249 Tasting Notes


Date drunk: 8th Nov 2020

- 3.75g in 75ml gaiwan [[Gongfu brewing]]
- Dry leaf smells more like ripe pu-erh than raw, which is unsurprising
- Rinsed once
- Wet leaf has lovely woodsmoke scent + baking bread sweetness
- First infusion (94˚C, 0:15)
- Flavour very light but lovely – clear and sweet! I can see this pairing well with baked goods and dim sum.
- Rating: 87
- Second infusion (95˚C, 0:20)
- Stronger flavour, a bit salty.
- Rating: 87
- Third infusion (96˚C, 0:25)
- Rating: 88
- Fourth infusion (97˚C, 0:30)
- A little thin to stand up to a banana bread. Need to hit it harder.
- Rating: 85
- Fifth infusion (98˚C, 0:40)
- Stands up to Mother Dough chai slice wonderfully.
- Rating: 88

- My Rating: 87

Flavors: Bread, Smoke

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 75 ML

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5g in 100ml gaiwan

- Dry leaves smell slightly musty like an old room, but no fishiness, can tell it’s cleanly aged.
- Rinsed once. Wet leaves strong whiff of tobacco, someone just lit up a cigarette next to me. Like being at Gong Gong’s house. Upon further smelling, heavy sweetness like dried longans or red jujubes.

- First infusion (91˚C, 0:15)
- Liquor is the colour of brown citrine, reminds me of cheng tng. Tastes sweet, slight fruitiness, slight smokiness and some mushrooms and umami. But texture is thin and not much body or aftertaste.
- Rating: 80
- Second infusion (96˚C, 0:20)
- I’m very impressed by how intact and unbroken the leaves are, no small pieces.
- Darker orange colour, a bit more full-bodied, with a sweet-sour aftertaste on tongue.
- Rating: 83
- Third infusion (99˚C, 0:20)
- Whoa mushrooms! And more dried fruit and pleasant light smokey flavour. A tingling sensation on the tongue like menthol (similar to what I experienced with the 2018 He Tao Di yesterday). Now I feel like I’m getting the full flavour of the tea.
- Rating: 90
- Fourth infusion (100˚C, 0:20)
- Very drinkable, a bit bitter but although the thought popped into my head: do I really want to drink such a smokey-tasting raw pu-erh all day? I like the sweet aftertaste though.
- Rating: 85
- Fifth infusion (96˚C, 0:25)
- No sweetness in the liquor but some lingers faintly in the aftertaste. Quite a bit of astringency dryness on tongue afterwards but still decently pleasant. Cha qi is not strong for this one, which is fine for me.
- Rating: 83
- Sixth infusion (100˚C, 0:25)
- Rating: 86
- Seventh infusion (100˚C, 0:30)
- This is very enjoyable drunk with my quinoa salad lunch which is a bit dry.
- Rating: 87
- 8th to 10th infusions: Did not rate, but this powered through the afternoon to pair with my 6pm snack

Verdict: At $95 for a 357g cake this seems like good value for an aged sheng. I wanna taste the other aged raw pu-ers I bought in upcoming order before deciding whether to purchase a full cake.
Rating: 85

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Mushrooms, Musty, Smoke, Tobacco

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Finally opened this cake after purchasing in late 2020. Unfortunately as a newbie to pu-er storage I may have ruined this cake by prying it apart into two disc + doughnut halves to try an A/B experiment… I’ve since scrapped the idea and put the halves back together to go back into the ziplock but placed the central loose leaf that fell out into a brown paper bag in unsealed plastic bag to “age”. This is going to be a trial run, then…

5g in 100ml porcelain gaiwan.

Wet leaf aroma: Intensely floral, the notes say orchid aroma and I can really feel that. (Orchid are my favourite flower, that’s what drove me to buy this in the first place). A lot of sweetness, a juicy note I can’t describe like it makes me imagine a fat aloe vera or fleshy jungle plant. Very pleasant. One of my favourite leaf aromas.
- 10 sec Rinse was already pretty deep-coloured and flavourful but had a bit of taste of grit so I ended up throwing it out after two sips.

1st infusion:
- Full-bodied, a bit vegetal/grassy, marine brine, very slight and pleasant dryness in the mouth. Sweetness is barely detectable but it’s not flavourless nor bitter. Smells a bit salty / umami like the sea (but doesn’t taste salty), and a hint of minerality. A very light and subtle infusion, not as flavourful as a fresh green tea, but like a (non-astringent) later shadow of one.

2nd infusion: Had to leave the house so the leaves sat there for about three hours before I could come back to them.
- Liquor now gives me a tingly cooling sensation in the mouth. Flavour is spicy (chili, black pepper), slightly bitter, mineral-rocky, and nutty (almonds or peanuts). No sweetness or fruitiness.

