of scent. Taking a sip, the flavor is incredibly smooth, very milky in texture and somewhat in flavor as well. The taste is surprisingly less vegetal than I expected, and what lingers on my tongue is a nice cooling hui-gan and a subtle orange blossom flavor. This tea is subtly sweet in the cleanest of ways.
After the first infusion, the leaves still have a fruit flower smell. There’s a lot of “outdoors” aroma, but very clean and very intoxicating. It doesn’t smell at all like an earthy outdoor smell like the dry leaves did. This is a spring breeze before a thunderstorm.
When I think of ancient tree Puer, a lot of ideas come to mind. I imagine robust aged flavors of mineral, leaves and wood. What I get from this tea though really spins that idea around. I’m greeted with such pristine subtlety that I feel I’m being greeted by the aromas and flavors of centuries ago, before industrial practices reshaped the world and polluted the environment. The cleanliness in this tea’s taste makes me feel like every breathe of air I’ve ever taken or piece of food I’ve ever put in my mouth has never been pure and untainted like it would have been in the old world. As dramatic as it sounds, this tea is providing an experience that is inducing a lot of profound thought for me (in this case, about the past and what the world was like centuries ago), something I value highly in a tea.
The flavor of the first infusion still reminds me of orange blossoms somewhat, with a bit of a peppery taste beside it. It’s still very clean and paired with rich sweetness. I can’t believe this is a 2014 tea cake considering how smooth it is.
By the third infusion, I’m getting more orange blossom flavor, but also more buttery and sweet. I should clarify that when I say orange blossom flavor, I don’t mean bitter or biting, I mean it has a wonderful citrus-and-spice kind of floral aroma that comes through in the flavor as well. I’ve had a tea before with orange blossoms added into it that was very bitter. This is not like that. I’m thinking more along the lines of orange blossom water, which is also rather strong and perfumed, but when used in small amounts has a nice subtle citrus-floral scent.
This tea is not what I’d call a complex tea. That is, the layers of flavor are rather straightforward and do not change drastically from one infusion to the next. There’s something to be said for a good, reliable tea that has a solid presence though. I find it very comforting, when that presence is such a compelling one as this. The energy of this tea is calming and subtle, airy and freeing. This doesn’t feel overly warm and invigorating. It is a cooling tea to me.
By the fourth infusion, there’s a bit more bitterness creeping forth and a more buttery, vegetal flavor to pair with the floral.
Fifth infusion, the bitterness is still present, but not strong. All the flavors present before have become more well-rounded and equal.
By the seventh infusion, a cucumber flavor is coming through.
Later infusions fluctuated between bitter and sweet. I would love to see how this tea will age.
I’m going to have to give this tea the perfect 100 score, because when a tea “takes me away” and really lifts me out of the present environment and thoughts I’m in, or gives me some profound reaction, I feel blessed and honored to be having the experience. I’m nearing 200 tea reviews right now and have only given about 7 other teas this perfect rating.
WYMM Tea means “Wei Yu Mang Mang”. It means “pureness and whiteness without boundary”. I read this on their website. I feel that from this tea. Thank you for letting me experience this.
Flavors: Butter, Grass, Orange Blossom, Pepper, Sugarcane, Vegetal
I’m looking to start aging some sheng Puer cakes finally. I’ve been into Gongfu cha and loose tea for about a year and a half now and only got my first cake a month ago. I’m surprised I didn’t get more interested in that sooner, but then again it was more that I couldn’t afford to and hadn’t found the right cakes to purchase.
I ordered a sample of this because I love Moonlight White and I’m hoping this one will be nice for aging since it is a really good price for the size of it.
I tasted the rinse infusion just out of curiosity. It had a subtle honey taste and primarily a taste that reminds me of Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka.
After rinsing, the leaves have a bit of musty smell typical of Puer, but they also have a nice charming perfumed aroma with hints of spice. This is the aroma I’m used to with Yue Guang Bai, though I feel like this cake has a bit earthier scent than I’m used to and is maybe a bit more muted.
The first actual infusion tastes similar, light honey notes with a black tea body, the fruity tones I’m used to in Moonlight White are very subdued in this one if they are even present at all. By the second infusion, it’s tasting a bit more like raw honey with a creamy note, but I wouldn’t say it’s sweet. It’s the flavor of honey, not the sweetness. There is still a black-tea-like body present.
This tea is peculiar. It has some nice qualities and some that are not so nice to me. The flavor starts out somewhat enjoyable for me with the honey-like flavor, but the black-tea kind of flavor afterwards is not that enjoyable to me. After leaving the room and coming back, it definitely smelled like I had brewed black tea. With other Moonlight Whites I’ve had, the fragrance is much more perfumed and spiced, almost like a white wine or a nice scotch. This one just isn’t hitting me that way.
It’s not a bad cake. If you like the flavors, the current price is a really good one for such a large Puer cake. Would be good for beginners looking to experiment with Puer brewing techniques, but I don’t think I could recommend this tea for aging. It just doesn’t seem to have the complexity I’d want for a tea I’m going to age. Considering this one is already 7 years old, I don’t really see it developing qualities that would really change my mind.
All that said, if you like black tea with a bit of sweetness, this may be exactly the tea for you.
Flavors: Cream, Honey, Musty, Tea
The scent of the dry leaves in a warm gaiwan is just lovely, a mix of old books or old board game boxes mixed with petrichor and some tiny hints of apricot.
