397 Tasting Notes
Fox is an unusual and hard to describe tea. The closest one to this that I’ve had is the 2014 Dehong Ye Sheng Cha, but even those two are quite different. This one has more fruity, tart and sweet quality to it, in a way that brings it closer to some Dan Cong oolongs. Personally, I consistently find the profile this kind of wild tree material more suitable for white and black tea than pu’er, but other people generally seem to love it, so I am always curious to sample more of it to find out what it is that I am not getting.
The aromas range from fruity (mostly tropical fruits and compost) to milky (krówki) and spicy (coriander seeds). It is a sort of deep aroma overall. The taste profile is a mix of bitter, tart, and sweet with notes of pine, tree sap, and menthol. More aggressive brews lead to a sharp medicinal, bitter and herbaceous taste. Aftertaste also has a light smoky fragrance (noticeable in the wet leaf as well) and a fish meat taste.
Texture-wise, the tea didn’t really steal my attention, but the body is medium to light I’d say. Cha qi is decently strong and has a spacey, heady, and dizzying character, which is not uncommon for wild teas.
Flavors: Bitter, Caramel, Compost, Coriander Seed, Fishy, Fruity, Herbaceous, Meat, Medicinal, Menthol, Milk, Pine, Sap, Smoke, Sweet, Tart, Toffee, Tropical
Here’s another sample I received from Tea Side, a 13 year old Thai sheng. Unlike a lot of other aged shengs I’ve had, the body is not too light. I think it’s the best aged sheng I’ve had a chance to try. It has a nicely aged taste profile – spicy and comforting, a smooth, oily texture and a pleasant defocusing cha qi.
The aroma of the leaves is very sweet, but seems a bit muted, and is probably the least interesting aspect of the session. There are notes of camphor, wood, and swimming pool.
Taste-wise, it starts off very spicy, tart, and woody with flavours such as cumin, almond, roasted red pepper, turmeric, oak, and lychee emerging over the course of the session. Lighter infusions seem more sour, while the more aggressively brewed ones have more of the sweetness and spiciness. The aftertaste is sweet with notes of raisins, black pepper, and resin. It has quite some bite to it, but it’s not too drying. It makes my throat feel warm when exhaling and cool when inhaling, an interesting sensation for sure.
As I mentioned already, the mouthfeel is very nice – thick, oily, and smooth. The body is medium to full and the liquor becomes very active and bubbly when brewed harder.
Flavors: Almond, Bell Pepper, Black Pepper, Camphor, Lychee, Oak wood, Pleasantly Sour, Raisins, Resin, Smooth, Spices, Spicy, Sweet, Tart, Thick, Wood
This is the first Thai pu-erh I’ve ever tried so I am curious how it compares with its Yunnan cousins. Thanks for the free sample Tea Side! It has aged much more than the 3 year old shengs I would normally drink – ones stored either in Kunming or Canada. In fact, I would classify it as semi-aged at this point.
I feel like the tea shines in its flavours rather than the aroma or the texture. Nevertheless, the smell reminds me of musk, grass compost, peat and stonefruit pits, the latter making it somewhat similar to a bunch of Dan Cong oolong fragrances. In the empty cup, furthermore, there was a strong beeswax scent.
Honey is a note that keeps coming back in this session, it is one of the most dominant flavours as well. The taste is quite well balanced with a bitter, tart, and sweet element pulling against each other. It is nuanced and the notes are not very well-defined, but there are notes of grass, red apple, barley, and roasted nuts among others. On top of that, the aftertaste displays flavours reminiscent of white wine, yeast, and sugarcane. It is long and evolving, and often fairly sour, unusually so for a sheng. In the second half of the session, there is also a very nice persistent minerality coupled with a numbing sensation.
The body is medium to light and the texture somewhat bubbly with an above average astringency. Cha qi is not very noticeable at first. Soon enough, a throat and chest warming sensation appears that spreads throughout the body. Rather than being aggressive, the energy of the tea is creeping and relaxing, but ultimately quite strong and heady as well.
Overall, Gipsy Crow reminded me the most of Menghai county shengs. If you are after a flavourful, fruity and balanced sheng with lighter body, this is a great choice.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Compost, Cut grass, Floral, Grain, Grass, Honey, Mineral, Peat, Red Apple, Roasted Barley, Roasted nuts, Sour, Stonefruits, Sugarcane, Sweet, Tart, White Wine, Winter Honey, Yeast
Yang Luo Han is probably a tea I’ve drunk the most of over the last year or so, and I see no sign of getting bored of it. It is a harmonious and smooth one, but continuously interesting. Today I found its taste a bit more on the tart and umami side of the spectrum with a molasses sweetness in the aftertaste as well as some metallic character.
On top of that I noticed a bunch of new aromas. Besides the popcorn and orange that I mentioned in my previous note, the dry leaf smell also reminded me of old clean wooden furniture. The wet leaf fragrance was an explosion of various notes, among them animal fur, coconut shell, tiramisu, ice-cream, mussels, milk, wet rocks, and charcoal.
