23 Tasting Notes

81

Part of a set of hyper affordable, young Dian Hongs that I bought from Yunnan Sourcing last year. My 1st try at this tea. Beautiful leaf structure, intact, still curing by the feel of them, with a slightly sweet/fruity, earthy, classic Dian Hong aroma. The Feng Qing factory leaf is s beautiful thing.

5g, 195*f in a preheated, glazed 175ml Gaiwan

1st steep – 4 Mins – Broth, Umami, savory, very very slightly sweet notes, roasted sweet potato, fruity, oak wood, tannic, wet bark, a bit sour on the back corners of the tongue. This an unrested tea and since it is an Autumn 2017 tea and I am drinking it in March 2018, it will likely improve a lot over the next 12+ months. Next time for such a young tea I would go to 4g and steep for 3 mins, keep it lighter but still in the longer steeping range hopefully opening up some of the fruity flavors by suppressing the astringency.

Steep 2 -

Flavors: Bark, Bitter, Broth, Cacao, Fruity, Molasses, Oak, Scotch, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 175 ML

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89

Got a sample of this from the folks at the Mem Tea Imports tasting room in Somerville, MA. Beautiful leaf structure on the raw tea, clearly made from a higher grade, smaller leaf size and not overly compressed. Raw tea has a light, classic Shu smell with an edge of incense which is a flavor I find pleasant in my Shu Puerh.

Rinsed 20s. Apricots, dry hay, incense, fragrant bamboo scents on the wet tea.

Mug steeping w/ a stainless, cup style infuser

25s/210’ – Relatively clear liquor, bordering on opaque. Beautiful Shu smell and flavor, clean, aromatic, slight incense flavor, Frankincense, heartwood, maybe even flavors of dried longan minus the high notes. S-M-O-O-T-H the mouthfeel is straight velvet, just superb really. This would be a GREAT tea to introduce someone to Shu. It has no WoDui still on it after 17 years.

20s/210’ – Stronger flavors going on here, opening up the leaves some. Aromas of Mushrooms, dark soil, slight camphor/menthol thing going on. Liquor is 2nd steep dark – you know what I’m talking about lol. Flavors are holding but also changing – incense aroma is background now, much less present, and deeper, savory flavors are pushing forward. Mushrooms, dark, dark fresh soil, slight wo-dui but not unpleasant, roasted something, still smooth but not sweet yet. Does have a pleasant cooling effect on the mouth although a bit drying.

Flavors: Cherry Wood, Mineral, Resin, Smooth, Tobacco

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 8 g 8 OZ / 250 ML

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81

81/100 for the pleasant smoothness but the lack of standout qualities. A great tea for the money, more brothy than sour, almost like the middle steeps of a buttery Bao Zhong , this tea could age into something rich and sweet given some time.

Still on the green side both visually and flavor wise in October 2017, my recent delivery of this tea brews a rounded, pleasant tea. Leaf grade/size is variable but nothing giant or too damaged. Some care was taken when making these cakes and I can imagine Canton feels that anything with their company name on it has to be Good. Overall a good tea, not nearly as sour as their current Wu Jia single origin, this is a sweet, thick Sheng that would age up into something rich and powerful. Hyper affordable, this and their house Shu are both the best quality:cost ratio teas I’ve bought. Neither is stunning, both are wonderful. This would be a good ‘show someone the less challenging sides of Sheng’ tea and is affordable enough to be a gift cake. This also might be one of those Shengs that could be the basis for a vegetable soup broth.

Celadon Teapot – 240ml – 8g – 15-second rinse, rest for a minute or two.

15s/210’ – Vanilla, strong apricot, sweet, thick, wet hay (in the good sense), heartwood, Dried longan, savory notes, clean brothyness. Pours a bit cloudy. Leaves smell of sour melon, sweetgrass, buffalo grass, nectar, Apricot.
10s/210’-mint, sweet wood, sweetgrass, smelling some of the current storage on it in a good way, not soil but wet forest floor, sour flavors coming out more. Still thick, slightly less sweet, but coating. Has a sour that appears after you swallow. A bit astringent in here, maybe just young, maybe too hot H20.
25s/205 -

Flavors: Apricot, Broth, Green Wood, Hay, Nectar, Pleasantly Sour, Sweet, warm grass, Thick, Vanilla

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 240 OZ / 7097 ML

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81

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81

Just got this in the mail, a beautiful mini Bing, pretty tight compression and lots of silver hairs evident mixed in with the leaves.

