Bitterleaf Teas

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Recent Tasting Notes

75

An interesting Dancong! I got this tea from my recent BLT order, and it is quite different from the other dancongs from the Bitterleaf catalogue. Nice dry leaf with a decent wet leaf aroma, paired with a decent liquor, this tea has a juicy yet astringent texture that permeates the mouth. It also provides a lot in terms of character with a wave of “freshness” in a sense going through the palate. Decent finish with a slightly above average aftertaste. The flavour is decent but can tend to be overly bitter when not careful, more so than other dancongs. However, the bitterness pays off with a beautiful permeating salinity in the tongue. Average buzzy cha-qi with a slightly better than average steep longevity makes this tea a 75ish for me.

Flavors: Alkaline, Bitter, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cotton Candy, Floral, Ginseng, Juicy, Mineral, Ocean Air, Spices, Star Anise, Sweet, Tangerine, Tangy, Wet Rocks

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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72

An okay-ish leaning to decent raw puerh. I got this tea from my recent BLT order, and while it isn’t mind-boggling by any means, it does an okay job for a tea session. Beautiful bud heavy leaves with a decent wet leaf aroma and a decent liquor. This tea had a beautiful texture that was smooth yet bitey, and juicy all in one. Decent finish and relatively decent aftertaste as well. The flavour was nice and generally above average but I felt it lacked potency and nuance. This tea lacked a character and didn’t really have much going for it in terms of steep longevity and cha-qi. This tea is definitely not bad, and had definitive aspects that were quality, but just not good enough overall to be a 80+ tea for me.

Flavors: Bittersweet, Creamy, Green, Hay, Honeysuckle, Plum, Sour, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wheatgrass

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

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75

A very nice white tea! I got this tea from my BLT order, and it generally is quite good for the price. Decent flavour with decent dry leaf and liquor, paired with a incredibly juicy yet smooth texture and a decent finish. This tea also had a nice buzzy cha-qi and an incredible steep longevity, lasting up to steep 11. This tea however lacked in a richness and complexity when it came to flavour and aroma, and lacked in much character as well as in aftertaste. Despite its shortcomings, I still confer that this tea is worth it for the price, and is a good example of Yunnan white teas.

Flavors: Apricot, Creamy, Fruity, Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Honey, Juicy, Smooth, Spices, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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76

A decent dancong! I got this tea from my recent BLT order, and for the price, this tea is quite good. Beautiful leaves with a vibrant yellow sheen, paired with a decent wet leaf aroma and a decent liquor. This tea had a generally more “masculine” flavour profile with a deeper minerality and spices flavour, but still retained a characteristic citrusy taste. Juicy and smooth texture with noticeable “shan yun”, and this tea also had a very nice, refreshing aftertaste and a decent finish. This tea had a decent character and complexity, with a decent steep longevity. This tea falls apart mostly when it comes to cha qi, with a lack of cha qi being the glaring lack in this tea.

While this tea should be praised for what it does right, especially at this price, it can definitely push the boundaries of its qualities to make it a 80 or 85+ tea.

Flavors: Bittersweet, Citrus Zest, Citrusy, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Mineral, Nutty, Ocean Air, Ocean Breeze, Smoked, Smooth, Spices, Wet Rocks

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

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69

For the price, a okayish green. I got this tea from my recent BLT order, and while there are some good things, there are some inadequacies when it comes to this tea. Beautiful, vibrant leaves with a rich and relatively complex aroma, prisitine liquor and a delicate yet slightly nuanced taste. This tea also had a smooth texture that kept it interesting with a slight astringency to the mouthfeel. However, this tea fell off somewhat quickly by steep 3 or 4, and there isn’t much character to the tea. On top of that, this tea lacked any noticeable cha-qi and had a below than average finish & aftertaste. For the price, it could be worth, but I’d suggest saving up the money you would’ve spent on this tea to buy something better in the future.

