64 Tasting Notes

This tea was well regarded, but I hesitated to get overly enthused as it is one of YS’s very few wetter stored cakes. However, having been in Kunming for 5 years or so now, it hit that sweet spot for me where’s it’s clearly seen some humidity but it not so funkadelic as to offend my oh-so-delicate white man sensibilities.

Mouth coating and length of flavor are both solid, while not being world-beating. As far as the actual flavor components, it’s one of those where you’ll just have to take my word that I liked it, as no actual descriptors that come to mind will likely sound pleasant. I suspect if you went out on a sun-dappled, dewy spring morning and threw a slightly damp stick for your faithful canine companion, the taste in his mouth as he clamped down to return the projectile for another round would be similar, if more fleeting.

I’ll not lie, though, if you threw a beeng of this like a frisbee, I’d lope after it on all fours and leap my best to capture it. Just sayin’.


Fun review! I’m not a fan of wet storage stank either, but this one is clean. It’s definitely got that damp-pealing-bark-off-a-broken-branch kind of flavor. I also picked up some holiday spice and menthol-like cooling in the aftertaste.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Having emerged from my Alter Ego session desirous of more, I turned to another Bitterleaf brick – the appropriately named Diamond Cutter. I avoided serious injury when liberating a session’s worth, but this was largely due to good fortune, not good technique. Remember kids – if you’re going to buy old zhuancha, you may be wise to also buy a steel gauntlet or two!

Due to my ineptitude and handling this solid plank o’ tea, there was some dust in my pot – I thought it might enliven the first few steeps in the event that the tight chunks were slow to get going, as Matu has previously reported. This proved utterly correct – the first couple of brews ended up slightly like trying to enjoy a fine Symphony with the bass cranked to max and the volume unnecessarily high. If you do include dust in your brew, heed my advice and select your vessel on rapidity of pour speed. You’re welcome.

After the system shock of those first couple of brews, however, this provided exactly what I was after – a nice woodsy, tobaccoey, satisfying brew. The only shortcoming I can find is that the texture left a bit to be desired – but it is only my first attempt, and some of the weight I measured undoubtedly escaped in the rinse and early steeps due to being powder. It is something to be mindful of if you like a nice coating of motor oil to your brews, however.

If you need a tea in your life that can serve as a nice chaser after the brandy and cigars phase of dinner, this may very well be right up your alley – and doesn’t have the sticker shock that most teas of this sort entail. However, it’s not a tea whose flavor lingers in the manner of EoT’s BingDao Peacock or Bitterleaf’s Mad King, to name just a couple examples.All in all, as seems to be Bitterleaf’s MO, it’s a good tea at a very fine price. Not their best offering, but I’ll be glad to have it whenever it finds its way into my cup. And at the price, I needn’t be stingy on having a session whenever the mood strikes.

And I suspect it may frequently.


This is one of the worst cakes to make samples of. Anyone who’s picked up a sample may have noticed they range from 25-30g, just because there’s no point in trying to shave off a few grams – you just get dust-waste. Glad you enjoyed our “aged tea for the masses” :)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

This curious little parcel inhabits the uncanny valley of the tea spectrum. It’s a huangpian, but it does not have the relaxing nature of 24K, being a punchier example of the style. However, it doesn’t quite have the full spectrum of nuances that a normal leaf tea would (hopefully) entail.

The result is a very fine drink that I have no idea when I would choose to reach for. 24K could be splwndid when wanting tea in a late session, as at least to me it’s very soothing and unlikely to keep me up. A tea as robust as Alter Ego would be better during the day – but it just doesn’t have the flair I want from my limited availability of full-on gongfu sessions.

I may try this Western (gasp!) as a work tea… but being a brick, it’ll require prep ahead of time, which doesn’t generally fit the nature of my work day tea sessions.

A fine brew… but a square peg to my proverbial round hole.

I promise never to refer to my round hole henceforth. My apologies.


This could be a tea that’s worth boiling or dropping in a thermos in your case. It takes a little tinkering to find the right leaf ratio, but holds up well through endured heat.


I was gonna suggest accompaniment to porn, but maybe you should send the rest to me.