After a rinse, an intense plum fragrance exudes from the leaves, with a light vanilla note and still some of the aged books or old house kind of smell.
I tasted the rinse infusion. It smelled a bit of sweet dough and it had a slight dusty taste and a light overall flavor with a gentle sweetness. The flavor reminds me of the white stick you get in a Fun Dip candy. YUM! This is a rinse I enjoy drinking and will not be tossing out!
After the first infusion, the wet leaves have a more bright and sweet aroma like wet grass and soil during rain. The tea liquid smells like sweet dough with a hint of cinnamon, like cinnamon roll dough. The taste is complex, light, and sweet, with powdered sugar and subtle fruit qualities.
The second infusion has a deeper dried fruit flavor, is a bit less sweet, but is really mellow and rich. There’s a nice enjoyable quality to it. I taste faint notes of dandelion and burdock. If I swish the tea around in my mouth there’s even a bit of a wet fur taste that comes through.
The third infusion has just the most rich and delicious scent. I’m reminded again of sweet pastry dough with a hint of cinnamon, or perhaps horchata. As flavor goes, it is still rather light and mellow. I am having an interesting experiment tonight, as I just brewed a gaiwan of the loose Moonlight White from Jingmai (also from Bana Tea) a while ago. I purchased that tea on my own and this brick tea is a sample from a friend. I’m trying to decide which one I’d like to purchase on an upcoming order soon.
Having the two back-to-back is odd. They have similarities, but are very distinct. The loose tea is from 2012 and much younger. It has sweet and bright qualities, and a little more honey like sweetness. It almost tastes more like a white tea than a Puer. On the other hand, the brick tea is from 2007 and has a more complex nature with the aged earthy-musty notes blending with the sweet notes. The result is more a dulling down of the sweet tones than an enhancement of them, or perhaps this harvest itself is not as sweet as the one from Jingmai, as the cake tea is from a different source. The cake certainly has a mellower and perhaps weaker flavor, but the additional element of the aged taste creates more complexity and richness. Moonlight white is a tea you must brew more deeply than most other raw puer. It simply doesn’t give a bold flavor with very quick infusions unless you pack your gaiwan really full with it. I’m brewing 5g per 100ml right now and am having to add 10-15 seconds to each infusion. It has no bitterness or bite that you may expect from a raw Puer, even when young.
With both versions of this tea, if the flavor intensity and quality were mapped, they’d form a basin. The first few infusions are rich and flavorful, then the next several seem weaker, but the later infusions, pushing toward 6-8, become more rich and flavorful.
I’m on the fifth infusion of this tea, and I can tell that it would benefit from being brewed in a thicker gaiwan with higher heat retention, as the one I am using has very thin walls. I just didn’t want to bust out a larger one when drinking this tea alone. The flavor is subtle still, a bit unremarkable. I will raise the temperature for the next few.
These later infusions are mostly tasting of a light mustiness and a subtle fruit-like flavor.
I really love the aroma and flavor early on, but feel like it is tough to push much flavor out of it after the first few infusions, even if infusing it for a couple minutes or more. It’s definitely subtle. I’m curious how it will age, however.
I’ve had a chance to revisit this tea in my thick-walled larger gaiwan and I can say a few things now with certainty. Firstly, I prefer the loose version from Jingmai that Bana sells over this one quite a bit. At first, I think I was appreciating this tea a lot more because it was given to me by a friend and it’s of a varietal that I really like, but if I am to be totally as objective and unbiased as I can be, I feel this cake has a subdued flavor compared to the loose Moonlight White from Jingmai. I felt the cake was more complex at first, but I don’t feel that way now. It just had some more flavors I wasn’t used to, but those flavors have overridden and hidden some of the more subtle complexities that made me really fall in love with the loose version. This cake version, after a few sessions, hasn’t had the lasting appeal of that version. It’s a unique tea, but compared to other compressed raw Puer, I don’t feel it really competes for a place in my collection.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Musty, Pastries, petrichor, Plums
Let’s review some grocery store Puer cake! This is fun simply because you can find these at most Asian grocers, so depending on where you live, this may be the only Puer cake you’ll be able to purchase in person and not online. They’re usually only 10-15 bucks a cake, and because of that, I’ve avoided them, thinking they’d probably be poor quality tea. Let’s find out!
After a rinse, there are some really warm aromas of roasted nuts, sweet tobacco, and leather. The flavor is mellow and round, slightly sweet… earthy, nutty, and with an aftertaste of leather. This is surprisingly non-offensive for a cheap and likely mass-produced tea. There’s a tiny hint of mustard in the taste.
There’s nothing particularly outstanding about this Puer, but as ripe Puer goes, so many of them have very similar flavors to me. I’ve only had one or two where I thought “Hey, this is unique!” Otherwise, they most often seem to just have a similar mellow, enjoyable taste, granted they aren’t too musty. This one isn’t, so no worries there.
So, my verdict is… if you just want a nice everyday kind of Puer cake for helping to get you familiar with Puer brewing, or just to have some tea that you can shamelessly brew without breaking the bank… this isn’t a bad choice! Even if you’re just curious about using a compressed tea cake and aging it, why not give one of these a go? It may not be the most remarkable tea out there, but it’s worth its price for the quantity you get.
Flavors: Earth, Leather, Roasted nuts, Tobacco