213 Tasting Notes


Sampling this in my search for a fuss-free affordable raw pu-erh that I can throw 4-5g into my 230ml Yixing pot on a workday and not feel like it’s a shame to only get 2-3 infusions out of it. Like midway between Western-style and gongfu-style brewing.

Rinsed once.

1st infusion (95˚C, 30s): Wet leaf smells pleasant, fragrant. Liquor glows a beautiful amber colour and has a beautiful fruity-floral perfume to it – apricots, tangerines, green mango. Taste is a bit soapy / frothy though, and flavour is very light. Ooh okay now that it’s cooled down, it tastes really balanced (still subtle) and has a syrupy texture. Delightful!

2nd (96˚C, 45s): Wet leaf smells lovely. Liquor fragrance is fainter and more mellow / less sharp than the first. A browner amber colour, slight astringency.

3rd (98˚C, 80s): Liquor has same fragrance as 2nd infusion, and tastes slightly more bitter and astringent but also with an interesting marked smokiness. It reminds me of some kind of tangy ‘green mango’ green tea, and stimulates the production of saliva in a pleasant way.

Rating: 84

Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Green Apple, Orange, Smoke

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 230 ML

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24 July 2020

Dancong oolongs are shapeshifters (much like sheng pu-erh) – starts off with a light fruitiness that is fairly unique to dancongs (but also reminiscent of a white tea or green tea), then evolves into the mature astringency of a sheng pu-erh and finally, an Wuyi oolong.

1st (181˚F, 15s): Wet leaf so sweet smells like prunes stewed in honey. The liquor is a gorgeous colour – clear champagne-y peach-y liquid.

2nd: (185˚F, 20s): Wet leaves already vegetal, mineral-y, not sweet anymore. The liquor aroma, though, is my happy place. Ambrosial – mangoes, sweet cream, plums, peaches, baking pastries, malt sugar, young florals. Colour is golden honey champagne with hint of redness like the inside of a plum. Tastes like perfumed fragrance, slightly sweet but slightly tart and astringent too.

3 (188˚F, 35s): Wet leaf: faraway smell of flowers in grassy meadow. Liquor smells still slightly sweet, but more mature florals. Tastes a bit vegetal and astringent, but still with some red fruit sweetness – like red grapeskins. Wonderful infusion.

4 (190˚F, 40s): Now a buttery / roasted fragrance has been coaxed from the leaves. Liquor tastes robust, roasty and nutty and bitter chocolate notes like a premium Wuyi oolong or Tieguanyin. Slight astringency and cacao nibs flavour. Liquor colour even resembles an Wuyi oolong now too – medium russet / chestnut colour. Ok a bit bitter and dry-mouth – like a sheng pu-erh.

5 (195˚F, 50s): Mineral spring water flavour and very familiar taste – OMG WHAT IS THIS. Kinda herbal and pleasantly bitter, and so smooth. Omg it tastes like a good craft beer. Has that hoppiness (flavourful but not yeasty), and amazing texture – smooth and astringent-dry and has the full body of a non-bubbly beer. I can’t believe this.

6 (200˚F, 55s): Liquor smell: More buttery goodness came out. Liquor taste: OMG suddenly more fruity sweetness has been coaxed out of these leaves from nowhere! In addition to the existing vegetal “sheng pu-erh” astringency.

7 (205˚F, 70s): Mineral-y.

7.5g in 170ml porcelain gaiwan
Rating: 99

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Cacao, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Floral, Grapes, Hops, Malt, Peach, Plums, Red Fruits, Vegetal

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 6 OZ / 170 ML

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12 July 2020

From the dry leaf already I want to give this tea a 100. Smells of incredibly fruity sweetness – expensive Japanese muscats, ripe mangoes, apricot, cherry, peach, some florals, hint of roast / baked goods good ol’ Maillard reaction.

1st (180˚F, 15s): light, fruity, sweet – yum! Wet leaves smell like golden brown baked goods (gingerbread?)

2nd: (185˚F, 25s): slight astringency, fuller flavour. Still smells fruity but tastes less so – tastes more like a vegetal sheng pu-erh.

3 (190˚F, 1 min): Astringent – I pushed it too hard.

4 (195˚F, 3 mins): Wet leaves and liquor smell buttery! But too bitter – pushed it too hard. Will try again another time.

Rating: 90

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Baked Bread, Butter, Cherry, Floral, Mango, Muscatel, Peach, Vegetal

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 OZ / 170 ML

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Brewed the last 11.5g of my sample in 220ml Yixing zisha teapot.