Flavors: Bitter, Cream, Floral, Green Beans, Herbaceous, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Oily, Persimmon, Stewed Vegetables, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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84

A wonderful, wonderful dancong! I got this tea from my recent BLT order, and it really is a well-rounded dancong. Nice and complex aroma paired with a wonderful flavour full of complexity, really straddling the potent and delicate line quite nicely. A wonderful complexity and character of the tea, changing in characteristics between steeps, making for a unique session. Amazing orangey aftertaste with a decent finish, paired with a great steep longevity.

The main criticism I have of this tea is that it doesn’t have enough “shan yun” that is common in high quality dancongs. Don’t get me wrong, it’s there, but for the price tag, I expected more of it. The tea leaves were also slightly inconsistent in picking, and the liquor wasn’t the most inviting but decent when it comes to thickness. The texture was decent, but it could’ve brought slightly more to the table. Lastly, the buzzy cha-qi was present quite a bit, and there was a bit of a warming cha-qi, but they could’ve been a bit more potent.

Overall, a really good tea. I was looking for the ginger that is implied by the name, but it was only slightly present. Otherwise, beautiful tea which I think is worth it despite the steep price point.

Flavors: Citrus Zest, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Ginger, Herbaceous, Honeydew, Orange, Roasted, Spices, Sweet, Warm Grass, Tangerine, Tangy, Yuzu

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

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71

Every tea for me seems to be a roughly 7/10 the past few days. I got this tea from my BLT order, and for the price, it is quite nice. Decent aroma and decent liquor, smooth texture that still keeps it interesting with a nice bite, and a decent character, finish & aftertaste. On top of that, a very buzzy cha-qi. The flavour was quite average for a young raw puerh, with a bit of citrusy floral boost to it. This tea doesn’t have much steep longevity, and just felt average when it came to complexity. However, this tea is a great value for price.

Flavors: Bitter, Citrus, Floral, Honey, Plum, Sour, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 12 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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72

Similar yet different to a ripe puerh! I got this tea from my recent BLT order, and it really is an intriguing one. Beautiful liquor paired with a thick texture, a slight chalky finish which was interesting, paired with a pleasant aftertaste and a decent character. This tea was quite broken up though, and the aroma was quite plain and weak. This tea had a decent flavour but didn’t offer enough in my opinion, and the cha-qi is almost unnoticeable.

Flavors: Chestnut, Citrus Zest, Forest Floor, Leather, Mineral, Nuts, Ocean Air, Roasted, Smoked, Spices, Spring Water, Thick, Wet Moss, Wet Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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65

Not an interesting tea by any metric (other than bitterness?). I got this tea from my recent BLT order, and it just doesn’t ascend above average when it comes to young sheng. Decent leaves and liquor with a decent wet leaf aroma, paired with a decent aftertaste of sweet acidity like a pomelo and a bitey texture and finish. This tea lacked a lot in complexity in terms of character and flavour, and the steep longevity and cha-qi left a lot to be wanted. It just tastes like a slightly more bitter than average young sheng.

Flavors: Acidic, Biting, Bitter, Bittersweet, Floral, Fruity, Pear, Vegetal, Yuzu

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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79

My stomach is still feeling a bit off after becoming ill with a virus, but I’m slowly reintroducing tea into my routine after feeling really under the weather. This tea is a very decent Dancong that I got from my recent BLT order. Beautiful and rich wet leaf aroma with a rich and deep flavour that possesses the “shan yun” that is sought after in dancongs. This tea also has a decent character and a decent cha-qi, with a steep longevity that can go into the fourteens or fifteens. This tea doesn’t have the most appealing look as the leaves were a bit broken and inconsistent, and the tea was pretty bang average when it came to the finish & aftertaste, dry leaf aroma, complexity, and texture. If these areas were better, this definitely could’ve been a top drawer dancong.

Flavors: Alkaline, Citrus Zest, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Lilac, Lychee, Mineral, Ocean Air, Olive Oil, Strawberry

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

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72

Not worth the price. I got this tea from my recent BLT order, and while it is decent, it isn’t worth it. Beautiful leaves with a nice and fragrant aroma, decent cha-qi and decent aftertaste. Everything is nice but just not special or not stand out compared to other dancongs. This tea has poor steep longevity and it just didn’t offer much in terms of complexity and character. Definitely not a bad tea, but for the price? Not worth.

