56 Tasting Notes
My previous note on this tea was with a sample gotten back in 2015 or so. I later bought a cake of this tea and sometimes have it in my daily drinker rotation. I think I’ve got less than half of the 400g cake left so I must have drunk it a couple of dozen times. It’s been in Florida for something like a year now. I drank some yesterday.
This tea is a very fancy grade of leaf with very few small broken bits, if you flake the cake apart carefully. It makes a very bright orange, crystal-clear soup that has a solid feel despite having a very mild flavor. I find that it easily makes more than 10 steeps of tea that I’m interested in drinking.
Re-reading my earlier review, I understand why I was surprised the first time I drank some tea off of my new cake. My first reaction was “this doesn’t taste like anything!” It was kind of disappointing, really. Later, after I broke up 100g or so and let it sit in a jar for a few weeks, it had more taste. Though it still seems a bit faint compared with what I thought I remembered. My dosage is lighter these days though, usually 6g/90ml compared to the 8g/100ml I was doing back then. And also I look at the steep schedule I used then it’s different from my default these days, which is lots more shorter steeps before ramping up the time.
I used a 90-ml anonymous red clay pot and 6+ grams of leaf. Most of the leaf was in a couple of big flakes, one of which I had to break a bit to get into the opening of the pot. i brewed it with tap water passed twice through a blue Brita filter, dispensed from a Zojirushi boiler set at 208F.
I didn’t count or time the steeps, though I can say I probably did 5 before I increased the time much beyond 5 seconds, though the pour time on the pot basically doubles that. Previously I was doing two 10s steeps and then ramping the time up by 10s/steep. I can say that I did not get a tea sweat this time.
I do have to agree with my earlier note on this: the main flavor that I get from this tea is a sort of sweet aromatic wood. It is beginning to develop a bit of camphor aroma also.
Flavors: Camphor, Sweet, Wood
No material from 1600-year-old trees in Banzhang went into this, I’m pretty sure, but that’s not the claim. It says it’s good for brewing in a mug infuser for daily drinking, and damned straight that’s what it is. I like to make it at about 5g/300ml, and steep 3 times for 3, 4, and 5 minutes. By the end of the 2nd steep I know I’ve been drinking raw puer.
I don’t like it so much for small-pot brewing, though if you leaf it heavy and push it hard that could work. Don’t think you’d get more than 10 steeps at most though. It’s not the strongest tea out there.
I found a decent-sized chunk of this in my sample stash, and thought I would give it another taste. I had a little over 7g, which made a leaf-heavy session with my 90ml pot. Whether my taste has become more educated, or the tea changed, or my technique has improved, or all of the above, I have a better appreciation of this and am removing my “not recommended” reaction.
I recalled this tea as having overwhelming humid storage taste and aroma, and also as being powerfully astringent after not-too-many steeps. In fact I remember thinking something like “Gack! This is dry storage?” I found this session a lot smoother, and while I could still taste the humid storage it seemed a lot less noticeable than I remembered.
I didn’t count or precisely time my infusions because I don’t really do that anymore. I know that I started with the shortest rinses and steeps I could manage with the pot, and was getting red soup by the second steep. I noticed some sweet cold-cup aroma, which I generally don’t with older humid-stored tea (though to be sure, this is “dry HK storage” according to the vendor). I kept waiting for the cotton-mouthed drying effect and it never came. I wound up using over 1.5l of water and was steeping for minutes at a time at the end, so I got probably around 20 steeps altogether.
The soup did feel a little weaker than I would expect with the leaf ratio, but maybe that is down to the grade 7 material.
This brick seems to be a fairly fancy grade of leaf. There was not a lot of small chop. It was almost all larger pieces of leaf with little to no stemmy stuff or sticks.
I bought the 357g sample of this tea a few months back, wanting to get some feel for Menghai-area material that’s not a big factory production, something priced as a daily drinker, and old enough to make orange soup. I consider this a success on all counts.