6g/200ml

15/s: The liquor is a beautiful amber color, darker than I expected. Scents of sweetgrass, sour melon, under-ripe plums, vanilla, a hint of smokeyness, pipe tobacco. Hits the whole palate which is nice, flavors coating the whole tongue. It has a sourness on the sides in the back of the palate. which, as your mouth drys slightly, spreads. I would call it astringency but it is more of a pungent sour sensation that builds. In this period I taste apricots, underripe plums, citric acid even. The sweeter aspects of the tea fade and the sourness of a young sheng takes over. You don’t get a strong ‘returning sweetness’ but it isn’t as astringent as some Sheng can be. Pleasant for those who like a sour bite with their young Sheng.
20/s Aroma is still young Sheng with a pleasant tartness.
30/s This is the money steep. Sweet, just a delicate licorice-root sweet sensation on the back of the tongue matched with an underripe fruit sourness on the nose. Aromatic wood, vanilla, caramel even coming out slightly.
45/s Unripe plum, apricots, melon, licorice root, Maca, Indian Sassafass with a light sourness at the end. It does that ‘makes you salivate’ thing which is always odd.

Flavors: Apricot, Buffalo Grass, Corn Husk, Grapes, Green Apple, Sour, White Wine

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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82

In many ways, I prefer Yunnan black teas to Darjeelings and Ceylons. Powdery in a good way, they often have that slight bitterness that tames the fruity side of things. I will have to rebrew this more to get a good feel for the tea but off the bat, I am using 3 pearls to 200ml with a 3m steep. Seems low according to the reviews I’m reading here, but it gives me an idea of what a reasonable amount of these will make.

Unfurled the leaves are larger than I expected, with a fair amount of tipps in there, although they took a good 1.5" of stem with that tip too.

The tea has the aroma of dry cocoa powder with hints of vanilla, stone fruit, cherries, caramel 40 (where all my brewers at?!) It has a bit of a bite at the back of the palate, I would call it astringency but it is almost a sour sensation without a sour taste. The body, as I predicted, is relatively light for the amount of tea, but I suppose that may just be the score here. Has that powdery sensation that I love in Yunnans but less than some other more tippy Dian Hong I’ve had.

All in all, this is a pleasant tea, not the best Yunnan I’ve had, but I will have to keep learning these leaves and improve my brew of it. Next time, 5 pearls to 200ml and hopefully I don’t end up jumping off the walls from the caffeine.

CORRECTION:

2nd occasion to brew these, I went for 6 including a small one or two, in my tea french press, 250ml, 4 minutes, and this was wonderful. MORE is the key to getting your flavor our of this. It has everything I love about Tippy Yunnan/Dian Hong: Creamy, cacao bean, caramel, all without any tanniny bitterness. I got 3 steeps before it started to get watery and gave up. This is a great tea. I didn’t weigh the pearls the 2nd time around, but that would be my only qualm: you would go through them fast.

Flavors: Cacao, Caramel, Cherry Wood, Dates, Roasted Barley, Vanilla

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 3 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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87

Woah. This is my first really nice Shu Puerh and my first Bamboo stored Puerh. Had it as the last tea at a Puerh workshop at Mem Tea with In Pursuit of Tea. Was so floored by the quality of this tea that I impulse bought a ‘log.’

Just cracked open the bamboo using a knife and mallet. Scent wise I can just barely smell what this will become, which is odd considering its strength of flavor. Relatively evenly compressed and easy to separate layer-wise, there are a couple layer where there is obviously some silver/gold tipps, can’t wait to get to those! The tea itself is small leaves mostly, prone to cracking and crumbling because of the stuffing it underwent in the Bamboo so I gave it a relatively fast rinse then let it breathe not wanting to overextract it due to small particle size.

Immediate smells of Incense, eucalyptus, manuka, wintergreen, Tibetan folk art store (you know what I mean), Frankincense, Sandalwood, Fernet/Jagermeister maybe? Vanilla, Patchouli, Ylang, Cedarwood OIl, camphorous, pipe tobacco

From what I’ve gathered, the strong incense flavor that I get off of this tea is partially an effect of aging in the bamboo. My partner says that she smells fresh cut bamboo in this tea profile. I had literally just broken up the log and brewed this and in the future I think I will air some of this out periodically in a paper bag to let some of the strongest flavors mellow some. The brew times below worked fairly well. I drank this over the coarse of a day and a half, working through the steepings all day.

In retrospect, I don’t know whether I like this tea in it’s first couple steeps, almost overwhelmingly aromatic of rich, sweet-spice wood flavors, or if I enjoy the flavor enough to go for a long session. By the end of working on this session for 24h, I was fairly sick of the flavor. Maybe a Chrysanthemum Pod, Rosebud, or some smokier, spicier shy blended in. We will just have to try!