Lol Cwyn. I didnt get the joke at first

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

I put this in my gaiwan today
A rather busy
No time for tea kind of day
And I drank it
Perhaps cruelly
(especially as it was a gift)
But at the end of the day
I looked back on the tea I had drank
And I smiled


My friends called Wocket
He has tea in his pocket


Hmmm… Why does this remind me of a famous poem?


I’m not sure, but if you figure it out let me know! It does me too, so I’m sure my subconscious is cribbing from somewhere, but I know not the source.

I thought it might be Neil Gaiman*, but I couldn’t find any similar verse he’d written. Of course, I loaned his latest to a friend, so I didn’t have it to reference.

- Not really known for his poems, but I’m a fan.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Before I discuss this tea in general, a few notes of Xiaguan and its importance in the modern dark tea and quantum physics landscapes, a topic which I can assure you I am utterly unqualified to cover.

Xiaguan really rose to its own by providing tea to outlying regions such as Tibet, and consequently, due to their ancient blood fued with UPS and FedEx, it was imperative that they begin researching the more nefarious methods for fitting large amounts of matter into relatively small spaces. This matter folding I dare not describe in any detail, as untrained use tends to result in explosive decompression as a best case outcome. Consult Neil Gaiman’s Kraken for further details on origamists. It is worth noting however, that depending on which source you believe, the Crane should be releasing within the next year or two 250 or possibly even 500g tuo cha that take up the same space as a 10 g or so “mini tuo” with which you may be familiar.

The downside, however, of having your tea stored mainly in the nooks and crannies between the dimensions we more regularly inhabit, is that ithis is difficult for moisture to penetrate unless the RH exceeds a percentage that approximates that of the tea’s density relative to what it would be if it conformed to a more common Euclidean geometry. While this is not one of the more striking examples of XG spacetime hanky-panky, it would still require approximately 175% RH to normalize aging. This is where the trouble starts.

This tea exists in layers of time, not unlike the rings of an elderly tree. While the exterior is a reasonable approximation of twelve years old, the tea’set inside appears to have been held in stasis far greater than any known cryogenic field can currently produce. It is as yet unsubstantiated that incredibly wealthy celebrities are being folded by Xiaguan and only trotted out on momentous occasions, thereby extending their lifespans, but it seems probable that only the exceedingly rich could avail themselves of such services.

It is unknown at the time of this writing whether tea that has been kept extradimensionally can be restored to the current time line without fear of anomaly, but I exp ect t h a t. a. n. y. s



occuranceswouldbebriefandbarelynoticeable to the untrained eye. I would drink this without fear of distorted the world around you. Probably.

But the golden ribbon tuo was better.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Earth. The Final Frontier.

There have been a few reviews on this tea, and invariably the taste mentioned is earh, or soil or such. This is definitely the tea those loamy shous are trying to imitate. You’re not going to get more ground taste in your tea without having to chew.

And I suspect, really, that’s all I’ll need to say for you to know whether this tea is for you. It harbored no surprises, it didn’t evolve during the steeps, nor did it out stay it’s welcome. Although, to be fair, this sort of tea gets brewed very long very early when in my pot by preference (and due to being “bombproof”), so perhaps a more measured approach would extend its number of steeps considerably.

Of particular note is the lack of funky or off flavors, despite a taste profile that usually features some. Not sure how it was stored precisrly, but I did only one rinse and couldn’t taste anything sloughing off as the session progressed. Well done.

Overall, an enjoyable cup, but certainly not one I’ll miss when it’s gone. Perhaps like the fabled Red Marks of old, it just needs another quarter century to come into its own. Don’t look to me to exhibit that degree of patience, however.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

“They’ll think you quite mad,” she told me.

She was right, of course. She generally was. But I wasn’t doing this to be popular. I cared not for the adulation of the people. Well, to be fair, when some of the younger ladies in attendance fawned over me, that was nice. But it wasn’t the point of the thing.

You can’t claim to hail from Ban Zhang, she told me. You might as well claim to be from Atlantis, been birthed via Immaculate Conception and play poker with Jimmy Hoffa and Elvis on the weekend. To that I say, they already accepted that my powers are given via divine decree. Nobody here has seen divinity decree anything in my lifetime, but Ban Zhang is real. It’s on the map. This isn’t like saying 1800 year old tree, or ultra weight loss potential, or first to be formed into a perfect compressed tea reproduction of the Brandenburg Gate!