This is a stone-pressed cake that comes apart pretty easily. I don’t feel competent to judge tree age by looking at leaves, but this one is surely missing a 0 at the end of the price to be really “gu shu.” When I inspect the spent leaf, I don’t see the prominent lateral venation that is supposed to be characteristic of old-tree material.
I’ve had 6 or 8 sessions with it so far, some in porcelain gaiwans, some in clay pots. It makes decently thick orange soup for 8 or so steeps, obviously depending on details of steep time. I don’t ordinarily keep a steep count, or indeed make a point of precisely timing steeps, but I did a session with bookeeping to see how it would work out on this one. With a leaf ratio of 6.5g/90ml, I did a 5s rinse and a steeping schedule of 5, 5, 10, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, 150, 210, 300s. The light compression of stone pressing makes it reasonable to use very short steeps in the beginning. Really only the first 11 steeps were worthwhile, but this meets my standards for daily drinker teas. The soup gradually lightens to a pale orange starting around #10.
This tea has a good aged feel for something only 11 years old, yet the taste is of clean dry storage with no hint of shicang. The spent leaf is almost entirely brown with very little trace of green. There is good huigan for several steeps starting with the 6th, using a steep schedule like the one given above, with some green astringency in the last few steeps.
By comparison with Dayi products of similar vintage, I believe I detect a characteristic Menghai origin here, with less complexity owing to the fact that this is single-mountain material and not a blend. A Dayi cake of this age would still have lots of room to improve, with lots of strong astringent green pucker at the end, but I think this one is close to as good as it will ever be. As I write this I am drinking a 2007 Dayi 8542 shortly after a session with the Pasha, and the Dayi is clearly superior tea. I do not regret buying the Pasha though, because it is exactly what I was paying for: raw puer that’s more aged than matured, good for 10 steeps, and priced for daily drinking.
I recommend this tea if you want something for drinking, and not for raving about steep counts.
I missed this back when it emerged at $15 the brick. By the time I was looking at W2T the price had already escalated to a point where some cognoscenti were saying “not worth it,” and it kept getting pushed down the priority list. At the current price of $0.34/g there are other teas I’d rather buy. But when a TTB arrived with a 6g sample of this, it was the first thing I grabbed.
The sample consisted of a single chunk and about a gram of fine chop and fannings. I figured this was not too different from what you’d get breaking up the brick, as the material is itself pretty finely chopped and rather tightly compressed. I made it in a 90-ml clay pot with water at the 208F setting on my boiler. A flash rinse came out a deep greenish-gold: the initial steeps made a clear orange soup.
This is not a smooth easy-to-like tea. Some other tasters have likened it to Xiaguan, and it does have in common with that a strong terpene aroma. The first 6-8 steeps I made quickly as the small bits of leaf threatened overwhelming strength. Early steeps are punchy, with a strong feel and decent huigan. There is some astringency through the session, though I’d not call it a particularly drying tea. There is a good honey-like lengxiang in the first few steeps, though it’s not super-strong.
Looking at the notes previous tasters have written: what a collection of flavors people see here! I did not find it particularly smokey, possibly due to using clay. I do not find it particularly earthy, and detected no humid storage tastes.
Many tasters have found woody flavors in this tea, and “wet wood” is often noted. Here’s my contribution: I think that taste is well-aged cardboard box. I think this tea spent a lot of years packed in cardboard, picked up the scent, and transformed it into a woody “WTF is THAT” note over time.
I am not going to rate this tea, or give it the thumbs up/down. I’m glad I had an opportunity to try it, but I wouldn’t buy it at the current price. At $0.15/g it would be a great deal, at $0.20 a good one. But at basically $100/bing there are other teas in this age range I’d rather spend my money on. You might want to buy this tea if you want some 15-years-aged raw tea and aren’t prepared to shell out for a whole bing.
Dirt cheap tea that is better than what you might expect for the price.
I’ve consumed most of a cake of this stuff. It’s too astringent to make a slippery or oily mouthfeel, lengxiang is weak and fleeting, it’s not very sweet, and it doen’t have much longevity. I’ve given up on trying to push it past 8 steeps.
