81 Tasting Notes

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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The description says it’s between Yishanmo and WanGong but has a bit more in common with Yishanmo. Sort of accurate, however I got more WanGong notes than I expected. The tea definitely has the thick, sweet herbal notes of Yishanmo but has a WanGong attitude. Big evergreen foresty notes although not as in your face as say a Tongqinghe. The qi although milder than a gushu WanGong still is quite potent and stoning. I got a dozen good steeps out of this before a kill steep in the Cha hai and found it’s evolution to be linear, that is it didn’t start sweet and herbal then turn potent and foresty. Both of these components evolved together and finished with a nice woody oily character. Good WanGong tea runs close to $2-3 a gram these days and may not be sweet enough for some Yiwu fans. At $.80some a gram this tea is a great compromise. For me I’m not a big Yishanmo, Walong or Manzhuan drinker as I like more umph. This tea nicely fills the gap.

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Nice Yiwu for the buck. Having assaulting my tastebuds and zapping my brain with border area gushu for several months this tea being young tree sat on the back burner. I did 8 steeps and found it has decent body, slight oiliness , sweet, grassy and floral notes similar to the Gaoshan maocha I’ve been drinking. At $.11g I was not expecting any other qi than a slight caffeine kick. Surprisingly I have a slight tingle in the forehead, tightening of the chest and relaxed shoulders. Not a big attitude adjustment but nice. If you want stereotypical Yiwu character on a budget this tea is a good choice. It doesn’t have the thickness or qi of ancient trees but all the flavors are there and it produces a nice headringer. I personally prefer more intense border area for Yiwu but prices of Banna teas in general are astronomical so if I were looking for nice fruity oily teas with big qi on a budget I’d opt to pay a bit more and go with ancient arbor tea from Jinggu or Wuliang which although doesn’t have the typical Yiwu character performs on par with many Yiwu teas that are much more costly.

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Nice clean storage, $80ish a beeng, sweet caramelly, mild, floral citric, actually reminded of the orange blossom incense I burned in my teenage hippie phase. Got a dozen steeps. Nice big flushes with fat stems. Really good material for the price. This would be a good semi aged tea for beginners as there are no funky or overpowering flavors and the price is very good. I didn’t get much in the way of qi other than a bit of mild relaxation but I’m getting over the flu and for the last week I’ve been able to drink tons of Lao Mane and old tree Yibang without being able to tell much difference in my nonexistent energy. At this price this is the best tasting semi aged tea I’ve tried.

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Had a brain fart this morning and wanted to steep something quick before work this morning and reached into my sample bag and pulled this out and thought, cool 10g sample. I’ll just steep it up. First steep and I knew I made a mistake. This was a tea I should take some time with. Steep 1 was thick and oily with a bit of that dry Lincang astringency. Steep 2 released some orchids. .Steep 3 and I’m like damn, they coulda labeled this as Xigui and I’d have believed it. Steep 4, oversteeped, man this stuff has a wallop. Meantime English IPA comes to mind. Steep 5 floral and bright. Steep 6, crap I need to shower and drive like a maniac to get to work on time. Dump the rest in the thermos with a pinch of lesser quality Bangdong area maocha and grandpa it. Heady qi. Clarity enhancing and euphoric. Wish I had more of this to enjoy i a longer session. I’m sure I’d have gotten a dozen steeps had I had the time. Best 2019 Lincang I’ve had.

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So I’ve been digging through a pile of YS samples expecting Scott to soon announce another 15% off sale soon and I don’t want to miss it this time. I’ve tasted several dry stored Yiwu area teas from 2009-12 recently and they could all be the same tea for all I could tell. Faint foresty notes, perhaps a touch of floral top notes and slowly emerging aged notes of wood and mushrooms…topped off with qi that’s pleasant but nothing to shout about. Each left me with the feeling that it may be great in 10 years but… I steeped 10g of this and it followed suit for the first 5 steeps. I pushed it a bit on steep 6 and it totally transformed into a dark honey note like I get from some GFZ teas. Halfway through this steep a tingly wave of relaxation rolled over my entire body and seemed to emanate from my bones. In 5 seconds I was totally zonkered. The following steeps were heathery and reminiscent of Dalwhinnie scotch. Steep 12 was for an hour and reminded me of dried mushroom broth. I planned to clean the house but ended up listening to Coltrane and grinning all day. I looked on YS site to learn they’re out of full beengs but there were still some on the US site and ordered one which I intend to age a few years.

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I’ve tasted dozens of spring 2019 shengs from choppy terrace tea to gushu from Mansong and Tongqighe and at $68 a 200g cake it easily gets my bang for the buck award of the year. Even competing against top tier teas I’ve had from Yiwu and menghai I’d put this somewhere in the middle performance wise. That’s against teas 2-3x the price. This stuff is olive oil thick and super mouth watering. Early steeps start herbal with notes of sage and thyme with a mango/coconut finish that reminds me of a Manzhuan tea only not nearly as sweet. Wet leaves smell of white pepper and lemongrass. Later steeps see vegetal notes taking over the herbal character and bitter orange peel replacing the mango. Now when a vendor sources single garden tea from an undisclosed prefecture I usually assume it’s Puer or Lincang. This tea has some traits of Jiancheng teas I’ve tried but not quite as evergreeny. The tea it reminds me most of is Long Tang (the first Jinggu sheng to impress me) from YS although a tad less fruity and sweet and definitely oilier. This goes over a dozen steeps even when pushed final steeps remind me of fruitcake. The qi is grounding and puts me in tune with my surroundings. It’s serene and not of the slaphappy variety I get from some border tea. This is awesome tea, especially for the price and I have little doubt that hip western vendors could get away with dressing it a wrapper adorned with copulating skeletons and a snarky name and sell it for twice the price…

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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…

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Central Pennsylvania

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