89 Tasting Notes

I’m mainly a sheng drinker and typically only reach for an oolong when eating stir fry, curry or other Asian food. I bought this high end dancong last year (slightly over $1g iirc) , sampled fresh and was underwhelmed. This morning I was in the mood for something different than the young sheng I usually blast my system/tastebuds with, reached into my dancong bag and grabbed this. My oh my what a difference a year makes. Super oily, sweet, plums, lychee, hoisin and sesame oil notes complimented by notes of herbs I have yet to taste (and I have a big herb garden. Typically I only crave roasted oolongs when eating food that’s heavy on toasted sesame oil as they go together so well. I rarely drink them on their own. I could drink this stuff all the time. It steeped forever too. The qi is great too but different then sheng. A chilled out wave of relaxation and contentment. I’m beginning to understand oolong fanatics. I only wish I had a Peking Duck to go with this but they’re a little hard to come by in a small town in Central Pennsylvania at 9am. Luckily I have about 2 sessions left so I see a Peking duck in my near future

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So EOT is offering 3 new Guyolin teas. 2 from 2020 and one from 2019. They recommend comparing the 3 here which I will do here. I blind bought a cake of the 2020 Tianmenshan because one of my favorite teas from last year came from that village in the form of dragon balls sold (bc there wasn’t enough material to cake) by Yiwu Mountain Tea and cost $2g, $1.50 on sale. The tea from EOT from this village this year is $1.20g so I took a gamble hoping they would be similar. They are. Same big oily tropical fruit and coconut oil notes, penetrating qi and both steep forever. The other new Guyolin is the 2019 Yao Zhu Di which has a balanced bitterness, nice balance between herbaceous notes and the signature Guyolin fruit notes. It has active grounding qi but to its detriment drops off rapidly after 6 steeps which is disappointing bc you want the session to go on twice as long. That tea is $1.10g and I would recommend it if it steeped longer…but…now for this tea…

This tea is a shapeshifting monster and the most expensive at $300 for a 200g cake. The first 2 steeps remind me of WanGong area border tea with big, potent evergreen forest notes and coconut oil thickness. From the 3rd steep onward this tea is almost identical to the tianmenshan with its big tropical fruitiness (I want to call it Manzhuan’s big sister). The qi is similar to the Tianmenshan as well but goes deeper. I can feel it in my bone marrow and it lasted most of the day. Not saying I regret buying the Tianmenshan cake instead of this because it’s an amazing tea but this offers everything it does and a bit more. Oh yeah and I lost count of the steeps. Not sure if I’ll cake this or not as the price is close to that of Chawangshu or Tongqingue which are my favorite gardens and I’m waiting to see if anyone releases teas from them this year before exhausting my tea budget but I am tempted. If you are a fan of the more attitudinal Yiwu teas, this is a must try.

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Like Slumbering Dragon from CLT? My guess is that this is basically the same tea at 1/3 the price. Bitter gaogan yesheng from Kunlu Shan? Check. Medium light body with intense but smooth bitterness with notes of citrus peel and blueberries? Yep. Does it have the same spacy but energizing wi? OMG I have to be at work in a half hour. Do I intend to try to trade my remaining cakes of SlumberIng Dragon? …if anyone is still interested in that tea. Bottom line, if you like Slumbering Dragon buy this tea. 3 years ago when I was new to sheng I was smitten with it and bought a lot of it. Now I mainly drink it when I’m fighting a cold…

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I’ve had this tea for a while and rather neglected it. I was impressed enough by a sample that I bought a cake a couple years back. The fact that it’s semi aged Mengsong old arbor for $165 for 400g influenced my decision. It’s been over a year since I had this tea and I thought I’d check in on it’s progress. It also sounded like it would go well with my breakfast of chicken, gravy and eggs over duck fat potatoes. I know that some people shudder at the notion of pairing pu with food but I come from the beer world so get over it. Anyhow, the crock storage has been kind to this tea. When I last checked in it was what I would consider in the last phases of it’s awkward stage. It has now evolved into a powerhouse semi aged sheng. Thick and woody with notes of tobacco and earthy autumnal forest notes. I get 10 steeps pushing this tea and each had big long huigan. Bitterness is smooth and round. Beer comparison? Theakston Old Peculier or other Yorkshire old ale with treacle in it. As I drink this tea I scroll through the news and am saddened to learn that the King of rocknroll has just left us so I respond by firing up the stereo and putting on a record of all the Specialty era singles. The qi hits as Tutti Frutti comes on and I’m happily dancing around the living room picturing Richard jamming with Jimi and Willie Dixon in heaven. My muscles are relaxed and I’m quite content. The closest tea comparison I can think of is W2T 2005 Naka. While it has a tad more aged character and more drowsing qi, this tea retains more top notes and is slightly more energizing. In a way I rather prefer this tea and think it’ll only improve with age. Of course the same thing can be said of the Naka…but this tea is 40% the price.