On the plus side, it makes a dark gold to orange soup, and has a definite matured puer flavor and aroma while it lasts. There are a few steeps after the leaves open and before it plays out that are pretty smooth and nice. You get some idea what older puer can taste like with this.
Had a sample of this from BTTC. The 10g sample was almost all in one lump, which flaked apart easily with the pick. The dry leaf is very dark, with some golden buds. Warm dry leaf has a generic mature sheng smell, sort of sweet and hay-like.
The leaf was well-separated and after a 5s rinse I got 5 increasingly dark 5s infusions before feeling a need to increase the time. The flavor is smooth and pleasant, slightly sweet but rather nondescript. Good thick mouthfeel, oily, up through about steep #7. There is practically no cold cup scent. I taste no hint or dirt or stone. I kept at it for 18 steeps, with the last one being 2min. The last 6 infusions probably should have been 2, going straight for the long steeps. I was getting a tea sweat around steep 10.
This tea has very clean dry storage with no trace of wetness I can detect, good longevity, and starts out with a strong feel. The flavor is on the boring side.
Old-school factory cake made of varying grades of chop (you won’t find any big fancy leaves or intact budsets) with little stemmy stuff. At some point the storage got damp enough to give it that wet stone smell that never steeps out. Not terribly strong tea, but smooth. Some sweetness from the first steep on. Whatever bitterness was present is aged out. Makes dark red soup for 10+ steeps, gradually trailing off into sweet colored water without ever passing through the harsh “used up” stage.
There’s not a lot of flavor beyond the wet stone and a sort of generic aged tea smoothness.
I have a little buyer’s remorse for having bought the whole cake of this, but not much. I like tea with a stronger feel, and suspect that the collector who sold this to BTTC decided that this one was only going downhill from where it is now.
Recommended, with the proviso that you can get past the damp basement smell.
Flavors: Wet Rocks
Not drinking this today: Actually I finished off this tuo a couple of weeks ago. But I felt the need to add a parting shot. Because my previous notes might lead someone to pass this up, who might otherwise buy it.
This tea is marketed as a “daily drinker” and I did drink it most days, most of the time I was drinking it. What this does is to reveal flaws, particularly since I generally drink more than 1 tea/day (and when one of those teas is something as inexpensive as this one, I have a tendency to follow it with something that will up the average price).
The first session I had with this, I was really pretty favorably impressed. It does have some matured character (though it really is still pretty green). It has some nice floral notes, was strong enough to open the pores, and is free of strong smoke or bad bitterness or really any other glaring defects.
The last session was one I drank after discovering a chunk I’d forgotten about, hiding in a cupboard. I hadn’t tasted it in several weeks. And do you know, it was actually pretty decent. Fans of jasmine teas might be surprised to find that tea can taste like this all by itself.
I’ve been drinking mostly older teas than this in recent months. This one has enough age to have some matured traits, as I said, while still being rather on the green side. If there really is an “awkward age” for puer, this one still might be in that stage. I’m toying with the idea of getting another one to hold onto for a few years, in spite of how I have a policy of buying things I can drink now. I think this one will be rather better when it’s 10-12 years old, especially if it’s kept someplace hot and humid.
I doubt this will ever be one where people rave about how thick and sweet it is, or how it has a monster qi, but you know, it is not too bad. If you are curious about aged raw puer, don’t like the idea of 25g samples or are leery of forking over $70 for an entry-level matured cake, this one is for you. Just don’t drink it every day for too long.
Flavors: Astringent, Jasmine, Smoke, Sugarcane, Wood
I tasted this one a couple of times shortly after we got it, just to check on the mold issue. Mine had a faint humid odor when it arrived, which has since pretty much cleared up. Today I broke off a bigger chunk and brewed up a strong batch.
I think this is my new fave. Starts with a smell of old books and a hint of roasted asparagus and a smooth smooth taste, and just goes on and on. After the umpteenth steep the lid scent gets a little humid, and the old books turn out to have been a bit wet. There’s an astringent mouth-coating effect that turns into floral perfume that lasts and lasts.
I can’t steep this one out today, though I started it at 10 AM and now it’s almost 4:30.