1st infusion: wet leaf smells of menthol: fresh and cool and spicy. Liquor tastes like sweet fruit and yeasty.
2nd: wet leaf smells like fruit candy.
5th infusion: The astringency and bitterness keeps me calm and awake and also quenches my thirst. Perfect daily drinker accompaniment to a day of reading and writing.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Candy, Menthol, Mineral

11 g 7 OZ / 220 ML

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Rinse: Wet leaf smells sweet-sour green fruits and floral perfume, arboreal trees – something grander than the typical grassy meadow.

1st infusion (10s, 95˚C): tastes like mineral water, some astringency already, a bit salty briny, hint of bitterness and black pepper spiciness. Medium-bodied and quite creamy / silky mouthfeel. Flavour can’t stand up to my breakfast blueberry muffin: not a good pairing with sweet food.

2nd infusion (15s, 95˚C): This infusion tastes like mineral water + spicy and almost savoury, surprisingly pairs well with the blueberry muffin!

3rd (20s, 96˚C): Wet leaf smells of fresh tangy fruit like yellow plums. Liquor is more of the same slightly bitter mineral spring water – pleasant and drinkable but I’m not getting anything exciting. Tastes refreshingly sour when I drink it to wash down the baked goods. On its own it’s wonderfully solid and well-balanced, spiciness is really coming out now.

4th (28s, 97˚C): WL same green grapeskins scent. Pleasantly astringent (never thought I’d say this abt a tea!), spicy and woody. Ooh I even got a mouthful of fruitiness on my last gulp! It’s like sour, watery wild honey and astringent all at the same time. Goes so well with the muffin.

5th (40s, 99˚C): Body is thin.

6th (120s+, 100˚C): Body is thin. Bitter, astringent, done.

Rating: 86

Flavors: Astringent, Black Pepper, Floral, Honey, Mineral, Pleasantly Sour, Plums, White Grapes

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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Brewed 8.5g in my 170ml gaiwan.

Rinse: Wet leaf smells sweet smoky incense. Also fresh like a mineral spring.

1st (10s 95˚C): Leaf smells green grapes, tart fruits, fresh hay. Taste very light and refreshing, pleasant. No bitterness astringency or sourness. Minerally.

2nd (20s 95˚C): Scent of a spring breeze. Liquor: now a tinge of dryness (good, a sign of strength). Not sweet anymore. When I ate with a fresh plum, the tea complemented it quite well, adding solid vegetal and mineral base to counter the sweet and sour of the fruit. Smells of sweet grass. This tea is characterised by mostly sour green fruits and vegetables on the periphery, but with a bit of a void on the palate where I’d usually expect flavour to be – it’s mostly like water.

3rd (25s 97˚C): Leaf smells like stewed vegetables + spring meadow. Savoury, medium-bodied. Hint of bitterness like Chinese herbs (linyong) but that bitterness feels necessary – it’s still balanced and pleasant.

4th (35s 99˚C): Wet leaf smells fresh farm grass in an English summer, verdant. Liquor smells and tastes slightly sweet all of a sudden. Guess it was the right time to raise the temp. Still minerally rocky and slight (good) astringency. This is a great infusion.

5th (45s 100˚C): Velvety mouthfeel.

6th (90s 100˚C): The body is too thin already. This tea is done.

Overall lovely and thirst-quenching – could be an unobjectionable daily drinker – but not my favourite and not serve that purpose for the price. It’s what I imagine a really high-quality ‘ultra-premium’ mineral water could taste like.

Rating: 82

Flavors: Freshly Cut Grass, Green, Herbs, Mineral, Smoke, Vegetables, Vegetal, White Grapes

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 6 OZ / 165 ML

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So I ended up buying a cake of this tea (at US$76! so funny to look back at my notes and complain that it was expensive at US$60+) and I’ve drunk / given away 100g of it already but realised I never did a proper review with tasting notes. Brewed 8g in my 160ml gaiwan with boiling water.

Rinse. Wet leaf smells sweet and musty, like a sweet underground spring. Or clean peat moss. Second rinse: more spicy and herbal notes – savoury, mushrooms. Gorgeous.

1st infusion: Body a bit thin. Flavour is sour and fruity in the silly jade bowl I got as a gift, but not in porcelain mug (curious!). Porcelain mug portion is fuller, tastes savoury and flavourful, even slight bitterness (in a good way).

2nd: Smells of sour plums, mineral-y like pool water / chlorine. Nothing chocolatey about this pu-erh (unlike other ripes like my Elephant Mtn) but sweet and so intoxicating. It just tastes very satisfying.

3rd: I hit it harder, so the liquor is richer and more substantial and now becoming slightly chocolatey – not a sweet caramelly milk chocolate or deep bitter chocolate but the brighter, sour-fruity artisanal chocolate from Madagascar… but still with a rounded creamy fullness at the end. The finish is so satisfying – now one gets more butterscotch and stout notes. Ughhhh love this tea.