Those claims might do you better, she said.

But what about my gradual buildup, the crescendo of flavors? What about the feeling of energy, not a manic sort, but just a buoyancy to the body one usually hasn’t got? What about the bitterness that yields to a soft, rich aftertaste?

Those are fine to mention, she told me, but you may not be believed, if you’re the sort of person that claims to be from Ban Zhang.

Can I at least note that I’m of Qiao Mu material? I’m not going to claim gushu. I will eschew “Zhengshan”. I will unapologetically admit that my leaf is not so striking to gaze upon as some newer productions. It’s in the cup, where it counts, that I claim my right to rule!

Humility is well and good, she noted, unless they don’t believe it’s sincere. And who would believe humility from a denizen of the great Ban Zhang?

You can’t please all of the people all of the time, to be sure. I’ll concede some may find me acerbic. I’m not as patient as some. Those who care only for everything to be candy and sweetness won’t love me. This is all fine. But all I want, I repeated again, as I was increasingly wont to do, is to provide a very good tea at a very good price. What’s so wrong with that?

Nothing at all, she replied. But they’ll think you’re mad.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

I was at the meeting of the coven, trying to learn more about the sourcing and storage of some of the more esoteric implements of the craft, when I approached by one far more advanced than I. You’d know the name if I spoke it, but I am not so foolish as to do so. An initiate like me has no place meddling in the affairs of one so advanced.

“I heard you talking,” quoth the venerable one, “about a certain artifact entrusted to your care. A bowl I believe, lined with a ribbon of gold?” I nodded weakly. “It is time to unleash it. Do us proud.” Saying no more, the elder walked away.

I was filled with anticipation, and also a measure of dread. The Crane does not respond to the weak-willed. I brought out my athame, and began the ritual. I shed my blood for Xiaguan, the mighty crane, and it rewarded me with a few feathers from the tips of its wings.

As I began to extract the essence of the plumage and imbibe it, I could tell that it was filled with a very elemental power. It was more potent than a vessel such as myself can contain, and it poured out of me in waves. If the force was out tonight with their tea sniffing dogs, I was done for. After a brief hiatus to internalize what was coursing through me, I soldiered on.

As if this initial overload were a test that I was considered to have passed, the Crane lessened its onslaught, though knowing not its own power it could never be described as gentle. There was no smoky or burnt sensation, perhaps signifying that the care I took in preparation was pleasing to it. For all that, it was undoubtedly of the Crane, whose essence is unmistakable to the initiated.

All too soon, the feathers began to degrade, being not made for the harshness of the mortal world, and would find their way into my chalice, a silent accost at the affronts of my all too human treatment. As this continued, it was clear that no magick remained in the offering. I had been vouchsafed a vision of what could be, but not for such as me, not yet. All that sat before me was a rather fine tea.

But as the afternoon wore on, this proved to be enough.


Brilliant review, as always. A joy to read lol.


You write so well, Wocket. The tea has surely had the best possible start in Wilson’s care.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Simply stupendous. It starts good, and gets better. Been drinking it all day, and I need to stop but I don’t know how to quit this tea.

Not too shocking it’s gone. My wallet was sighing relief all day.


Oh Lordy I loved this tea, horded my sample from Grill. Thank goodness it’s sold out.


Glad I got to try this one before it sold out. I tried to steep it all in one night and it nearly killed me. Softly.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

This tea is rank, and dank, and gnarly. I understand what a previous review meant with his shou comparison – this is a tea for a cold, dark day, not when it’s still summer (in the Gregorian sense). I will endeavour to revisit this in the early part of the new year, and I’ll be letting it breathe until then.

Lest you misconstrue, however, I believe there’s a very fine tea hiding under here, or I wouldn’t bother.

Bonus note – I cold brewed the mostly spent leaves for over 10 hours today, and it tasted like liquid leather. Quite nice, actually!

Rated M for moist.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.



I almost certainly don’t know very much about all that I don’t know about tea.

But I’m trying!


Kansas City

Following These People

Moderator Tools

Mark as Spammer