Verdict: It’s not my favourite right now, but I am excited to see how this will taste in 2026*!
*Unfortunately it won’t age as nicely as if I had left the entire cake intact, according to Mei Leaf’s videos about ageing raw pu-er cakes.

Flavors: Almond, Black Pepper, Chili, Marine, Mineral, Orchids, Peanut, Spicy

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Sadly this tea is 1-2 years old and I believe it’s no longer in its prime. Still a very good tea but it’s time to finish it up (I have ~30g left).

6g in 150ml Chaozhou Hongni pot (which might explain why the aroma is more muted)
Wet leaf smells strongly sweet, fruit like grapes, honey peach and melon, florals, and a creamy fragrance that is not quite milk but maybe like a cantaloupe-flavoured soda / sugary milk drink?

1st infusion: 88˚C, 0:30
Liquor colour is almost white. Very light, not much flavour or sweetness coming through, slightly astringent. When cooled down it was significantly sweeter and balanced.
Rating: 85

2nd infusion: 88˚C, 0:30
Slight grassiness and hay now. Also a bit of minerality like I imagine I’m drinking water from a sweet mountain spring. Sweet and long aftertaste on the tongue.
Rating: 88

3rd infusion: 91˚C, 0:45
All that’s left is the florals, but damn they’re gorgeous. More astringency now, but it’s a lively dryness on the tongue, not unpleasant.
Rating: 87

4th infusion: 95˚C, 1:00
Liquor is more a gorgeous pale gold colour now, but almost more white than yellow. Still lovely mouthfeel.

Flavors: Floral, Grass, Hay, Melon, Peach, White Grapes

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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5g in 100ml gaiwan. Have had this for a few years and realised I left the half-open sample packet unsealed in semi-porous conditions, so it’s definitely changed a bit since I bought it in 2020.

Rinsed once.
1st infusion: 98˚C, 0:30
Wet leaves had top notes of fishy smells from fermentation/storage, but the overwhelming aroma is of baking brown bread.
Liquor colour is a medium mahogany brown – light and surprisingly clear for a ripe pu-er. Usually my ripes turn opaque brown/black within a few seconds of 冲水 but this was taking its time.
Tastes very subtle for a ripe pu-er. No bitterness, no sweetness either, pleasant notes of bittersweet chocolate. Tiny bit of astringency. Nothing lingers on the tongue/in the throat – clean and brief aftertaste.
Rating: 70

2nd Infusion: 100˚C, 0:30
Now the liquor is opaque dark brown. I get faint fishiness in the liquor itself now, liquor tastes more full-bodied, nutty, dark chocolate. A touch more astringency too and longer finish. This is more enjoyable than previous.
Rating: 80

3rd infusion: 100˚C, 0:45
Rating: 80

Verdict: A lovely, comforting, cleanly aged ripe, but ultimately unexciting and I don’t mind passing on a full cake of this daily drinker.

Flavors: Bread, Dark Chocolate, Fishy, Nuts

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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5g in 140ml Yixing pot.
Dry leaf doesn’t smell ike much, but leaves in warm pot smell incredibly spicy and warm: I get distinctive Cayenne/chili and black pepper.

1st infusion: 91˚C, 0:25
– Aroma of wet leaves is intoxicating: sweet, stone fruit, with a hint of smoke.
– Liquor is a medium peachy amber colour. Flavour is mild, unremarkable. No astringency but no sweetness either. Not picking out any distinctive notes here. This is probably just the “rinse” haha.

2nd infusion: 92˚C, 0:30
– I’m really not getting much flavour here. Will hit it harder next round.

3rd infusion: 97˚C, 0:30
– Quite a bit of astringency and slight bitterness now. Not my favourite.

I’m not experienced in how ageing affects a tea, so maybe this might be good if kept, but I don’t like this enough as it is to purchase.

Rating: 60

Flavors: Black Pepper, Chili, Stonefruit

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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Yixing Xuan is one of my favourite teahouses in Singapore. I love meeting friends there to introduce them to the wonders of gongfu cha, and the dim sum snacks they sell at the store are delicious.

Bought 50g of this on one of my tea outings there with my mother, for the eyewatering price of S$47 (US$35) for 50g. For this price I would expect pretty top-notch Oriental Beauty.

At Yixing Xuan we tasted both this Bai Hao Oolong (the famous Taiwanese Oriental Beauty 东方美人) as well as their “house 东方美人 Beauty of the East” (which was half the price) and we both found the Bai Hao Oolong more complex and were impressed at how many rounds we were able to steep it.

I bought this in a tin and the tea inside was placed in an open plastic bag. After two years, it’s taken on an aged aroma like what I suppose I should be aiming for with my pu-erhs. I don’t normally rinse my oolongs, especially small-leaf ones that aren’t ball-form but this smells a bit too funky for me.