4th & 5th infusions: Busy; didn’t record.

The 6th or 7th infusion I let it steep for like 20 minutes to finish off the leaves. Still no bitterness, just a slight astringency. A nice chocolatey stouty richness.

Rating: 90

Flavors: Butterscotch, Creamy, Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Mineral, Musty, Sour

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

I like this one a lot.

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Finished up the last of my sample of this: 9.5g in 200ml water in my Yixing zisha pot.

Rinsed at 95˚C. Wet leaf smells beautiful, floral and clear and crisp, hint of sweetness.

1st infusion (20s): Wet leaf smells like brine. Liquor slight bitterness and a lot of astringency. I don’t get any sweetness. Think I was a bit careless and overbrewed it. I don’t like this dryness.

2nd infusion (18s): Less astringency, nice clarity, but I’m not getting the “nectar-like sweetness” that the YS website is claiming. Tea soup has a thick body and clear briny flavour redolent of fresh oysters, which is a pleasant association. Much better than the 1st infusion, which I clearly messed up.

3rd infusion (20s at 96˚C): Now getting a hint of spiciness in the aroma. Another great infusion.

4th (20s at 96˚C): Clear spring, minerally, flavour too light I didn’t push it hard enough.

5th (25s at 100˚C): Ah, yes I think this is the tea finally calming down and giving me a firm yet mellow flavour. There’s no sweetness or astringency, just I don’t know why but it seems to me that this is the flavour of maturity and wisdom. There is a rounded sweetness in the mouth afterwards. White grape skins. I think I’m finally beginning to ‘get’ this tea. Definitely not one that I’d crave often or call a “favourite”, but I think I can appreciate it for its excellence and durability now.

Note: This tea currently sells for US$132 per cake on YunnanSourcing. It was totally wasted on me a year ago (when I rated it a 45) and is probably still semi-wasted on me now – my nose and palate aren’t refined enough to pick up all the floral and other notes. It’ll be funny to look back on how my tastes have developed if I ever try this tea again.

Rating: 85

Flavors: Astringent, Mineral, Spicy, White Grapes

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 9 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

I like to read the reviews where people completely reevaluate their original takes. It shows that our perception and appreciation are ever-evolving qualities.

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Brewed in my porcelain gaiwan. Decided to try this after a horrible experience with some Mandarin peel Pu erh from “Yu Teahouse” (beautiful classy packaging, lousy tea – embodying everything I hate about receiving 礼品茶).

Dry leaf smells fishy in a bad way (neither of the other two cakes in my collection, the 2011 Xin Hai Bai Nian or 2007 Hong Zhuang, smell like this)
After 2 rinses, fishiness is gone. Wet leaf smells like sweet incense wood smoke and sweet baked wholemeal bread

First infusion: wet leaf intoxicating sweet herbal + baking brown-crust bread smell OMG.
Tastes clean, clear herbal + cacao flavour, not sweet. Light on flavour (normal for 1st infusion). No bitterness, but teensy bit of dryness / saliva-induction in the aftertaste (good!)

2nd infusion: Weak, not fragrant, maybe my nose was blocked or eclipsed by the noodles I was having for lunch. Ordinary cacao / tea flavour, medium body.

3rd infusion: Because the 2nd was so weak, I hit it hard (1 min+) and wow super strong aroma of red dates / jujubes! Body still a bit thin, but a bit of a tingly sensation (perhaps like camphor or menthol, though I’m not actually getting those notes).

4th & 5th infusions: red date aroma and tingly sensation are still there but the flavour is really really weak. This tea is done. Not too many infusions but hopefully it will get better with age… and if it doesn’t, then this is a perfectly respectable daily drinker for days when I don’t have time to do more than 2 steepings. Great value for money and still far smoother and more complex than any overpriced “fancy hotel spa”-type gift tea.

Rating: 85

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cacao, Dates

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 OZ / 160 ML

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(This review is actually for the Spring 2019 harvest of YS’s Yue Guang Bai Air-Dried White Tea.)

This tea has a lot to give. I started at 60˚C and increased by 4-5˚C for each infusion – got 5 solid infusions out of it!

Clean shaving foam, sweet cotton candy, melon, tropical fruit.

Brewed this in my Yixing zisha pot and also got the additional clay-ey smell (probably from the pot) which I recognised as the formerly unidentifiable scent of hairdressers – maybe from hair mud masks? Haha. This tea is not bad brewed in a pot (I heard from Mei Leaf that white teas like steady heat so clay is good for heat retention) though I think the clay does absorb some of the higher aromatics, but this tea has enough depth to it even in the medium and bass notes that there’s still a lot to enjoy despite that. Fantastic, esp for the price!

Rating: 88

Flavors: Honey, Melon

140 °F / 60 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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