15/s Wow. Clean, with an almost overwhelming aromaticity that is beautiful to taste. Incense. Sweet on the back of the palate and the tongue. A bit powdery or creamy feeling.
10/s The brew was so dark so fast, it is obvious that this is giving a lot away to the water in a short time. Minus some of the brighter complexities, it had in the first round that so floored me. Still strong incense flavors, leather jacket, new cleats, pipe tobacco, cedarwood oil, Patchouli. As the tea cools in the mug, it takes on a strong sweetness akin to Licorice Root.
15/s
20s/ – The almost overwhelming aroma from the first couple steeps still dominates but is spreading out some. I don’t know whether that is a good or a bad thing.
30/s – The liquor clears considerably from a darkness I couldn’t see through to a more transparent broth.
45/s
1/m – The original aroma is still there but the brew has cleared even more, lightening each round at this point. The bamboo flavor is more identifiable now, especially on the middle-back of the palate, and there is a bit of a drying effect on the tongue.
2/m – flavors of good loose cigarette tobacco, cedarwood, Cardamom, medium brown sugar. Not much of a returning sweetness on the palate though, just the aroma of sugars.

Flavors: Bamboo, Brown Sugar, Camphor, Cardamon, Fireplace, Molasses, Resin, Stewed Fruits, Tobacco, Vanilla, Wet Earth, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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88

Woah, this is great tea. Rich, sweet, floral, drying but not astringent, slightly sour on the tail end, just, phenomenol. Orchids, grapes, Neroli, even notes of Tuberose. A tea that makes you sad to finish the cup because you just want more.

Flavors: Apricot, Fruity, Honey, Muscatel, Orange Blossom, Orchids

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88

This was the highlight purchase of my first trip to Camellia Sinensis. Leaves are even, unbroken, well cared for. They show a mostly even darkness with occasional greens, signs of a good aging. Scents are light on the dry tea, nothing damp nor anything very green.

Overall, has a really pleasant Sheng flavor with some age on it but nothing major. Begins with a pleasant sourness, some bookstore-funk, some salt on it, brothiness, eventually sweet aromas, more vegetal (burdock, licorice root, dandelion root). Not majorly energizing, nor sedating, soothing if anything.

1.5tsp – 8oz

Rinse+rest

30s/210 – Hay, corn husk, oily mouthfeel initially, with a slightly sweet smell like nectar, oddly it makes you salivate like crazy. A background of beautiful aged Sheng – no must, basement, damp, only rich, deep, beautiful profile. Brothy, def. has a savory element early on on the back of the palate. Fall, Ocean Air, camphor salty, age on the back end then ends with a savory/sour note that lingers and moves forward in the mouth. Salt, savory, umami flavors linger long after you swallow.

30S/210 – Strong smells of umeboshi, young sheng, sour, bookstore in a good way, a fresh roll of seamless paper or cutting open a new watercolor block, sweet cream, slight notes of smoke and vegetables coming off. It is astringent in this cup, even at a slightly shorter steep time, with more age apparent on the tongue, flavors of black pepper, barley, saffron, again slight sour, still has the brothiness but becoming more Shu tasting vs savory. Beautiful nose. Cooling in the mouth, not full on camphor but in the direction. Still salty and rich.

40S/210 – On the nose – plum, honey, Dongfang Meiren, again bookstore in a good way but lesser than first 2 pours, wood, wet rocks, mountain air, salt is there but fading. No sweetness yet on flavor. The astringent flavors are lesser, still drying to the mouth though, a lot like the more alkaloidal root herbs (burdock, dried dandelion root, oak bark, and white willow bark.) Vegetal like green peppers meets dry hay meets dried burdock root. Deeper, muskier smells have given way to a cleaner, more nuanced aged flavor. Sour is fading too.

2m/212 – really let this steep go on but the rich fresh Sheng flavor came back and the sweetness arrived, so some kind of sugars dissolved that hadn’t yet and it definitely improved as I tasted it (a spoonful) at 1 minute. By minute 2, it was much more complex and pungent. Astringency is the same but sour is gone. Aged flavors still present but subdued. Aromas of wildflowers with flavors of fresh light leather, licorice root, celeriac, still a little salt oddly enough.

Flavors: Black Pepper, Broth, Camphor, Corn Husk, Hay, Honey, Ocean Air, Pleasantly Sour, Saffron, Salt, Sweet, Wet Rocks

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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Bio

Flavors. Must. Find. New. Flavors. Tea is relatively new for me, so I am still in the training wheel stages but so far, I am loving it. I am well versed in medicinal herbs and my pallet likes to be challenged.

I work in the natural products industry but my education and background is in photography (BFA from MassArt.) Because of my job I am connected loosely (or on occasion directly connected) to many artisan tea companies including Mem Tea Imports out of Boston, Rishi Tea, Pukka Herbs, Man Cha Teas, Imports through Mountain Rose Herbs, Aiya Matcha, Jade Leaf, Numi Tea, Organic India, Gaia Herbs, and more.

Location

Boston, MA, USA

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