Brewed 5g in 150ml Chaozhou Hongni pot. Rinsed, then 90-92˚C for 30 sec.
- First infusion: A mouthwatering woody bitterness, mellow sweetness, and fruity tannins like apricot skins. There’s probably some floral in here too but I’m rubbish at identifying flowers. Long sweet (honeyed persimmon apricot pear) yet astringent, mildly medicinal aftertaste in the throat.
- Rating: 89

- Second infusion: 93˚C for 40 sec
Wet leaves smell like parsley / cucumber along with some fruit. Liquor I get a nose full of woody florals like a cherry blossom tree or rosewood furniture, red plum fruit, and faint herbs.
Woodiness is still pleasantly present but has mellowed out. Fruitiness and sweetness are fainter now but still a lovely full-bodied brew.
- Rating: 89

Verdict: it’s a pretty good Oriental Beauty, and I might consider repurchasing if I crave such an expensive tea again. Maybe I’d seal it up in ziplock next time because I don’t really want it aged (feels like I’m wasting the first rinse).

Flavors: Apricot, Bittersweet, Honey, Pear, Persimmon

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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I don’t know if I did something wrong, but I tried this Western-style multiple times at different temperatures and kept getting a tongue-cuttingly astringent brew – super strong black tea and scented oils in the worst way where I couldn’t finish the cup. I got the bag fresh in 2020 as a gift from a friend a few weeks after he received it from the UK. Ended up putting it aside for a year and when I next opened it unfortunately it had gone mouldy. And I actually felt relieved that I could throw it away.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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Parents received this as a gift so I’m using it as my daily drinker.

Pleasantly surprised because compared to the last Earl Grey I had (Gianfranco’s by Postcard Teas, a very fancy store), this is much more drinkable. The black tea is very mild and pleasantly sweet. Nothing strong, bitter or astringent here, though the citrus notes are also very faint (almost non-existent). But this is my perfect afternoon cup on fuss-free non-gongfu tea days.

195 °F / 90 °C

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Received this as a gift with purchase so perhaps I am more lenient than if I had paid for it. But I’ve drunk this at least a dozen more times over the past two years and find it quite pleasant as a daily drinker, not particularly astringent. If it matters, I live in a humid tropical country.

Tea Tasting Note: [[2020-11-25]]
- 3.8g in 75ml gaiwan [[Gongfu brewing]]
- Dry leaf smells incredible. I love how well-pressed it is – easy to get whole leaves out of the cake.
- Rinsed once
- First infusion (92˚C, 0:15)
- Pleasant and strong floral perfume, flavour is v light.
- Rating: 87
- Second infusion (94˚C, 0:18)
- Overbrewed already, orange colour. Bitter, dnf.
- Rating: 75
- Third infusion (94˚C, 0:15)
- Still slightly bitter but better, more like a later infusion of a green tea.
- Rating: 81
- Fourth infusion (92˚C, 0:15)
- A better green tea.
- Rating: 85
- Fifth infusion (94˚C, 0:16)
- Light flavour, but there’s an interesting new note in here I can’t place. I can push harder.
- Rating: 83
- Sixth infusion (95˚C, 0:23)
- A bit light, but very nice and perfectly serviceable daily drinker.
- Rating: 85
- Seventh infusion (97˚C, 0:35)
- A bit overbrewed.
- Rating: 81
- Eighth infusion (98˚C, 0:33)
- It can go longer but I gotta go start my day.
- Rating: 82

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Floral, Grassy

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 75 ML

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Amateur tea enthusiast here. I told myself I would start with studying Chinese teas when I first encountered good tea at Song Tea in San Francisco in 2016, and it’s now 2023 and I feel like I’m still just beginning to scratch the surface of Chinese teas.

Maybe someday I will move on to Indian, Japanese, Korean, etc. teas…

For my day job I work in tech as well as write some fiction on the side.

The next step in my tea journey is to start training my nose with an aroma kit to get a more precise handle on floral notes.

My Tea Rating Scale: (adapted from @benmw)
100 : Unforgettable, life-changing tea experience.
95–99: Extraordinary – Beyond impressive.
90–94: Impressive – Deep complexity, extreme clarity, or unexpected discovery of wonderful flavor. Made me reconsider the category. Would always want to drink this if I had the chance.
80–89: Delicious – Nuanced, balanced, clear, and complex layering of flavors. Would probably buy this tea again.
70–79: Very Good – Nuanced flavors, perhaps not as balanced or complex as the next step up, but clear and very enjoyable. Would consider buying again if the price was right.
60–69: Good – Clear flavors, representative of the category, but doesn’t set a standard. Good as an everyday tea. Would not buy unless desperate (e.g. when travelling without access to better tea).
50–59: Average. Would not pay money for this, but would drink if it was provided FOC.
30–49: Below Average. Would not drink this again even if it were free.
0–29: Undrinkable. Could not even finish the cup.



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