Flavors: Campfire, Coffee, Floral, Fruity, Hibiscus, Lemon Zest, Lychee, Tart

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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70

A nice yet average pu-erh! I got this tea from my recent BLT order, and while there wasn’t much to rave about this tea, it isn’t bad by any means either. Beautiful pickings and liquor with a potent wet leaf aroma, average texture, finish and aftertaste. The big stand out for this tea is its cha-qi, with it being persistently present even from steep 1. This tea lacked in character and complexity, flavour lacked in potency and dimensionality, and the tea didn’t hold up for that many infusions. Overall, decent decent, but there’s better for this price.

Flavors: Bamboo, Cherry, Floral, Herbaceous, Mineral, Raspberry, Smoke

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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70

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72

A unique yellow tea! I got this tea from my recent BLT order, and it is the first time I had a yellow tea cake. Smooth aged aroma with a unique and relatively complex taste (reminds me of ripened avocados), along with a thick texture and a juicy finish, this tea is quite interesting! This tea however lacked in cha-qi and flavour potency, and was pretty bang average in aftertaste and leaf & liquor. Overall an interesting tea, but probably not worth the price.

Flavors: Acidic, Citrus Zest, Creamy, Fruity, Green, Oily, Paper, Pleasantly Sour, Savory, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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75

An interesting pu-erh! I got these dragon balls as samples from my recent BLT order, and while this tea lacks in some areas, it makes up in others. Beautiful leaves and vibrant liquor with a holy truck load finish where the astringency in the mouth lets way to a tsunami of juiciness. Decent aftertaste with decent cha-qi as well. The flavour however was a bit lacking in complexity and strength, and the aroma had the same problem too. Slightly thin texture with a subpar longevity and average character makes this tea decent but not something to rave about.

Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Herbaceous, Honeysuckle, Juicy, Plum, Raisins, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Decided to go with a Western style mug for my first tasting. Not sure why exactly, it just felt sort of right!? This “not quite a purple tea” and “not quite a white tea” is really interesting, and I totally get why my IG friend Justin Other was so content having this as a ‘go to’ while traveling! I felt like it had a lot of more savory and herbaceous notes of things like fresh basil and dried krishna tulsi, with an anise like sweetness!

Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/Chudu88LKBZ/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWaJ3drIeaA

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61

A mediocre Dancong. I got this tea from my recent BLT order, and it really isn’t much good. Beautiful leaves and potent wet leaf aroma, while packing a decent and pleasant flavour. However, this tea has a thin texture and an overtly drying finish, not much character and complexity and a lack of cha-qi. For a dancong, this tea is also unable to handle too many steeps as well, which is a bummer. Don’t recommend buying this tea, it’s better to put your money elsewhere.

Flavors: Brisk, Citrus, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Lychee

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Gongfu!

Almost immediately I felt like the was a lot going on with this tea on multiple levels: taste, texture, and body feeling. Though initially on the softer side, this picked up asteingency and bitterness steadily with a very strong aromatic and woody taste to match – notes of kale and other bitter leafy greens, slightly medicinal but still somewhat sweet yuzu zest, incense, and bee pollen came to mind while drinking the infusions. Most of those notes are not something that resonate with me typically, though I loved the more pithy citrus elements and there was a floral green sweetness in the back end/aftertaste of some steeps that reminded me of garden peas. This was not necessarily an immediate favourite of mine, but I can really see why there’s a lot of people put there who love this material/region!

Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/ChkaNjZOqpi/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMSu30JswMs

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Gongfu!

