66 Tasting Notes
Pretty good ripe. The cake is on the loose side and it brews up fast and dark. Yup, that tangerine flavor sings right through it. Not sure how I ended up with three cakes of this, but it makes a good gift. Just a tad bit “humid” on the nose in the first brew (after a quick wash) but it doesn’t linger or return. Got 8+ steepings out of it before moving on, but I could have pushed another 4 brews from it. The leaves are a pretty big chop, too. Worth giving a try!
Not bad, but nothing special either. I’ve sipped on this shou now and then for a year, and it’s remained steady. Fast infusing, to a dark, rich liquor, smooth & creamy without that fishy taste or “humid” odor. As others have noted, the melon is tightly compressed, but it does break up once you get into it, and since the tea itself has been fairly well chopped before pressing, you don’t need to worry about damaging the leaves. I rinsed 5g (1/4th melon) under hot running tap water for 15 sec in a stainless mesh infuser, then steeped in 7 oz boiling alpine spring water for 30 sec. Re-steeped 8 more times, gradually lengthening to 4 min on #8. Enjoyable, but would be better suited as a base for something flavored. I’ve got 4 more melons that I’ll sip on and gift away over the next years, but won’t buy more.
I got a 25 g of this in a 2022 pu’erh snob’s sampling box from YS, and find I quite like it. For a semi-aged raw cake at a modest price, I consider it to be quite a value. Tobacco, leather, rich tea, with a hint of bite that has mellowed out. No fishiness or smoke to speak of, and an overall mild attitude and pleasant aroma. I also got a strong hit of chestnut after a few steepings. 5 g per 7 oz boiling spring water. Crystal clear amber liquor from large intact leaves. And YS will literally GIVE you a cake of it with a substantial order, making it an infinite value! I may just pay the $78 to get a cake by itself now that I find I like it so much!
Flavors: Astringent, Celery, Peppermint
This is a solid, clean, semi-aged raw puer which improves over the first several infusions. The 25g portion I received was included in my Feb 2020 Premium Tea Club box. It is labeled as “wild” which I take to mean that the pedigree is not well defined. It could be descended from a standard cultivar but without records or a lineage lost to time, or it could be something that was spread by animals either as seed or vegetation from an unknown origin, either recently or long ago. This makes the statement of it being “pure” a rather dubious claim, I think. If the trees/bushes were noticeably OLD, it’s safe to say it would have been claimed to be “ancient”, too, as that is seen as more valuable. I just don’t know. That said, There was no hint of what I recognize as “assamica” varietal in aroma, flavor, or leaf size, nor the sweetness or pubescence of the Camellia taliensis species.
I started with 5g of carefully-flaked cake and rinsed for 20s in boiling spring water and proceeded with 30s successive infusions in 3 oz boiling spring water. Each liquor was just a tad bit darker than pictured in the YS photo. #1 was notable more for what it lacked: no fishiness or “humid” flavor or scent, not very astringent, but not very flavorful at all. The leaf hadn’t really opened up yet. By #3, the leaf had opened up considerably And there was a slight woody-tea aroma, and some bitterness had become apparent, but still no off-putting flavors or scents. The flavors intensified in #4 and lingered nicely in the mouth. By now the leaves were a deep brown color. After a 15 min. pause, I resumed the infusion series with boiling water for 20s, 45s, 1 min., and 1 min., achieving the same deep golden, crystal-clear soups as before. In #5, the bitterness was very pronounced, but so was the tea fragrance and woody-tea flavors. Still not any trace of the promised “fruity sweetness”. I know my senses of taste and smell are keen again, as I enjoyed a variety of meats, breads, fruits and veggies today and over the past week. Infusions #6, #7, and #8 were much the same as #5, but less astringent. Stopping here, but might re-steep some more tomorrow. I think perhaps the storage on this might have been a bit dry over the past 19 years. It certainly has strong caffeine, as that has kicked in and made me perspire! But that isn’t the only thing I expect from tea.
A very interesting pu-erh! Made of whole, rolled leaves that are olive-green once brewed. If I’m decoding the recipe “6515” correctly, they are considered grade 1 leaves, though I’m not entirely sure what that means! Importantly, this tea is highly compressed. “Brick“ is the right description, and in fact if you tap on one side, the entire block resonates and almost rings as a ceramic block might. There are two consequences to this: firstly, it is very difficult to pick apart the tea to withdraw a brewing portion without creating a lot of crumbs and breakage, the leaves are so crisp. But even so, the leaf pieces were pretty big, once infused. Secondly, the tight compaction slows the aging, and this may explain the youthful vigor of the resulting tea. Or, maybe the storage since 2004 was on the dry side.
Youthful vigor! The fragrance was mild and pleasant without perfume, flowery, or fishiness. A bit of mintiness. The liquor packed a punch with slight bitterness, strong astringency (is this called “brisk”?) with mint and camphor, and a lingering aftertaste of green tea and a drying mouthfeel. The sixth steep was much like the first, with progressively longer infusions, starting at 20s, up to 2 min. Enjoyable now as a good morning wake-up brew. But I bet this brick will taste much nicer in another 15 years, if stored humidly.
Flavors: Astringent, Camphor, Mint
What a pleasant surprise! This was a free gift sample packet slipped into my recent order from YS. And it might actually be my favorite tea of the order! Only a couple of years old, but incredibly smooth, without compost or fish flavors, or any defect to my tongue or nose. Very rich, even the first 10 seconds steep rinse was a deep red color. The YS description is right on the mark, and now on my 10th steeping this brew is still thick, rich, and satisfying. I’ve added a full cake to my wish list already, what a value!
Flavors: Cocoa, Dates, Dried Fruit, Rich, Thick, Tobacco, Woody