Flavors: Char, Cheesecake, Coconut, Cream, Fur, Marine, Metallic, Milk, Molasses, Oak wood, Tart, Umami, Wet Rocks
I got this tea more than a year ago, and now it’s almost gone. Its aroma and taste profiles haven’t changed much, but I do find it smoother and sweeter now. I also think the aftertaste is more fragrant and spicy than it used to be. Overall, it is less abrasive and more enjoyable, so I might pick up another cake once I finish this one.
I had the Moon Princess for the second time today and I liked it a bit more than before. It seemed more fragrant in particular, I wonder if it could be due to the very dry air that is inevitably linked to Canadian winter. I recall hearing people talk about how short term dry weather brings out the fragrance of sheng more.
In any case, this tea is good but not spectacular (like most of what I sampled from CLT to be honest). I like that the bitterness is strong, but it’s not that interesting. A dominant note that keeps coming back both in aroma and the taste is that of honey, the dry leaf smell especially is really honey-like. On top of that, there are scents of sweet grass and ale, with a strong (matured) Camembert cheese note in the empty cup.
The taste is crisp, fragrant, and floral with a mix of sweet, umami, and bitter (think quinine) flavours. There is a bit of grassy and bark note as well. Aftertaste is dominated by a long-lasting floral sweetness in the mouth (rather than the throat). The body is medium to full and the mouthfeel is coating, slick, buttery and somewhat tongue numbing. I didn’t notice any cha qi in the two sessions I’ve had with it.
Flavors: Alcohol, Bark, Bitter, Floral, Grass, Honey, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass, Umami
I got a sample of this tea, the first Balhyocha I’ve ever tried, in Vancouver’s amazing O5 tea bar. The tea reminds me a lot of Oriental Beauty with its very fragrant and nectar-like quality, but it’s not as sickly and I find it more woody.
The aromas that this tea presents are a mix of fruits and wood. There are notes of cocoa, stone fruits, papaya, and orange. The taste has a similar character, with more of floral sweetness in the finish and aftertaste. The body is full and the mouthfeel smooth and thick.
I liked it, but I wish the tea lasted for a longer time both in terms of the steep count and the aftertaste.
Flavors: Cocoa, Floral, Nectar, Orange, Stonefruits, Sweet, Tropical, Wood
It seems like there isn’t a consensus whether this tea is cocoa-like or not. I feel like I land somewhere in between. As far as the liquor goes, to me it mostly tastes like mushroom broth with a bit of a woody flavour. However, in the aftertaste I do get some chocolate note, as well as the kind of dry cocoa butter aftertaste.
The tea has a decent balance with some bitterness, spicy notes in the aftertaste and mild caramel sweetness, but ultimately it does lean quite heavily on the umami side of things.
Flavors: Bitter, Broth, Caramel, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Mushrooms, Spicy, Wood
Last of my run of 6 Bitterleaf huangpians is “Be Yourself”. This one seems the most ready for casual drinking now. It is smooth, inoffensive and quite tasty.
Dry leaf aroma is mostly floral and honey-like, but there are also notes of cake, cut grass, and gasoline. Wet leaves smell quite different. The fragrance is hard to describe, but it reminds me of various foods like fried potatoes, bok choy, courgette flowers, and coriander seeds.
The taste is sweet, creamy, and vegetal with a decent umami. There is basically no astringency and only a touch of bitterness. Mouthfeel is milky and super smooth with a medium to full body. All in all, a very easy-to-drink tea. The aftertaste is not as prolonged as I would like, which is probably the main ‘issue’ I have with it. There is a light camphor note, which is nice though.
Flavors: Bok Choy, Cake, Camphor, Coriander Seed, Cream, Creamy, Cut grass, Floral, Flowers, Honey, Potato, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Vegetal, Zucchini
Among all the huangpian from BLT, this one is probably the boldest. I haven’t had many Hekai/Pasha teas, but I feel like it represents well the character that people tend to talk about in relation to greater Bu Lang area. I have no doubt this tea would age well, but I don’t think I have the capacity to stock up on tea like this.
The dry leaf smell reminds me of clean smoke, pine, but it has a sweet, metallic character that I noticed in all the huangpian teas I’ve been sampling. There is still some light smoke even in the wet leaf aroma, accompanied by notes of mushrooms and dark, bio-rich soil. There is also a very strong honey fragrance in the cup.
The taste is very astringent, crisp, and tangy with a sour finish. It is somewhat reminiscent of Yunnan green teas of the slightly smoky, woody, and grassy kind. There is a definite dry grass flavour, as well as a pear-like fruitiness. In the aftertaste, notes of fermented fruits/alcohol, rosemary, and myrrh emerge. Overall, it is a pungent profile, although not overly complex in its current young state.
Another positive for “Don’t be Sad” is the thick, colloidal texture. Together with the astringency, it makes for an engaging mouthfeel, which is further complemented by a strong numbing sensation on the sides of the mouth.
Flavors: Astringent, Dry Grass, Earth, Forest Floor, Fruity, Herbaceous, Honey, Metallic, Mushrooms, Pear, Pine, Resin, Smoke, Sour, Tangy, Wood