Steeped up a session of 2022 Natural Habitat raw puer last night! Wasn’t sure what to expect from this sheng as it’s from an area that I’m less versed in, but in the first two or three steeps I was met with a thick liquor absent of astringency with a prominent note of the sweet syrup from canned cocktail peaches. Not cloying though. Just saturated. In fact, this distinct stonefruit note was actually swiftly followed with just enough bitterness to pull the sweetness back and balance out the profile. Never unpleasantly bitter though; it really just felt like a very good “checks and balances” system for the profile of those early steeps. From there I felt like the session got a lot less interesting, but it was still a pleasant puer and something I fully steeped out over the rest of the night.

Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/ChAL3TSO5AO/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MQk-TRAA

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Gongfu!

Brewed up my first taste of this yearly favourite in my Yiwu yixing pot. It’s very soft (noticeably more so than last year’s production) and these early steeps have a really delicate fruitiness to them and a finish that reminds me of sweet cotton candy melting in your mouth and leaving that tiny hint of sticky sugar residue behind. I’m feeling a bit off today so it may not have been the best day for a first time tasting, but I’m still enjoying myself regardless and I have a full cake of this sheng waiting to be brewed in the future!

Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CgpkIodOD0l/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSN8LYyesLM

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Grandpa style!

This super soft and floral Jingmai production is one of the teas I look forward to the most every year; it’s just such a reliable source of comfort on the days when I just feel a little all over the place and need something grounding. No elaborate tasting notes today; just wanted to capture that I steeped this and it was as expected – the same approachable and beautiful profile I’ve grown to love.

Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CgkADThO_BY/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXFlKo7dcXk

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Gongfu!

I brewed this one up intermittently over the coarse of the afternoon ant, though I had a few steeps that were forgotten in in the gaiwan and quite astringent and bitter as a result, I really enjoyed the more unctuous and full bodied floral notes of this sheng! Jingmai is one of my favourite regions for its soft and approachable florals, but this is a great option for anyone looking for that same profile but with more of a burly punch. Thick notes of elderflower, sakura, and peony are the main players here but the titular fruity plum note crops up every now and then. The finish is also very pleasant and sweet, with a coating anise note that curbs any roughness you may have gotten in the body!

Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CgVE9UauAJd/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q39Uidgnip0

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Gongfu!

Sipped on this while thinking about the ways my relationship to bitterness has changed since becoming a regular tea drinker. Though I’ve never been a particular fan of this production among the many yearly BLT releases, I think I would have found it completely undrinkable back in the early part of my tea journey. I used to have zero tolerance for bitterness or astringency of any kind, and now I often crave both when preparing tea myself. To varying degrees, of course. This is probably the best tea session I’ve ever with any production of Bitterend. There’s an edge and greenness to this sheng that isn’t my preferred profile but the bitterness isn’t so coarse to be a turn off for me, and the sweet payoff of the beautiful huigan after each steep note only leaves me simply willing to go back for the next steep but is propelling me there eagerly.

This is a prime example of why I like to revisit teas and flavours I dislike often. It’s okay if your taste preferences never change, but sometimes they do in a way that surprises you. Next time I brew this tea I may very well hate it, but I may also like it even more – the unpredictability is a part of the journey, and I can’t wait to see how I’ll view bitterness even just a year from now!

Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CgFbYI1OiIn/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOaKRzzcAyE

Togo

Lovely note and a good reminder to keep challenging oneself! I’m happy you managed to get an enjoyable session with Laomane :)

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Gongfu!

I’m continuing tasting through this year’s Spring productions! I love, love, love a syrupy and fruity black tea so this immediately hit all the right spots for me. The dry leaves were just so fragrant with strong notes of ripe waxy red fruits with thick floral undertones. From the first steeps, there’s a definite wow factor to this hong cha, though maybe that’s my bias for practically any yiwu material productions showing. The liquor is so viscous with saturated florals and notes of over ripe red fruits and plums. You could argue it’s almost too sweet, but there’s an undertone of leather and musk that adds a twist of umami to the profile that balances out the flavour. I think this year’s Year of The Tiger sheng production is gonna have some competition for my favourite Spring production…

Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cf_6pTcuuXZ/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fybquKgK3aw

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