73 Tasting Notes
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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If you are an Yiwu fanatic chances are you will eventually encounter the teas sourced by Philip Lee. He provides amazing products at a reasonable cost. His Chawangshu gushu was easily the best 2019 tea I drank. Regarding this tea, it’s a Guangzhou stored Yiwu blend and at $.60g is among his more affordable semi aged teas. When I first sampled this tea back in the spring it didn’t make an impression one way or another. It tasted generically like a clean dry stored adolescent sheng of no particular distinction…a few months in the crock has made a world of difference. Yesterday I needed a quick afternoon steep and this was the first thing I grabbed. Less than excited I smelled the wet leaves and was greeted by notes of basswood honey, dried porcinis and decaying leaves and wood. Just the thing for a dismal November day right? The flavors almost perfectly mimic the aromas in early steeps while in later steeps sweet oily thickness takes over. This stuff really coats the throat and has a lingering sweetness. The dry storage has allowed some floral top notes to remain while allowing some earthy aged flavors to emerge. Sadly I’m not getting much in the way of plums but perhaps this is a few years off. The qi is of the gentle tingling relaxing variety and starts in the chest and oddly spread next to my kneecaps. This tea definitely punches above it’s weight. I’m considering caking this but already have a fair amount of semi aged and fully Yiwu. I have little doubt that in 10 years this stuff will rival most 20 year Yiwu available today. If you want some solid semi aged old arbor Yiwu that won’t require a second mortgage this tea is definitely one to try… and his 2005 huang pian runs rings around any other hp I’ve tried so you should sample it too.
Thick, good huigan and mouthwatering sensations. Balanced bitterness that is somewhat aggressive without being overpowering or harsh. Very floral in early steeps in a perfumy way instead of honeyish, like sticking your face into a patch of lillies…not my thing when it comes to tea. I much prefer my florals to be of a honey rather than perfume character which is why I’m not wild about Jingmai teas but if you like perfumy teas you should try this. I’m hoping it ages out a bit bc I’d like it more a little less pronounced. Oh yeah. The qi is impressive too. I found it nicely energizing and euphoric. Slightly calming as well. There you have it. If you like flowery tea with good energy you should try this. Don’t think I’ll cake it but glad I tried it.
Ok now that I have procured a kilo of this stuff I feel safe to review it. This is by far the best tea I’ve had in the buck a gram range and competes with stuff 3x that. For starters the super clean Taipei dry storage has preserved a lot of the top notes while making this tea taste much younger than it really is. In fact an Yiwu stored 2012 Yibang I recently had tastes much more aged. The soup is copper colored and exudes notes of cedar, orange blossoms and sandalwood with a touch of caramel and plum. No mushroomy decayed forest notes or dankness. This tea likes to be pushed in terms of amount of tea per ml, temp and steeping times. I’ve found it more satisfying to do fewer and longer steeps as it adds to the oily texture and bigger huigans. It is difficult to make this tea bitter. This tea reminds me of the 2013 Mansong from Yiwu Mountain tea (which I’ve only had once dt the $5g pricetag) in terms of flavor and qi. Oh yeah the qi. That’s the real kicker with this tea. The blissful, meditative full body qi of this tea is better than anything I’ve had for under $3g. I can’t recommend this tea enough. Another aged Yiwu I love (not listed here) is the 2000 Yiwu from EOT. It displays much more aged flavors (although very clean with no dankness) and much fuller bodied but less qi. I highly recommend trying this tea before it sells out. BTW this seller is a collector of amazing teas and has some beautifully aged 90s Menghai teas as well as an outstanding assortment of oolongs. His baozhongs and high mountain oolongs are incredible. The shipping is super fast too. I got my last order in 5 days! From Taiwan to USA
This is a really good, intense yesheng and is only a dime a gram. Each steep is smoky and bitter at first then fades to a fruity, oily spicy finish. The qi is fairly intense. By the 3rd steep I was sweating and grinning. Energized but relaxed. Not the all enveloping meditative at peace with the universe qi I get from an Yibang gushu but one can procure a tong of this stuff for the price of a 200g cake of the Yibang. I got a dozen steeps and that was with pushing it.
Smooth and mild. Woody and mildly bitter. Relaxing qi. I think this tea will open up and offer some rather interesting flavors over the next year. Beer comparison: English mild brewed with Kent Golding hops. As it is now, not a tea that really excites me but I’ve had similar teas that really developed in the following months and have a feeling this may do the same. If I were feeling adventurous I’d gamble on a cake but I have enough of the sample left to revisit in the fall and decide then.
My 2.5 years of nearly constant Pu drinking has caused my stash of black tea to be a bit neglected. I had a hankering for black tea this morning and dug this out. Big hairy golden buds. Each steep is immensely floral and thick with hints of sorghum and horehound. To my surprise there’s a bit of qi to this cha as well. Interesting how I’ve never been wowed by Jinggu puerh but the blacks and whites always seem to impress.
Paul says that what makes this tea so amazing is not so blatantly obvious. I beg to differ. The strength, oiliness, complexity and qi are all top shelf. It starts off with papaya/ basil in the aroma but more vegetal in the flavor of the early steeps. If I were to guess what it was in early steeps by tasting and not looking at the leaves I’d guess Lao Mansa with perhaps a bit of Guyolin. Middle steeps change dramatically and I get salted caramel and melon flavors. That I’d expect to get from Guyolin. Final steeps become tart with a hint of cardamom and dill which I associate with small leaf Yibang teas which is what I expected from the beginning because that’s what the majority of the leaves look like. Small leaf wild Yibang with perhaps a spot of gedeng although I didn’t get the evergreen notes I get with Ge Deng teas. So my guess is it’s a blend of Yibang and Guyolin. Now the big question is is it worth the price? IDK. This price point can buy Chawangshu, Tianmenshan and Bohetang teas. Excellent Lao Mansa and Guyolin can be had for less. If you’re an Yiwu lover like me I definitely recommend a sample of this and a sample of all the maocha from Yiwu mountain teas (they didn’t press any this year as there was so little) all the Yiwu from Puerh.sk and any other source you like and compare. The Yiwu teas are excellent , scarce and expensive this year. The only one I’ve pulled the trigger on and caked this year is the Lao Mansa from Psk and it’s significantly less but this stuff is tempting even at this price. Perhaps I could trade a guitar for some…
I don’t get plums or bubblegum either . I don’t get much huigan. I do get cedar minty smooth bitterness that I associate with Banzhang tea though I doubt this is the real deal. It is clearly a clean stored Menghai area tea, judging from stem size likely a blend of terrace and younger forest tea. It is very pleasant and I get about a dozen steeps. Going by memory it reminds me a little of Hai Lang Hao 2005 Nannuo only a bit sweeter and milder in the qi department. For someone looking for a reasonably priced semi aged Menghai sheng for their collection this is a decent choice. Clean, pleasant, relaxing but subtle qi. Personally I don’t think I’ll buy a cake because I feel that there are similarly priced and aged Lincang teas that perform better for the price.