I got 3 of these babies. I love it.


It’s definitely a nice one

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Yesterday I wrote and quickly deleted a note on the wrong tea, that tea being Da Qing Zhai, a Bangdong area tea which I’m sure is quite good as well. Scott says this is his favorite tea this year. This recommendation along with a 12% off sale combined with the fact that every 2019 Jinggu area tea I’ve tried has been excellent I opted to blind cake this. Glad I did. This is an awesome and unique tea. This stuff is oily thick, slightly sweet and tastes like dandelions, not the greens (although I’ve had several TGY with that note) but the flowers. If you’ve never steeped or fried dandelion flowers I highly recommend it. Sorta like chamomile but different. There is just enough bitterness to balance the sweetness. A spicy backdrop is notable in early steeps and a little woody mint emerges in later steeps but dandelion is the main flavor throughout. A great springtime tea but I’m not sure the flavor alone would have me digging into this tea regularly. It’s the natural feeling euphoric qi that won me over. Some sheng gets you hyper. Some is drowsing. Some is stoning. This stuff for me is liquid courage. It feels like a runners high. Alert yet relaxed and confident. The perfect thing to drink before a daunting day at work. I’ve drunk this on several occasions with similar effect. It’s whitewater season in Pennsylvania and I’ve found that this is also a great tea to drink before paddling. Being as smooth and floral (but not perfumey like a Jingmai thank God) I wonder how this tea will age. At the rate I’m attacking this bing I don’t think I need to worry…

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So with all the shipping nightmares from China I’ve been getting my fix from the YS US site. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this tea in relation to its potency, balance, complexity and bang for the buck so I decided to blind cake it during the 12% off sale. Glad I did. I’ve lately become a bit of a single origin snob and forgotten how satisfying a masterful blend can be . I don’t know if Xiao is a Taoist but she has achieved a perfect balance of yin and yang. Big evergreen notes balanced by stone fruit and honey. Bitter and sweet rotate around one another. Just enough astringency to let you know it’ll age well. Big qi that punches way above the price. It’s the stoned roadrunner feeling I get from Banzhang area teas. I have only one complaint about this tea but it’s only been in my storage 2 weeks so I’m hesitant to lodge it…I only got 6 steeps. A tea this good I want at least a dozen. Sometimes a little resting will fix this. I’ve found that hotbox storage can increase the number of steeps and bring life to tea in its awkward stage. I’m gonna rest it a month and see if it steeps longer. If not I may try the hotbox. Either way this tea is a hit.

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Decent semi aged old school factory sheng for the price. Reminds me of a German rauchbier, an Oktoberfest beer made with malt that’s dried over a beechwood fire.
Smoke, malt and old wood. Not getting the fruit notes others mention. Got 9 steeps that were pretty consistent. A bit of chest tightening and energetic qi typical of Menghai teas but nothing to shout about. Would be a good breakfast tea to pair with smoked sausage. For a factory tea of this age/price I prefer the Changtai offerings as they tend to offer more complexity and heavier qi but this one is good and solid.

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I’m mostly a sheng drinker but occasionally get a craving for white tea. I’ve bought a small bag of this each year since 2017 and still have some left in each bag. I reach for this tea when I want a bright May afternoon in a cup. As others have noted there are notes of dill and honeydew. I also get a whiff of cardamom. I typically gongfu this but see that others cold brew it. Will have to try that.

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I’m developing a real fondness for Jinggu area teas. While I’m primarily an Yiwu fanatic the prices of the good old arbor stuff (especially the heady border area teas) has gotten astronomical. The terrace and young tree teas offer a somewhat diluted version of teas from the area but it’s not the same. I’m learning that I can get very high quality old arbor Jinggu teas for a similar price as little tree GFZ and get much more enjoyment from it. This tea is a case in point. Thick, oily, notes of citrus peel, basil and surprisingly pleasant popsicle stick notes evolve through a dozen or so steeps. There’s a nice cooling effect that I expect with a good northern tea and mouthwatering effect that continues long after the tea is gone. The qi is really substantial especially for a tea in this price range. It concentrates mainly in the head and shoulders with a little chest tightening. It’s a calm and happy energy that relaxes the mind and makes the body want to move. Perhaps I’ll grandpa a bit of this at my next show.

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I’ve been a huge fan of all manner of black tea since the early 90s particularly second flush Darjeeling, Fujian, Yunnan and Assam teas but last winter fell headfirst into the sheng world and the rest is history…


Central Pennsylvania

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